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When Self Promotion Tips into Spam

Speed-Posting@jimgoldstein asks: “one things I see bloggers struggle with is blog spam. When self promotion goes to far. “

I agree Jim. There are different kinds of spam – the main stuff we see is the auto-generated stuff that fills our inboxes and hits our comment filters but then there is a more subtle kind of spam – where bloggers overstep the mark on other people’s blogs by promoting themselves to a point where they put others off. I see this every day in the comments on my blogs where the comments left are five words long and only slightly on topic and then there’s a list of 2-3 links as a signature. The comments left are obviously a thinly veiled attempt at self promotion.

The problem with this approach of self promotion is that you can do more harm for yourself than good. If you comments are allowed on your blog the reaction from others who see it can actually hurt your brand. I write about this in 10 Way s to Hurt Your Blog’s Brand by Commenting on Other Blogs.

The key to growing your blog is to create value. Create useful and unique content on your own blog (don’t get caught up in the self promotion game in every 2nd post) and to do the same thing on other people’s blogs. The people’s blogs that I visit from comments on my blog (and others) are those who have something interesting and useful to say – not those who leave links on dull and spammy comments).

OK – it’s over to you – what do you think?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I haven’t had this problem yet. But I do worry about it once the people that have websites I don’t approve of get their hands on my blog. There is a ton of hype in the alternative medicine industry and i don’t want to further it by allowing people to comment on my blog that promote products that I don’t approve of, or could be harmful.

    Eventually it may be a serious issue if I get enough comments that I don’t have time to check out everyone’s blog that leaves a comment on mine. Right now I can deal with ten comments though so not much of a concern. LOL

  2. Mary Corbet says:

    I positively agree. I get a lot of three word comments, followed by a URL – usually something vaguely related to the niche, but not directly related.

    Instead of spammy, self-promoting comments, give something to the blog you’re posting on: either new information (related to the post), an anecdote related to the post, or a good “quality” question to generate discussion, etc.

    Speaking of questions (not necessarily quality!), but on the topic of spammy comments – is it considered bad etiquette simply to REJECT the obviously spammy comment?

  3. Steve says:

    That’s completely true. When people post tons of links in their comment, they’re basically saying,

    “I don’t care about the content, just go to my website.”

    The purpose of commenting on blogs is to voice your opinion, ideas, & feelings about the blog post to create dialog and spark a conversation, NOT to promote yourself.

    There are a few exceptions to posting links in your comments. Perhaps if you wrote a blog post directly related to the topic, and it happens to be incredibly valuable and insightful. But notice I did say ‘a few exceptions.’

  4. BW says:

    It’s important to interact with other bloggers and one of the best ways is in the comments section. But, if you want to be taken seriously, then you need to put some thought and effort into the comment. The comment should attempt to enhance the post where possible and even disagreeing, if that is how you feel (just try not to be offensive)

    Think of the comment as a mini post. It’s your chance to catch the eye of the blog owner as well as the other commentators. It’s a way to start a dialog, it should not be seen as a way to drop one or two links in the vain hope that you will get increased traffic.

    That’s my 2 cents

  5. Jeremy says:

    Why not reject the spammy comment? It’s your blog, your community, and your back yard.

    Would you let someone come into your house and spit on the floor?

    Spammers who get upset about having their comments blocked are getting what they have coming to them, at some point they need to learn what blogging is all about – a conversation, not some slugfest where you try to steal all of the readers of someone’s blog.

    By the way, please visit these links:

    (heh, got ya)

  6. Shawn Farner says:

    I’m usually opposed to someone leaving any kind of URL at all in a comment. After all, on most blog comments, your name will link to your blog. Unless you have a specific post that adds to the discussion or presents another view, I would simply do away with the practice altogether.

  7. Absolutely true.

    These advertisements stick out like a sore thumb, but as with people who type in all caps, some don’t realize that there’s a certain etiquette associated with comments.

  8. It also seems like some bloggers let their self-promotion efforts take over their content, with RSS feeds sprinkled liberally with with posts that simply link to their guest posts and carnivals, ask for social networking votes, or promote their top traffic sources or commenters. I know why these posts are useful to the blogger, but I don’t like them as a reader, and so I’ve tried to avoid them so far on my newish blog. Unfortunately, some measure of self-promotion (especially through liberal linking) seems to be essential to blogging success.

  9. Frugal Dad says:

    Some people are more subtle with comment spam, leaving the usual “Thanks,” or “I agree,” or “great post!” Those are all nice comments, but for me they are just empty comments. I genuinely try to look at the comments section as not only an area to interact with the blog’s author, but with other readers as well.

    That is not to say a blog’s author necessarily wants a forum-like exchange, but some of the best ideas from my blog have been introduced by readers in the comments area. Same rules that apply in comments sections apply in forums – create value for other readers and you’ll be fine.

  10. Sheamus says:

    One of the biggest frustrations with being a new blogger is so many of the things that clearly work, that are established and bear significant fruit, only do so once one is established.

    Hence, certainly in the very early days, unless one hits an immediate niche or gets lucky (or is enormously blessed), it is hard to resist not only over-commenting, but also sending all and sundry over to Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, et al.

    The irony with the latter, of course, is that, again, bar the odd exception, you really need to have a following on these social networks for anything you submit to really take of, and this absolutely applies to your own material, the personal submission of which is generally frowned upon anyway (more so, in some cases).

    I agree, though, that sending links to another blog’s comments to just to pick up a few cheap hits yourself backfires in all kinds of ways. I personally always try and add something of value; I’ll leave it to others to decide if that mark is ever met.

  11. Lightening says:

    I think part of the problem is people wanting too much too quickly. Blogging is no different to building any other business. There are very few “get to the top quickly” schemes. Those that do so often do so because of “luck” more than a system. If there was an easy “system” then we’d all be doing it.

    Why aren’t people prepared to put in an “honest days work” anymore??? (okay, that may be an unfair generalisation but I can’t help but feel that blogging has become the latest market for “get rich quick” scams).

  12. I like to promote myself, we all do. But I tend to be ultra-conservative. Like not posting comments unless my comment is wittier and has more information than the original author’s post.

    I don’t want to steal the show. I feel like I have to overcompensate, since my first thought is that I am totally in it for my own reasons (self-promotion). I decide I am going to comment on certain posts, then have to actually think up something meaningful to say. Sometimes, this takes more time than the author put into the original post, which I am sure is the case in this instance. I’ve definitely put more than 3 minutes into concocting this one.

    If I can get the author to respond to me directly, it’s just more validation for my non-spam. I guess I have a guilty conscience. I over think these things. But what it really comes down to is adding something to the conversation as many of you have said.

    Sometimes, I feel bad leaving comments, even genuine comments, if I haven’t brought up some meaningful point. But at the end of the day, I turn the tables and realize that I would love more people to comment on my blog. It doesn’t have to be anything deep or academic, just someone genuinely saying they liked a post or it spoke to them in a certain way. No 2 word comments, but a 3 or 4 word comment could be nice in certain instances.

  13. Rajaie says:

    The first time I started a blog, I started doing the same exact thing. I posted useless comments and big blogs with links to my website, and I joined many forums so that I could start topics that link to my blog. After a while, I realized that this was affecting my blog in a negative way, even though I was getting more visitors. The best way I think to get people to visit your blog is sticking out of the crowd, by leaving funny, or long and valuable comments.

  14. Tom Hanna says:

    The blog you’re commenting on has to come into play a bit, too. For example, in this blog you’ve gone out of your way to make commenters feel welcome and to try to draw readers into the conversation. If I visited a blog with a less active “commenter community” I’d probably have a lower tolerance, as a reader, for self-promotion. On this blog, I’d probably be more likely to follow the signature link, etc. than if someone included links in a signature on a less commercial venue. Ultimately though the comment still has to add something to the conversation or the self-promotion is just going to be lost with a shrug of the shoulders and the thought “Why would someone bother to post that?”

  15. Sean Harry says:

    I don’t see how spam of any sort can be a positive thing in any way, shape or form. When I get spam I make a mental note and make certain that I don’t spend a penny on the product or service being “promoted” in this way . . . ever.

    We teach people that their online “brand” is so critical to their potential ability to get a job. If they use themselves to blatantly promote (i.e. spam) it’s worse than if they had sent thousands of pieces of email spam. Thanks for giving us more insight on when, why and how to respond to posts!

  16. Allan says:

    I use a plugin that attempts to display the last post of the person making a comment.

    Irrelevant or spam comments are filtered out as quickly as I can find them!

    I usually discard comments if there are irrelevant links contained in the body of the content.

    I leave links there that may provide help for other visitors, or that add value to the original post.

    Like anything though, it is a learning process.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Cheers!

  17. Steven says:

    I hear ya. I’ve even stopped following on twitter. I stop self promoters and dribblers (posting inane boring tid bits about their lives). Might be OK for some, but I want information, and I want it rammed down my throat withour distraction.

  18. Luigi says:

    If you want to avoid 2/3 words comments maybe a good rating plugin and your comment policy clearly stated somewhere could work?
    Anyway I think that sometimes it is the post style that makes the difference:
    “I’m writing it then its true” style + no personal opinions + no questions = no reactions!

    Then the real conversation goes somewhere else (twitter)…where people are less “serious” with themselves…

  19. Jummy says:

    Funnily enough I received my first self promotion type of spam on my personal blog yesterday. The person who left a comment is actually a friend of a friend, and she took 2 words out my entire entry, twisted their context in such a way that she could relate it to her completely unrelated agenda, and she snuck a link into the comment too.

    It might sound a bit melodramatic but I felt betrayed somehow, because had she simply asked me to link to her blog I wouldn’t have minded doing so but now I’ve got my back up against her because of those actions.

    In a word, I am not a fan of excessive self promotion. I think being subtle by leaving thought-provoking or helpful comments that make other readers ask “I wonder what else this person has to say!” is best.

  20. Fabien says:

    I have encountered these self promoting commenters before, they are utterly annoying and I make it a point of eradicating all of their comments as soon as they appear. The people doing it know their comment will be deleted or be marked as spam, but they do it anyway.

    I don’t have a problem with someone trying to get a bit of attention by posting a comment on my site – but I would hope that they did a little more subtly than how it is currently done. If you want to promote you web design site or a new service you have, put it as the anchor text of your link, don’t decide to chuck a few more links inside the actual comment. Firstly, it is not polite, secondly it is spam, thirdly – it is spam that will most probably be caught by Akismet.

    I have always had a negative stance towards one liner comments or as I enjoy calling them ‘link-seeker’ style comments. Personally, I go around my comments section deleting comments that don’t add value to the post. In our day and age, you have to be vicious when it comes to comment spam and their deletion. People who say stuff like – thanks for the info and great stuff dude should have their comments eternally purged from your blog! (hehehe)

    I have a new comment and spam policy that I have placed underneath my posts – it informs people that their comments will be purged if they do not add value to the post or share their opinions with the community in their comment. I know this may seem a bit drastic at first, but I highly believe it is the best way to go in order to ward off human spam commenters.

  21. most of the time i receive tons of spam comments on my wordpress blog. I just turned on the akismet plugin on wordpress to block those spam.

  22. I have read all of the comments in this post and I didn’t see any one leave a signature that link back to their blogs. However, somehow I found myself clicking on the names to find out these people’ s blog or websites.

    I have just entered the blogging world so I have so much to learn. One thing I learned initially is to give lots of comments on lots of blogs so you can get lots of link. This is easy said than done. There was one post (sorry I don’t remember the link) but the author suggests that you should make 100 comments per day so you will get 30, 000 link a year. He did that and his site got 100, 000 visitors just 12 weeks after being launched. Isn’t that nice?

    Honestly, that sounds a little tempting. I tried it for one day and the best I got is 12 comments. That took me 2 hours. I mean, like you said, the comments have to add some value to the post. How can I humanly make 100 high-quality comments on 1 day? That’s to say there are many hypes on the net. I am learning to filter out useless suggestions.

    Anyway, now I rather have 4 well-thought comments each day than a bunch of useless ones that might be marked spam anyway. But my problem is that sometimes I like many posts in 1 blog and eventually left 4 comments on that blog on one day. They are good comments but I was afraid that the blog owner may not like that many comments from one person in one day. Then how many comments should I leave on 1 blog a day? Any thought, anyone?Darren?

  23. Here are my five words-now visit my site lol.

    I get self promotion and weak comments on my site from time to time and I just delete them. If I can feel the persons self promotion energy, so can the reader and it reflects badly on me.

    I like to take a complete reader perspective when I comment on a site. If I wouldn’t leave the same comment if I didn’t have a site then I don’t leave it.

    I’m not a fan of too much promotion of a product or service by the website owner. I have read enough sites that I automatically glance over the promotion at the end. It’s better to have the product in a prominent spot on the index page that the reader could find themselves.