I visit a popular political blog about once a week and a few months ago I started seeing some pretty nasty comment spam pop up. After a few weeks it seemed like it was completely taking over the comments and my first thought was, “Gosh, they’re really letting this blog go to the dogs!” – which is exactly what your readers say when you let your blog go and stop paying attention to comment spam.
Thankfully, that political blog was just going through some personnel changes and it wasn’t long before someone had gone through the entire blog and removed all the nasty comments. Before that happened though, a lot of their regular readers stopped leaving comments because it was just so offensive down there. Which is also exactly what will happen to your blog if you stopping paying attention to comment spam.
Why You Need To Clean Up Comment Spam – NOW!
You look bad to your readers: The average reader has no idea how blogs work or how the comment system works or that there are evil, spammy bloggers out there who like to spread their nasty little links all over the Web. The average reader thinks there really are people out there promoting all sorts of nasty products leaving links that lead to all sorts of nasty sites.
And the average reader thinks you are personally allowing these people to take over your comments section and that you approve of their nasty comments and links.
To the average reader, you look like someone who doesn’t care about his readers. In fact, to some readers you look like a sleazeball, someone they don’t even want to be associated with. Consequently, they’re going to stop leaving their nice, valuable comments on your blog. They may even stop visiting altogether.
You’re hurting your SEO: If you have dozens of spam comments after each post, just look at all those off-topic keywords compared to the keywords in your post. If your post is 400 words long and it’s followed by 2,000 spammy comments, the search engines aren’t going to know what to think.
And let’s not forget about the fact that Google is now looking at who you’re linking out to and they don’t like it when your links lead to spam, hype or malware.
2 Steps to Get Comment Spam Under Control
Step #1 – Spend an afternoon or a day, or whatever it takes, and go through your blog now to delete all comment spam. You’ll know it when you see it because it will make absolutely no relevant references to your posts at all.
If this leaves your blog barren of comments, so be it. Maybe, once that spam is gone, your readers will finally feel comfortable enough to start leaving comments.
Step #2 – Come Up With A Strategy To Control Comment Spam
To prevent this problem from cropping up again, you have several options:
Turn off comments: Some blogs get along very well with comments turned off. It’s drastic, and not necessarily the best solution, but it is an option.
Blacklist repeat offenders: If you’re using WordPress you can blacklist repeat offenders and it does work. You can use the person’s name, the name of their website, keywords, or even their IP address. Once blacklisted their comments won’t appear on your blog.
Moderate all comments: You can choose to moderate every single comment, even from repeat commentors. This, too, is a little drastic. Not only does it create additional work for you, but your readers will get frustrated if they have to wait for the comments to be approved all the time. Regular commentors expect to see their comments published immediately.
Allow previously approved comments: Make it a little easier on yourself and only have first-time comments held for moderation. Once the reader has had his first comment approved, all others are automatically published.
Install comment moderation plug-ins: There are loads of WordPress plug-ins that help automatically moderate comments. Using a plug-in that requires a captcha to verify the commentor is human cuts out the bulk of your comment spam.