You take a few days (or, umm, weeks) vacation to spend the holidays with your family and you come back to chaos. Well, maybe it's not quite that bad, but it is a story that I'm sorry I didn't hear about earlier. On the heels of my frustrations with how hard social media was pushed at the Chicago Search Engine Strategies Show it seems that the industry that has spent so much time praising social networks like Digg are now feeling more than a little slighted by them. That's right, Digg has reared back and slapped the SEO industry in the face.

What happened? Well it started last month when SEM blogger Lee Odden (a Search Engine Guide guest writer that's anything but a spammer) had his site blacklisted from Digg. The reason? Digg says that too many spam complaints were sent in about his site and his articles.

Uh huh. Having read the articles that Digg points to, I can assure you that they are anything but spam. In fact, they're compellingly written commentary and interviews that are highly relevant to the online marketing world. So what's the problem?

The problem is that the inner circle that holds all the power at Digg have decided that they don't like anything SEM related (hmm...perhaps because the SEM world is always talking about how to use Digg to get more traffic to your site?) and are banding together to blacklist SEM related sites.

Lee writes about what happened on his Top Rank Blog.

Sites can be banned from having their stories submitted to digg based on the activities of others having nothing to do with the site owner.

I recently learned from a top digg member that certain digg community members decided to start getting rid of SEO sites by emailing spam complaints to digg. These community members’ definition of spam blogs is not what you might think. As long as the site has to do with SEO, they apparently consider it spam because the digg community generally detests anything to do with SEO.

This happened to Online Marketing Blog recently.

Yep, that's right. Lee got his entire site blacklisted because of complaints about two non-spammy articles that he didn't even submit to the site.

What did the Digg team have to say about Lee's concerns?

"When submitted stories are consistently reported as spam and users complain via our feedback email about submission spam, we ban the domain. The domain will not be unbanned. The domain would consistently get reported as spam otherwise."

In other words...while you can game the system to get your site listed highly and to draw tons of traffic...you can also game the system to get a competitor booted. All you need to do is get enough people to complain about the domains as spam. Apparently, rather than taking the time to check into the complaints and to filter out the real spam, Digg simply boots the site in question to stop the flood of complaint emails.

And thus we find the perils of relying on pack mentality to promote sites. Sure it's fun and exciting when everybody loves you and things are going well, but when the pack turns on you...well, let's just say it's not pretty.

Makes me wonder if more SEO sites will follow. If they do, do you think the industry will keep pushing social media so hard? Somehow I have my doubts.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Why Social Media May Not Be All It's Cracked Up To Be

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.