Wide Circles = Blog Comment Spam

 

Maybe I am a little sensitive to blog comment spam issues, but I like genuine members of my community gaining a little link juice for their comments. Many comments you find on my blog are better than full blog posts elsewhere (sometimes the comments are better than what I write)

The best way to guest post on my blog is just to write a great comment.

Wide Circles ( http://www.widecircles.com/ nofollowed link for good reason) have a number of offerings.

  • Forum sigs – this for me is a grey area, I know many forums that allow affiliate links in sigs, and there is a market for forum sig links on some of the large webmaster forums, though they don’t offer much traffic or juice benefit. I suppose they are good for sites that can’t get better links.
  • Comment spam – this takes the form of a social signature (again a nofollow link), leaving a link underneath a name when leaving a comment. They do stress that commenters
    should check the rules for each site before spamming them.
  • Wiki spam – they add links to pages or create new pages – some SEOs are going to thing “great – cool service”

They also list general comments, guestbooks, polls and classified ads

You will find blogs that will allow a link to be left under a name, especially when a link field is not provided. The problem is that these fields are specifically intended to link back to a person’s own site and where they are not present a link drop as part of a sig though accepted, would still be expected to link to something related to the person leaving the comment.

This helps other readers find out who they are, what might influence their perspective, and might even be looked on as a method of indirect disclosure, as long as there is an easy to find disclosure statement for anyone clicking through.

Evidence For The Prosecution

Exhibit A

This comment was posted on a post about Blogrush

wide circles or widecircles is really great service http://www.wide circles.ca

Exhibit B

To add insult to injury, this was posted on my post slamming the practice of comment spam as part of internet marketing mentoring programs

wide circles or widecircles is really a great service indeed http://www.wide circles.com

Note: I added a space in the urls above to ensure even on splogs they get no link credit

Both comments came from the same person using the following IP
(IP: 68.145.66.81 , S0106001839263935.cg.shawcable.net)

Maybe I should contact Shaw Communications Inc. about abuse, though I am not sure ISPs look on comment spam as seriously as email spam. It did get sent to my email address however, and if I was using subscribe to comments, it might have gone to 50+ email subscribers.

The legal issues around blog comment spam can start getting nasty.

They also make fun claims such as

This single signature with the link can attract many users who are intrested to find out about the service or product being offered and it will also help with search engine optimization strategy and rankings, since every comment made by our publisher is esentially different.

…complete with their spelling errors.

Anyone using the comment spam service is lining themselves up for a reputation management disaster, because just like I am making this blog post about Wide Circles, other people don’t like being spammed either.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I headed off a rather delicate situation with the mentoring programs comment spam. Shawn, one of my regular readers and a SEO in Scotland was getting sick of comment spam coming from these so called “internships” and was quite prepared to go on the warpath..

I advised caution, because other than the mentorship programs, the people involved are actually quite legitimate marketers, and contacted a mutual friend to see if things could be handled more diplomatically. The jury is out on that still.

Another thing to be cautious about, these are paid links, even the forum links, and Google are always on the lookout for link buying, especially on obvious web destinations such as popular webmaster forums.

This isn’t the only incident today. I had another one where I caught a SEO linkbuilding for a client – I just contacted his boss – link building through comments is extremely risky both for the client and service provider.

It is especially risky on SEO blogs, and many dofollow bloggers are very well aware of all the tricks – they know their regular readers.

I have argued in the past that paid blog comments can be legitimate, but it is under very specific circumstances, that Wide Circles just does not meet.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Andy here’s an comment / email I got just a day or so ago again….

    I am a retired (newly) accountant who has always wanted to work online, and I have a lot of interests, so the question is which one? And all of the unfamiliar subject matter and terminology can be quite daunting, especially anything technical (for me).

    I took some time and researched so that I wouldn’t spend a lot of money here and there for this and that.

    I decided ultimately to talk to a coach, Mickey Mouse, and this is the best decision I could have made. It has saved me not only money but time, and now I know exactly what direction I’m headed and the fastest way to get there.

    I like the blog and hope to be back.

    What p*ssed me off (apart from the fact this was about the 10th comment I had moderated on this post from third parties promoting the same internet guru) was it was a comment on my post, one of many, from various people promoting a paid for product on a post with high rankings that were internet marketing related – but was free advice for small businesses. If that makes sense.

    Now you know my history with commenting, I practiced here! But this type of commenting is not intelligent – it’s so false it deserves outing and I’d have done it (not to the little guys – to Mickey Mouse) to see how this internet marketing guru did with Online Rep with a domain with a bit of authority – mine.

    Disclaimer – Disney’s Mickey Mouse is not currently spamming me.

    I’m not against comment ‘spam’ (paid or unpaid) if it is an honest attempt at conversation or adding keywords to my blog for a link – but stupid is stupid and deserves outed sometimes.

    This is obviously a linkbuilding strategy with Dofollow blogs, we’ve all been there (some still are) – but what’s needed is a “oh and final lesson, don’t p*ss a blogger off cause he’ll come after you – and this is what happens” class.

    I’ve got a post in my draft entitled “who the f*&^ is Mickey Mouse” that next time I see a comment for this guy I am pressing the publish button and going out for a beer.

  2. says

    I encountered these very poor quality, badly spelled comments cropping up on my blog and posted about it back on April 7 – it was only a short post but it seemed to do the trick and the commenting stopped

    I suppose ultimately that all these people will achieve is the celebrity of membership to the likes of the Akismet and Spam Karma filters. Let’s hope so because they may not get away with it on blogs with good moderation but there are probably plenty that get through on non marketing/seo/tech blogs.

    Glad you mentioned them anyway. the more bad publicity the better.

    • says

      Maurice I don’t get out as much as I should :(

      I just had a little nose around the SERPs, and it looks like most of them are ripping them to shreds, instigated by the guys at BlackHatWorld.com

      Wide Circles it seems (and I have no reason to doubt this) are using tools like Xrumer, and talking among themselves just to create links on forums.. before they are banned.

      I have received a direct email regarding this post – I might be removed from their lists now.
      However I look on all dofollow blogs as part of my extended community.

      They would have to remove the service for me to be happy.

      • says

        But you do have the power of celebrity Andy ;-) and I’m glad to hear they took enough notice to contact you.

        I think the DoFollow folks are pretty wise to this kind of thing but highlighting them does a world of good.

  3. says

    Andy great post. I love seeing you educating Webmasters and bloggers about Netiquette.

    I run a travel forum, which doubles as a honeypot for PHSDL and I have a disclosure of what type of comment link promotion is acceptable.

    http://www.travelinasia.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3803

    I do not mind Webmaster promoting their Websites on my forum as long as they do with style not as Spam. They should write a relevant post or comments and have a link to their Website in the comments. If they are a member of an affiliate program that they want to market they should keeps those links on their Website and not post them in a forum, but post a link to their Website in the forum.

    Andy I also respect your humbleness about commentators.

    (sometimes the comments are better than what I write)

    Let’s all help each other by educating each other about the Internet and supporting each other in our professional endeavor.

  4. says

    Ankit, you are welcome to try my anti-Spam PHSDL filter.

    But you need to be a bit tech savvy to use it. It is not WP plugin, but scriptlet API.

    It is free to use, and it stops Malware and other Spam redirect domains, in comments.

    http://www.phsdl.net

    Anybody wants to give it a go, let me know!

    Let’s fight Spam not Commentators!

    • says

      I have a do follow WordPress blog and I’m using Dave Spam Karma 2 to filter out spam but sometimes the spam bots manage to slip through somehow. Maybe I’ll try that anti-Spam PHSDL filter of yours for a change. btw, I’m not a tech savvy. :D

      • says

        Well let me know if you want to give it a try. You can actually use both PHSDL and Karma at the same time.

        It is not difficult to install. You just need to add a bit of code to your wp-comments-post.php file.

        I do advise you to back up all your WP files and a database before you attempt to modify the code. It is always good to be safe.

        Let me know if you want to try it out.

        • says

          Thanks Igor, I would love to give it a try. So, should I email my request to admin [at] phsdl [dot] net or you can mail it to me. ;) admin [at] JunkieYard [dot] Com
          And another Q. Can it also block the auto link submitter for phpLD? I hate those porn bots. :-/ Thanks again.

        • says

          Yeah just send me an email and I will set it up for you.

          If there is some domain that is not on PHSDL but it is a bad one, I will add it to the list.

          So you can update me from time to time with new Spam domains, and we will populate the list with more bad ones.

  5. says

    I have done my fair share of “comment spam” in an attempt to see if it was worth the effort.

    Results: If you want to rank on page one of Google for search terms that no one searches for, it works! If you desire to be on page three for moderately competitively search terms, it works for that too!

    And, you can accomplish the same results without making yourself look like a spammer who doesn’t know any better. The only real benefit comes from the little PageRank that is passed on some blogs.

    After looking at literally hundreds of link profiles for websites that rank in top positions for a tremendous variety of search phrases, I have come to one conclusion. The website name is the most common anchor text found on these top ranking websites. Then the web address. Then a wide variety of combinations of phrases with a percentage being real “anchor text” as we all know it.

    You can get a boost from a large number of very targeted text for a short period of time. Then Google sees what you are doing and you find your site on page 9. Yes that happened to me, but my personal site is more for testing that anything else. I expected the results I got but thought it would happen sooner than it did.

    Then, just one link from a “low grade” site on a trusted domain sent me back up to page two. Still not quite good enough but it proved what I had read and knew deep inside.

    What these guys don’t understand, it is the quality and the trust factor of the site giving the link that accomplishes what they want, not the overkill quantity they are chasing.

    Live and learn. Smile while you can. They too will one day see that they got the smack by Goog when they thought they were onto something.

  6. says

    You can get good text link from your own Website. Just work it as a tree, from the root up! Root being your domain, then link to second tire pages, which will get good SE resutlts.

    Depending on your inherited overall page rank, you can work down the tiers or not!

    I have a 8 year old domain with PR 4 I get excellent SE results for it, but only tier two. I tried to go tier 3 and the whole site dropped in hits! Some of us call it PR Leak but Matt Cutts says there is no such animal!

    Well I tested and there is. A 50 pounds man cannot lift an 800 pound gorilla!

    No need to have many inbound links. Just get a hand full from trusted Websites. The rest the forums,blogs, and proxies will provide.

    I have 5 Websites and I do not go link shopping. I just evelop content for each site.

    Content is King, the rest is Hype!

    Also remember the Speed Linking SandBox effect. You link in too fast over the short period of time, Google complains!

    Just think of your Website as a mortar and bricks business. Would you over market it? Do what is natural in building your Website profile.

    Do not become Crazy Eddy!

  7. joex says

    Hi Andy,

    Intresting article. I can tell you something though, they are not using Xrumer, as I am a publisher who works with 10 others for them. Its all human based. They paid me over $500 last week for the work I’ve done, they pay me on time. You might not like the service, but there is plenty of people out there who use it and like it, I think their main focus is referral traffic not building and seeking dofollow links.

    Cheers Andy…

  8. says

    I think the stupidity factor needs to be considered as well – people who are just smart enough to figure out how to abuse with comment spam, but not smart enough to understand the corrosive effect.

    A few years ago, these were the folks who bought “1,000,000 email addresses for $100″ and actually tried to send them out.

    Unfortunately, while these people can be a big problem, it’s the people SUPPLYING them that are the bigger issue – because as long as someone holds up ‘nice site’ style comments as a proper option (and provide the tools/services to enable it), these others can go out and spam, drawing the fire, while the sellers stay in the background, collecting money and avoiding the headaches.

  9. joex says

    Dear David,

    SPAM email lists are completely different subject as email spam is automated bulk sending of the same message over and over. This is not done by human, but by a computer without any prior thought. Also email spam is illegal everywhere these days and really outdated, so I don’t know why you are even making the comparison.

    While working with this company some of the feedback my team got while posting on sites from site owners is that we have contributed excellent feedback and content to their sites. They are getting quality content for free. It all depends who is posting, ofcourse sometimes quality suffers but that depends from person to person who is providing the posting. Also they offer the option to your site to be excluded, so if you do not want commentators giving you free content, then you have choice. In any case it is good service, nothing shady and they pay on time. I make money and we like doing it. Like I said before their main goal is driving referral traffic to your site, which is also much much cheaper then google adwords for example if you compare the two, this is why people use it. The second part is seo but main focus is referral traffic. Also it is opinions of people and free content they post, if someone doesnt like this content, they can just tell them to opt out. The posters are also supposed to research the site where they post, so they know the rules of the site before they post.

    • says

      Joex interesting you are posting using some kind of proxy, first time from a Swedish IP, second time from Shaw Cable in Canada.

      Spam = UCE = Unsolicited Commercial Email

      Bulk really doesn’t apply, unless you are looking at the rules of specific ISPs and State laws where quantity of emails might be a factor.

      If something ends up being sent by email, and it is commercial, the law requires things like mailing addresses in the emails.

      I doubt you will ever find a comment policy on a blog which states:-

      “I encourage paid comments from people being paid to pimp 3rd party client sites without disclosure”

      If the links you are dropping are advertising, then where is the disclosure? I am sure the FTC are going to love that.

      It is great to claim that people can opt out of being spammed, but impossible to do so unless they know the source of the spam.

  10. says

    Andy, I have no problem with a Marketer dropping a link on my forum or blog as long as it is relevant or viral.

    I do have a problem if the content of the message is Mass Broadcasted, then it becomes Spam!

    When a user signs up to a forum, they need to have responsibility to contribute in a positive way and not Duplicate the content all over the Internet.

    That is why I built http://www.phsdl.net Filter to stop mass broadcasting by software like XRumer.

    While I welcome human participation, I will catch the bots and will add the domains on PBSL.

    Users beware!

    As a market you hold professional responsibility for your clients’ domains and brand. Eventhough you cloak the domain with redirects, people who run PBSL are not stupid. We check to which domain the redirect goes to! We see it too many times we put the client domain on the Spam list as well.

    Having your domain on a publicly broadcasted Spam list is very bad publicity for your Brand!

    Once someone associates your business and product with Spam the information gets snowballed on the Internet via social media networks.

    You get a bad name for your company! Public perception of your product is very important. So if you think positive marketing brings you new clients and sales, negative marketing hurts you because you lose customers.

    Do not Spam!

  11. says

    I could not agree more. I also have removed the NoFollow from both my blogs (and written extensively about it!), because I believe it is a fair trade. People leave comments and create a sense of community – and over time perhaps even create a community – and I know that leaving them a little link juice is not just a fair trade, but also a good incentive to return.

    We both have good blog, IMHO, and so do dozens, maybe even hundreds of other on the topic. We can’t spend time reading every blog and forum around, but all other things being equal, I head to the places where my time and effort spent leaves a little extra bonus for me, not just the blogger. Of course, all things are not equal, and the forum I spend the most time at is a NoFollow forum.

    I have no problem with software that seeks out DoFollow blogs for people, but once on my blog, I do expect some intelligent commentary (not the “bulk” messages some software out there are peddling – spam, indeed!). And as my blog grows in popularity, I will raise the bar on what qualifies as intelligent.

  12. says

    To Igor, “content is king” is not accurate, read this article to find out why http://www.v7n.com/pagerank-wins.php

    PageRank does matter. In fact, anchor text and inbound links is 95% of effective search engine optimization. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not practice real search engine optimization. Real search engine optimization focuses on link acquisition. Content is second to links.

    To Andy, you can always find out the source by simply contacting advertiser, maybe sometimes they won’t tell you who the uplink is but in most cases they are. FTC is not concerned with this stuff, there are so many pay per post blogs out there, you even backed one yourself before, payperpost.com.

    They only introduced disclaimers recently, but there is so many which do not have disclaimers, I could name a ton, but I won’t, you can look them up, pay per post model has been around for a while now and people haven’t been using disclaimers of any kind. They know google and other search engines watch disclaimers.

    In my opinion there is nothing wrong with posting quality comments on some blogs, and Ill give dofollow for this as long as the content is related to the discussion. As for the service, I haven’t used it myself, but I heard lot of buzz from people who used it to build good SERP’s in combination with solid content writing.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Cheers.

  13. says

    These guys have been spamming my forum for the last couple months. I contacted them today and got this email back.


    Please understand that we do not spam anyone. We have over 25,000+ people we
    work with. We do not know which sites they visit and where they post. They
    were supposed to be following rules and not abusing our system. If you tell
    me the ip address and URL, then I can try to ban them from the program.

    On their site is says


    1. Advertiser Creates Message Content Describing Their Product/Service
    2. Message Content Gets Approved By Our QA Department
    3. Multiple Publishers Log-In And Review Created Message Content
    4. Publishers Recieve Highly Ranked, Visited and Relevant Forum, Blog, Wiki and Other Types Of Websites
    5. Publishers Check The Rules Of Each Website And Deliver The Message Content Using Our Indirect Social Signature Posting Approach ( or Regular Posting Approach For Wiki/Classified Types Of Websites )
    6. Content That Is Delivered Includes The Link To Product/Service As Specified By The Advertiser

    Maybe I am missing something but it looks like they lie as well as they spam.

  14. nihtin says

    can you help me out how to make post on widecircles, from last 6 months im trying to post on this website but im unable to post its waiting approval or moderation how to avoid this any suggestion

    Regards
    Nithin,

  15. says

    I have no idea why anyone would want to have something to do with Widecircles

    If you have done some work for them, I am sorry but I am not going to help you – you should have researched them before undertaking any of their “jobs”

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