Beware of Spammy Comments in Disguise

Crafterminds Comment Spam Graphic

I love comments. I think we all do. For me, when I see my stats, they show that people are coming to visit my site, and that’s great… but comments are proof that not only people are coming, but they actually care about what I’ve written. Enough that they want to tell me. And that’s awesome.

But, not all comments are created equal. Sure, there are negative comments, which were discussed in a Crafterminds Twitter Chat on Dealing with Critical Comments. Click over to read the chat transcript on Critical Comments. There are short comments like “cool” and “neat” and “gotta try this”. And there are long-winded comments about how they love the tutorial, have been looking for something like this forever, and the commenter now worships the ground you walk on because of the technique you shared. Check out more descriptions of crazy commenters.

There are also comments that are purely self-promotional. Some self promotional comments are obvious, “What a great project! Please share it at my new linky party bunchofcoolstuff andmore!”

Other times, the commenter disguises their true intent. These comments are often disguised as short or generic comments, but the real “giveaway” is the name of the commenter. The commenter’s name isn’t a “name” at all… instead it is designed to be a link. A few that I’ve noticed come across with names like “Cheap Furniture” or “Low-Cost Laptops”. These are not bloggers using their blog name as an alias. These are marketers (and I’m using this term very loosely here) that are attempting to create links back to their site through the comments section of your blog.

I did a little research here, here, and here on what benefits these “marketers” are getting from getting a link back to themselves in my comments section.

Here is what I discovered:

  • Blogger and WordPress default to “nofollow” in the comments section. This means that the spammy commenters are not getting SEO “Credit” for their link in my comments section, because sites like Google don’t recognize it as a valid link (click here to learn more about Links and SEO). However, according to my research, some search engines ignore “nofollow” and DO count these spammy comments as valid links.
  • For blogs that have disabled the “nofollow” default, these spammy commenters have found a goldmine. They can create their own backlinks to their site on someone else’s site! They can essentially “piggyback” on the success of another blog, to build their own search engine rankings. So why would anyone ever disable nofollow? Because they want to reward their genuine commenters with backlinks.

The bigger question here is – do you really care? I do. It is kind-of like someone walking their dog over to my yard for the dog to do its business (and then not cleaning it up). Sure, in the scope of the world (poverty, world hunger, rising taxes, infant mortality), it isn’t a big deal. But, this is my yard, and I want to keep it clean.

And, as a marketing professional, I find it a little offensive. These “marketers” can’t find legitimate ways of creating backlinks to their site or their client’s site, so they’re imposing on my comments section (and the comments sections of other bloggers) in order to make it happen.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to become some link vigilante… it just means that if I see “Low Cost Mattresses” leave a comment saying “Oh, pretty!”, I’m not going to feel sorry for them, thinking that they were teased all through gradeschool because of their parents’ unfortunate naming skills. I’m going to delete, and move on.

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