User Generated Spam can be an absolute nightmare when it comes to SEO, Google can end up penalising your entire website for it in search results and if you use Google AdWords. This can result in your web presence being crippled and your passive income streams being reduced if you are a blogger. UGS can be sorted out, though usually this is a slow, nightmarish process.
Hopefully by the end of this article, we will have been able to help you recognise what user generated spam is and how to prevent it.
Comments on Blog Posts
I absolutely love blogging as a way of controlling my website’s growth. Without writing all the blogs I have, I wouldn’t have an iota of the web traffic I have on all the sites I maintain. The problem with writing blogs is that occasionally you will get commenters in the form of spammers and bots hijacking your well written content with backlinks to dodgy websites and occasionally just leaving weird and bizarre comments that have nothing to do with the things you are writing about.
The problem with people commenting on your blogs is that whilst some comments can come to you and ask for advice allowing you to add to the blog and keep it powerful, others will spam backlinks, random words, emojis, adult content and bitcoin links, and much, much more. If you don’t maintain and control this kind of thing carefully, you can be entering a danger zone.
I prefer to keep all blog post comments OFF, because I do not trust users I do not know, and I ensure that no one can sign up for user accounts without my knowledge. Part of keeping things clean and non-spammy is having complete control and sometimes it’s best to stop people leaving comments before it can become a problem. You can in many cases also make it so that comments will have to be moderated before they are left, this can be really useful but in my experience it can result in a thousand emails a day for viagra, which whilst useful to some, are not useful to me.
Forums have been a way for websites to create communities for years over the internet. Whilst they are dropping behind in popularity, it’s still worth looking at forums due to the traffic they keep on a website if the forums are busy. Forums can become cluttered with spam and user accounts that are primarily bot spam if they aren’t well moderated.
To control this kind of situation you need to keep a regular look at the people signing up to the forum and weed out spammers and bot accounts posting business links. If you don’t want to perform this yourself you can hire someone to moderate for you or allow upstanding members of your community the ability to weed these spammers out before they become an issue.
Due to the decline in the popularity of forums, it’s more likely you are experiencing this if you are the owner of an older website. It’s always good to keep on top of forums because they’re like a garden. If nicely maintained, they can grow beautiful flowers, if left to nature, they’ll be full of thickets, thorns and plastic flamingos. Google will frown on this.
So How Does Google Deal With This Spam?
Google usually has a pretty fair policy when it comes to this kind of spam. Their usual focus is not to target the website itself as in most cases this would be unfair, after all, the owner of the website is not necessarily at fault even if they have let things get a little wild in comments and on forum posts.
Google will usually only penalise specific pages and in the case of forums, target those specific forums to ensure that people don’t get punished for something that’s not necessarily their fault. This means that the primary part of your website and the important pages that don’t have comments or spam on them are still likely to show up in search results. So if the site is full of good quality content, you are unlikely to be targeted completely for this – however, if your site is completely full of spam, you may end up in trouble.
My Site Is Full Of Spam!!! HELP!!!
My advice is to take control of the situation as quickly as possible. In regards to comments on Blog posts, you will first of all want to make it so that comments have to be approved before you allow them on your site. Then go through every single post and delete all the spammy comments. This may take hours and possibly days but if it restores your content and your trust with Google, this is REALLY worth the time and energy.
For forums, I recommend getting a form of captcha software so that people will have to solve it if they are going to leave comments. This can alienate and drive away your audience at times, but if the comments and responses on your forum are always good, it’s unlikely this will drive people away except for the ones who want to leave comments saying lol, smiley emojis and gifs of lions roaring and attack on titan. This is going to make your life a lot easier!
The most important thing is to handle the situation immediately. So far, I have had experience cleaning up three websites of spammy comments. It’s a lengthy and frustrating process, especially when you see how far the spam can go on pages that have been around for 10 plus years. I have also moderated two large forums, which can be an absolute nightmare! Make sure you sort your site out and keep yourself safe from being blacklisted. The best way of preventing this is to put in preventative measures immediately to stop this becoming a problem.
Spammy sites and sites with bad reputations (these can be old domain names you’ve bought and have been previously filled with spam) can take a long time to recover. I’m talking 4+ months, so don’t be disheartened if your pages aren’t back on Google tomorrow. It will happen in time. For wordpress users, you can update the date of the blog you have just cleared to today’s date and share them on social media to try and get a bit of traffic in. This can sometimes help their recovery.