If you are running your own moderately popular blog, it doesn’t take long until comment spammers start targeting your blog with their useless spam comments. Another problem are the RSS Autoblog Leechers that copy and repost your content on their blog.
In this article, I’ll discuss tactics that you can use to turn the tables on the spammers and leechers and actually turn the negatives into a positive outcome for your site.
But First… Should you use the NoFollow Link Attribute on your External Links?
There is a common myth that if you add the “nofollow” attribute to external links on your site, then the search engines will not follow the link and therefore will not index the site it is pointing to. This is an incorrect assumption. If there is a link on your site, Google is going to follow that link regardless of the “nofollow” attribute.
But what you need to know is that Google will take into account whether the link was “dofollow” or “nofollow” and assign a different weighting to that site which then feeds into it’s indexing algorithm (which will then influence the ranking for the external site).
Note: A “dofollow” link is just a link without the “nofollow” attribute. There is no specific “dofollow” attribute.
So by using the “nofollow” link, you are telling Google that you do not really trust that external site and hence less link juice will flow to it.
My advice is that you should use “nofollow” on any paid links on your site and anywhere else you think it is appropriate. For sites that you trust and want to promote, give them “dofollow” links. Typically, the Blogroll on my sites have “dofollow” links, whilst all other links on my sites are “nofollow”.
I use the SEO Smart Links WordPress plugin to automatically make all external links “nofollow”. But more importantly, I make sure that all the links in my Comments section are “nofollow”.
I’ll now explain that reasoning. If your blog allows “dofollow” links in the comments, then you will be targeted by comment spammers trying to get backlinks to their site. Your blog will also feature in blog posts that list blogs that allow “dofollow” links in their comments. People use these lists to find blogs to spam with comments. By using “nofollow” links, it will cut down on the spam comments that are submitted to your site.
Recently someone emailed me to say that this blog was listed in a blog post that listed hundreds of “dofollow” blogs. Why my blog was listed there I do not know, but the person who emailed me was upset when he found out that I have “nofollow” on all my external links. He was obviously a newbie trying to get decent backlinks by manually entering spam comments. I had a look at that blog list and in the comments on that post, people were saying how great the list was and were spamming every blog on the list. Its best to make your external links “nofollow” so your site is not targeted.
Tactics for Spam Comments
If you are using WordPress, then the Akismet plugin correctly identifies 99.9% of the robotic comment spammers. But the bigger problem is how to deal with the manual comment spammers that are using black hat SEO techniques to target your blog.
These are the people that will manually go to your blog and leave a useless comment in order to get a backlink to their website. The article they are commenting on usually ranks quite highly in the search engines for certain keywords so they will leave a useless comment such as “Nice post” or “Well written post, really enjoyed it” so they can get the backlink.
Now don’t take this the wrong way. I really like people leaving comments on my blogs and emailing me directly. But what I don’t like are comments that just do not add any value to the discussion such as “Great article… thanks for sharing!”. Having to moderate these comments wastes my time… and if I approve those comments it doesn’t add any value to the discussion.
So this is what I suggest you do to cut down the spam comments to your blog:
- Use the Akismet plugin to filter spam comments.
- Use the “nofollow” link attribute on all your external links, especially in the comments section. Automate this by using a WordPress plugin.
- Consider closing comments on older posts. If you have a popular blog you can send out an email to your list notifying your readers that you will be closing comments on a recent post very soon. This tends to get some great meaningful comments from your readers, since they know their comments (and their backlink) will be locked in on a popular post.
For the comments that make it through the spam filter, you could just delete those comments. But sometimes if I am in the mood, I like to turn the tables on the spammers by doing the following:
- Update the Name field in the comment to whatever you like.
- Update the Email field in the comment to whatever you like. It’s even better if you create some extra Gravatars for you to use so it looks authentic.
- Update the URL field to point to one of your other sites (or to your friends site). By doing this you are naturally creating backlinks to your other sites.
- Update the comment text to say whatever you like and fix the spelling errors. For some reason, spammers are quite bad spellers since they are probably trying to get through the spam filter.
It’s not the nicest thing to do… but these people are wasting your time. By using this tactic, the spammers are actually helping you with the SEO campaign for your site and the other sites you will point the links to. The beauty of this tactic is that if a spammer found your post doing a Google search, then Google will analyse what that user was doing on your site. Google will record the IP address of the user, and if they leave a comment, Google will record your post as having some relevance since it assumes that your blog post was very important since the user interacted with it and left a comment. Since the IP addresses are coming in from all over the world, it looks completely natural. The great part is that you hijack their comment at the last moment and enter your own info. Score: Blogger 1, Spammer 0.
Tactics for RSS AutoBlog Leechers
There was a time when I was quite upset when other people leeched the content from my blogs using RSS, and then reposted my articles on their AutoBlog sites.
But now I don’t care! I’m going to tell you a tactic I use to combat them. Once you implement it, you will want the RSS AutoBlog Leechers to keep stealing your content as much as they want.
The first thing to realize is that Google has probably indexed your site first, so Google knows where the original content came from, so your article should always rank higher than the duplicate article.
The autoblogs may copy your entire article, or sometimes they just copy the first and last paragraphs, since those paragraphs usually contain keywords. The article probably doesn’t make sense anymore, but they are hoping to get traffic from the search engines due to the keywords in those paragraphs.
What you need to do is make sure that the first and last paragraphs in every article you write has a link to another article on your site. By doing this, if someone uses an RSS AutoBlog plugin to copy content from your site, they will also be copying the links back to your site. Hence you will automatically get backlinks to your site which will increase your ranking. The more AutoBlogs that copy your content… the better. Google knows which article was the original article, and now there are backlinks to your site as well. It’s win-win for you. You should also make sure every article you write contains some internal links to other posts on your site.
If you really want to turn the tables on the RSS AutoBlog Leechers… make sure to add some affiliate links to your posts as well. How great would it it be for 500 other blogs to steal your content that contains backlinks to your site as well as some affiliate links!
Web Scraping Example
Here is my original post: Simple Guide to Getting Backlinks
And here is the same post on someone else’s blog
That post has links back to my site and some affiliate links as well. Go for it AutoBloggers!