A few months ago I attended a Guardian Master Class on Data Visualisation hosted by Tobias Sturt, Head of creative at Guardian Digital Agency and Adam Frost, Data Visualisation Manager at Guardian Digital Agency. Both were incredibly friendly, down-to-earth and made the class very enjoyable. I highly recommend checking them (and their work) out. Data ...
You have your business blog and you're getting your groove on.
As you begin to generate a bit of a following and you're seeing "community signs" such as increased repeat visitor numbers, higher page to visit ratios and also comments on your blog; you may notice the ubiquitos spam.
Some spam is so obvious, if this was 1972, we'd have eaten it. Other spam can be a little harder to detect, and it may get past the spam-catching plugin that you use. Getting comments feels great, particulalry as you launch your business and seek to establish networks and communities so I understand it can be hard to draw that line and work out what is a spam comment and what is a real genuine comment, when perhaps you would rather approve more than you disapprove.
Let's have a quick definition and then look at a few quick and easy ways to tell spam from the real thing!
Spam is a lot of things in a lot of mediums, but from email, to Twitter to blog comments there are common elements:
1.The route to "spam" is electronic.
2. The "spam content" is most often disguised as a genuine communication
3. There is an attempt to deceive you, for the benefit of the "spammer".
When it comes to blog comments, the reason for spamming, is to drop a link on your site, to the spammer site. Most of the time the reason for posting a link isn't so much about getting traffic, but about the spam site, increasing the number of links to it. Some of the most important of the two hundred or so ranking componants of the Google algorithm look at number of links to your site, relevance of such links to your site, the quality/authority of the site linking to you and even more link related factors. If done well and undetected, link spamming via comments can help a spam site achieve a falsely high ranking that does not reflect the true quality of the site.
So that's why they do it!
Here's a few thinks to think about when deciding if a comment may actually be spam.
2. Links in the comment/commentor details: are these links relevant to the post, the comment or the general theme of the blog?
3. Does the comment add any value? comments such as "that was a great post - thanks". Might make you feel great for a second, but if the comment adds no value, or makes no real reference to the content - chances are it's deliberate spam.
4. Does it read well? Most spam comments are not made by humans, but by spambots. Such spambots crawl the web looking for blog platforms, crawling and following links to activities such as "add comment" then drop the auto content in the bot program.
5. Is it duplicated? If a comment is very vague and adds no value e.g. "A good article and thank you for the information. I will bookmark this post" then you could try searching for that phrase on Google, to see if it is a bot comment. Make sure you use the quotation marks around the phrase to only get results with the exact phrase, with words in that order.
One final point on blog comments in general. Many blog platforms give you the option to automatically approve all comments that are not identified as spam, malicious or otherwise by your blog software. If you work in a litigious or highly competetive sector, it may be an idea to allow automatic approval anyway, reason being if you have manually seen and approved these comments, you then as a publisher are responsible for this content.
You nearly always did not ask for it.