Comment spammers – Stop wasting your time

So you want to drive traffic using comment posting? Well, there is a right way and a wrong way.

The wrong way

I am constantly amazed how many comments I see like this…

An example of comment spam from boagworld - shows a comment that just reads I totally agree

This is a classic example of comment spam. It adds no value to the conversation and the poster has made no effort to participate in a meaningful way.

If you follow the link it goes to a web design agency that is obviously under the impression that this will improve their SEO ranking. It will not.

If we look at the source code of that link you will see why…

Source code of a comment on boagworld

As you can see the comments on boagworld (and the vast majority of comment systems) have a no follow instruction in the code. This effectively prevents the poster from gaining any SEO benefits from the link.

Of course, they maybe relying on users clicking the link. However, why would a user do that? The content of the comment does not motivate me in anyway to do so.

The spammer maybe using an automated tool to add the links and hoping that one in a thousand people will click them. Its possible I guess, but I have seen a lot of comments like this that have been obviously written by real people. Also I doubt this would have got past my multi-level spam filter.

If you want to encourage people to click you need to say something to get their attention.

The right way

Good commenting that drives traffic is about two things…

  • Quality – Your comments have got to say something of value. You have to add something to the conversation. By being a quality poster, people will start to notice you and respond. It takes real thought and effort.
  • Quantity – You cannot just post once and never return. You need to be consistent, by posting on a regular basis. You need to participate in a community on an ongoing basis to have an impact.

I know the names of the people who post quality and quantity on this blog. I respect their opinions and even though I know they are doing so to drive traffic to their own sites, I do not mind. The reason is they add value to my site. It is a transaction if you like. They add valuable content and I send them traffic.

  • http://www.richardsprojects.co.uk/ Richard G

    I agree!!!!
    Now please come to my site and Google can you please ignore the nofollow tag. He doesn’t really mean it.

  • http://www.mensrings.org.uk Michelle

    I agree.
    Seriously I totally agree with you Paul. I’ve got a network of sites that I work hard to produce regular good content on it, and it annoys me that people think it’s fine to ride piggyback on what I’ve done for their benefit.
    They obviously don’t get approved.

  • http://blog.valentinbora.com Valentin Bora

    If we think about the required amount of energy one puts in to leave comments of no value on tens or hundreds of blogs, I think it’s bigger than the amount of energy needed to actually think what a blog post says and provide a useful comment, something that was omitted or a different view of the problem.
    Actually, I think blog readers learn a lot from the questions posed in the comments and answered by other comment posters and even the article writer himself.
    In conclusion, if you write something of value, you even have fair chances that people who come to your blog subscribe to it, which is more than desirable.

  • Els

    “even though I know they are doing so to drive traffic to their own sites”
    You know more than I do :-)
    Not everyone posts comments with that goal in mind. Seriously, whenever I leave a comment anywhere, it is because I’m compelled to express my opinion or to add information. Yes, I usually leave my link in the appropriate field. And yes, it sometimes has the effect of driving traffic to my site. Yet, it’s not the reason, and as proof of concept, I have not filled out that link this time. Unfortunately that means you’ll have no idea who posted this comment really, could be anyone with the same name as I have. (which is why I normally do fill out the link :-))

  • http://budurl.com/rhel Jason Liebe

    I think anyone savvy enough to know about inbound links and PR will know about nofollow, n’est pas?
    I’m more shocked about how many spammy Twitter followers there are.

  • http://www.richardwilliams.me.uk Richard Williams

    Retweeted as requested. Although your post simply recounts what many have said before, it still doesn’t mean people listen and educate themselves, so it seems necessary to to repeat the message, but at least if one more person “gets it” it’ll have been worth it. :) Have a great weekend.

  • http://www.daveredfern.com Dave Redfern

    You should have blurred the url form the source screenshot, he has got more advertising from this post than he could ever wish for from his crappy comment. all publicity is good publicity.
    On another note, what software are you using to create your screenshots? i love the bubbles and focus on part of the image.

  • http://www.shanedj.com Shane

    Totally agree’d with you Paul, and a good post.Some people blatently will post the same text on blogs and some without even reading post. As an SEO its a strategy I used to see a while back. But not so much due to the increasing use of nofollow.
    Agreed with Jason to re: Twitter spammers, too much of it
    Shane

  • http://twitter.com/obsidianspider Todd Dietrich

    Very well stated Paul, unfortunately many of those comments are made by automated programs, often on virus-infected computers and they simply rely on quantity to get their job done in the same way that Spam email works. Do most people click those links, no, but even if a small fraction of people do, the Spammer has a chance to make money. I agree, it sucks.
    That said, what program did you use for the annotations? Were those some graphics you made up just for this or were the text bubbles and #1 circles premade? Very sharp.

  • http://www.digmo.co.uk David

    Completely agree (avoiding the word totally). my question is unrelated but how did you add the numbers and text boxes to your screen grabs ? photoshop ? they look really nice.

  • http://www.oliverker.co.uk Oliver Ker

    I can agree with you on people commenting that only have the intention in commenting to leave a link, but as @Jason says:
    anyone savvy enough to know about inbound links and PR will know about nofollow
    If this bothers people so much why not remove the comment or change the web url link to something else like on Malarky’s site, he offers a link to their twitter profile instead, otherwise the email link will be shown.
    If you are the webmaster, why not control the content – and if time is the answer, it isn’t a priority, so don’t worry about it.

  • http://www.mcbwebdesign.co.uk Martin Bean

    @Dave Redfern: I would have thought that adding captions wouldn’t be that great a deal in Photoshop. Add new layer with black fill; set it to semi-transparent; use the marquee tool to “cut away” a mask; then just things like gradient overlays, drop shadows, and Bob’s your uncle!
    Wouldn’t it be great if the day came when people only commented on-line when they had something useful to say rather than build a name for themselves. People might not have seen my name here that often; that’s because I only post when I have something worthwhile to say. I have other pressing things to do with my time than spam comment in a home of getting a few clicks to my website.

  • frankie

    I follow and read interesting people. When I do comment it is a sincere act. I often just post something brief out of appreciation for the effort that went into the post. It is to let the poster know that someone, a “web innocent” is reading and enjoying them. I learn many interesting things from all sorts of people on Twitter. There is a bit of a contradiction here. If one really wants to have a presence that is not just for the trade, then you will get some people like myself, who are enthuastic and want to learn for personal reasons. I cannot always make “professionally” intereesting comments and I would only be controversial thru an honest opinion. But, I do like to participate sometimes. Someone like myself is actually a true, potential source of business as I expand my knowledge and interests. Some “Professional bloggers/posters” are both elitist and poplulist. I found you on Twitter and I follow you because I can learn from your posts. If I post :) it is a thank you. I guess I will be very careful in the future about thanking someone with and “I agree”. Thank you for your time.

  • http://boagworld.com Paul Boag

    @frankie – I didn’t mean to apply EVERYBODY commented for marketing purposes. I was saying that I don’t mind people do it for that reason because they give something back through their contributions.
    @Oliver – I wasn’t saying it worried me. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest. It just amuses me people waste their time in such pointless exercises :)

  • http://www.designpepper.com Joshua Clanton

    Agreed. I sometimes have the same problem on my blog (mostly when a post of mine becomes popular). Though when I have time, I’ve taken to switching their links to this instead.

  • http://iheartcommentspam.com/ Joshua Clanton

    Hmm. Looks like the link wasn’t accepted. You can try clicking through my name on this comment if you’re interested. (Yes, I do realize the irony.)

  • http://prandall.com Paul

    Perhaps some people do just agree with the comment. Granted it isn’t the best statement in the world, but I fear you may half the number of comments you get, because people people now have to wonder whether a comment they make may enlighten someone.
    I have no problem accepting comments like this. From web companies, it looks a little dubious, but forum spam is way worse.
    If you really don’t like the comment, why not deny it and not display it?

  • http://www.flexewebs.com Jason Grant

    The nofollow attribute has been implemented by Google, but chances are that other search engines have not implemented this (arguably I have not updated myself on the nofollow topic for a year or so now, so I might be slightly out of date here).
    Also, if you think about a spammer who might be linking to a site selling a £200 item from your blog and he is able to get a 1000 click throughs to it and from that 1000 get 5 sales, he has made £1000 from one comment post. In most countries of the world that sum of money is considered a fortune.
    I suppose that is the main motivation behind comment spamming. Of course, achieving something like I outlined above is highly unlikely, but I suppose people are always hoping for things.

  • http://montgomerystudios.com Michael Montgomery

    I agree with your point: focus on contributing to the conversation, rather than trying to game the SEO thing.
    However, I disagree with calling them spammers. Many times, they are well-intentioned but busy fans, part-time freelancers, professionals in another industry, or any other person who may “agree”…, but not have the time/courage/etc. to write more.
    I’ve been there, wanting to express my agreement, but forcing myself to say more because people like you might call me a spammer. Which, since I’ve met you a few times, would be annoying.
    Some may be spammers, but not all (or even most). And those who aren’t will be most likely to get their feelings hurt. Shouldn’t we encourage new participation, even if it doesn’t add much? Maybe we should forgive them, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

  • http://boagworld.com Paul Boag

    @Michael – It doesn’t take much to prove you are not a spammer. Instead of writing ‘I agree’ you write ‘I agree with that there is way too much comment spam, Paul’. By being specific and mentioning the authors name you prove you have at least read the article. That is not taxing.
    As for you, even if you did post ‘I agree’ I would know you are not a spammer because I know you. You contribute regularly to boagworld. You do not just turn up, post and leave.

  • http://tomuse.org Mat

    While I do concur that you bring up a great point, I am also curious what people now expect out of comments…
    What is someone wants to just say: “I find this hilarious, great post!” – would you consider that spam? Should it go in an email instead?
    Going by your Quality/Quantity judging, has comments turned more into a forum with a master topic starter where basic gestures of appreciation need not apply?
    I get what you’re saying of course, and I don’t really disagree, I’ve followed your blog for over a year now and rarely ever comment…sometimes though I’d like to just compliment and thank you for a good read, how do you (besides the typical tell-tale signs) know when a person is truly being genuine or not?
    This post brings up some interesting points for sure.

  • http://tomuse.org mat

    You can pretty much disregard my previous question, on re-reading the topic and some of the comments, I think it was actually out of context as it looks like you’re not really concerned with those who leave a more personal note than a two word snippet.
    Although it still brings up the interesting question of how comments work now and how the entire post/comment threads are now valued and cultures/communities can almost revolve around them.
    Cheers, great post.

  • http://www.href.in Adam Winogrodzki

    Maybe this is why captcha was invented.. ;)

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