Combatting Blog Spam

We all work hard to create our blogs and maintain a certain level of quality. If you are like me, your blog may be tied to another site. The hope being that the blog will help promote the other site along with building a community based around the blog.

It is because of that community nature, people have found ways to take advantage of blog owners by dropping self-promotional comments in hopes of gaining a backlink or even some visitors. On this blog, I have had hundreds of comments and trackbacks. Only less than 7% were useful or on topic. 🙁

Allowing these drive-by posts to stay makes your blog look poorly maintained and only encourages others to join in the free-for-all. We’ve all seen those blogs where posts have 10, 50, even 100 comments that all refer to other sites and have no relation to the blog post. It almost seems like smoke signals are sent across the spammer’s community, “Hey, over here, I found a good blog to spam.”

It wouldn’t be as bad if the spammers had sites that were at least related to the blogs they poison, but all too often they are the real dregs of the Internet – the discount pharmaceutical peddlers, porno sites, and get rich quick schemes. Interestingly enough my biggest spammers are a myriad of Realtors from Florida.

So, what should blog owners do to combat these folks?

Remove all blog comment spam

The biggest thing blog owners need to do is to check their sites daily. I typically post on this blog on Wednesdays and Saturdays (sorry, this entry is a day late), but I check the site everyday. The best way to check for spammy comments and trackbacks is through your admin system. Don’t just visit your blog and check the most recent messages. The clever spammers will hit older posts in the hopes you will miss their handiwork. You will catch 100% of the spammers if you use the admin system as it was designed rather than relying on the assumption that only the latest few posts are drawing anyone’s attention.

Some of the spammers are looking for backlinks only. If the link stays on the blog until Google, Yahoo!, MSN and the other search engine spiders visit the site; the spammer gets credit for having a link on that blog. That link seems to remain for quite a while in the search engine’s databases. Many spammer sites are only around for a short time, so by the time the search engines realize the link is gone from a blog, the site may be gone as well.

I know it’s tempting with a new blog or one that doesn’t have many comments to leave these comments in place. But, the harm it can do to the reputation of your site and the potential for inadvertently encouraging others to take advantage of you and your site is not worth it in the long run.

Blocking access to spammers

The second way to combat the spammers is to block their URL or IP address.

Blocking URLs, IMHO, is something of a waste of time. These folks are in the business of making a quick buck and then disappearing. Rarely will the URL or website address be the same. So this method is only marginally effective.

Blocking IP addresses, the numerical address of the computer they use to access the Internet, is also only a partial solution and could end up hurting your site in the long run. For example, I use Earthlink to access the Internet; which means when I access the net, I am assigned an IP on a revolving basis. With shared IPs like this, the spammer and your next best customer could end up using the same address. The popularity of proxy sites, sites that are used to access other sites anonymously, has made IP blocking even less effective as the address that is recorded will be for the proxy and not the actual spammer.

Keep your blog spam-free

Bottom line, my advice is to check your blog at least daily. Review the comments and trackbacks using your admin system and quickly delete the spammy messages. While this won’t stop people from spamming your blog, it will keep your blog on topic and will keep the riff-raff from putting the word out that your site is a spammer’s paradise.

As an added benefit, you will be sure to notice every relevant comment being made. If you only check the comments made on your latests posts, you may be missing comments made on earlier posts that require an answer or could lead to sales of your arts and crafts.

p.s. My apologies to the man from Sweden who shared this self-portrait on Stock Exchange. I used his picture because it has a sinister and suspicious feel and seemed perfect for this post.

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