I'm sure every blogger reading this post has gotten spam on their site at some point. We know to hate it. We know to get rid of it. And many of us several plugins to decrease the amount of spam we get. In my own quest to fight spam, I found myself often asking: is this comment spam? What makes it spam? And if I don't mark it as spam–what happens to it? What happens to my site?!
Spam is a comment on your site that tries to utilize your comment field as a means of increase their SEO (search engine optimization). Typically you'd find a comment that looks something like:
Name: VEGAN UNICORN MEAT!!
Comment: EAT RARE DELICIOUS VEGAN UNICORN MEAT! LOTS OF IRON & PROTEIN!!!
While annoying, yes, and irrelevant, absolutely– you wonder, what's the actual HARM of spam if it gets through?
There's not a single post past 2009 that indicates why spam is bad on a blog. Within the last several years, many of the major publishing platforms–Blogger, WordPress, have automatically added a ref=”nofollow” code to comments. This means that unless it is manually changed, that any spammer leaving comments will not gain SEO perks from leaving a comment on your site.
Basically, spam comments now are just annoying and irrelevant. They're commenting on every site in hopes of finding one that doesn't have that ref=”nofollow” code attached to their comment form or that people will at least click on their comments. In the past though, Google would penalize people's pageranks (like they do now) for abusing SEO practices. Too many spam comments could hurt your site, but this seems to be less the case now.
How to Tell If a Comment's Spam
Lemme tell you, internet marketers are getting SNEAKY.
Sometimes I'll find a comment that will come through WordPress, approved as a legitimate comment. But closer looks at it will show that they're spam– pure and simple. Tricky spam might look like this:
Comment: This article is really interesting! I find that vegan unicorn fur is a natural, sustainable alternative to wearing real fur. No unicorns were harmed in the making of vegan unicorn fur, and the unicorns have a blast growing out their fur for clothing!
You look at it and think– that's a person's name! That's an insightful comment! But… then there's that link to some sketchy and weird site. Is it spam? In the past I've always marked it as such, just to be safe. When questioning this kind of spam, I found a great little resource on a forum that offered this suggestion:
Good comment: One that provides value and does not use keyword in the name field
Bad comment: Provides little or no value. largely associated with keywords in name field
Are you diligent about rejecting spam? Do you let the useful and relevant ones slip through the cracks? How do you feel as a blogger when you see spam in a blogger's comments–does it impact your perception of the site?
Image by Thomas Hawk.