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Google Internet SEO & SEM

Search Engines to kill comment spam?

As a ‘blogger, you come to expect comment spam. Such things are part & parcel of ‘blogging. As a ‘blogger however, what we don’t want is for comment spammimg to become an industrial-scale process. But maybe we could expect to find salvation in a very unusual but very visible source?

If we assume that the search engines are getting smarter in terms of Social Media websites, might they – by virtue of measuring the relevance of comments, for example – filter out comment spam?

This is a question that came to me as result of an observation I made on Pownce:

“This is the thing, as the search engines get smarter and more aware of Social Media (Google not withstanding) they’re going to be able to work out what’s off-topic and just devalue the whole comment + link, even if it’s left in the ‘blog article…”

Some time ago, the idea of out-sourcing comment spam to India looked like a real possibility:

“So while we wave goodbye to call centers in India with one hand, we clench a tight, white-knuckled fist with the other as we brace ourselves for the possible consequences of what else might be emerging from Asia…”

The problem right now is that I don’t think the search engines are smart enough to qualify the search results for Social Media they’re bringing to us, if they’re using the number of comments a metric of trust and value:

“… what if the article in question is a wash-out and all 11k comments are flames?

How does that search result serve me in terms of relevance?”

But if the search engines do get smarter and do figure out a way to assess the value of individual comments – maybe employing some intricate pattern-matching married to known banned IP addresses – then the problem of comment spam would be one of page clutter only, and there wouldn’t be any risk of giving away valuable link currency to these guys.

One man’s passion is another man’s poison

All of this talk might be a moot one to some. There are those who have the “nofollow” attribute on every comment link, which effectively kills off a lot of the dialogue that would happen more freely were it not there.

However, nofollow doesn’t equal noclick! And that the thing to keep in mind. While the search engines might not take too much notice of a link with the nofollow attribute, that’s not to say the visitor won’t.

Additionally, if the link is leading to an ecommerce website, and people click through and buy something, who cares about the link equity if the visitor is putting money down?

So there’s still an incentive to post comment spam because if these guys are trying to get you to buy some sex drug or whatever, no amount of coding tomfoolery is going to stop you & me clicking.

None of this changes a thing from the point of view of the search engines. If they already know the common and most likely culprits responsible for the comment spamming, then they know what websites they’re hoping to drive link equity and traffic towards.

As it stands, Google are first and foremost a search company. But if they or any other search company were to work towards killing comment spam, would those activities still be an integral part of search quality and qualification, or would we be looking at the very beginnings of an active effort to police the web?

It’s an arresting thought…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Search Engines to kill comment spam?”

I think if Google, for instance, did begin to “police” spam comments, it would only have a positive impact on the internet experience. Yes, there would probably be some frustration and mistakes initially (non-spam getting penalized and sneaky-spam slipping through), but the process would be smoothed over time, just like all of Google’s other features.

Plus, conceptually I think it would have a big impact on content. It would force users to really examine their comments and make sure they are relevant, worthy, and an appropriate reflection of themselves or their internet brand.

I agree that this is certainly a concept for the future, but I don’t think it has to be too far off. The real question is, if comment spam was effectively eliminated – where would the trend move to?

Hi Kate, here’s a thought: what if Google made their algorithms open source?

Then they no longer have to be the arbiters of ‘Net law & order.

Everyone would be…

It may be a form of policing the net, but it will surely be welcomed for the most part. I already strictly watch my comments as it is, google can help 🙂

Hi and thanks for the comment!

There’s no doubt that most people would welcome the policing of comment spam by the search engines.

However, there are always going to be those — the people already concerned with the power & influence that Google exert — that aren’t happy, and would be vocal about it, too…

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