One of the most annoying things about being a blogger is blog comment spam. In the beginning, when you’re not getting any comments it will be kind of exciting when people start finding your blog. You’ll be excited to see comments, and most likely it won’t take long for you to feel disappointed when you realize they’re just spam.
These days new technology is making blog comment spam look more and more like real comments. It can be tough to decipher the real comments from the spam. It will be important for you to create a pretty solid comment policy (if nothing else, at least in your head) so when the comments start rolling in you’ll know which ones to save, which ones to trash and which ones to mark as spam. That policy will be different for every person, and as time goes on and you see more and more mediocre to crap comments come through your site, your personal policy is likely to get a little tougher as well.
Let’s look at some ways to manage blog comments spam, because really that’s all you can do is manage it ~ unless you want to completely turn comments off on your site. (which isn’t a bad idea if you’re running an e-commerce type site, but if you’re running a blog the interaction is a really big part of creating a community.)
Akismet is your first line of defense. Akismet is a free plugin that comes preinstalled in your wordpress blog (sorry blogger people, they don’t have akismet). To get it started you’ll have to activate the plugin in your plugin area. Then you’ll have to take one more step, and get an API key to activate it.
If you currently have a wordpress.com account you can get your key there. Go to personal settings and you’ll see a link to get your API key from akismet. If you don’t already have an account at wordpress.com, it now looks like you’ll have to get your key through akismet directly.
Go to Akismet.com and choose a plan. They give you some pricey options, and make it look like you’re going to have to pay, but if you’re just starting out, whether you’re doing affiliate marketing or just doing a personal site go with the free option. If you start getting traffic and too many comments where you need a higher plan, you’ll most likely be making enough money to cover the upgrade. You can find the free plan from the link under the plan options where it says personal site.
On the next page there is a slider where you can choose what you want to pay. Just slide it down to zero. Continue through the process until you get your key.
While akismet is generally the “go to” plugin for spam management there are others out there. I personally only use Akismet, but here’s a couple others I’ve heard good things about: wp-spamfree and Bad Behavior
Whatever you choose, you will need something. Spam comments don’t come from people as much anymore as they do from computer robots ~ so they will eventually find you. I just deleted tons of spam comments off a site that only has wordpress installed and the “hello” post that’s there by default. It’s amazing how many people think that content is wonderful.
Give people the link they’re looking for
So once you’ve got your software in place, the second thing you might want to think about is giving people the chance to get a link without being spammers. I do this by using keywordluv and commentluv plugins. Keywordluv creates a link to JUST people’s keywords in the name field, but also allows them to use their name. I get to know someone’s name, and they get to use their keywords. Commentluv pulls in the person’s last blog post and links to it within the comment area. You can use one or both of these plugins on your site.
Do keep in mind that many affiliate marketers will search google for sites using these plugins and come to your site not to read your content, but to get a link. (This is where a solid personal comment policy comes in handy). It may be a real person who stops by and maybe reads your post, and leaves a comment, but it may be a REALLY BAD comment. You have to decide what quality of comments you’ll allow on your site. It’s your site, you get to make the final call.
Don’t let the first timers in
I personally HATE this when I’m a first time commenter, but I completely understand it, and it’s how I have my site set up. In your discussions settings you’ll see an option to automatically post comments only when they already have 1 published comment. That way you always get to moderate someone’s first comment. If it’s a spammer or link seeker and you choose to spam/trash their first comment, their second one won’t publish, you’ll have to moderate it as well.
This policy sucks for real people who are leaving real comments the first time on your blog because their comment will be in moderation until you choose to publish it. I personally like to tweet, or post to facebook a lot of the posts I think are good enough that I comment on them, but I also want a little benefit of people seeing my comment there when I do tweet, or post to facebook. So if my comment goes to moderation and isn’t there, I probably won’t tweet/post the article.
Creating your comment policy
If you have a pretty solid comment policy in place you can always use a plugin to post your comment policy right in the comment area, or use a plugin that makes people click a box that they agree with your comment policy. This won’t stop real people spammers, but it will stop a lot of the bot spam.
If you’re still trying to decide on your comment policy, just remember those comments that seem real ~ the ones that even use your name, or your site name ~ they probably aren’t. In fact, they’re likely created by a bot, and you’ll never know for sure until you see it done the wrong way… like this:
For a really long time I used to feel bad deleting comments… especially since I run a blog for beginners. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt… not so much anymore. If you think I’m tough on comments, you’ll see I’m kind of a pussy cat once you read this fantastic post over at Remarkablogger, the 7 reasons why I deleted your comments. (there’s cussing)
So, I’d love to hear what your spam policy is. Do you trash comments? Mark them as spam? Moderate every comment? What’s working for you? What plugins are you using to manage the blog comment spam? Please, share your “real” comments below lol.