June 14, 2011
Blog Comment Spam: How It's Used for Internet Marketing... with Funny Examples
[Editor's note: Please welcome guest commentator Joseph Lei, currently a student at San Jose State University, who is interning with Proofpoint for the summer. Joseph will be regularly contributing to the blog over the course of his time here. Take it away, Joseph... -K-]
At Proofpoint, one of our focus areas is fighting email spam, but spam can come in many forms on the internet. Just about any type of online service—social networking sites, short message services, you name it—is likely to be affected by some type of spam analog.
If you've been roaming around the internet lately, you're likely to have encountered a blog just like this one filled interested articles and comments. Blog commenting systems give readers a quick and easy way to interact with the authors, but have also become a target for internet marketers, spammers and scammers looking for a way to create back links to their own websites.
Back links can be seen by hovering over a spammer’s user name in the comments. These links are valuable for search engines such as Google and Yahoo to determine rankings for keywords.
Spammers use sophisticated bots that automatically search or “scrape” for blogs with comments enabled and can post millions of comments in a matter of hours.
This type of "black hat" search engine optimization technique is generally frowned upon by the leading search engines, which have taken aggressive action against such tactics. As just one high-profile example, JC Penney was recently caught using this method and was able to rank number one in Google for keywords such as “skinny jeans”, “casual dresses”, and “casual dresses”.
To help you identify spam comments, here are a few common categories that I have collected:
The English Teacher:
There are a variety of free and commercial solutions for blog comment spam. Among them, TypePad anti-spam (which is built into TypePad's hosted solutions, but also available as a plug-in), as well as a free tool called Akismet that uses techniques similar to Proofpoint’s award-winning anti-spam technology. Askimet maintains an enormous database of known spammer I.P. addresses, usernames, email addresses, and comment styles.
So the next time you see spam comments on your favorite blog, you might want to notify the owner about the availability of these solutions!