Friday 13th – A Very Bad Day for Comment Spammers

 

Nice search engine friendly links are a great way to reward valuable members of the community of any blog, but they are certainly not a right, and still find myself deleting 50+ worthless comments every day.

Most disturbing of all though are the SEO consultants and agencies who I have caught commenting on behalf of their clients, or as themselves with a link through to a client’s site. Some of them are totally dumb about it.

I now have a new comments policy in force though most of it is just a clearer interpretation of what has been in place for the last 3+ years.

Comment Policy Update: Nov 13th 2009 Keywords Etc

Looks like Friday 13th is a very bad day for comment spammers…

  • No more keywords within anchor text in the comment fields
  • No sig links under comments
  • Highly relevant links in the body of a comment can contain anchor text such as the blog title but they will be judged on a case by case basis.
  • Even after these changes, I still expect to delete 90% of human comments as the vast majority are just an attempt to get a link rather than adding real value to the conversation.
  • SEO Consultants/Agencies – If I catch you commenting but linking to a client’s site, your online reputation, your firm’s and that of your client are being put at severe risk.

My full comment policy

I should really do an update about Disqus, but we can save that for another day – I still haven’t found enough time to fully clean up the mess they left my comments in, and some things will never be recovered.

This is part of my cleanup for when the new FTC rules come into effect at the beginning of December, though effectively the new US rules aren’t any stricter than rules currently in Europe & UK.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I actually get surprisingly VERY little human comment spam these days…. I do link to a post where I outed somebody who went a bit overkill (about ten comments within an hour) – you sphunn that one lol – maybe that’s why.

    And generally speaking my comments look pretty clean so spammers having a look at the type of comments I let fly these days must be catching on….

    I don’t mind the odd one or 3, but it usually depends on the quality of the comment these days.

    • says

      Last week I got to the stage where some days I was catching 3 or 4 agencies comment spamming for clients – possibly because I stopped Rickrolling the SEOmoz spider but also because I am on so many dofollow comment lists and search engines.

      Now they have a clear warning, and I will most likely contact their clients and propose they join Stompernet to learn something about SEO & outsourcing before hiring an SEO company ;)

      • says

        Hey Andy,

        I knew I couldn’t be the only one fighting those idiots! With 2 Anti-Sp@m plugins I still get a few human submitted comments which fall into exact same category you describe.

        Funny thing – they fail to realize that it only takes me one click to spam their comment and it takes them time to submit it. If all bloggers stop accepting those type of comments – I think this is a war that can be easily won :-)

        • says

          The sad part is I have already deleted over 50 human comments from this post due to anchor text, spam etc

          I am determined the battle can at least become manageable.

    • says

      you might think so, but it also means you’re punishing your real commenter’s.

      it’s very selfish; “yeah, I’ll take your comment to improve my own blog, but I’m not giving you a link back” … not nice!

      don’t let the scum set the rules!

    • says

      Nofollow doesn’t put off spammers. I’ve read more than one blog post stating that nofollow links helped to drive search engine results to a particular page.

      I’ve been doing much the same as this for quite some time!

  2. says

    I get a fair amount of comment spam, most often the “nice post i am retweeting this” type of garbage. Fortunately Disqus makes it relatively quick and easy to moderate and block those types of comments. Perhaps the best moderation feature in Disqus is the Also apply to existing comments feature when blacklisting. This is great for the spammers that blast you with multiple spam comments.

  3. says

    Well, I’m posting in my own name for my won site, so no worries – this doesn’t apply to me -.

    *SEO Consultants/Agencies – If I catch you commenting but linking to a client’s site, your online reputation, your firm’s and that of your client are being put at severe risk.

    but isn’t that a bit strong?
    ok, I get why of course, 90% of the crappy comments you get and need to be deleted are from SEO’rs doing it for their clients, but as long they actually add value to the conversation, if they are professional enoughj to indeed deliver FREE extra quality content for site, I don’t think they should get burned, it’s almost like a witch hunt.

    don’t get me wrong, I also hate those spammers etc. but as long the SEO’rs do it with respect (= post quality comments) I think you should give them that respect as well, after all they’re just trying to make a living, by helping their clients making a living and … adding extra content to your site … it’s free for you …

    just a reality check – posting for a client is not a criminal act – threatening their livelihood is!!!!

    • says

      Links back to the website of the person actually leaving the comment could be looked on as a legal necessity, not the other way around, as it provides a form of disclosure.

      Take for instance your response to my post here, and when I look at your website I see that actually what I have done is attacked one of your business models.

      3) Blog Comment Posting Service
      Spamming the hell out of a bunch of blog’s is NOT what we do!!
      First we collect a list of related blog’s for your site and we have native English staff who will make meaningful posts. This is really the best way to for high-value-link-building.

      Commenting as a service can only realistically be provided as a compliment to other services so for instance the person hired to write content for a blog should respond to comments on the blog. I argued this when paid blog comment services started to appear 2 years ago. But they should write the content in their own name, so they “belong” to the blog and comments elsewhere would be in response to things like pingbacks, or in some ways promoting their own content.

      However there are still problems – blog commenting is quite often a spontaneous act – you can’t have a chain of approvals for days before a comment is left.

      If you can persuade people who run pills porn & casino sites to pay for blog commenting I don’t care, I will delete those comments anyway, though it is wasting my time.

      Blog commenting on behalf of legitimate businesses for building links from my perspective is a bigger sin.

      • says

        really?

        commenting on behalf of legitimate businesses for building links from my perspective is a bigger sin

        a bigger sin?

        you mean an easier target to spew your own personal frustration you mean? (I’m not trying to insult you – I honestly believe this is why you make the mistake of threatening people’s livelihood)

        again, yes, there are spammers out there, leaving totally irrelevant comments, not participating in the conversation, not creating any added value … yes, they’re scum and should get their asses kicked, but that’s not the issue here.

        what you’re doing is just as wrong, although the other way around.

        you quote a little piece of our site; I can’t show you any of the comments we made for clients, but no doubt that the blog owners are very happy with the comments we leave, as we give them high value FREE extra content, their blogs benefit from it!!

        it’s like you’re saying that only the CEO of a company is allowed to sell the company’s product/services, and that the sale team are a bunch of crooks (ok, most are) but I hope you get the picture I’m trying to paint

        I understand where you come from, but you’re taking it 1 step to far and so are going in the wrong yourself …

        you might think I’m just protecting my business, sure enough I am, but there’s more to it; I wouldn’t do it if I would think it’s wrong – I don’t think it’s wrong.

        the blog owner gets free content, the client gets a link for it in return – it’s fair trade!

        sincerely,

        Michiel

        • says

          No matter what edge cases you might come up with, and there are edge cases as I defined within the linked post that are legitimate and would be acceptable, posing as a represetive of a company when you are not is based upon my understanding of general european law, illegal.
          My interpretation is that with business to consumer there isn’t even much wiggle room for debate, certainly according to what I have read in the UK consumer protection act.

          Pay special attention to one of the comments by Susan Singleton who I also highlighted in a followup blogpost

          Whilst you can think of how valuable the comments made by people posing as someone else are, I have had situations where 2 people from the same SEO firm were posting comments posing as 5 different clients – having a conversation with themselves.

          When I sent them an email telling them to stop, they didn’t even bother to reply to me, they carried on posting fake comments to their payday loan clients.

          The comments were actually good content – I deleted it all, and really should have sent them a bill for the time it took moderating their comments.

          • says

            ok, but you totally bypass my most important remark; you’re threatening other people’s livelihood! that’s not just illegal, that’s criminal.

            AND, when I’m hired by a company to represent them on the internet by making blog comments, then I’m not posing as a represetive of a company , as by them hiring me to represent them! so nothing illegal there!

            anyway, my point is not that you don’t have the right to do whatever you think you need to do protect yourself from people who are trying to abuse your site, that’s very understandable, and I’m with you on that one, but you have to do that within the law yourself!

            that’s my point!

            I understand how frustrating it is to have to deal with those drive-by spammers, but you still have to respect the law yourself just as well and threatening other people’s livelihood is a severe crime, people do jail time for that!

            I see this is still on your site:
            “SEO Consultants/Agencies – If I catch you commenting but linking to a client’s site, your online reputation, your firm’s and that of your client are being put at severe risk.”
            that’s a threat to people livelihood and not just illegal, it’s criminal!!

            you really need to take that out or at least rephrase it.

          • says

            If someone’s business is spraying graffiti over my house, and even if I clean it up one of their friends or competitors sprays more over my house within a couple of hours, I think I am at liberty to post a sign saying that spraying graffiti on my house is not allowed and if they persist I will take whatever actiion necessary to prevent them doing it.

            In the past I have contacted the agencys directly and told them to stop – many have just ignored my emails – others were grateful I didn’t write a blog post about it and changed their internal procedures. I should have charged them $500 for my consulting time.

            I think my new approach won’t be “naming and shaming” in an overt manner though conversations like I have had with Christina here in the comments aren’t scaleable, and I have had 10 such conversations in recent months.

            If my actions threaten your business, change your business – blog comment spam doesn’t just threaten my business, it sucks it dry of valuable resources, creates a terrible experience for my readers, in many cases contravenes the consumer protection act in the UK, and potentially damages my search engine rankings.

          • says

            Andy,

            let’s turn this conversation around, after all I do understand where you come from and I appreciate that you do give dofollow links.

            i just think there are better ways to deal with this isuue;
            you could create a login, and then you can set it up so that people only get auto approved after they made 5-10 comments, whatever you set, but more important, I only give dofollow links to people who have a related site, not just for those who give quality comments, but only those who also have a related site, as that’s more important for you; you shouldn’t be linking to unrelated sites.

            and i don’t understand why you have so much trouble with spammers, just install askimet …

            cheers,

            Michiel

          • says

            The problem is you are looking at this from the perspective of someone looking to build links for clients.

            I would have the same comment policy even if I didn’t have dofollow links.

            For me a comment is the opinion of a person, and the purpose of the link is for readers to find out more about that person and why they have that specific point of view.

            A competent SEO would be able to gain significant benefit from the authority build up from a personal profile page – maybe not as much benefit as direct deep linking with keyword focused terms but because of the potentially higher stick rate with a lot less friction to overcome on a link that isn’t overtly for link building, any shortcomings are probably negated.

            A login procedure only has benefit if it can be monetized by increasing permission to market to people.

            Related site doesn’t matter to me – a comment is by a person, so if a person leaves a comment, and link through to something that is related to them, it is a good link.

            Akismet? I am not a fan of collective intelligence for comment spam, plus there are privacy issues.

  4. Raymond Fellers says

    I do some commenting for backlink value myself, but always try to contribute something of value to the discussion. I see a lot of people offering “high PR” link lists, but what they don’t tell you is that while the site may have a high PR, the comments page has zero page rank.

  5. says

    Andy I understand what your talking about here and I know what your doing, I do think you put it the wrong way and a lot of people are going to get the wrong idea about what you have said.

    First off, the human comment spammers are not going to pay any attention to it. They still get paid even if you don’t approve the comment.

    At one point in my internet career I worked as a paid form poster and blog poster and I always provided quality content to the site. I see it as I provided a service for the people who paid me as well as providing a service for those who read the comments I made.

    Link building is one of the only ways most legitimate businesses have to even compete against black hats unless they have a lot of money to blow on advertising. And we are reaching a point where people are revolting against most forms of modern advertising anyway. This fact may not be initially apparent as the numbers say more was spent on internet advertising this year than on traditional advertising. what those numbers don’t tell you on the surface is that internet advertising has actually become more expensive than traditional advertising in many ways and this trend will continue until it prices out most small businesses like traditional forms of advertising has.

    As long as search engines determine page rank by the number of links your site / page has people will be doing this and they should, its just good business.

    With all that said, those SEO experts must be some pretty stupid people because you would never catch me if I chose to link build on your site. Out of respect I am not going to mention how I would do the work because I don’t want the scumbags who would abuse to to learn how myself.

    I no longer do paid posting or blog work, I have enough work in writing for clients and working on my blog network to keep me busy for the next decade. LOL.

    Those keyword link names are pretty useful though, a shame about that. Its the abuse that led you to your decision. Having run a blog for about 9 months now, I see all of my comment spam is in three areas: 1. Porn, 2. Drugs, 3. Travel. These three cats are so competitive that no one just starting out has a snowball’s chance in hell of ranking unless they do something like comment spam and the financial rewards are high for doing so, but personally I’d never do something like that. The sheer crap comments I get 50-100 of a day turned my stomach a long time ago.

    • says

      There are ways to do it that even I would look on as legitimate.

      Create a staff profiles page on the site, and establish the person as a member of the company’s marketing team.
      Have the person post blog posts on the company blog, maybe just using a first name

      The most legitimate deep link when commenting is to a personal profile page at a company.
      http://companyname.com/profile/employeename

      From that page you can deep link to specific key content with whatever anchor text you like.

      There are other alternatives… maybe a profile on WordPress.org ;)

  6. David Anderson says

    I think it’s pretty cool that you have dofollow links… I can understand using nofollow to block out spam and such but, it took away a very easy way to build links. I’m nearly clueless on link building and have no idea what to do.

    • says

      Link to poor quality amazon affiliate site removed

      It didn’t have any way to determine who the recommendation was coming from, or that the site contained affiliate links.

      If you were in the UK, then crap like that has been illegal for 2 years

  7. says

    Some of the things SEO agencies do for linking is embarrassing. Leaving comments like “great post” on a blog or forum is really low quality work and leaves a footprint for the client site. Blog / Forum commenting is a good way to get some links but really it should be done in a more thoughtful way. I don’t know why they don’t look around the market, find an active blogger / forum member and employ them to create links whilst also adding value (if they are active in that market, they probably have some good stuff to say).

  8. says

    Looking forward to your Disqus post Andy. I’ve recently removed both Disqus and Intense Debate from a number of my sites because the issues (and not just SEO ones.. page load time etc, syncing etc..) just became to much.

    With regards to your comments policies. Very good. Your blog is your “living room” and you get to set the rules and tone :)

  9. says

    wow thats some interesting discussion going on here. I used to go through and just de link comments that were from keyword spammers. Now though I usually just hit spam, unless they are actually useful. Then I will approve the comment, remove the link and change the name on it to something with spammer in it.

    Fortunately I don’t have to edit out 50 comments a day… yet…

  10. says

    Hi Andy,
    This is the same thing that I did a few weeks back when I created a comment policy on my blog. I’ve had a rough time especially when I turned my blog to dofollow while incorporating Keywordluv plugin for WP, abuse happened all over unexpectedly so I decided to put up a comment policy, removed the plugin and cleaned up all the comments at the back end.

    A lesson learned the hard way but it’s worth it.

    • says

      Whilst I am still a stong proponent of dofollow, I have always been pretty strict within the boundary of the rules I set – I had a comments policy from day #1, and even devised ways to try to enforce people read it before the comment form was activated.
      I have some other plans that will hopefully help.

      • says

        Hi Andy,
        I’m also an advocate of dofollow like you. I failed to mention that behind everything that has happened, I kept my blog dofollow but stringent with my comment policy.

  11. says

    My blog is in its infancy at the moment, only been running a month or so. I get excited when I see that comment to approve message in wordpress panel, and I do get spammers of course but most will actually leave some sort of comment, but what annoys me is the automated bots that leave randome letters and number with a link attached to it, when I am clearly going to delte it, I work hard to get my blog established and rarely get to bed before 2am. The blog is growing and I have 20 subscribers now and roughly 40 hits a day, so when people spam on the back of my hard work it annoys me.

  12. says

    It seems that any post these days with PR>1 gets loads of comment spam. People don’t realise that many blogs are nofollow and that if a post has lots of comments already the link juice is spread between them all meaning the link in your comment carries less weight (that’s if the blog is dofollow).

  13. says

    Andy, I am DoFollow+CommentLuv since long time ago, so I placed a clear notice in terms and privcay to avoide link-dropping/spams/irrelevant commets to whatever post. Last month, after approving a relative comment to a post, I suddently found hight traffic from a specific link directly after this so when traced back, I found an SEO Consultant from a forum who celebrates placing a link in my blog. In fact, it is the first time to miss this. I am sharing this expirement with you so people can be aware beside the normal spam comments

  14. says

    Hi Andy

    I know what you feel and I also do some commenting for back link value myself, but always try to contribute something of value to the discussion. I guess the spam cant be remove its part of web marketing. i know its bad but we cant do anything about it…

  15. says

    Surprisingly (or not?) heavy amounts of spam comments seem to come in whenever I absent myself from blogging / updating for 2 days or more; and I do get spam of any kind, but I’m just glad I never got any SEO agencies playing ‘dirty’ like that too. I fully understand why you’d start being harsh on what comments to approve or not, and I wish you thoughtful commenters here, since your entries are never superficial. Your blog deserves more than then usual one-line comment. :)

    P.S. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it an ‘all compliment’ comment, but I have been browsing / reading your blog these last three days and I caught myself spending more than an hour reading attentively, and that only happens when I read something interesting and worth of my time.

  16. vijaysub says

    Comments are spam if they contribute nothing to the conversation! if the comment will not be useful to the people reading the thread then its spam.

    I handle SEO for my company and we have a few blogs. It was time consuming to keep spammers at bay and I was forced to take the ‘nofollow’ route. I do feel bad for i know there are genuine people who write good comments!

    • Christina says

      Honestly, I usually comment on behalf of someone, but I try to make sure I contribute to the topic being posted. I actually read a lot and learn a lot as well doing this thing. I even follow some blogs when they really catch my attention with something that I’m really interested at.

      Though I know there’s a need have a strict guidelines with adding comments, it should also be fair for those who really would like to contribute to the conversation. Honestly, I hate spammers too. I don’t in fact, read and post comments full of spams…

      You may delete my comments but that’s okay, I just wanted to share my thoughts about being fair both with blog commenters and those that can’t afford to build links themselves.

      Thanks to those who support do follow blogs and tend to keep the quality of comments well moderated.

      • says

        I deleted the link

        What Design Toronto Web should do, if you are legitimate is somehow create you a profile, even if you are in some way an outsourced/remote linkbuilder. Their blog itself is totally devoid of humanity – all posts by “admin”

        If you are linkbuilding for their clients, be aware that your IP address from the Philipinnes really gives the game away.

        • Christina says

          Hi Andy, me again…this time I’m speaking for myself. I like the way you are bold. I guess I really have to follow your blog, tried to browse all the articles and it was good. I hope you don’t have any thing against Filipino workers trying to make a living…

          Don’t worry I won’t spam your blog…as mentioned I hate spammers too and bloggers who don’t do anything about it…glad that you maintain the quality of your site…I just hope I still get to keep my job after your post.

          • says

            I hope they dont, as to be honest they are not providing you with the “online personal profile” to make the task transparent.

            Here is an example of a Filipino linkbuilder I had a good idea of what the relationship was, but it didn’t matter

            http://andybeard.eu/1280/internet-marketing-comment-spam.html

            I highlighted Joy Gustilo there, and at the same time Russell Brunson’s company for whom she works.

            I say works… but I think her direct employers are Eversun… but that doesn’t matter.

            Whilst Russells site is currently a little under construction so Joy doesn’t currently have a working profile… and her links are going a little to waste, at least that one from me, she used to have her own profile page which was linked from a company page about their employees. From memory there was even a team phot that included both Russell and Joy, so maybe he flew out to meet his out-sourced team, or he flew them in for some training.

            By establishing an identity of some kind, in most niches probably best not to list yourself as a “Link builder” for someone, but blogger outreach, online marketing specialist etc would be more appropriate, you can get away with a lot more.

            If everyone went around and played fair with a little more transparancy, I probably wouldn’t have been forced to draw a line in the sand which is probably a lot more restrictive than I would personally prefer. I have said in the past that not being able to leave good anchor text is a waste of a link, but it is the only way I can currently work.
            At the same time I need some level of legitimacy/representation .

  17. says

    “I still expect to delete 90% of human comments as the vast majority are just an attempt to get a link rather than adding real value to the conversation.”

    Ditto on my end. And whoever solves *that* problem is in to make a fortune.

  18. e-commerce says

    Comments are spam if they contribute nothing to the conversation! if the comment will not be useful to the people reading the thread then its spam.

    I feel that spammers are in trouble now, i have few blogs, and really i am fed off spammy links.

  19. says

    It always amazes me when I get comment spam on my blog, I must delete 5-10 per day. Most of it looks like some automated spam mostly from .ru sites. I thought about posting a ‘comment policy’ but I doubt it would deter the real spammers…. fortunately a few clicks of the ‘spam’ button in WordPress is all I have to deal with at the moment.

  20. says

    I think it is only fair that you insert your own anti-spam policy, I believe in dofollow in comments because it is right to reward the most active users with a backlink. In the past memory of a great web site with dofollow comments. Remember that the author had to approve after reading the comment. This could be the solution but if it were in his blog commented much we would lose much time. In my site I decided to no longer use a plugin for dofollow to comment after a specific number of interventions

    • says

      I always advise people who haven’t got time not to have dofollow comments, and there are also specific things to do to mitigate any negative SEO effect from having too many

  21. says

    Hello.
    I think it’s pretty cool that you have dofollow links… I can understand using nofollow to block out spam and such but, it took away a very easy way to build links. I’m nearly clueless on link building and have no idea what to do.

  22. Christina says

    Thanks for the link, now I understand your point and somehow got me thinking. I guess I have to wait for your next blog post and learn something new again..

    By the way I do have my own site, I just don’t promote it yet, still reading a lot of stuff how to make money out of my blog…I saw your article as well regarding that, I’ll be reading it in awhile.

  23. says

    So I can’t be “Dane Morgan | Something Cool And Descriptive” anymore? I’m crushed, I tell ya, crushed.

    Well, you know me, I’m always headed in the other direction. I think I might get around to installing keyword luv…

    Course, not being an SEO guy, I have less to prove from courting Google’s love.

  24. says

    So I can’t be “Dane Morgan | Something Cool and Descriptive” any more? I’m crushed, man!

    Speaking of your policies, what are your thoughts on my using them for a base to model some of my own?

    • says

      Feel free to use whatever you like from anywhere on the blog

      I might modify things a little in the near future for people who have displayed an extreme amount of trusted behaviour and possibly add keyword luv as well for those that meet similar requirements.

  25. says

    Yup Andy..You are rite..Nowdays a lots of people make a comment just for the backlink and sometimes its not revelen with the current topic.. But for me if you change your blog to Nofollow.. i think the visitor to your blog will decrease and your popularity will go down.. is that true Andy??? Pls reply me Andy..Anyway thank you so much..

    • says

      If I switched to 100% nofollow, I would get less spam comments – I think most of the people who are part of my community would still comment.

      What it would potentially reduce is growing that community

      The big question is what is the value of community members in content, links or just monetary value from potential sales.

  26. says

    I hate when people post dofollow blog lists in forums such as DigitalPoint. It doesn’t matter when people say “Please post quality comments only and don’t spam” because people WILL spam. This one guy posted about a PR 8 blog once and the guy turned off dofollow the next day.

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