Blog Comment Spam
So in my last post, I had to get something off my chest about spam messages and spam itself. I wrote a short blurb about how spamming damages the integrity of the internet and that it's a practice that needs to stop. Someone that had viewed the blog post had remarked that spammers should go for it and SPAM, SPAM, SPAM away because it means less websites and less competition in the larger scheme of things. It means less websites to try to outrank since spammers are basically eliminating themselves from the competition. That comment led me to want to write a blog post about spam and Google since that topic alone is always worth the conversation. So with that said, I want to thank Bill for the comment that has sparked this post.
Spam Messages Comment Spam
The most common type of spam is... as most of you may have guessed, blog comment spam or otherwise known as comment spam. If you've ever visited a blog that has allowed comments and I'm sure that if you're reading this and have done any surfing or browsing online, at one point or another you have come across a post that had a very thin comment (e.g. Hey, I love your website... great site... wish I would have thought of that... hey, I wrote about the same thing on my blog etc.. and the list goes on and on.. yuck !) with a very general phrase with a website link attached to it. It kind of reminds me of this joke I heard once..
If someone would have served me this at dinner, I woulda sent it back !
As a blog owner, when you get these thin comments that are blatantly self serving and solely focused on getting a "backlink", that's how you feel.. it's one of those:
What the "_____".. well you can fill in the blank kind of moments.
I'm sure most bloggers feel, myself included.. that if you're going to leave a comment, at least "try" to put some effort into it. Knowing that blogs are a heavily targeted arena for backlink spamming, spammers invest time and energy into trying to infiltrate blogs for the sake of getting backlinks and the last thing they are thinking about is leaving a comment that adds value to the content that you've created on your blog.
Our only defense against this is to "moderate".
Moderation sucks for lack of a better word and it doesn't exactly excite anyone either, but it is what it is. The alternative.. that being that you would keep an "unmoderated" blog just leaves you highly vulnerable to a host of issues that you likely wouldn't run into if you're tending to the blog and filtering what is getting in. It's work, but when you invest passion, time, love and hard work into a product that means something to you, moderation doesn't seem so tedious because the benefit of such effort certainly outweighs the time that you have to invest into doing it to protect what you're building.
Comment Spam And Google
Additionally, lets face facts.. You have a love/hate relationship with Google like the rest of us, but you'd rather have Google love you than feel any other way about you right ? None of us want any association with comment spam, because it's like being in a bad neighborhood. The fact that Google considers these links, bottom of the barrel type links means we don't want to touch these links with a 10 foot pole and as soon as we see them in our comment queues, we're quick to kill them and mark them as spam and let Google do the dirty work of hopefully and eventually de-indexing the domains from which they came for their attempts at such meaningless information degradation.
Comment Spam And Backlinks
Now I don't want to give the impression that all comments are bad either. Yes comment spam is rampant, it's all over the place and if you have a blog, popular or not, you are going to run into comment spam, but for those that are reading this and wondering how do I avoid being labeled a spammer if commenting is something that you are interested in doing regularly I would review this video question answered by Matt Cutts of the Google Webspam Team:
The overall point that Matt is making is that if it's organic, you probably don't have anything to worry about. When it's not organic, there's probably going to be some rise for concern. We've seen this over the years, that yes, the commenting spam tactic of leaving comments on several websites through comment automation tools proved to be very effective for spammers but the golden era of comment spam, the way it has been done in the past is certainly over thanks to a more intentional focus on ridding the internet of these thin spam messages and this type of spam as well.
Spam Messages And Wordpress
In this conversation, I didn't feel it would make any sense to not mention Wordpress since it's used so widely by a large number of bloggers. With that said, for Wordpress users, at least there is some automated relief for you. The popular Akismet spam filter can catch a lot of useless comments that frees the administrator from ever having to see it or address it with features that give you control over whether you want to automatically publish (terrible idea) or manually review comments. Manual review is always best so that you as the owner knows what is getting through and being published on your website that other visitors and fans of your content may see. However, one of the more interesting features is the ability to establish rules for comment moderation and for the blacklisting section too. Needless to say, other platforms are waiting for or should develop comment spam filtration and embed them into their respective programs as there are countless bloggers that are not hosted on Wordpress that would like to benefit from something similar too.
Spam Messages And Red Flags
So in light of that, I would like to close in saying that here are some things that you should watch out for with respect to spam messages and comment spam. There is typically one theme in mind with blog spammers. That theme is typically, I'm here to get a backlink. You are not typically going to see comment spam without a link. So a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to those comments that you are getting with links.
Links that are left from places that aren't .com's. The .info website links are enough to raise suspicion for me and while there may be many of these websites that are indeed credible, I would still advise that you check them out a bit more closely to ensure their validity. Be sure to look into those posts that are "over the top" about being nice to you and then just dropping their link but haven't added anything of value to your post.
No one reads a post just to be nice and says all kinds of warm and fuzzy things and then ultimately says "nothing" about your post and then leaves a link. That screams spam to me and it should to you too. Lastly, if the comment just doesn't make any sense, chances are it was automated and that's a huge red flag too.
There are times when it's very easy to spot spam and there are times where you've got to do a little digging. This process is tedious, very effective when done manually and totally worthwhile for the healthy life of your blog and your content and certainly a headache too.
While these bad neighborhoods, comments and spammers do get penalized eventually, in the meantime, for the integrity of the web and in defense of the good credible and worthwhile information that many of us work tediously to produce, be diligent and invest the time to continue to stop spam messages and comment spam in hopes that individual efforts will lead to a better internet and web free of spam someday.
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