Comment Spammers: Get Off My Lawn

This piece was cross-posted on the Get Off My Lawn blog, which you should totally check out.

Comment SpamIf you run a blog, particularly a WordPress blog, comments of this type will be familiar:

“Spot on with this write-up, I really assume this website wants way more consideration. I’ll in all probability be again to read rather more, thanks for that info.”

“I am usually to running a blog and i really respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and hold checking for brand spanking new information.”

“Hey, be fond of your website I’ve been understanding a propos this subject every one night.”

If you’re a novice blogger, or just naive, you’re tempted to let these comments stand. Why not? They make it look like people are reading and enjoying your blog, and so what if their English skills aren’t quite up to snuff? And thus the spammers win.

In 2004, blogger Anil Dash proved that he could get a #1 Google search ranking for the phrase “nigritude ultramarine” just by asking people to link to him. Now SEO spammers have automated this process. They (or more accurately their robots) crawl the web for WordPress sites and then post innocuous-seeming comments like the ones above. The common thread among these comments is that the words entered in the “Author” field are always some sought-after SEO phrase (e.g. “xbox live free,” “cialis online”) and the URL goes to some spam website. When the comment gets published, the spam websites rise in search rankings because, as Anil Dash demonstrated, all it takes is inbound links from a wide variety of sources to convince Google that a website is reputable.

This is why SEO is broken. This is why search is starting to break as well. It’s also why I get a dozen emails a day asking me to moderate new comments on my blog—so get off my lawn!

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