Google's Thoughts On Link Building Through Comment Spamming

Jan 26, 2011 • 8:28 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search & Web SEO Spam
 

comment-spam-caughtIf the nofollow attribute was built for anything, it was built for comment spam. Yes, if you do not remember, Google and the search engines worked closely with MovableType, WordPress and other blog and forum systems to help them build in the nofollow attributes to help save their search index and to help reduce comment spam. That was one, if not the single most important, reason behind introducing the nofollow attribute. It has thus been expanded for other things, such as any paid link or PageRank sculpting (it gets more complicated).

Anyway, I found an interesting thread at Google Webmaster Help which talks about the nofollow and link building through comment spamming. One thing you do not want to do is ask Google if it is okay to drop comments on blogs with the sole intent of building links. But people do crazy and wild things in official Google forums.

I was initially going to name this post, Google's final word on what the nofollow attribute blocks, but then I saw JohnMu at Google somewhat mocking the use of comment spam for link building. Hence the new focus. Let me pull out the reply from John.

Going back to the original question, commenting only with the goal of getting links is a bit lame, in my opinion. Do you honestly think that any site owner appreciates comments like "I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenter here! It's always nice when you can be informed In such way,I'm sure you had fun reading and watching this post. san diego wrongful death attorney" or "It would also be useful have the plugins categorized a little better on the website. Browsing them is a pain the backside, since you have to go thru about 10 million social plugins that are a waste of time when you specifically need web dev tools. Domain Names Australia" (both taken from our blog's spam queue this morning)? That's just pure spam, and if you're contributing to it by posting more comments like that, then I know a few people who would like to talk to you out back...

He gives two examples of poor comment spam. You and I see it every day, it is nothing new. If they get passed my spam filters, I try to manually block them - some always slip by.

But then John ends with the line that I love, "if you're contributing to it by posting more comments like that, then I know a few people who would like to talk to you out back..."

Sometimes I love the honesty here.

And what is Google's official word on how the nofollow works?

Let's be absolutely clear about this: Links that use the rel=nofollow microformat do not pass PageRank and are not used in our ranking algorithms.

This does not mean that the target URL will never be crawled. By adding a rel=nofollow to a link, you're essentially removing a sign pointing to the restroom. Just because that sign is gone does not mean that Googlebot will never find the restroom. Using rel=nofollow is not a way to block crawling altogether -- if you need to do that, then use the robots.txt file.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Comments:

Moosa Hemani

01/26/2011 01:47 pm

Let's be absolutely clear about this: Links that use the rel=nofollow microformat do not pass PageRank and are not used in our ranking algorithms. Well this bring so many questions i mean seriously so many questions like why social media have influence on SERPs (some experiments says) when in a nutt shell social media (i.e. Twitter) links are no follow... and few more questions!!

can't believe it's not ham!

01/26/2011 02:40 pm

Wow, what a great article! I had a great time reading it! You're blog is nice! /end "can't believe it's not ham" comment Sometimes I find spam comments relatively entertaining. I applaud the ones where they at least try to keep some relevance, but then innocently drop a backlink @moosa I would hope engines have the capability to distinguish between blog comments and SM networking connections (IE valuable links, pages, etc).

Colin McDermott

01/26/2011 02:55 pm

Thank you for this article it has fully informed me in a pertinent and informative manner.

Barry Schwartz

01/26/2011 02:56 pm

I guess I set myself up for a ton of comments like this. :)

Chris

01/26/2011 03:49 pm

I have a competitor who almost exclusively promotes through blog comment spam, and he has success doing it. He has managed to get to page 1, and as high as 4. Right now he is sitting at 10th, the lowest he has been in months, but this search term has a great deal of fluctuation of the top 10 listings, more so than any other keyword I monitor. In anycase, if Google really wants to stop comment spam, they'd figure out a way for it to not work. Also, on nofollow, remember Matt Cutts' revelation back in 09. Google still counts the link when divying up the PageRank between the links on the page, so all your internal links will get less pagerank passed through them for each nofollow you use. You really don't want to use it unless you have to.

Michael Martinez

01/26/2011 05:40 pm

So report the blog comment links to Google. The more of this stuff they see, the more they can algorithmically filter out the value. Most people way overestimate just how much these kinds of links are helping their competitors. But this is a situation where helping Google helps all of us. When people stop flooding blogs with unwanted comments, we'll all be happier. Add my name to the list of people John Mueller can turn the comment spammers over to.

Andrew Shotland

01/26/2011 05:49 pm

Unfortunately I see comment spam still working. I think two of the sites that rank on page one for "local seo" essentially comment spammed their way to the top in about six months. And if Google thinks calling someone lame is going to stop them, well, that's just kind of lame isn't it? It isn’t every day that you get quality information delivered with the pure intention of providing unbiased information to readers. This is great reference material written by an experienced hand in the business. Hats off for sharing valuable information on an important subject.

Snaptech Marketing

01/26/2011 06:41 pm

Seeing these spam comments and reading the usually awful, broken English that they are written in, or the non sequitur plug for the spammer's website at the end of their comment ("I love this post! You have educated me! Designer handbags!") used to be funny. They started growing less funny when the task of keeping an eye on your blog comments and weeding out the spam needed to be done every day. And then it turned into twice a day, then three times a day because the spam kept growing and growing. Now all the humor has gone from it and it's turned into the cyber version of doing garbage duty for the school grounds, picking up the candy bar wrappers and crap other people thoughtlessly dropped. Running a blog and producing good content is already challenging enough without the need to have to be stuck forever on Internet garbage collection duty. I would like to imagine that somewhere inside the Googleplex Cutts and his team have had meetings about how to combat spamming and reduce the benefits that come from it. If so, where is that strategy? And does the lack of one indicate that the problem is too widespread to be curtailed?

Ed

01/26/2011 06:46 pm

I've got a spammer autoposting comments, in a scam I've never seen before. Hoping Matt will take a look...

Jason Lancaster

01/26/2011 10:56 pm

Well call me a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but I call BS on the idea that nofollow links pass no pagerank. If that were the case, how could Google be using Twitter activity as a signal in real time search? Google crawls nofollow links, and I believe that they do have some weight too.

Thos003

01/26/2011 11:11 pm

Agree. So how do you fight fair when they are hitting below the belt? It's tough to sit back and take a beating waiting for a referee to show up.

Shaun Anderson

01/26/2011 11:39 pm

It's my understanding that Google gets access to Twitter links before Nofollow is applied - i am sure that was confirmed some time ago. It's fairly probable Google is using Twitter links to find new pages too.

Shaun Anderson

01/26/2011 11:40 pm

It seems pretty easy to kill 99% of comment spam links from passing anything.

AJ Kohn

01/27/2011 12:02 am

The most interesting part of this is the quote that "Links that use the rel=nofollow microformat do not pass PageRank and are not used in our ranking algorithms." It's clear that nofollow links don't pass PageRank. The second part of the statement is ... interesting since we know that nofollow links on Facebook and Twitter are used in the algorithm. Is John making a distinction between 'ranking algorithms' and other algorithmic signals? My current assumption is that nofollow links ARE used in some way - to both find spam and to track authority. This doesn't impact 'rank', but could be used in other ways. You'll often see nofollow links in the Links to your site section of GWT - so Google DOES see and know about them. I find it hard to believe they're not mining these for some insight. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what sites are most often referenced in Craigslist posts? Isn't Craigslist just a real-time stream of (secondary) eCommerce information? I still despise the carpet bombing comment spam. It gives real SEO a undeserved black eye.

elephantidae

01/27/2011 12:13 am

Sad that so many people are so naive and actually believe what Google says... Back to testing and doing more real SEO work rather than reading comments by Googlers.

Jason Lancaster

01/27/2011 02:19 am

Shaun - Interesting - I remember hearing something about that but didn't pay much attention. Good call. Still, wWhat about Wikipedia? All outbound links are nofollowed, yet ignoring every outbound on that site would be silly. Wikipedia is one of the most authoritative sites on the net, and a link from a stable, well-curated entry would seem to be a great indicator of trust. Same thing goes for other sites too. The long and short of it is, "nofollow" isn't a commandment - it's just a guide. Google might completely ignore comment spam, but some nofollow links are - in my opinion - definitely being counted.

Carly

01/27/2011 09:17 am

That is what I thought the "nofollow" attribute meant... that no link building/seo benefit came of it. Now after reading the post and some of the comments I'm still not sure whether I had the right idea or not. I was under the impressions that "nofollow" links were not detrimental but were of no link building value?

MicroSourcing

01/27/2011 09:30 am

No Follow links are created with the intention of generating traffic, and not so much for Page Rank. In that sense they still have linking value, although they don't hold as much weight. You'd be better off doing PPC.

Ewing Enterprise

01/27/2011 03:31 pm

I dont know how much more clear Google can be on this topic. Ive seen it in a number of different forums with people questioning the no follow attribute. Matt cuts even has a clear explanation on his blog about this very same topic.

Thomas Field

01/27/2011 04:53 pm

in my view SEO and link builders have a faith that the no-follow links also have some value and it seems somewhat right to me.

Ros

01/27/2011 05:04 pm

"So report the blog comment links to Google" so excuse my ignorance but how do you do that? Many times in the rankings I wish there was a "report" button... but then someone might just do that to our site because they can...

Barry Schwartz

01/27/2011 05:08 pm

Um, try http://www.google.com/search?q=google+spam+report

Hijinx

01/27/2011 05:33 pm

I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenter here! It's always nice when you can be informed In such way,I'm sure you had fun reading and watching this post. san diego wrongful death attorney ... just kidding.

Barry Schwartz

01/27/2011 05:36 pm

cute.

D S

01/29/2011 02:16 am

he can be as "clear" as he wants. The facts show otherwise. Comment links do work, I have seen multiple tests around the web.

cartoon pictures

01/31/2011 04:33 am

Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

Daniel

01/31/2011 02:29 pm

I work for an SEO agency as a link builder. I leave nofollow blog comments for clients. Ideally, I'd prefer to be able to make follow comments but there aren't many of them around. One benefit of using blog commenting is if you've got something interesting to say, you build a relationship with the blogger. In a few circumstances, I have been invited to guest post on the blog in question. In some cases, I have had the nofollow attribute removed. The only way in which to do this is to NOT spam. Some bloggers are more strict than others on what they consider comment spamming, and when I first started in my job, some comments weren't getting approval. If you contribute something to the conversation, then there is no reason for your comment to be removed.

SEOSmith

02/01/2011 10:41 am

I work as an SEO consultant and I still believe that some credit is passed through no follow links. However, when working for clients you have their reputation in your hands, and so you have to be sensible about the signposts that you leave around the web. Some activities may gain credit with Google, but if that's at the cost of the brand or the customer, then it's not worth doing. It amazes me that companies don't seem to appreciate that there is a brand risk in selecting a poor SEO, aside form the obvious risk of being delisted.

Mário Luan

02/01/2011 01:08 pm

It's all about the way you manage and do Link Building through comments.

lucianapostol

02/05/2011 07:01 pm

I'm sure that they work hard to discourage spam comments, but I bet that the rel=nofollow is only to discourage those webmasters making spam, so they won't. Google main goal is to provide the most accurate results and I bet they can know which of those nofollow links are real or spam. They are for many years is search bussiness, it is foolish to think that they can't find a solution for something like this. There are many websites which adds rel=nofollow to all links on their website and it is no reason for google to ignore all links from website from their algorithm, just because the owner is scarried to lose pagerank or to be penalized because he links to websites he is unsure, or because he is just afraid of spam. I've seen and made tests and comparision with websites having only nofollow inbound links that rank pretty high and they also have pagerank.

Rob - Consumer Durable

02/17/2011 11:26 am

There is a difference between Commenting and Comment Spam.I know many successful bloggers who build links mainly from commenting and I do not think there is anything wrong there until and unless you are spamming,like mentioned in the examples in this post. Besides I have also noticed that Google is giving less importance to links from comments section.Link placement is becoming another important factor these days.

guest

02/24/2011 07:52 am

I think this comment qualifies as a spam comment?

Shadab_Troikaa

03/02/2011 05:23 am

I really enjoyed this article and come to know that, if your intention is to get the link only.. FORGET. You will not get it, but YES if you really would like to comment and feel to comment only then you should comment some day or another you will get the link..

targetseo

08/23/2011 03:23 am

I liked the article. It turned out to be very useful for me and I am sure that all comments here! It 's always nice when you can indicate so, I'm sure it was fun to read and see this message. san diego wrongful death lawyer ... just kidding. SEO Company India

Dan Doromal

08/30/2011 11:32 am

So what I get out of this is that comment link ing, while not useful for passing link juice, is good for indexing if you put the comment on a popular, frequented page. Would I be correct in assuming that this is a good indexing tool?

sultan

09/08/2011 10:45 am

we see google+ votes is one of the top social stuff but here is also many site like that gplusvotes.com now its time to see their activities and how much they will satisfy us with their performance. will come here to see your reply, thanks.

Ben

09/15/2011 07:03 pm

This is very good article. Thanks you for it! (just kidding!) I get crap like that on my blog ALL the time... I filter out HUNDREDS (which might not seem like a lot, but my blog is packaging related, which is not a huge online market) of ridiculous spam comments per month. Some are even in RUSSIAN. They're almost to the point now where they're hilarious. I got one about lesbian valentines gifts in OCTOBER that I thought about sharing... but refrained out of shock. Don't these people realize it's a waste of time? The time to develop the tools, the money to pay for the bandwidth, with practically no payback from any *credible* website. So... having not spammed your site... can I get a little nofollow love? http://packaging-central.com/ ... shameless plug, I know, but at least I contributed first! :)

Ben

09/15/2011 07:04 pm

Good DEFINITELY uses Twitter to crawl ... that's how I first published my website! Apparently, it crawls it a little faster and deeper initially if Google "learns" about your website from a source OTHER than the url submission tool.

arefin sultan

09/25/2011 09:44 pm

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Art On Web

11/21/2012 11:40 am

After last Google’s algorithm updates, I believe that the most important think is the rich and unique content.

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