Comment spam can be the scourge of website owners everywhere – but is not always a bad thing, depending on your point of view. Putting it simply, comment spam is a comment posted on a blog or forum by someone whose sole aim is to gain exposure for a link.
The trend for spamming blogs and forums is widespread, not least because of the plethora of SEO experts and agencies who promote the benefits of inbound links. The more quality links you have pointing to your site, the more popular you will appear to Google and Bing – and popularity translates into a better position in search results. So there is an industry full of people who spend their time posting comments on thousands of websites to try to gain benefit.
For a blog owner, it’s nice to see people commenting on posts, especially if your blog doesn’t attract much in the way of feedback, but do you really want your blog about health food being littered with innocuous posts by people linking to “legal professionals”, “paper manufacturing” or “best R4 card downloads”? If you have a nicely-themed blog, lots of outbound links to irrelevant things may hinder your own rank because they dilute your relevance to your important search terms.
Anyone who spends a lot of time dealing with the worst kind of comment spam will know that most of it seems to be posted from India or China, with a fair amount also coming from other Asian countries. This is because there are many online workers who agree to earn a pittance to post so-called quality links on the web for paying clients who are trying to increase their link count.
We have in fact seen evidence of a top SEO company (one which boasts about its genuine approach to SEO) using this very same practice. Spam traced back to the company was actually posted by someone in Mexico. The SEO agency, when challenged, said it had sub-contracted its client’s work to another company who had perhaps subcontracted it further.
What’s the difference between comment spam and normal comments with links?
Answering this question depends on your own set of values. Here are three examples of common forum posts:
“I just joining this forum. Very nice can’t wait to be speaking with you all guys. Lots of information here.”
“Hey everyone. I have been struggling to find a holiday this year for myself and my family. I had to share this service I found, because it really solved my problem. The site is www.xyztravel.com”
“Nice post, we have also been looking at this issue in our company. You can see our own article about this here [link]…”
In the first example, someone is joining a forum and posting no links. This is typical of a person in India or another Asian country who is well versed in how to bypass your spam rules. Invariably, they will post a few more times, and then edit links into their signature, ensuring it appears in all their previous posts. They know that administrators are often wray of newcomers, so they wait a few posts before they start spamming. The bad English is often an instant giveaway.
In the second example, someone has joined the forum just to post a link to something – nine times out of ten you will find that this person either runs that company or they work for it. When told they are spamming against the rules, they will sometimes say they are just posting useful information – whether you allow them to get away with it is up to you.
The third example is a genuine reply, but it could also be opportunistic spam. Someone with relevant input on your topic replies, which is good, but the link implies they are taking advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves. Some site owners don’t like this (and that’s why the “nofollow” tag was invented, after all), but it is good nevertheless because the link is relevant to the page.
Whether a comment can be considered spam is purely subjective. What is certain is the fact that any site that lets the public post content to it requires constant and careful attention.