Spam, Spiders And Do Follow, Oh My!

Today on Think Tank Tuesday I’m taking a look at No Follow and Do Follow and how these relate to blogs and spam, and Sephy is going to let you know how to turn no follow off on Blogger, WordPress, and various other kinds of blogs. It is a lot easier than you think, you’ll be glad to know!

So what is NoFollow All About?

Most blogs come with no follow installed on the comments section automatically. This was originally done to prevent link spammers gaining anything from their spammy efforts. Unfortunately nofollow does not work – nofollow blogs still get spam comments.

That means anytime someone comments on your blog their link is not followed by the search engines. The commentor does not receive a link back on either Technorati or Google or Yahoo or any of the other search engines.

Is It Fair To Your Commentors?

By making a link no follow, you’re effectively saying to the search engines – I don’t trust this link. Given that most of us do actually trust the links of our commentors, this is not a Good Thing.

Choose Not To Give Link Juice –

When you have a blog, you can choose to make certain things no follow. For example, if I wanted to link to someone in a post but I did not want the search engines to see that link, I would put in a bit of code that turns the link into a no follow link. Why would I want to do that?

Link Bait –

Sometimes bloggers post controversial things in order to get links back to their blog. I can name a few who do this regularly. If you feel a blogger is link baiting but you still want to discuss their post there is an easy way you can make the link no follow.

Sephy has shown you how you can do this in his post on this topic – Say No To NoFollow, it is simple and easy to do.

You will still be giving their blog traffic if anyone clicks on the link, but it is better to do that than leave your readers wondering what the heck you’re talking about – and much better than giving the blogger what they are looking for by being controversial, which is backlinks to their blog. Don’t reward them by giving them link juice.

Links Mean $$$ To Some –

Why do bloggers link bait? To some bloggers, backlinks can mean money. The more back links your blog has, the higher ranking you get on Technorati, the higher your page rank, the higher price you can charge advertisers.

What Is Do Follow?

The Do Follow movement is basically people who have decided they want their commentors links to be followed by the search engines. These Do Follow bloggers have taken the time to remove no follow from their comments sections. Depending on what kind of blog they have this can be an easy task or a difficult one.

Sephy has explained how to make your blog do follow with instructions for Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Movable Type and some others.in his companion post to this one, make sure to read it. Here is the link again if you have not already opened it in a new window or tab – Say No To NoFollow

Will This Increase Spam?

In a word, no. I was getting spammed before I became do follow, and I have been spammed since. What will add to your chances of being spammed more often is by joining one of the Do Follow link lists that exist on the internet. These are targeted often by spammers looking for a way to build backlinks fast.

The Bumpzee Community –

There is a No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community at Bumpzee. Being a member of this community is worthwhile if you are a do follow blog because your posts go out on the RSS feed for other do follow readers to view. It has meant more traffic to my blog.

I believe three times since I joined the community, which was some months ago now, I have been spammed by people who came directly here from the Bumpzee community. These are the paid commentors. Their comments are easy to spot and easily deleted. So as far as I am concerned the issue of being spammed by people who know you are do follow is not much of a problem for me.

What If I Get Spammed?

You can easily turn no follow back on – but that won’t stop the spam. Spam is a problem we all have to deal with here on the internet. We just have to be adults about it, set a comments policy for ourselves, and then follow it.

Since I put in a comments policy on the page where people leave a comment, I have only been spammed once. The paid comments people seem to have got the message – it is a waste of their time to comment here and they won’t get paid for the comment because I delete it quickly. If you can do the same thing, you can keep your blog spam free.

How Can I Tell When It’s Spam?

The number one give away is the link they are using. When I see a comment that is possibly spam, the first thing I do is copy the link and take the link over to Technorati. For example, this is one of the comment spammers that has been here recently – on Technorati and another one – and as soon as you search for the URL you can see they have a lot of recent reactions with different names – Tom Paine, Lais Edwards, Richard Andrews, Clebsch Gordon, etc.

Why It Works –

Looking at the backlinks, some of the bloggers I most respect got caught out by these spammers. There’s a lot of familiar names and blogs there. I didn’t have the time to email or comment on all the posts, otherwise I would have.

The two blogs mentioned above now have medium level authorities on Technorati – (one has an authority of 51) (two has an authority of 65). You’ll note I am not linking to the blogs themselves, only to Technorati. I do not want to give them any link juice.

Team Up With Fellow Bloggers –

The major mistake these spammers made was – they visited Sephy’s blog not long after visiting mine, and left similar comments. Sephy and I discussed them on Skype and figured out it was spam, and then deleted them.

Don’t be afraid to contact a fellow blogger who has received a comment you suspect is spam and ask what their thoughts are on it. Sephy posted about it here – Paid Comments Not Allowed

Search The Name or URL-

If you search the name or URL you may well find both listed in the search engines as spammers.

Post About It Yourself –

If spam has become an issue on your blog, it could be worthwhile posting about it so that other bloggers can be aware of it. When they google the names you keep seeing as spam, they will find your post and then they can delete the spam as well – and if they read your post, when those names turn up on their blog they can hit delete fast.

Just make sure not to give any link juice to the spammers – you can make individual links no follow easily (See Sephy’s Post for info on how) so please do so when referring to the links spammers leave, or use the name only, don’t put a link in..

Moderation?

From time to time all bloggers find themselves switching to moderated comments. I’ve had to do it here, when trolls have arrived. Using moderation takes all the fun out of it for them. You usually don’t have to leave it on for too long before they give up and go somewhere else to troll.

You can also use moderation to combat spam and this is a tactic some bloggers are trying out recently. If you are available most of the time to moderate comments, you may wish to try this but be aware – it tends to stifle discussion. And what happens when you sleep? Comments stay unmoderated for hours at a time. ;(

Moderation After The Fact –

I tend to stick with a moderation afterwards policy here. If I spot a comment which is inappropriate, unacceptable or spam, it is quickly deleted. Sometimes not quickly enough because the search spiders are here fairly often. So they may get a some link juice if I’m not on the ball.

Trusted People –

If you have a couple of people you really trust who live in different timezones to you, you may choose to make them an administrator on your blog. This gives them the power to moderate comments. You discuss with them what is unacceptable, and they keep an eye out, deleting anything which would be against your policy, or anything which is clearly spam.

What About Captcha?

Blogger users will be familiar with Captcha word verification, it looks like this –

captcha

The reason it is exists is to stop spam bots posting comments on your blog. However it could be stopping regular human people from posting on your blog. You only need to turn word verification on when you’re being targeted by a spam bot – as in you’ll be getting a boatload of comments in a very short amount of time – and this will stop the spam bot from posting more comments. May I recommend you turn it off in the meantime?

Julie Pippert recently posted about Captcha and if you read her post you will see you might be missing out on comments if you’re using it. I have turned word verification off here for now, we’ll see how it goes..

The Bottom Line –

Spam is an issue for all of us. We get it in our email. We get spammed in our comments section. Unless you are being targeted in a major way and receiving hundreds of spam comments a day, it’s not that big a deal to hit delete. Have a good comments policy, make sure it is visible on the screen where people leave comments (blogger users – find out how to display your comments policy) and be vigilant in deleting anything you suspect of being spam.

Further Reading –

13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck I agree with the points, especially points 2, 3 and 5.

Give a little link love say no to nofollow remove the link condoms Rob, I love the concept of link condoms! ;) This post contains some very interesting quotes from people at Google and Yahoo – worth reading.

I Follow Randa Clay created the Do Follow logos that you see around the place, here you can get them in different colors to suit your blog.

Over To You –

If you liked this post, give it a stumble so other readers can find it. ;)

What are your thoughts on spam? Have you been spammed on your blog? Are you a Do Follow blog, and if not will you become one after reading this? Feel free to leave any comments – as long as they’re not spam!

Similar Posts:

blog design, blog template, blogging tips, commenting on blogs, spam

25 thoughts on “Spam, Spiders And Do Follow, Oh My!

  1. I just don’t care enough about dofollow or nofollow. It’s just for search engines, isn’t it? I care more about human beings.

    The whole thing annoys me the way people make a big deal about it. My reaction to such issues is “uh?”

    If I like somebody’s blog or I want to show my gratitude for their taking time to comment, I link to them on the blog roll and appreciate them that way.

    “dofollow” or “nofollow” is irrelevant in humble opinion. Too much fuss is made about something that’s insignificant.

  2. I hadn’t heard of any of these things until a friend mentioned it and explained how it worked.. so I have the “Do Follow” plugin installed. Not sure how much difference it makes to my readers, but at least I’ve done my part. :)

  3. I would quite gladly do the do follow thing but I don’t have the right Typepad account so am unable to. I send link love from my heart!

  4. Hi, thanks for the link. I am moderating at the moment, because there was a huge influx of spam and after reading your post, I’m now guessing it’s due to me joining the “dofollow” blogroll. So I’ve asked to be removed from it and hopefully spam will calm down and when it does, i’ll stop moderating.

    I’ve made it so that linky-love waits until 24 hours after posting the comment has passed, so I’ll be able to delete it before they get their linkback.

  5. Hari – It’s not just for search engines. It is more about giving bloggers incentive to comment on each others blogs – if you have do follow installed, each time they comment they get a link back to themselves.

    Look at it this way. If I am a blogger, and I want to comment on some blogs but I am also wanting to raise my rankings like page rank and technorati ranking, I’m going to look for blogs which are do follow to comment on.

    The blogs which are do follow will generally get a lot more comments, and the comments will be relevant to the post. Bigger discussions will happen on a do follow blog. People will come back to see how the discussion progresses.

    All of this is good for your blog – good traffic, the more comments the more people will check out those comments and perhaps be inspired to comment themselves.

    Linking to them is another way of showing appreciation but that can only ever be *one* link. If your blog has do follow and someone comments on your blog 20 times – they get 20 backlinks. The more they discuss things, the more links they get.

    I do tend to comment a lot anyway, but say I look in my google reader and there are two posts about the same topic. That happens a lot actually, topics tend to show up across a lot of blogs at once.

    I know one blog is do follow and the other is not. Which one do you think I’ll lean towards commenting on? The one that rewards me with a link or few for participating in the discussion, or the one that doesn’t? The answer is the one that rewards me. And I’m not the only blogger doing that.

    You can also look at it from this point of view – do you want to do as Google tells you all the time? ;) You’re the blogger. You’re in charge. You should be deciding which links count and which don’t- not having Blogger and Google make those decisions for you.

    It really is another way of inspiring people to be a part of your blog. That’s why it’s a big deal.

    Alyndabear – Well done! ;)

    Jaycee – You’ve got your own domain now.. you don’t have to be limited to typepad forever if you don’t want to. That’s one of the reasons I chose to go with my own domain – knowing I can then choose to move to another platform without losing my links and readers. ;)

    Katie – Was it a text link list? If yes, those are regularly watched by the paid comment people, so that would be why.

    If linky love is waiting 24 hours, you can probably take the moderation off and just moderate after the fact – make sure your comments policy clearly and loudly states that all spam will be deleted. :)

    I know one of the people who was running a do follow text list was absolutely inundated with spam across all their blogs, so I would say that’s the cause. It’s unfortunate. I’m on the do follow bumpzee community and like I say, I don’t get a lot of spam from it.

    Thanks for the comments, hoping to see a few more when the US wakes up ;)

    Snoskred

  6. There is so much great info here I’ll have to come back a few times to absorb it all. Otherwise my head might asplode! LOL. Thanks for sharing it though. I am trying to take it all in.

  7. Snoskred – what a great post, and it’s a topic I’ve been wondering about lately. I’ll likely follow up with my own post when I get home from work and have time to look into this a bit further, but for the record, I believe I have already removed the nofollow from my blog’s code.

    Now I’ll try to think of some more topics to ask you telepathically so I can get some great posts on those, too.

    Kirsten

  8. Yes it was from a text link ad. I’ve asked to be removed, so hopefully they’ll forget about me ever being on it! And I’m probably going to change my moderation to being once a comment is approved, they don’t have to be moderated anymore, so that should be better for my more regular commenters (not having to wait each time!). Spam is ridiculous at the moment and I truly agree with your thought that it’s due to the blogroll, especially since it’s all done by humans because they are getting past my maths spam protection!

    *frustrating!*

  9. I have a friend whose job is helping companies improve their Page Rank, and I asked her for tips on getting my blog MomReviews up from PR0 to PR1. Her advice? ADD NoFollow to my outgoing links. Not the ones in my blogroll, but the ones in the sidebar like Flickr and Text Link Ads. The idea is, why should they get some of my link juice?

    What do you think about that? I have the Do follow plugin installed for comments, btw.

  10. Rob – That’s a huge compliment coming from you, I appreciate it ;)

    Teeni – I always am torn between giving all the information on a topic – which can be overwhelming – and breaking it into little digestible chunks. I think it’s better to give the whole scoop so people can bookmark it to read again later. ;)

    Kirsten – I have checked your page source and your blog is do follow, so well done there. ;)

    You don’t have to telepathically ask, you can suggest a topic and Sephy and I will try to cover it. ;)

    Christine – Thanks! ;) This blogging think tank content I have been working pretty hard on, so it is lovely to hear you say that. ;)

    Katie – I think it is a bit unethical of the people running those lists because they are well aware anyone joining will soon be drowning in spam. They should at least let people know there is a higher risk of being spammed when you’re on a list like that.

    Cugat – And you are the Cugat. :)

    Elizabeth – Hmm. This is a tricky one. It could be said that the text link people are paying to have that link, and by making it no follow a blogger could be kinda doing the wrong thing. At least I have seen that said.

    Something I was told about page rank is you need to balance outgoing links with internal links. This is one reason I have the “Snoskred Is” part of the sidebar, and also one reason why I do the weekly wrap ups with links back to my own blog.

    However everyone has theories on page rank and nobody is 100% certain on them.

    Flickr you could make no follow, that would be ok. I wouldn’t do it to an advertiser though, just because it may not be the right thing to do.

    I just wish they’d hurry up and update the darn page rank thing. Google, you’re letting the side down. :(

    Thanks for the comments all! ;)

    Snoskred
    http://www.snoskred.org/

  11. Great article S – you might find this post from Joel Spolsky offers an interesting perspective. That said, he is at the pointy end – not all of us get our blogs made into books!

  12. Elizabeth – As far as I can tell, it is a no-no to make the text-link-ads links nofollow. I can’t seem to find their terms of service (which you’d think would be readily available to find, but I guess not…), but as this post points out, he got into trouble with TLA for setting the links nofollow.

    However, as I mentioned (and some of the commentators mentioned in that post), I can’t find anything specific about it on TLA’s site, so I would tread carefully on that.

    Sephyroth
    http://www.sephyroth.net

  13. Snoskred, thanks for the explanation, but I still don’t feel any need to change anything on my blog from the default settings.

    Unfortunately the same thing that motivates you to blog doesn’t motivate me to blog I guess.

    It’s hard to explain, but I guess such issues are irrelevant in my opinion…

  14. One more thing: your website http://snoskred.org (without the www) goes to a godaddy parking page…

    Also back on topic,
    I think the point I’m trying to make is that I simply cannot get myself to care too much about the issues you raise.

    For instance, I’d much rather have comments from people who have actually something to say about what I write than people who comment because they feel the incentive to get a link back to their website.

    As I said, my ideas are way too different from yours. I am a techie myself, but I don’t “get” into all this social networking and stuff.

  15. Nice and informative post! I recently added dofollow to my own blog and have been relying on akismet ever since. I’m still looking for a good CAPTCHA plugin for wordpress, so do let me know if you know any good ones, thanks.

  16. i have a dofollow blog… however, it was due to the persistent request of a friend… on the other hand, i found out lately there seems to be more disadvantages than advantages… spams come more frequently and it really sucks!

  17. I feel that people are more inclined to join in on the conversation if they feel that they might get a little love back in the process. I have read several posts on other blog’s about the fact that bloggers actually are getting more quality comments over spam comments since they started following their comments.

  18. I have been the victim of spam comments and looked toward every system possible in order to avoid them. I finally set my post to where you have to have at least one approved post before commenting, this has helped to fight spam. I also use askimet to blog out a lot of spam but it doesn’t always work. I use the do-follow so that it lets other bloggers know that they can be rewarded for commenting. I loved your post and found it very useful.

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