The War Against Blog Comment Spam And How To Gain The Upper Hand

Blog comment spam… What exactly is it?

How do you know whether you have become an easy target?

How do you stay ahead of the comment spammers?

Spam in blogsI decided to put this guide together for two reasons which I will outline below but first let’s look at what blog comment spam is and why it has become such a major issue.

Blog comment spam is sometimes called spamdexing, comment spam, spam in blogs and a number of other variations on the same theme.

The reason why it exists is purely because of the value of links in SEO. One of the most important aspects of gaining good results in the search engine results pages is having a large number of back-links pointing at your website. These are seen as votes for your site by Google and the other search engines and are therefore counted as a powerful factor when allocating positions.

So, obviously the more links you can get the better your site will do (I have used an over-simplification here to avoid a full search engine optimisation explanation – you can read a fairly comprehensive explanation here)

Unfortunately when it comes to working online many people prefer to find ways to circumvent the safeguards which have been put in place to protect the integrity of the search results. By using “black hat techniques” many marketers break most of the compliance regulations in order to avoid the large amount of manual work and the patience required in implementation of “white hat SEO” techniques.

By sending massive amounts of automated spam out across the web with the attitude that some of it will “stick” these cowboys become the nuisance that we all have all grown to seriously dislike…

Google made a major change way back in 2005 to address this issue. By adding a nofollow attribute to links from comments and trackbacks the theory was that this would discourage automated blog comment spam as there would no longer be any SEO benefit from the comments. Google’s post is here:  Preventing Comment Spam.

Unfortunately there are millions of blogs which do not have the nofollow attribute (we voluntarily set our comments as dofollow in order to reward real comments but understand that we need to be more vigilant about spam because of this decision).

Blog spam software launches millions of comments per day at the web and the main problem is with the number of blogs where the owner auto-approves any comment. It is not unusual to find a blog of very low quality which has thousands of spam junk comments per post… Uggh!

Fortunately Google seeks out websites which have a disproportionate number of these low quality comment based links and penalises or even bans the websites which are using these techniques. Frustratingly though, it can take a while for them to identify some of the perpetrators and so ethically SEO’d websites can be relegated below the cowboys for periods of time.

The two reasons why I have created this guide?
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Oh No! SEO Fail Causes Search Engine Ranking Disaster in Australia!

It seems a large number of New Zealand and Australian businesses are seeking answers to search engine ranking difficulties between the two countries.

In a previous post “The Great Geographic Divide – Google Splits New Zealand And Australia” I talked about geographic modifiers and how many businesses are unaware of how important location is to search engine results.

Search Engine Ranking in Australia and New ZealandI also discussed how tough it can be to get traction in Google in the other country and how it seems to be easier to get US placement than Australian placement if you are a New Zealand business.

This post is based on my research into the poor performance of a local company who also has representation across the Tasman and who felt like they had tried everything without success to improve their Australian search engine ranking.

Here is how the websites are set up.

There are two sites on two different ccTLDs (country code top level domain). So one is website.co.nz and the other is website.com.au. The New Zealand site is hosted here in NZ and the Australian site is hosted in Australia.

So far, so good.

The sites are both optimised for a range of keywords and each page of the site has unique meta data. Yes, good as well.

I am afraid that is the end of the good news though.

The New Zealand site performs reasonably well on Google for most of the keywords on several of the site pages. Traffic figures for the main keywords in New Zealand I would describe as average. However, when I use Google Australia ( http://www.google.com.au/webhp) to search for the same keywords the Aussie site is nowhere to be found.

So, what is going on here?
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The Great Geographic Divide – Google Splits New Zealand And Australia!

This could rattle a few cages out there!

I am about to give away a little secret which many local SEO exponents would probably rather I didn’t…

But here goes!

When you type in your business keyword into Google you are only seeing what someone in your immediate location will see. This can be as precise as your town or city.

So, you were given those amazing global search volume figures for your keyword but after a search engine optimization campaign you were left wondering where the thousands of new customers were…

I have a bit of bad news for you!

If you are based in New Zealand, you are more than likely only ranking in New Zealand. And if you are in Auckland you are possibly only showing front page in Auckland results. Even the websites you have visited have an impact on what shows up on your front page Google results…

but that is for a separate post!

If you are based in Australia, you are more than likely not showing anywhere else in the world… just Google Australia!

Why?

Geographic modifiers are a major influencer in search. If you are based in a particular country then it is way more likely that you will be trusted by people in your own market, culture, ethnicity than some one who is across the ocean.
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Is Your Business Website Struggling Without Search Engine Optimization?

Let’s first of all clarify what SEO services are all about – here is a definition from Wikipedia

“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.  SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a website web presence.”

SEO Search Engine OptimisationThis sounds like a foreign language if you have never ventured into the world of online marketing. If you are a business owner who is considering having a website built – read on…

You have thrown the idea around about getting a website for some time now and you’re a bit skeptical and possibly a little nervous about it.  However, you are reluctantly coming to the realisation that you need to have a website.  So you ask around and see what it will cost you.   Anything from $3,000 – $10,000 (and often more) is what you hear.  That’s a lot of money to invest!

Here’s what usually happens.

You contact a website development company and immediately enter a strange world where people speak a different language.  After much discussion with the website developer and a lot of “techie” talk that makes you feel uncomfortable and completely out of your depth, you take the plunge and commission your website and hope like hell that the developer knows what he or she is doing.  The $7,500 you have just spent seems ludicrous and irrational, but you tell yourself “I have to have it – all my competitors have – and it will really grow my sales!”.
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On Search Engine Optimization, Rogue Web Designers And Integrity

Following on from my recent post called “Guess What! Google Hates Your New Business Website And Will Never Rank It!” there have been some further developments to the story.

If you haven’t read it I expressed my dismay – no not dismay, disgust! – about a New Zealand web design company which approached me about the 2,000 plus websites they had developed for NZ businesses.

As a search engine optimization consultant I let them know what I thought about their pretty but useless for SEO  Flash based websites and their claim that for an extra $100 the business could have the top Google result for the keyword of their choice!

Totally dishonest claims and I let them know in a reply to their email.

Anyway I received a follow-up phone call a couple of days ago and I think you will be blown away by the sheer mind-boggling audacity of this company!

“Hi Mike, just checking to see if you had looked at our website designs and to see if you are interested in perhaps purchasing a new website…”

Wow!

I asked whether the caller had received my email reply and was told that the company director had probably got that one.

So I explained what I thought about a business which had built over 2,000 Flash based websites with the promise of being found in the top search results and how I considered this to be dishonest and misleading.

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Guess What! Google Hates Your New Business Website And Will Never Rank It!

Great!

I get a phone call today from a telemarketer who asks me first if I am a representative of High Profile Enterprises!

This will be interesting I think…

“Do you have a website Sir?”

I tell him “We would be a pretty unusual search engine optimization and social media management company if we didn’t – don’t you think?”

Anyway this is not intended to knock telemarketers at all – we employ them to reach businesses that are not online.

search engine optimization liesApparently the company he represents has built 2,000 websites for businesses…

“Cool, send me your portfolio – we are always looking for talented web designers to recommend”

Email arrives…

Damn I think! Flash based websites!

Reply:

Hi Sam,

Thanks for this information!

As I said we are a search engine optimization and social media management company and I was interested to see what your design work is like. I often get asked for web design referrals!

What I see are Flash based websites… tell me that isn’t so?

Flash is virtually invisible in the search engines – look at your page source – there is very little the search engine spiders can read!

I was also interested to read that you value keyword research and SEO to get your site to the top of 40 search engines including Google at $100.

I almost fell off my chair!

If you ever need any SEO advice don’t hesitate to contact me. Mind you we don’t promise to get flash based sites to the top of the search engines for your chosen keyword for $100! 🙂

All the best

Mike

……

So, in essence what we have here is a company which is selling fully search engine optimized websites for $799 promising top Google placement for a keyword of your choice, and they have lots of nice little audio touches and lots of cool visuals where things move and look amazing…

And the websites are almost invisible to the search engines!

Is this criminal?

No, but it should be!

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