Fighting back against blog spam

Spammers have been using blogs to help boost their standings in searche engines by posting massive numbers of comments that include links to their pornography sites, scams and get-rich-quick sites. If your site is linked by a top-ranked site or blog, then Google will often raise your site’s ranking…or at least that’s the thinking of spammers.

An announcement was made yesterday at Google:

"If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists."

Q: How does a link change?
A: Any link that a user can create on your site automatically gets a new "nofollow" attribute. So if a blog spammer previously added a comment like

Visit my <a href="">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

That comment would be transformed to

Visit my <a href="" rel="nofollow">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

What we also found interesting was the following:

Q: Is this a blog-only change?
A: No. We think any piece of software that allows others to add links to an author’s site (including guestbooks, visitor stats, or referrer lists) can use this attribute. We’re working primarily with blog software makers for now because blogs are such a common target.

Got more questions? Email As we spot more areas where spammers still abuse the Web, we’ll contact the appropriate people in order to keep fighting comment spam.

So, will this stop blog spammers straight away?   Some people running their own blogging software may be slow to adopt the changes but all the big blog software makers have already started to adopt this attribute.

Also there will still be the actual spam links in place for people who may click through although we imagine this is a very small minority.  There could be other ways this is implemented too, if you do get good comments posting various good URLs you could still give them credit by denying all comments by default, and only removing the additional tag once the post has been approved.  Ideally comment moderation should be in place, and if possibly disallow HTML (at least until the post can be manually approved)

A lot of this spam does take place on older blog posts, and blogs which are no longer maintained so these changes will stop the spammers gaining an advantage, and hopefully pave the way for implementing these sorts of changes to other areas (guestbooks etc)


Six Apart

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