Actually, it’s unfair to tar all SEO professionals with the same brush. I work in SEO, and my team are innovative, intelligent, and share the kind of user-centric approach to SEO that I prefer. The kind of people who disappoint me most are the “people” who constantly bombard my blog and thousands of others with thinly veiled opportunist comments that they use to get links.
Now, I’m as open to a bit of flattery as the next man. I like to be liked, but I’m not easily fooled.
How Comment Spam works
Like millions of other blogs on the web, Quumf is published using WordPress, and as such, there are a number of footprints that make it easy to identify as such. Try running a search in Google for the following:
If you wrote a program that scraped the Google results for “powered by WordPress” appended with a particular keyword – such as “Social Media” – you would create a list of websites that you could target for commenting:
27 million websites.
By scraping all of the URLs in these search results, you create a database of places where you can comment. Any decent coder could knock up a script that uses cURL to post comments to the blogs in the database with any content they want.
Ah, but WordPress keeps spam out
I use the Akismet anti spam plug in to screen comments, and so do many users, and it seems to work pretty well at dropping a lot of spam into the dustbin, however a some stuff will always get through the filter.
Also, the default setting on WordPress is to have first time moderation of comments. This means that the first time someone comments on a blog, they need to be approved. The second time, their post will be automatically approved.
This means that by first posting something innocuous to your blog, a spammer can get around the manual layer of control to ensure that they are safe. In most cases, this means a little bit of bland flattery:
Most days, I get around 50 or so automated comments that all use the same phrase:
Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time
If painful experience hadn’t taught me otherwise, I might believe that this comment was genuine flattery and appreciation of my post. It isn’t. But a lot of people seem to think so:
At present, there are 720,000 awesome posts that are saving MUCH time. Also, there are millions more that are not in the index.
Going back to our automated commenter for a moment, if Mr Spam adds an extra function to his script, he can check which of the millions of spam comments have been approved so that they can then be revisited with a second link filled comment promoting whatever type of smut/pharmacy/casino spam he wants.
Black Hat SEO is advanced. I have a lot of respect for clever guys like Fantomaster who push the boundaries of what can be achieved through large scale automation and inventive techniques that have to be admired. On the other hand, the guys who simply buy an off the shelf auto-commenter and then use it without any real consideration of the websites that they are targeting really don’t deserve much respect or sympathy.