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:

A lot of sites are 'powered by wordpress'

A lot of sites are 'powered by wordpress'

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:

Social Media websites published using WordPress

Social Media websites published using WordPress

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:

thanks for the awesome posting...

thanks for the awesome posting...

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:

720,000 awesome posts saving time...

720,000 awesome posts saving time...

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.

Simples…

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.

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9 Responses to SEO, I am still disappoint

  1. Robert says:

    “Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time”

    Okay, so it hasn’t saved me MUCH time at all, just pointed out how many others are costing me time and basically filling the internet with junk.

    Sadly, don’t think this will change until links are somewhat devalued (more than they seem to be now) from certain types of sites. Perhaps the Panda/Farmer update might actually bring better results and force those automated bots to post less, but more meaningful comments? Doubt it though.

  2. Moosa Hemani says:

    Superb Article and simply loved the last para!… (does it sound spammy? err i don’t care)

    i usually think that Black Hat SEO ppl are smart they work hard to find the alternate ways and loopholes in an perfect system we call search engine (Google). Yes they research a lot and because of that they do deserve appreciation (but not respect) and the one who buy the bulk commenter (don’t really deserve anything)

  3. LordManley says:

    My favourite tranche of late has been ‘I cannot see some of your content – are you using the Java?’.

  4. Greg says:

    Dumb question: What’s the point of all these spam comments if all the comment links are tagged nofollow anyway?

    • Quumf says:

      Hi Greg
      I think that the assumption is that regardless of the nofollow attribute being attached to the link, it is still worth placing the comment. if you think about the weight that Google assigns to fresh / timely content, it makes sense to create comments that promote an item in the “right now” – especially if your overall strategy is one of short term gains and disposable domains.
      James

  5. William Rose says:

    I have a number of wordpress blogs and each and every one of them gets comment spam. I too use akismet but I often find that on a fresh setup if I’m a bit slow getting my addons sorted a spam bot will usually get there before I’m even done setting the site up. It’s hugely irritating but something we just have to deal with I guess. I’m just glad akismet does a pretty decent job at filtering them out.

    • Quumf says:

      I’ve considered implementing Disqus or the Facebook blog comments to reduce spam. The alternative is a captcha system, but I think that all 3 systems can put people off commenting. If the problem gets worse, I’ll do something.

  6. [...] noticed your comment spam sometimes sounds like nonsense? That’s because comment spammers who are autogenerating comment links in volumes are using article spinners to vary their comment text [...]

  7. [...] you add to this the type of blog spam links that get submitted with a little bit of flattery to the writer, you get a situation with a false [...]

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