Blogging is Good — In Moderation

by Ike Pigott |

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta


About the Author

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.