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Part Four – How do I know I’m not ‘spamming’? I’m just trying to promote my blog

Hopefully last week’s post didn’t make you stay awake at night wondering if you, too, were a spammer. When you leave comments on someone else’s blog how do you know it’s not spam? You can rest easy if you are leaving thoughtful comments on blogs that match or at least have something to do with your blog’s topic. In fact, commenting thoughtfully on someone else’s blog is a great way to get people to visit your own site and create backlinks. If you are cutting and pasting from one blog to another then you just may be.

White hat versus Black hat SEOwhite hat vs blck hat seo

In broad terms, SEO techniques are classified as white hat vs black hat. Just like in the Lone Ranger, if you want to be considered one of the ‘good guys or gals’ you want to be in the ‘white hat’ category. White hat SEO tends to look long-term and builds sites that are based on good design and interactivity. Black hat marketers use tactics that take whatever means to build rankings and often involve deception. One method uses hidden text where the text and background blend together. Another uses a practice called cloaking, which provides a different page response depending on if the page requested is by human or search engine. Search engines may remove black hats from their databases or reduce their online rankings.

And for God’s Sake, Don’t ‘Content Spam’ Either

Bloggers should also be cognitive of Content Spam. We all get ‘good’ at knowing what the search engines want and we want to make it easy for them to get it. If you do this job too well, you run the risk of being tagged a content spammer. Here some things to look out for:

Keyword spamming

This is using calculated placement of keywords within a page to raise the keyword count, variety and density of the page. This may include keywords that are directed more to the demographic, than what belong in the article. For example: a promoter wants to attract moms with children under 5. He or she places hidden text that may be similar to a popular women’s site hoping that the site will get picked up by search engines and will receive visits from these moms. In reality, the site might be for a matchmaking site or something similarly unrelated.

Meta-tag stuffing

This involves repeating keywords in the Meta tags and using keywords that are unrelated to the site’s content.

Hidden Text

The explanation was covered above in Black Hat SEO tactics.

Scraper Sites

Scraper sites use various programs to glean content that scores high in the search engine results pages. By taking a sampling of info from many sites, and recombining them new content is created. Some of these sites end up with higher rankings than the original writer of the information.

Article Spinning

Article spinning uses existing articles, usually taken from other sites, and rewrites the content. It is usually done by automated means or by hired writers.

Do not confuse article spinning with recycling your content. Using information from blogs you have already written and changing them up can be a good thing. It’s not what you do but how you do it. When using old content be sure to add some life and vitality to it. Can you pull out some questions for a poll? Can you do a video version? Doing things like that separates it from the dangers of article spinning.

Sometimes the lines are less than clear as to what the acceptable standards are. And when they are clear the lines themselves tend to keep changing. As with all things social media, use common sense, ask if you don’t know, and admit that you may be doing it all wrong.

Thank you for visiting my site and if you’ve read all four articles in our four-part series or if you’ve only read this one, I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t be afraid that because I watch closely for spam, I’ll think you are spamming me. Comments are what we bloggers live for! But maybe just add ‘not spam’ in your comment this time, then I’ll know for sure. I dare you.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Part Three – Sorting Out Spam Comments in your Blog

What a thrill it is to get people commenting on your blog. That’s how it works, right? People from all over the world will discover your writing talents, appreciate your knowledge on a certain subject and leave comments. That is what all of us engaging in the social media world have all been promised, right? Well, good comments will happen, but I hate to tell you that here, too, spammers are lurking in the background.

Usually these spammers are trying to get into your site by adding links where you may not even realize it. This is called link spam and they are doing this to give their websites higher rankings by adding lots of links. These link spammers use various methods, which include link-building software, link farms (aka mutual admiration societies), hidden links and spam blogs.

So how do you recognize valid comments from a spam comment?

Many times you can recognize link spam by the nonsensical, irrelevant text and by the large quantity of links that all point to a single site. Link spam causes various problems from wasting your time in reviewing them, to clogging search engines, and in scraping content from other’s sites making real new content difficult to locate.

Sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish between spam comments and valid ones. They try to convince you with their high praise that you are literally the ‘cat’s pajaams’ (I had one that said exactly that).

Here are five things to look for and ways to clean up your comment list quickly:

1- First, delete the obvious ones, like the ones shown below entirely. Don’t let them get any link juice from your site.

Obvious Spam

Obvious spam message in blog

2- Do you know the commenter or business name behind the comment?

3- Is there content that appears original? Meaning that it responds to information that you specifically provided in your post or addresses you by name.

4- Multiple comments sent from the same address or domain.

Repeat Spam

5- Reply to their comment with a thank you and a question. Do you get an answer? If not , it’s probably a spammer.

Adjust how your blog or website is set up

There are some simple things you can do to deter link spamming in the setup of your website like: adding validation software like CAPTCHA, making comment links “no follow”, not allowing multiple consecutive submissions, and blocking certain keywords (Levitra, etc).

Use an anit-spam software like Akismet or Discus. This software helps by showing multiple email addresses, allows you to track back to the IP address easily and allows you to tag comments for spam, and approve or disapprove comments. I also like it because I can reply to a commenter without using my email address and putting that at risk.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Part Two – Spam on Social Networks

Recently I got scam-spammed on Facebook by reposting an entry on Amy Winehouse’s death stating that it was getting more media attention than several soldiers who were killed in action. I should know better, right? Maybe you saw it, too? Oops. Sorry! How did I find out? Shortly after I posted, I received an email from a friend that said it was an inaccurate message. The exact same message had circulated about a year earlier using Lindsay Lohan’s name. That got me mad enough to write this blog. People need to know how insidious spam has become.
'Folding the flag.' photo (c) 2008, Sam Craig - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Chuck Anastasia has done a nice job researching and straightening out the facts. What I learned from this incident was that in the future before I repost anything, especially posts honoring our fallen soldiers, I will check them out first. The great disrespect these soldiers’ families have experienced and the great pain caused to them is horrible.

Increasingly, social networks are experiencing viral marketing tactics that use embedded links that cause great harm to ever larger groups of people. They lure people to click on these links in many deceptive ways, some will say a person is missing and to click on the missing persons flyer, some say your system has a worm virus called “insert name of horrible sounding virus here”, some use a celebrity breaking news item, some use the lure of checking out ‘who’s checked your profile on Facebook’, etc. Similar links can be embedded in quizzes, games and apps. After the individual clicks on one of these embedded links a variety of things can happen. Some will take control of your address book and send malicious messages to your friends and some will download viruses, spyware or Trojan horses right onto your computer.

Plus, there are other tricks that these spammers employ. If you are asked to “Sign Back into Facebook” beware! This is a sign that they are phishing for your password. Legitimate sites, using Facebook Connect, will open a new window with the URL starting with ‘facebook.com’. Do not type in your password using any other domain name. If you are asked to connect to an app and you are unsure of it, simply ‘deny it’ or ‘leave App’.

Where should you check first?

1- My first spam, scam, fraud and urban legend point-of-reference is Snopes.com. They have a treasure trove of information categorized on most everything. If the story is true, they say so. Although they didn’t have the Amy Winehouse on Facebook story yet, I still use them often.

2- I plan to continue checking Coolsparks, Chuck Anastasia’s blog. The comments from the Lindsay Lohan blog, posted over a year ago continue to come in.

3- About.com does a nice piece called Urban Legends.

Next week, for part three of this four-part series, I’ll talk about “Sorting Out Spam Comments in your Blog”. If you missed last week on recognizing spam, click here. Hope to see you then. Thank you for visiting.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Spam, Not The Ham. How Do You Recognize It?

Do you always know if and when you’re being spammed? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell. It has become so prevalent in our daily lives that I am writing a 4-part series, starting this week on spam, what it is, how do you recognize it and what are the best ways to manage it.

First, what exactly is spam?
'Spam' photo (c) 2008, Andy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

We experience spam everyday, but what is it? According to Wikipedia, Spam is the use of any electronic messaging system that sends bulk messages indiscriminately. In 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion. Fraud and lost productivity are the costs of this illegal activity and are largely borne by the public as a whole.

Although originally referred to as the sending of unwanted emails, the use of the term has now broadened to include other media like: instant messaging, forums, search engines, blogs, wikis, mobile phones, and social networking sites. Spam messaging ranges from openly blatant messages that ask you to send money to a foreign country for some reason or another, to phony ads for Viagra, to cunningly difficult to detect messages that contain embedded links.

Most of us are used to seeing spam emails and can easily recognize them because the people that sent them are either unknown to us or the messages sent are completely out of character for these people. As we enter the larger world of social networking, forums and blogging the people we interact with, by design, are not necessarily known to us. Spotting spammers is becoming more difficult. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for detecting spam.

In the next three weeks, I’ll break down how spam can change, depending on the venue, and what you can do about it. There is a lot to cover on this topic, and as things keep changing, it becomes more important everyday to keep up to date with what is going on in the world of spam.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!