Blog comments are fantastic. They provide a way for writers and readers to interact, thereby building a community, and sometimes even friendship. They’re also great for SEO purposes as they add fresh content to a page with targeted keywords, assuming you can keep the discussion related to the post’s topic. Therein lies the catch. There are a lot of spammers out there just itching to squeeze in unrelated links and advertisements. No matter what you do, spammers will keep mutating and haunt you like a bad virus, but you can minimize their effect on your blog by doing the following:
1. Ban links in comments
Since most, if not all, of spams have links to other sites, why not remove the ability to leave clickable links in the comments section? Although spammers (and regular people) can still send in comments, they won’t be able to publish active hyperlinks. This can be done by accessing the server and configuring it such that all HTML tags from comment links are automatically stripped.
2. Use anti-spam plugins
If you’re using WordPress, you can use spam filters like the popular Akismet which learns the more you use it. This ability to learn new spamming techniques via user input has been very effective so far. Another way is to utilize user validation plugins like Captcha to require commenters to prove they are living, breathing human beings, as opposed to spam-generating bots. You will either be presented with scrambled text on an image or an audio recording to listen to. Choose well because some plugins of this type are extremely hard to crack. If valid users fail to leave a comment on their first try, they might just abandon trying all together.
3. Block Googlebot from the comments
Rampant spamming can hurt your site’s SEO, so in the extreme case where you want to make sure this extraneous content won’t be indexed by spiders, use the robots.txt file to block their access to the subdirectory where the comments are stored. An alternate way is to use the meta tag to block certain pages by putting this inside the header:
4. Use nofollow tags
Make sure your comment links are padded with the rel=”nofollow” attribute. This bit of code will prevent the link from becoming a factor in PageRank calculation and your page’s relevance to keyword searches. Some blogging sites and CMS like WordPress add this attribute to comment links by default.
5. Turn on comment moderation
However, the best way is still to play the vigilant cop in policing your site’s comments. It can be grueling if you get a lot of comments everyday, but it can also be rewarding because you get to interact with authentic visitors. Most blogs come with the option to hold the comments until you personally approve them, instead of automatically displaying these. It’s especially useful to guard against not only spammers but trolls – those who spew unnecessary hate for some unfathomable reason. I guess the Internet must have its downsides, too.