You dig into their archives searching for information and expertise on their topic only to find their comments section completely riddled with comments that range from annoying self promotion, to links to prescription drug sites, home loan offers, affiliate products, porn, dead links and any other manner of gutter/trash sites.
I can totally understand why a blogger might feel tempted to give up on moderating comment spam on one level – however would strongly advise against taking this course of action for two main reasons:
1. Blog Objectives and Brand – everything that appears on your website either adds to or takes away from the objectives you’re attempting to achieve on your blog. It also impacts your blog’s brand and reputation.
As bloggers, you and I know what comment spam is and how hard it is to keep it off our blogs – but the average person using the web only sees the comments and links in your comments as part of your site and many of them will associate it with you.
At the very least it shows you to be someone who doesn’t care enough to keep your site in good shape – at worst (to the uneducated) it could create a perception that you’re promoting the links others leave on your blog.
2. SEO – Point #1 is my main concern but I suspect there is also another impact of comment spam on your blog. I recently arrived on another blog’s post that had 101 comments on it – 95 of which were comment spam. I did a word count of the page and found that the whole page had 1552 words on it. The post itself have 210 words, the rest (1342) were the comments.
What had been a page with a tightly defined focus in the eyes of search engines had become a site that had more words associated with porn, gambling and drugs than the topic at hand. Not only this the comments didn’t have no follow tags on their links and pointed to all manner of dodgy sites and dead links.
Google doesn’t like links that don’t lead anywhere and frown even more on links pointing to ‘bad neighborhoods’ – I can only imagine the impact that comment spam had upon this posts search engine ranking.
Solution: Today’s ‘solution’ comes in two parts.
1. Clean up your comment spam – two years ago it was brought to my attention that one of my old blogs had become infested with comment spam. I’d not noticed it because the email address that I’d used to notify me of new comments on that blog had stopped working for a few months. I was confronted with thousands of spam comments throughout hundreds of posts. The only solution for me was to clean it up. It took me most of a day to do it but I went through every post on that blog and deleted comments manually. it was a job that sucked – but I got them all!
2. Determine a Comment Spam Strategy – the second half of the comment spam solution is to work out what you’re going to do about future comment spam. There are a variety of options open to you including:
- Moderate All Comments Manually – switch comments to manual moderation and manually approve all comments
- Use Comment Spam Moderation Tools – there are a variety of tools out there that can help you moderate comments. The most common of these is Akismet (although even this won’t stop them all). Most blog platforms also have different levels of moderation built in. For example here at ProBlogger I queue all first time commenters for moderation.
- Outsource Comment Moderation – not an ideal solution if you want to be aware of everything happening on your blog but this is becoming a more common solution for bigger blogs who assign someone the task of moderating all comments.
- Turn Off Comments – a fairly extreme step but it’s something that numerous bloggers have resorted to. This isn’t my preferred solution however I’d do this before letting spammers take over my blog completely.
- Turn off Comments to Old Posts – a less extreme solution is to not allow comments on posts older than XXX weeks/months. The theory is that older posts attract less organic conversation so once you’ve given everyone a chance to comment on posts you switch them off.
What NOT to do about Comment Spam
Please don’t take an ‘ignore it and it will go away’ approach with comment spam. From what I’ve seen ignoring comment spam can actually make the problem worse as I’ve heard from some that there are lists that circulate among spammers that contain blogs that don’t moderate comments and even posts with certain keywords that they should target. Allowing one comment spam to slip through can actually lead to a deluge of them in future.