Spam is the scourge of the internet. Depending on which source you want to use, somewhere between 80-99.9% of all email is spam. Akismet, the most widely used WordPRess spam filter, shows that right now 83% of comments are spam on blogs running their plugin. That means that only 17% of blog comments are legitimate, what Akismet calls ham.
The flood of spam is the reason I first implemented a Comment Policy here at SuccessCREEations.
Spam is nasty stuff.
Danger of Getting Labeled a Spammer
When it comes to blogging, there is a big danger in getting labeled a spammer. Most of the prominent spam filters such as Akismet (Defensio is another good one I recommend) have filtering algorithms that learn which commenters are spammers and which are legitimate (hammers?) based on user submissions.
This means that every time I mark a comment as spam, or tell the filter that I think a comment that it has marked as spam is really OK, it sends that info to a central database and learns. Combine my input with millions of other users and the filters get pretty accurate pretty fast.
Of course, if the filter ever starts thinking you are a spammer it can be nearly impossible to get your comments approved again. On any blog anywhere.
I’ve had friends end up there by mistake and I promise it is no fun. You don’t want to have that happen. Seriously.
Characteristics of Spammers
To help you out I thought it would be good to share some common characteristics that spam comments tend to share so that you know what to avoid. Hopefully it will help you stay out of spam purgatory.
Keep in mind that most of these characteristics taken individually do not necessarily mean your comment will be marked as spam. However the fewer of these you have in your comments the lower your chances of your comments being marked as spam. On, and I’m going to leave out the painfully obvious things like link stuffing for porn, pills or gambling.
- Arrive from a DoFollow list. The short version is that there are lists of blogs floating around out there listing blogs with decent Page Rank who have removed the NoFollow property from comments. Since this blog is on many of those lists I know that the majority of folks who come here from them are more interested in link juice than conversation.
- Leave several comments in a very short time. It is not unusual to see a commenter leave a half a dozen or more short comments on various posts in the span of 10 minutes or so. More often than not they never comback after their initial slash and burn pass. Instead, leave on comment a day over several days.
- Use key words instead of their name. Since spammers are all about getting better ranking in the search engines they often fill the name field with key words instead of, well, their name. Talking with keywords instead of people makes for awkward conversation, to say the least. Use your name and participate in the conversation.
- Don’t have a Gravatar. Spammers are about staying anonymous. Adding a picture of yourself goes a long way towards identifying you as a person and not a spammer. Go get your Gravatar set up so blog owners know you are a person.
- Only 1 or 2 sentence comments. Spamming is a high volume, low return activity. Since comment spamming is about getting the link the only incentive is to add just enough comment text to (hopefully) make it past the filter. Taking a moment to add value to the conversation will go a long way towards your comment being approved.
- Use free email service instead of email with your domain name. Spammers use throw away email addresses because it helps the anonymity factor. They tend to be random letters and numbers. Using your name in your email, or better yet your own blog domain will help you look less like a spammer.
- Blog has comments closed on all posts. Spammers are not interested in conversation. Since they are spamming, they probably think everyone else is spamming too. Turning their comments off is a sure way to prevent getting spammed back. Make sure yours are on and encourage conversation.
- Link to a sales page instead of a blog. Spammers are trying to improve the ranking of their sales page so they can make more money. It is much more effective long term to engage in dialog and let your ranking grow over time rather than trying to “trick” the search engines into giving you good ranking. If your blog is on an internal page of your business site, consider linking there instead of to your front page.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. But avoiding these mistakes will go a long way towards keeping your comments out of spam filters.
What would you add to the list?