Link Spam

This blog has been active for several months now, and whenever I log in to make a new post, I will have several new comments to look at. Unfortunately, many of these are link spam - throwaway or irrelevant comments added purely to get a link to a site. Link spam is so prolific on the Internet that any site that allows links to be added by third parties will be familiar with it.

Many of these links are added by automated processes, without any human interaction at all. A piece of software crawls the web in much the same was as a search engine spider. When it finds a blog or forum, it automatically posts a comment linking back to a site. These types of software are relentless and can generate a huge amount of links over a relatively short space of time.

The quality and substance of spam links that I receive varies greatly. Some are just lists of URLs, some are jibberish and some take a snippet of text from my post and re-post it as a comment. The most shrewd comments are those that give a compliment that is so vague it can be applied to almost any post. An example of this would be “great post, I completely agree with you”. Comments like these are often genuine and may be given the benefit of the doubt by webmasters because they are flattering.

There are several ways to protect against link spam. On my blog, for example, all comments are checked manually before they are accepted. In addition, “nofollow” tags are used on all external links from the blog. This means that any comment left will gain no PageRank benefit from me, although they may receive a small amount of traffic from people following the links. Most blogs now use “nofollow” links as default and this is important to help protect the site from any possible penalties from linking to bad neighbourhoods.

Each month, I get more and more instances of link spam on my blog. As this blog has only been active since October, these numbers are still low enough for me to manually check. However, as these instances increase over time I will likely use some automated spam filtering software to help me keep on top of my link spam. For those who would like to do the same, Askimet is a good example of a blog spam filter.

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