by Kelly Lucas, client marketing director
So you’ve decided to set up a blog on your website to share your knowledge with the world at large. Great, we whole-heartedly approve! But just as regular blog posts can increase website traffic and potentially attract quality leads, they can also attract the riff raff of the Internet. It’s important to moderate your blog comments, both to encourage legitimate commenters and interaction and to prevent web bots from spamming down your site.
Depending on the number of comments, moderating them can seem overwhelming, so we’ve pulled together a quick list of strategies that might help make the process a little easier and bring some clarification:
Moderate All Comments By this we mean you should adjust your blog’s settings so that all comments must be approved by an administrator before going live. The site administrator will receive notices that there are comments to be reviewed, at which point he or she can choose to approve, trash or mark as spam. If you let comments automatically go live as they happen, then you run the risk of spam junking up your comments. This does two things. One, it diminishes the appearance of your site. Two, it gets your site penalized by search engines due to the spam. “One or two that slip through the cracks won’t necessarily kill you in searches,” says Walker Oxley of Oxley Internet Solutions. “But if you don’t stay on top of them, the spam bots will realize they’ve found a site no one is watching and will abuse that, which can sink your SEO.”
If It’s Spam, Say So When reviewing a comment, don’t just trash it but actually report it as spam if it is indeed spam. By reporting it, you are providing intel that helps your system recognize spam in the future and head it off at the pass. Plus, on a personal level, it’s just sort of fun to click that button and think “Ha Ha! Can’t fool me!”
Use Google Webmaster Tools One way to help make moderating comments a little more efficient is to use Google’s Webmaster Tools. These tools check incoming content to see if it is anything questionable. It won’t catch everything, but will help minimize the number of spam comments that do get through. Whether you choose to manually moderate comments or not, we recommend that you use these.
Have Users Create Accounts Or Use Captchas Some sites require visitors to create an account if they wish to leave a comment. This can definitely cut down on the amount of time an administrator must devote to moderating comments. However, it also discourages quality comments that are good for the site as most people either don’t want to spend the time creating a new account or don’t want to volunteer any info. You could also use a CAPTCHA form on comments, which helps to differentiate human commenters from machines. These also help cut down on spam getting through, but do be aware that they aren’t foolproof.
Allow Proper Linkbacks Sometimes you’ll get a comment that has the words pingback, trackback, refback or webmention in it and may appear spammy. However, many of these can actually be good for your site. These are called Linkbacks. These indicate that some other site has linked back to your site as a reference. If it’s a decent site with quality content, you want to approve these linkbacks, as they can help your SEO. However, spam bots are tricky and can also take advantage of these, so if you find there’s a linkback that routes back to a site that seems fishy, spam it and get rid of it.
As a final caution, Walker warns, “Be careful of allowing visitors to add URLs, with or without approval. It’s not worth risking spam links to virus ridden sites that will get you blacklisted by the search engines. I always recommend that blogs be monitored to make sure comments and links are legit.”
Inviting comments on your blog posts can be a great way to encourage interaction and conversation while improving your SEO and possibly your search ranking. However, it’s important to be vigilant about the comments being posted. You’ve worked too hard creating all that great content to let it be tainted by spammy comments.