If you allow comments on your blog, be sure you keep an eye out for comment link spam. It can cause your site SEO problems.
Over the past few weeks, I wrote about my takes on guest posting and link insertion. This time around, I wanted to talk about comment link spam.
I realize that comments can be a true sore spot for bloggers. Many of us realized quite a few years back that comments were largely dying on blogs. It became more and more difficult to get people to comment.
Many of the comments that did come in seemed spammy. They included non-specific praise of the article that never mentioned specifics. Instead, they included thoughts like, “This was very informative.” What about the post was so informative? We have no idea.
But the tipoff came in another field: the URL. The comment’s URL pointed to a commercial site that did not appear to be written by the commenter at all.
It’s all about SEO.
I know what you’re thinking. Those initials…again! Bloggers throw the term SEO around largely without having any idea what it means.
“Why do you do it that way?”
“Oh, it’s for SEO.”
What is SEO? First, you should know that it stands for Search Engine Optimization. Second, you should know that “search engine optimization” is a fancy term for improving your search rankings.
In English, please? Okay. When someone searches for keywords you blog about on Google (or any other search engine), you want your blog listings to be at the top of search results. (At least, you want them to be as close to the top as possible.)
So search engine optimization is an overall strategy to improve your site’s search rankings.
The problem comes when bloggers only focus on their own site’s SEO and forget that other sites are doing what they can for their own. Unfortunately, sometimes that means they’re hoping to use your site to further their own site’s SEO.
So it’s really about links.
When Google sees multiple websites pointing to another site, particularly the same article on another site, Google makes an important assumption. It assumes that article must be a good source of information since all these other sites are directing visitors to it.
Guest posts fall into this because they often contain links to other sites designed to improve that site’s SEO. Every guest post I’ve ever been asked to include — I turn them all down — has a specified number of outbound links going in. They mention during the pitch for the post that there will be links.
Requests for link insertion carry the same issue. Companies email me asking me to insert a link to their “great resource” into an article I’ve written in the past. That article may or may not have any direct connection to the page they want me to link to.
That’s the problem here, folks. The writers don’t care if they’re providing useful content. They certainly don’t care if they’re providing content that truly relates to the topic. They just want the links.
Comment link spam does the same thing. When a comment link spammer enters a specific link in the URL field of the comment form, that link points to a page for which they’re trying to improve SEO.
Why else would a comment praising an article about a good dining experience have a link to a post about the “5 Best Consumer Credit Cards” or a page titled, “Find the lowest homeowner’s insurance near you”?
Those are examples, but sometimes, they’re just that blatant.
What’s a blogger to do to fight comment link spam?
I added into my comment policy that I don’t accept links to commercial sites. I get the game. They just won’t play it here.
Neil Patel recently wrote about this problem. He found one clever way to remove that temptation in his comment form: He removed the URL field completely.
But Patel recommends additional steps. There’s Akismet, a plugin designed to identify spam — and it performs surprisingly well. There’s also turning on comment moderation, a step many hate to do. (I argued against it for years before finally changing my mind when comment link spam became too annoying to fool with.)
There are other things you can do as well, and he mentions them in the link above.
See what I did there? I gave Patel two links in my article. But I have a reason for that. I found his articles insightful and valuable. I think anyone who wants to look at fighting comment link spam on their blog might benefit from reading them.
As a blogger, it’s my decision which links I’ll allow my post to point to, not the decision of a link spammer.