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Nipping Spam Comments in the Bud

Blogging is an indispensable tool for disseminating information, cultivating multilateral communication and promoting your business. But even if you are simply blogging for fun, we all like to know that are voices are being heard, which is why getting comments on your blog is such a rewarding feeling. And while it would be nice if only well-intentioned people interested in expounding a topic commented to your blog, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the feedback you receive will actually be spam comments.

Any blogger knows that creating a blog and writing fresh, relevant content is a time-consuming endeavor. And, not surprisingly, there are people out there looking to take a piggyback ride on your hard work. Instead of creating their own blog, other website owners will add a comment to your site with a link back to their business page. Not only is this a bastardization of the purpose of the comments section, it also can have a negative impact on your blog. As we mentioned in our previous post on search engine algorithms, your inbound and outbound links are a crucial component in search engine algorithms. So if you have a surfeit of spam comments linking to shady sites, it doesn’t bode well for your blog’s ranking in the various search engines.

Some spam comments overtly advertise a website or product, and these are fairly easy to identify. But even a pedestrian comment, such as “nice blog” or “this is a well-researched post,” can be spam. This raises the obvious question: How do I know if a comment is spam or not? While there is no way to be absolutely certain if a comment is spam or not, using simple common sense is the best place to start.

First, if a comment doesn’t relate to the specific post in anyway or has a link to an unrelated site, it is usually spam. Remember: In order to leave a comment, a person must actually fill in some relevant information, and most people won’t go through the all that trouble simply to leave “nice post.” This leads to the next indicator: comment length. Particularly long or short posts are usually a good indication of spam—and if the comment is gibberish or in another language, delete it. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the same comment or same IP popping up repeatedly, both of which are a good indication of spam. Spammers are constantly innovating and finding new ways to prevent detection, so be diligent in your vetting.

Now that you know how to identify spam, it’s time to get rid of it. Luckily, search engines and blog sites are working together to crackdown on spam comments—including programs and plug-ins to prevent linking—but they’re still out there. One of the most useful of these innovations is the nofollow function, which ensures the links in your comment section aren’t taken into account by the search engines. Even if you have this in place however, spam comments still look unprofessional and give visitors an avenue for leaving your blog.

Once you identify a spam comment, be sure to mark it as such so the user can’t comment again; of course, most spammers are aware of this and will simply continue to comment using different email addresses and user names. If your spam volumes are becoming unbearable, you can take more drastic measures, including using a contact form and word verification in your comments section.

It may feel good to have six or seven comments on a particular post, but remember to be objective. Especially in the beginning, most of the comments you get will be spam. But if you stay the course, you’ll get to the point where relevant comments start coming in and your blog actually offers a venue for productive interaction on your topic.

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