User generated content can help your SEO efforts, but if your blog is littered with complimentary comments that are really just the work of backlink spammers, you may find yourself in trouble.
A while back I wrote about the problems of “congratulatory comment spam“; aka compliment spam.
Compliment spam is where folks have left glowing comments about your post, for no other reason but to drop a link to their own web site, or that of their masters. It’s usually easy to spot – these comments tend to be brief, poorly worded or based on a template response.
It’s annoying, it interrupts the conversation – it’s just, well, crap.
Aside from this, it seems Google may also slap you for allowing it to happen if you don’t have the nofollow attribute automatically applied to profile links.
The nofollow attribute provides a signal to some search engine spiders (including googlebot) that the link isn’t necessarily a “vote” for or endorsement of the site it linked to; so linking juice isn’t passed on. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s what we have to work with.
Not using nofollow for comment links is like pouring blood into the water of a shark infested area.
According to a post on SEO Brain Trust by Dan Thiess:
“I am working multiple cases where sites are *explicitly* told by Google that they are being penalized for spam that has been generated by *users* on their sites.”
A spammer who discovers your blog doesn’t use nofollow links for comments is a spammer who will return – repeatedly; or even worse, add your blog to a list and then sell it to a bunch of spammers. You can moderate comments, but they will keep returning and trying. It’s no skin off their nose as many spammers use automated tools.
Even if you do use nofollow, leaving these crap comments does nothing to improve your blog, your blog’s reputation or the experience of your users.
Use nofollow, delete compliment spam with extreme prejudice, help save the (online) world.