This week I discovered that many of the comments a client of ours has received on their blog are spam.
At first glance, many of them looked like real comments. They said things that you might expect from a comment on a Birthing Center blog. But what really tipped me off was the “name” attached to the comment, the website this “name” linked to and the e-mail attached to it.
So, I did a little bit of investigating and discovered that, while the comment seemed to be real, there actually wasn’t anything ‘real’ about it. At first glance, it looks like a real comment by a real reader but, when you dig a little deeper, it is just a form of spam.
For example, a comment our client received read, “Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!” (I took this word for word from the blog administrator.)
At first, this comment seemed legitimate. But then I looked at the name of the person who posted the comment. It read “private loan student.” And the website it linked to? privatestudentloansinfo.org.
To prove that the comment was in fact spam, I looked at several other comments posted on the same day near the time of the student loan comment. And sure enough, there were three other comments that, at first glance, looked like a real comment but were actually spam.
Through some discussion with our web developer, I found that there are comment factories who pay individuals to leave comments on blogs which link back to a specific web page. The purpose is to increase incoming links to that page and therefore increase Google search rankings.
So how do you avoid comment spam?
The first and most important way is to take a look at how your blog comments are set up. Make sure that your comments are published only after being approved by the blog’s owner or by someone within your hospital who is designated to approve comments.
Once you have made sure that no spam can be published to your blog, it is time to make sure the spam never gets to your admin site in the first place.
There are many spam detection tools you can use. One of the most well-known spam filtering companies is Akismet.
Akismet is run by the creators of WordPress.com, a common platform used for blogs, and it sorts out comment spam for you. According to their website, every time a new comment, trackback or pingback is added to your site, it is monitored by Akismet, which then determines if the comment, trackback or pingback is spam or if it is a legitimate comment. As a result, you don’t have to spend time sorting through dozens, or even hundreds, of spam comments on your blog.
Overall, it is important to manage comments effectively and make sure what is being posted to your blog has value. Whether you are thinking about starting a blog for your hospital, or if you already have one, make sure you manage your comments effectively.