After years of hearing about these “blog” things, you finally broke down and got a new website for your company. And you discovered that your site was actually a “blog” cleverly disguised as a site … one that you could edit and update without having to pay additional fees to your designer.

You wrote articles and essays designed to appeal to your clients, and after a few weeks a trickle of comments came in.

Those early comments are so important — there’s nothing quite like the validation from outsiders who confirm that you’re having an impact. Why risk running off those commenters by putting them through moderation?

Because if you’re not careful, it could hurt your search engine results.

A Little Motivation

Here’s an example I recently saw on my personal blog, that gave me more than a little chuckle.

Hey what’s up? I was searching on Google and found your site, and I really like the article “Like a Prayer”.

I will keep this short and sweet! Two of my friends are launching a product on teaching how to make money via advertising on cell phones.

Check it out here http://LinkRemoved.By/Ike

You may have heard that mobile advertising is the next big thing since there are a ton more people with cell phones then computers.

Anyway since I really enjoyed your site, I thought I would pass along their cool new product and its live now. You can make up to $200 per sale!

Can you tell I am excited?

If you have a subscriber list you could mail to about this cool opportunity or if you’re like you can just put up one of their banners and let them do all the work as you collect sales!

The Sign Up is here http://LinkRemoved.By/Ike

Either way I keep up the amazing work and I wish you the best of luck with everything!

Regards,
Marie

This made me smile, because here’s the complete text of my post:

“Blogging is just like prayer: if it’s impersonal and formulaic, you’re not doing it right.”

Not only is the comment several times the length, it violates the spirit of the point it claims to like!

Maturity of Spam

Spam email hasn’t evolved very much in recent years, but spam comments to blogs have. What used to be poorly-worded links to bogus pharma has now become sophisticated commentary — which happens to link away to someone else’s site.

Part of building an effective community (and rewarding your visitors) is the link back to their site. But it’s incumbent upon you as the site owner to know what you’re getting into. In the case of the comment above, it’s clear that the comment is merely a pretense to advertise an affiliate linking program around cellphones.

The person who left that comment (or who programmed a bot to do it) is interested in one thing: getting a backlink on my site in order to build up their own search engine ranking.

(Note: there is nothing wrong with you, as a business-owner, leaving relevant comments on other sites and leaving your own link behind. This is encouraged. The bad manners come from pretending to be part of a community of interest in order just to leave your link.)

Why Should You Care?

After all, the higher your comment count, the more active your site appears.

The downside comes from the way Google and other search engines tweak their algorithms. A site does well when it is linked to by others — but it can also perform poorly when there are too many scattered outbound links.

If you run an air-conditioner installation company, and you want to link away to energy efficiency resources, and homebuilder resources, and even information for those looking for building permits, then you’re doing the right thing.

However, if the index finds that you’re linking away to seemingly random things that are disconnected to your business, it could end up hurting you. Google is rarely open about the exact nature of its algorithms, but it is open about the rate of change in the formula. You don’t want to allow stray links in comments to penalize you.

As a best practice, I always recommend leaving your comment moderation “on.” This means that when you have a comment on your site, you’ll get a notification email asking whether you want it approved or spiked. Yes, it’s a little extra work which could be automated, but it serves three purposes. First, it inoculates you from future algorithm changes which might affect your results. Second, it makes it less likely that other site visitors won’t question your sanity, or the intelligence of your customer base at large.

Most importantly, it will better connect you with your customers, which is why anyone considers social media for business anyway.

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About Ike Pigott

Ike Pigott

In his previous life, Ike Pigott was an Emmy-winning TV reporter, who turned his insider's knowledge of the news cycle into a crisis communications consultancy. At the American Red Cross, serving as Communication and Government Relations Director for five southeastern states, Ike pioneered the use of social media in disaster. Now -- by day -- he is a communications strategist for Alabama Power and a Social Media Apologist; by night, he lurks at Occam's RazR, where he writes about the overlaps and absurdities in communications, technology, journalism and society. Find out how you can connect with Ike or follow him on Twitter at @ikepigott. He also recently won the coveted "Social Media Explorer contributing writer with the longest Bio" award.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

    Hi! What’s Up? I came across this site when I was browsing the web with my friend and I really like it! I think your post is useful and clever and you could really enjoy purchasing widgets from my free online store. You can find it at http://www.facepalm.com!

    Ok, ok, so maybe that joke doesn’t translate and maybe I am stuck in the spam filter, but if not, here are my thoughts: If you’re going to keep moderation on, you owe your readers the service of being absolutely on top of it with approval. I dig that Jason uses Disqus here, because it sort of removes a lot of these issues, but many sites don’t (mine included).

    As spam matures, we need to mature as spam-busters, and get better about how we deal with the conversation happening on our blog (which is a great problem to have, by the way).

    At the end of the day, as you point out, it’s about credibility. This is one of the better arguments I’ve heard for moderation, though I admittedly fly a little loose on this one, relying on Akismet and an unhealthy obsession with reading new comments on the blog.

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Andrew, I agree, but we’re talking about two different instances.

      For the business just getting started in blogging, there is no volume of traffic that is too much — and the email notification that you have a comment in moderation is sufficient.

      Social Media Explorer, like many other highly-trafficked sites, has a need for a more robust system — but Jason’s been around the block a few times, rode hard, and put up wet. The business that’s new to this might not know what to look for.

      Thanks!

      • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

        Great point. And to add to that use case (for the business just starting out), every blog comment should be looked at carefully – it could be a potential lead or be giving very valuable business intelligence. Sort of underscores the importance of getting an email notice each time a comment comes in. You’ve swayed me. I’m in.

  • http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com Viv

    I’ve found that I have little or no clue to how search engines actually work or why the pick up what they do. Some of my greatest giggles come from the weird and wonderful search engine terms that bring people to my blog.
    I have my moderation set at first time a person comments, they are held for moderation. If I approve it, any further ones just go through.
    I am a bear of far too little brain to conquer the SEO issue, and if I ever did, they’d just change the goal posts.
    Viv

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Viv — you work with what works for you. At least you’ve given it some thought.

      Sadly, the workflow for comment moderation often doesn’t enter into the discussion until after a company commits.

      Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/thatIMthing Dahlia Valentine

    I just started using Clicky as my real-time analytics this month. When someone leaves a comment, I can look at Clicky and see how that person arrived on my site.

    I can tell when someone’s just looking for a backlink because it’ll show that they came through Google from a search term like, “commentluv enabled.” Those comments are always the least relevant, and the most likely to say something random like, “You’ve compiled a great list of resources here.”

    In all actuality, the comments DO match the content. But I started deleting those comments because I have my blog set where I have to approve the first comment only, then others from the same author automatically go through. My concern is that if I approve one of these blatant backlink seekers a whole crew of them will descend on my site.

    I like having real-time analytics for quickie analysis like this.

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Ike,
    Thanks for posting. But if you automatically “no follow” all comments in your code, doesn’t that solve the problem?

    I also get irritated when I post a comment, but it won’t appear until someone approves it. So I don’t want to cause that same irritation to people posting on my site. So I leave the comments on.

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Patrick, the person who is just starting out likely doesn’t know enough about “no follow” to bother with it.

      Why not just start out with good community sense, and get to know your commenters?

  • http://twitter.com/PaigeHolden PaigeHolden

    I’m getting ready to launch a corporate blog in a few months. I know it’s going to take a good amount of time to attract readers and probably longer to incite comments, which is why I’m on the fence about this.

    Isn’t it better to open the gates in the beginning and close them up later if there is a problem? Pardon my naivete – I just always been told to keep comments open.

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Paige, I get the sense that you’ve already got some experience with this. However, many organizations are still feeling their way forward without an experienced guide at the helm.

      The danger of opening the gates at the onset is that your first couple of comments also play into your “first impression.” If I stumble across your new site, and read a comment that is so over-the-top congratulatory (yet somehow self-serving and spammy), it might occur to me that you didn’t show great judgment in allowing that comment.

      Early on, there is no flood — so take advantage of that time to read every comment before it goes up, and learn a little about your earliest visitors. That in and of itself will pay dividends.

      Later, when the volume of comments makes it more of a pain, go ahead and automate it for everyone who has an approved comment. But don’t discount the value to YOU as a moderator in making yourself closer to your readers.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      • http://twitter.com/PaigeHolden PaigeHolden

        All very good points. Thanks for the valuable insight Ike. Whenever I find a post that’s entirely relevant to what I am doing, it’s like social media kismet.

        Have a great day!

  • http://www.gosocialgolocal.com Bryan Knowlton

    Thank God for Akismet! Lol. I have to agree, blog spam really is a big pain to deal with, but most of my blogs are very targeted and I believe most of the really bad spam is being blocked by Akismet. A blog without that would be insane. I have started a number of projects in the pass where I didn’t get the key installed yet to run the Akismet service and with no posts on the blog other than ‘hello world’ I got tons of people commented on how much they ‘liked my blog’.

    It is pretty funny when some sneak through. I moderate all the posts just to avoid any of the spam sneaking through and I love to respond to all my comments. Thanks again and can’t wait to follow more of your posts!

    Bryan

  • http://www.internetincomecode.com George Tee

    Ike, you are absolutely right. You know that someone is spamming your blog when they leave irrelevant topics to your site or just commenting urls and anchor text to your blog. It is necessary to moderate all post because a site that don’t have spammed comments are trusted by the viewers and most likely to be viewed if you interact with your visitors. When someone see your blog full of spams, it leads negative feedback to your site.

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  • http://professionalsocialpromotion.com/social-media-marketing-services/ Social Media Marketing

    I did take the time to read this article. I don’t allow comments on my blog, the way I see it, it’s my blog, not theirs, so I don’t want other people writing two thirds of the page for me.

  • http://www.experthairloss.com/ Andy@Experthairloss

    It does irritates me when my comment is to be approved by the owner and it takes so many days before I finally see it on that page. However, I can’t blame him because I know that he need to defend his website from these annoying spammers that leaves irrelevant comment and just wanna put on their website. It does not really look good on a website to be full of spam comments

    • http://www.xenra.com YouTube to MP3

      Surely, a site owner do hold rights to approve the comment or not. After all it’s his site and he also wants something valuable in return. I guess that’s a fair policy. :)

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  • http://www.buytimewarnercable.com/internet.aspx Sharon thomas

    I like the text”Blogging is just like prayer: if it’s impersonal and formulaic, you’re not doing it right”. This sentence is absolutely correct. Bloogers need to understand and then comment which would make a lot of sense.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for chiming in, Sharon.

  • http://deals.telcoservicesgroup.net/ Mark Bennett

     I also feel really irritated and angry when my comments lie in the pending status for a long time. Even at times I feel it is the fault of the blog owner. But somewhat you just can’t blame him. He like all people would like his website to be filled with relevant blog comments.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Interesting point. But remember that each is his own. Seth Godin, for instance, doesn’t even allow comments (or didn’t for a long time). I respond if the comment compells me to, but often don’t because I think the comments and conversations are better if I stay out of the way.

      But if your comment isn’t posting for some reason, it can be like an email that gets misdirected to spam … The blog owner may not web see it. Ive had a few of those in my time. It’s not always intentional.

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