If your company has a website, then chances are you have a blog or are part of some kind of social media platform. If that’s the case then you’re probably familiar with spam. I’m not talking about the kind of spam that fills up your email inbox. I mean comments on your blog posts such as thinly veiled compliments that include links to irrelevant websites; or comments that are just lists of links.
Spam can be more than just an annoyance. It can be damaging to both your industry reputation and the integrity of your website. On top of that, spam links are considered low quality links, and you can be held responsible for removing them when Google decides to penalize the commenter.
Not every company’s audience automatically engages in discussions, but you can usually tell when a comment legitimately compliments your site, asks a question, provides insight, or offers a counterpoint. Comments that are obviously spammy make you look unprofessional, careless, or ignorant of how to properly maintain a social media forum. Here are some things to be aware of:
- Comments from different users through the same domain
- Comments from the same user or users across different posts that take a “cookie-cutter” approach – they are identical and contain a lot of links back to their own domain
- Comments that are vague or are not relevant to your content (my favorite series of spam comments one day compared fresh trout to fresh salmon, detailing why both were so good)
- Links embedded in the comment with anchor text that is irrelevant to the content
- Excessive links or lists of links
- Requests that the reader leave your site to visit the commenter’s site
- Marketing and promotional offers
Danger to Your Site
Links in spam can contain malware. You or your blog readers can infect your computers by clicking on those links. Even worse, the links can get your site flagged or penalized for carrying malware. That warning replaces your description in Google’s search results, and then you can kiss your traffic and rankings good-bye. Meanwhile you get to spend hours going back through your posts trying to delete comments until you can figure out which one had the malware. Then you have to resubmit your site to Google and wait for approval before the warning is removed.
What You Can Do
If you have a blog, install a spam blocking plugin when possible. Moderate your comments daily and report suspicious replies or comments on social media sites. Most importantly, never click the links in the comments unless you know they come from a trusted source!
Spam is something that will never go away, but you can at least reduce the impact it has on your blog or social media profile. While some marketers use blog comments as part of link building campaigns, a good marketer makes sure to leave well thought out comments, keyword rich anchor text, and links to content that is relevant to yours. Take the time to know the difference.