How to Recognize Comment Spam in Your Blog
So you’ve got a nice little blog supporting your business, you’re posting regularly, and you’ve found a balance between being too tame and too controversial for your topics. But your comment threads are full of spam – bland, vague comments that do nothing to further the conversation, and worse yet, link out to untrustworthy sites that can harm your site directly and by association.
As long as webmasters keep finding ways to identify comment spam, spammers will keep finding ways to evade detection. The comment spamming arms race will likely continue as long as spamming is still profitable (i.e., forever), but here are some of the latest tricks spammers use, and solutions you can employ to fight them. As an added bonus, we’ll include freshly harvested examples of spam from this very blog.
Vague, Generalized Comments
This is the most obvious sign of a spammer. When evaluating a suspect comment, ask yourself what would change if your post was about something different. Nothing? Sometimes spammers will include a snippet of text from your blogpost to make their comment seem relevant. This tends to be pretty easy to spot, especially if you’re in the habit of replying to comments on your blog.
(By the way, if you’re not in the habit of replying to comments, now’s the time to start. Spam is like graffiti: an abandoned building is more likely to be vandalized than one that looks well-maintained. Regularly replying to your visitors will make your site much less attractive to spammers because it shows that someone’s paying attention.)
Here’s an example of common spammy comments:
“I appreciated looking at your post. I should say that it was the very first article on your weblog I really loved and where I had a sense of agreement, know what exactly I mean? Regardless, continue the blogging and I’ll be back again.”
“After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.”
Posting in Old Comment Threads
Spammers do this because they figure the blogger never checks old threads – or that there are too many old threads to police. The solution is to set up your blog to automatically close threads after a predetermined time – which, depending on your traffic and the regularity of your posts, might be anything from a couple days to a month or more.
Feeding Your Ego
This is probably the most insidious tactic out there right now, because it appeals to the inherent narcissism of blogging. But while your ego is being stroked, you realize that the comment includes a link to www.thiswebsitewillinfectyourcomputerwithmalware.com.
Remember, the person giving you “praise” doesn’t actually care about you or your ideas; they’re only out to post as many links as possible. Some spammers go one step further and scrape some text from your post to insert into the comment. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
“I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already. Cheers!”
“I’m just done looking at your post and I quite liked it. Christine Churchill SMX East Keyword Research and CopywritingBruce Clay Blog is good! I had some doubts in the starting of the submit though, but I kept on reading and I’m delighted I did. Good amusing submit, website owner! Keep publishing and I will definitely be back again soon. Many thanks and take care.”
Poor Grammar and Spelling
We all make mistakes on occasion, and there are plenty of folks out there with a tenuous grasp of punctuation. (By my unscientific estimate, around 98% of all semicolons on the Internet are used incorrectly; you probably shouldn’t use them unless you’re absolutely sure you know how.)
And unless the writer completely mangles the language, her message should still be understandable. So what’s the big deal, anyway? Having correct grammar and spelling is basically like a “secret handshake,” letting readers know that the writer knows what she’s talking about and that she cares about the presentation. But spammers don’t care, and this is reflected in their mistake-ridden posts. Also keep on the lookout for nonsensical posts or posts that appear to have been poorly translated like this:
“Very effectively written information. It will likely be precious to anyone who usess it, including myself. Sustain the nice work – for positive i’ll take a look at extra posts.”
“Thanks just like a support to charming the metre to deliberate this, I be informed highly on heart-breaking it and lady-love erudition way more on this topic.” (This one is so bizarre it’s almost poetic)
Very Short Posts
Spammers will often only leave a couple of sentences, because for them it’s about volume, not quality. They know that most of their links will be removed eventually, so there’s no point in putting extra effort into any single post:
“This is such a great site with tons of cool stuff. I’ll be sure to bookmark!”
“Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you making this article available, the rest of the site is also high quality. Have a fun.”
Multiple Links per Post
If you’re a spammer, why would you waste your time with just one link per post when you can multiply your results with minimal effort? To combat this, consider allowing only one link per post, automatically adding rel=”nofollow” to links, or disallowing hyperlinks altogether.
Links to Malware/Spyware Sites
Not only will these hurt your blog from an SEO standpoint, anyone clicking these risks damage to their computer and data loss. Even you. So how do you find these links without subjecting your computer to possible infection? In her blogpost, Pro Blogging Tips, How to Identify Spam Comments, Vie mentions this Text Link Checker Tool which you can use to safely evaluate all links from your site.
Hiding the URL
Multiple methods are available to hide a link’s URL from users so they have to follow the link in order to see where it goes. While there are honest uses for this technique, spammers love using it to send users to malware or PPC (pills/porn/casino) sites. This is kind of like an especially sinister RickRoll.
Did I leave anything out, or get anything completely wrong? Does anyone have other tips and tricks for identifying spam? How about examples of especially insidious (or hilarious) comment spam?