Comments and Spam

You've all seen spam on a blog post. You've probably also seen spam on some YouTube videos, and Facebook fan pages. We know what it looks like, just as we know that it can be the harbinger of disaster.

'This is very Useful information thank you. Perhaps will please write more like this and I will tell many people how careful helpful you are. It is my desire to _______'

At this point I usually see a link to Air Nikes.

The singular purpose for spam that is sent to the comment section of your blog is to induce someone to click on the link. Links get traffic, and traffic gets results. Unscrupulous link builders, people who are hired by dubious SEO companies, and marketers who are hired to promote at all costs are the culprits behind this. I'll add that very little of these practices are originating from the U.S. mainland, as is evidenced by the grammar and spelling.

Poor grammar, however, is certainly not a reason to dismiss a comment without close review. This isn't called the World Wide Web for nothing! An expert on the topic of your blog might live anywhere, and you could miss out on the opportunity to have that expert's name associated with your blog. No, you must review all comments.

The persistence of the determined spammer

'Now, wait a minute,' you might say. 'This problem is almost nonexistent, thanks to Panda and Penguin.' That's basically true. Google set out, beginning in 2011, to severely curtail this activity, and they have continued to refine their algorithms to improve the results. Remember, though, that the more links to your site, the higher Google will rank you. The more respectable the link site, the greater the relevance of the link. It is to the benefit of all these unscrupulous spammers to get a link on a site such as yours.

SEO spammers are also looking for page rank, so don't be surprised if your older blogs, with the most legitimate hits, are the ones being targeted. You can always go back and turn off comments coming into blogs that are, say, more than six months old.

Is the comment section worth the effort?

I have seen posts from excellent blog sites declaring that they will no longer offer a comment section on their blogs. We're beginning the process of redesigning our website, and that is a change which I have considered. We want engagement with our readers. If we've provoked a discussion on the merits of some methodology, or made you laugh, or you think we're missing out on something, I want to know about it. However, getting penalized by Google because we were fooled by a clever spammer could make me question the overall value of the comments section versus the harm it can do to our SEO.

Of course, clever spammers seem to be in the minority these days. It's as though they aren't even trying anymore. If everything they're going to send me is in Cyrillic or Mandarin, then I don't have to read it. We screen every comment before it appears through a comment moderation system, which eliminates any worry about spam leaking through in the wee hours of the morning when most of it is sent. Then, every morning, I review all comments. This, admittedly, doesn't take much time.

There is no way to completely stop spam. It is also true that spam attracts more spam, so once it has found you, look out. Most importantly, though, take all possible measures to avoid it. Install anti-spam plug-ins, and block the IP addresses of any black hats that try to sneak through. You don't need them, but they certainly need you!

Gary Locke
By Gary Locke

A semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.

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