While the web has certainly developed over the last 15 to 20 years, from the absolute wilderness of the 90s to the more sophisticated version we know today, there are still some serious misconceptions out there. Among them are poor SEO tactics that are not only out-of-date but also ineffective, like comment spam.
Comment spam is hilarious (yet obnoxious) at best, and harmful at worst. It’s possibly the least effective backlink strategy out there, yet so many companies spend money on agencies to spam other websites with poorly integrated comment links to their websites.
At Virtual Visibility Media Inc, we want to make sure we offer the most up-to-date advice we can in order to help business improve their SEO. As part of this mission, we want to absolutely underline that comments are not where – or how – you should be buying links. It’s not only a waste of money, but also a waste of time, management, implementation, and a generally fruitless way of effectively dragging your brand’s name through the mud. Quite frankly – you should avoid it if you’re planning on improving the online visibility of your business website.
Why we’re discussing website comment spam
Most of the time we focus on actionable, positive ways you can improve your website’s search engine rankings. However, this time around we needed to remove an option. It might be easy for us to say that something is obvious, but if you’re new to online optimization, how are you to know? This was underlined recently when we got the funniest attempt at comment spam we’ve come across so far.
It wasn’t harmful or toxic in any way – it was just the perfect example of why comment spamming is ineffective and contextually useless.
We received two comments that got caught in our comment filter from two different email addresses. In fact, it was two different IPs (though the latter was very obviously using a proxy to hide their original IP address). It was the same exact message, just with minor adjustments, for two different destination URLs (meaning two different clients).
The most outlandish part of it is that this poor guy – hired to comment on websites and linking to whomever he’s supposed to – copied his entire template document and commented it to us. Twice.
We won’t write it out – but we will give you a short preview here:
And so it continues…
It goes on for more than 6,500 words. Yes…six thousand and five hundred words of template nonsense (though complimentary nonsense, if nothing else).
What makes a comment spammy
We’re not going to dive deep into what constitutes a spammy comment as opposed to a legitimate comment. We’re going to skim through this quickly, as it should be obvious for any business owner. A spammy comment is a comment that:
- Is purely left on a site or blog post for self-reference reasons (in order to link to your site)
- Is poorly constructed and template-based with generic feedback and phrases that can apply to anything and any topic.
- Doesn’t add value, verification, or question anything from the content it’s left on.
Let’s brush aside the obvious: comment spam often contains no grammar consistency or quality whatsoever. Another point to make is that it doesn’t matter if there’s a nofollow link in the blog comment – it’s still spammy.
Why you should not buy comment links
It doesn’t matter where your business is based, how competitive the online environment is, or how hard it is to rank for your business type. Comment spam is a wasteful and potentially dangerous link building tactic in the long term. There are better ways for you to acquire backlinks than spammy comments. Furthermore – poorly executed online engagements can very easily fall in the category of link schemes, as outlined by Google itself.
As a consequence, not only are you unlikely to get viable results from this activity. You’re in fact quite likely to have it backfire on you with penalties – manual or otherwise.
Protecting yourself against poor practices that create comment spam in your name
We’ve had clients come forward in the past needing to improve their rankings after having been hit by a penalty for link and comment spam – we often find that they weren’t even aware that the agency they hired caused the problem.
The story is usually the same. The business hires an agency to create backlinks in order to diversify their backlink profile and improve the business’ online visibility. After all, links pointing to your site is a huge ranking factor. The agency then acts immediately, taking on strategies without clearing them, and goes to work.
It might bring results for a month or so, but soon enough rankings start dropping – and dropping quickly.
You can protect yourself from such tactics and strategies in a number of ways:
- Specifying that any strategy, tactic, and plan needs senior sign-off from you and your business partners before being put into action.
- Demanding a report documenting the placement, context, and means by which the agency acquires a link.
- Specifying that they must report any activity that directly and explicitly goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines ahead of time.
If you implement the above steps, you’ll be in a better position to protect your company, brand, and online reputation.
It should be said that Google is now better and largely disregard spammy backlinks. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not a negative for your website and business. You’re effectively spending money and resources on a practice that does nothing to benefit your company.
Alternatives to comment spam
There is a myriad of tactics, strategies, and activities you can undertake instead of comment spam. In our experience, one of the most effective ways of creating backlinks, while improving your “on-site SEO”, is through quality content creation and utilizing the content marketing funnel. It’s a much more holistic way of improving your SEO from a multitude of angles while ensuring that quality and usefulness is at the heart of your activities.
Another activity is a more straightforward link building strategy. Putting the right plan in place will mean that your link building campaign seeks to create a connection between a relevant party and your business website. Any SEO agency, company, or expert, worth their salt will tell you that this activity should have deep roots within your existing content to ensure that relevancy and value are obvious.
Thirdly, we have off-line marketing campaigns. These campaigns create a buzz in the “real world” that create excitement about your brand on social media and in the news. We work closely with some excellent companies, like Jones Adventure Marketing, and others, who provide amazing off-line marketing projects.
Providing value is the only real way to create value
A while ago we wrote about Featured Snippets, and we touched upon the fact that Google’s ultimate goal has remained the same since its inception: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. This hasn’t changed in the last 15 months.
As things stand with search engines, and with the advent of voice search very much upon us, creating value is the only way to gain value. You’ll have a much harder time gaining rankings through less than aboveboard means than you’ll have through creating valuable content, establishing valuable links, and providing genuine value to the reader, audience, and ideal customer.
This is no cause for alarm – at all. In fact, this is a massive benefit. Chances are you’ve run your business for a while, and you know your customers. All you need to do is to channel that knowledge for the better – and make it work for you.
Alternatively, if you need assistance with this, you can always get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to lend a hand and give you a free website audit evaluation. With us, you’ll always get quality with a focus on conversion and your business’ goals.
Get in touch with us today. We look forward to hearing from you!
Christoffer is the CEO and Founder of Virtual Visibility Media. It’s our goal to make SEO and digital marketing affordable and easy enough for anyone to have a fantastic website – while making it the easiest task on the local business owner’s to-do list.