If you are running Disqus right now and have some pages with page rank there is a good chance that you are getting hit with human spam from site owners trying to accomplish some bargain basement SEO requiring the bare minimum of work. This isn’t limited to Disqus, but since Disqus continues to leave NOFOLLOW off of the link to the user’s website in their username they have become a specific target.
It’s pretty trivial to mark these guys as spam and the worst of them are easy to recognize because they’ll move from page to page leaving the same worthless comment, but there are a few that have an interesting perspective on what they are doing and it’s worth thinking about before you start blowing away all the comments that they leave.
In comments left on my blog and on a thread I started about this problem on Disqus’s forums I’ve seen an attitude of entitlement from the Spammers that put the smallest amount of effort to customize their spam comment to the content of the page. Their logic (?) is that comments add value to a site and by leaving a comment that is somewhat on target they “earn” the link and the SEO value that it instills.
There is some truth to this perspective, comments mean a lot to a blogger. They add new content to a page and keep it active and updating something that Google likes to see, they can also provide new search terms and enhance the keyword usage on the page, helping it rise in the search results.
What human spammer’s fail to take into account, and where their perspective diviates so far from that of mine, is that comments are encouragement and validation of a bloggers work. That engagment is worth more than all the SEO benefit a spammer can offer me and why I take such offense at their half hearted attempts and sense of entitlement and why so few of their comments will be allowed to stand here.
I am a big fan of the Disqus commenting system, I’ve found it to be a great addition to my blog as well as a wonderful personal tool to use on other’s blogs. I’ve had few problems and with commenting syncing now in place on the WordPress plug-in, I’ve had very few change requests until now. There has been a dramatic increase in human generated spam over the past week or two and if I was a spammer I would jump on this too, because DISQUS does not use nofollow. It’s not even an option that I can find!
Let me give you an example, here’s a post I did on Disqus SEO that has been targeted for spamming (seems fitting, yes?) The comments were on point enough that I replied before i figured out what was going on. I replied by e-mail and the formatting is still screwed upon line wraps when you do that (My other major gripe with Disqus).
If you take a look at the page source and search for iphone and discount office supplies you’ll see some nice free dofollow links headed off to the spammer’s sites. This makes me unhappy – unhappy customers uninstall. Given the nature of SEO, where an outgoing link from your blog counts as a vote, Disqus should have ZERO dofollow links out of my blog’s comments unless I say otherwise!
If this isn’t corrected shortly then look I’ll be installing this Disqus Hack to handle it, and if it’s not upgraded soon i guess I’ll take a look at intense debate and see if they do a better job.
If SEO, or search engine optimization, is of interest to you then you probably saw the recent Google blog post Introduction to Google Search Quality, if you didn’t then take a look – one of the most interesting parts of the announcement was this paragraph that breaks down some of the tools that Google uses to rank search results:
The most famous part of our ranking algorithm is PageRank, an algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google. PageRank is still in use today, but it is now a part of a much larger system. Other parts include language models (the ability to handle phrases, synonyms, diacritics, spelling mistakes, and so on), query models (it’s not just the language, it’s how people use it today), time models (some queries are best answered with a 30-minutes old page, and some are better answered with a page that stood the test of time), and personalized models (not all people want the same thing).
As a searcher this just means that Google is trying it’s best to get you the best results it can. As a new blogger this means that you should really spend your time writing quality content and think about SEO later because until your site and posts get some age and respectability, you’re just not going to get great ranking. For the more established bloggers and SEO experts this sounds like Google gently trying to sway people away from schemes with a firm statement that Google is interested in the best content for the query, and if you can deliver then you’ll get the best rank.
I don’t think that anything ground breaking was revealed in this post no matter how much coverage it’s been getting, but I did notice one link into the article that peaked my interest, and that was someone who worked on the search team posting on their personal blog. Who better to get ideas about SEO from than someone who works on the team? And even if they aren’t telling any secrets on their own blogs, then maybe their site source will shed a little light on the subject. This particular search team member’s blog was a little used and fairly barebones install of WordPress that offered no insights, so I went looking to the only other source I could think of, Matt Cutts.
Matt works for Google and is well known for his SEO expertise and antispam work. He specialized on white label sites. I expected a search on Google SEO to put Matt at the top of the list and figured that if you looked at Matt’s blog and his source you could probably get some great tips (I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader) One surprising thing popped up on those results – at the time I ran the search Matt is listed after a Google help page on the subject and by a site titled Google Ranking Factors – SEO Checklist. A page that lists many of the top confirmed SEO tips and tricks along with the rumors that seems to have some backing. Any site that outranks Matt Cutts on a Google SEO search is certainly doing something right so take a look and I’m sure you’ll learn something useful!