Questioning Links In Comments

Just over a week ago I wrote a post where I asked about editing comments and whether anyone else does it. There was a lot of discussion, some pro, some con, but all handled with courtesy, and I thank everyone for that. A couple of comments centered about the thought about what makes a good or bad link that someone will use whenever they leave a comment and how people handled that, which I saw as a different issue at the time.

DMU Comment Study (with)
Chris Martino via Compfight

But it’s a good time to talk about it now. This is an appropriate discussion to have because we all know that our blogs are judged by search engines, most particularly Google, on the types of links we end up having because of those who comment on our blogs.

Those of us who have been blogging for a long time aren’t naive. We know that probably half the comments we get aren’t coming from blog owners, or anyone who has anything to do with the site links that appear next to the comment. We know that a lot of the comments we get are coming from people who could care less about our blog; they’re only looking for the backlink.

Over the last week I’ve been taking a look at some of the links from people who are either brand new or relatively new commenters on this blog. I’ve seen some interesting sites that have left me somewhat confused as to what to do about them. The comments haven’t been bad, but the links… questionable.

What am I seeing? Links going to sites that are going to sales pages, not businesses. Sites with blogs that are on topics that make you wonder “how the heck did that person come up with that as an idea?” Sites with blog posts that are over a year old. Sites to blogs that aren’t really blogs, but are presented as niche blogs that don’t even allow comments. Links to sites in another language, not blogs, where I can’t figure out what they’re about.

Part of this puts me in an interesting position. After all, this isn’t a niche blog per se, but it’s a blog that talks mainly about blogging and blogs. So, I’ve always dealt more with the arts of writing a blog and commenting on blogs than looking at links from those who comment. And yet, one can’t dispute the reality that my buddy Adrienne helped hammer through that bad links can take you down, and what Brian Hawkins said in our Google Hangout video that he’ll remove dodgy links or links he doesn’t fully trust in a heartbeat.

And of course we had that debate about editing comments, but I think we all have to view this one differently. Back in December I talked about my blog traffic and how it was falling drastically and how I hoped it would start to come back in the new year. Well, it’s recovering, but barely, and it may or may not be related to a lot of bad links. But since I can’t trust Broken Link Checker on this blog anymore I guess it’s just on me. Actually, maintaining our blogs to the best of our ability is on all of us, but I’m the one writing about it today.

So, I will be removing links here and there, even if I don’t remove the comment. If that bothers you I’m sorry. I’m going to be fair by looking at links, but I’m not going to entertain a discussion on why I removed your link; you probably already know why.

Here’s the deal, so we’re clear. If your site looks like a sales site instead of a real business site or a blog, it’s gone. I don’t care what niche the link is in if it’s a legitimate business.

If it’s a blog that looks kind of dodgy, it’s gone. If the blog doesn’t accept comments, it’s gone. Blogging is supposed to be about conversations; I’ve said that here often. So, blogs where comments are closed; gone.

If the email address given doesn’t have the same name as the person writing the comment, gone. If the email address doesn’t have a person’s name in it, gone. This part is because I’ve been getting a lot of email bounces lately and I’ve noticed that most are either from “info@” or names where it’s one sex but the email begins with another sex. I’m not going to deal with that part at all. On this one, it now means that if I’m going to have such a policy that I need to create an email address for my finance blog with my name on it to be consistent; can’t expect others to follow a policy I won’t follow for myself, although I almost never comment via that venue. But I do from time to time and don’t want to be a hypocrite.

There it is, out in the open. What’s going to happen is some aren’t going to read this, since they don’t read the comment policy anyway, and a very tiny few aren’t going to like it, or will be wondering what’s going on. That will just prove that people aren’t reading the articles; shame on you. Let’s see what happens; thanks Adrienne! 🙂

38 thoughts on “Questioning Links In Comments”

  1. Really? Am I the first one Mitch?

    Well, you know how I feel about this issue Mitch since I had already made that comment on your other post. Thank you by the way for mentioning me here.

    I agree which is why we both have implemented commenting rules. They are in place for a reason.

    Now I may think differently then most but hey, I love to be different. To me, blogging is about connecting with people so it that commenter is not giving me the opportunity to connect with them then heck, I may just delete their comment.

    Because you write a lot about blogging, it’s normal that people in different niches will want to comment on your content. They can learn from you but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily want to visit their site. Heck, it might be about raising goats. lol…

    I’ve always said, it’s your blog, your real estate so you can do whatever you want. If you don’t want their link there then it should be gone. If they get tired of you deleting their links then go find someplace else to play.

    I appreciate you bringing up this topic Mitch, it’s one I’m sure everyone can wrap their heads around. Great job.

    Now, enjoy what’s left of this week okay!


    1. Good stuff Adrienne. You have a way of using your words that helps bring me clarity when I think about them. I’m not close to as tough as you are but I’m leaning more your way as I look at the state of things. I do want great conversation, but I don’t want this blog or any of my other blogs to be seen as a repository of nothingness and garbage, if you will. And there are a lot of sites that seem to be just that. So you keep spouting these truths and know that I am listening, even if I don’t always get it immediately or go as far as you might. 🙂

  2. I feel glad that you’ve decided to follow Adrienne Smith’s way and edit the comments. I can picture myself that it isn’t easy, but it is pretty much better than trust an aggressive spam filter like gasp or akismet which also filters some valuable comments. If a comment is good, but the link seems to be spam, you can simply delete the link from the comment. Although some of the commenters can have a non-blog style website as well, just like mine which is about my 3D printing researches at eh university of technology in Vienna.

  3. I’m not sure about all of the issues you are talking about here and maybe I don’t pay as much as attention as I should. I think I can usually spot a suspicious sounding ad link and don’t bother clicking on them and delete those comments. I don’t think I’ve missed much by doing so.

    However I’m a big advocate of signature links to make finding the blog of the person who left the comment. I hate clicking on the name only to be taken to a Google+ profile or the like and have to sort out how to find their blog. I do find the signature links often screen out my blog into spam so I tend to use my link only on Blogger blogs. Maybe my practice of having done this has put me on some bad blog lists even though I’ve stopped doing it on most other platforms. My solution has been to mostly stick to commenting only on Blogger blogs and using my signature link.

    But I don’t know what I’m doing much of the time so what do I know.

    Now to see if my comment ends up in your spam folder.

    1. Lee this isn’t an issue you have because yours is a Blogger blog, which pretty much means people have to sign in with either a Blogger or Google account for the most part, or an account on one of those other services that are blogging services and not, well, extraneous sites. For instance, you might not have noticed that whenever I comment on your blog it’s never linked back to this blog or any of my other blogs, because I can’t. So you’re good.

  4. Sorry for playing around on your blog, but I’m just testing to see how to best make my comments go through since I guess two previous ones didn’t appear.

      1. I know you’re not doing it. Sometimes when I use this tactic on WordPress blogs if I change my URL or my email, one of those comments may eventually show up even though it’s from the same IP address. So I don’t know what that means.

        In any case, if I want my comment to be heard badly enough I will make an effort to get word to the blogger that my comment didn’t go through. But if I’m relatively indifferent or it seems like too big of a hassle I’ll just wait and see if the blogger ever finds my comment.


  5. Yeah man, it’s your site, your rules! You gotta think about whether or not the link adds any value to your users – at the very least, by linking another blogger in to a potential network. I definitely wouldn’t want to promote someone’s thin sales pages, or make my readers think that they’re a good way to do business online.

    Anyway, hope the .info email is OK. 😉 I guess those spammers have really trashed the reputation of .info domains, but my name’s so dang common I didn’t have many choices left! Interestingly enough, they DO seem to help a domain’s ability to rank for searches including “info” as a keyword.

    1. John, the .info is fine; if all those domains weren’t good then no reputable domain seller would continue selling them. It’s if “info” begins an email address that I’ll be deleting those comments. What I think will be interesting is to see if, or how many, folks will return or even notice that I might have removed their links. That will show whether or not they care. Hey, Adrienne doesn’t even accept comments if there’s no avatar for the person; now that’s hardcore! 🙂

  6. I think if the comment adds to the discussion then I would lean towards approving it.

    However I am getting spammed at my current events site by tons of good comments that link to tobacco websites.

    I approve some but “remove the comment luv”

    1. That’s strange Jacko. I have a “quit smoking” website, and yet I can’t figure out when or how I’d promote it by commenting on any blogs. Well, maybe I can as I sit here thinking about it. But I wouldn’t because it’s just a site; I’d rather comment with a blog link, though in my past I commented using my business link, way back because I didn’t know about using my blog link. That’s another reason why I think it’s important to write about these things, because I can’t assume everyone would know.

  7. I’ve deleted comments because I didn’t like where they were linking to, but the bulk of the comments I delete is because their comments just weren’t up to scratch.

    I like some of the other aspects you’ve mentioned and I just might use them on my blog. I’ll send any complaints to this post 😀

  8. Well, I suppose that this would be the last comment I am putting then, as not everything boils to blogging and there are still websites out there. Deliberately, I didn’t include any website link. Links from comments are not passing much juice and are thread differently than a normal links that appear within an article or body text. General rule no pharmacy, porn and gambling links. Well, take care Mitch!

    1. Sorry you feel that way Carl but you’ve posted your Webmaister Pro site here many times and that counts. I guess it’s what one decides they’re commenting for. I figured maybe you liked the articles and truly wanted to be part of the community, and I welcome that. But if I was only a depository for links to your clients, none of whom were ever going to come here and we both know that, and you got nothing else from the discussions… well, I’ll miss you. But you’re always welcome.

  9. Mitch, I’ve been checking more of mine each day and seeing where those links are before I reply and often I put them in spam. It’s amazing what some people will come up with for a backlink or those that leave comments with events and sales pitched right in them! Geez, they aren’t reading posts like these on our blogs if they do that, right? I don’t blame you one bit on this Mitch and I should have a comment policy posted on my blog. Thanks for inspiring that for me. I will be working on it!

    1. No problem Lisa. I think it’s always an important discussion to have, especially once Google started messing with stuff. We blog not only for promotion but hopefully for community, thus we need to protect our community here and there.

  10. Hi Mitch,
    discovered your blog today – first the Google bomb post, then Adsense post and now this…

    I think comment moderation is a must. I own a big site with thousands of visitors who aren’t bloggers or website owners, so guess what – I barely get a comment there. Regular people just don’t usually comment. But for us, bloggers and webmasters, it’s different. It’s a way to connect. It feels like having a conversation. It’s a way of making friends. This of course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t moderate. I think you always should. Just my thoughts 🙂

    1. Welcome Elena, and I’ve checked out your blog and I think you’ve got some good stuff there so look for a comment at some point. In some way we all look for relationships of some kind. I don’t necessarily care whether the link goes back to a blog or a website but I do care whether that link goes back to a business or a sales site of some type, a squeeze page if you will. No one starts out on the internet with just a squeeze page, which means they have other properties. One can link back to those, and if someone visits then show them the squeeze page, right?

      At some point we all have to have standards and protect ourselves from these program updates. Traffic is as important to us as it is to those who are looking for those extra links back to their properties.

  11. I’m sometimes in a quandary about whether to allow particular links in my blog. For instance, there was a guy who was head of some ads agency who I thought was only commenting to get a linkback. His comment was only just in context to the post’s content and it was pretty short, but it wasn’t one of those throwaway ones. In the end, I let the comment appear but deleted the backlink. I reckoned that if he was interested in my blog, he’d be back to comment again. He did return – and I did the same to that comment – and he never came back again. So generally I just trust my gut instinct. If I think someone’s just after a backlink and they don’t have something of interest to me or my readers, their link is gone.

    I’m sure you’ve made the right decision on all of this, Mitch. If for no other reason than it will help you blog better because you won’t be so stressed out by it.

    1. Thanks Val, and you’re right about the decrease in the stress. My ranking are also finally moving in the right direction again, though it’s too early for the new policy to be affecting that. I know some think it’s not a big deal but it seems there are plenty of other people who have seen the light and written about it way before me. So, it’s just another way of protecting our real estate; nothing wrong with that. 🙂

  12. Hey Mitch! I have to admit that I’m very moody when it comes to comment moderation and some days I left stuff go by when others I delete the same level of nonsense. In the end I’m not sure it matters all that much when you have thousands of comments because they pass very little link juice. If a blog is new and only has a few posts then it makes sense to delete crappy unrelated links until your blog gains some authority and momemtum.

    1. Hi Ileane! Actually I think it hurts larger blogs more because there’s so many more bad links. It hurts small blogs because those folks who know better won’t comment on those blogs but they’ll still do okay if their content is good. I don’t know, it just seems to me that it’s something to think about and work on, but if I had your traffic and the number of comments your blog gets… who knows?

  13. Hi Mitch,

    The way I see it, our blogs are ours. If someone chooses to leave a comment, they’re not “owed” a link, it’s a courtesy. And actually, when you get right down to it, none of us are really even “owed” having our comment published at all. As the blog owner, it’s at your discretion. Your goal for blog comments is obviously to build relationships. People who drop links to sales pages, even if they make relevant comments, are not interested in community or relationships. I’d almost say that it’s in your best interest to delete the links .. and if they don’t come back, no loss.

    p.s. I’d almost say you don’t even need a “comments policy” to warn people. If someone still thinks it’s acceptable to drop a keyword link to a spammy website, just delete it, no warning necessary. 😉

    1. Thanks for your comment Todd. I actually hadn’t thought about it in the manner you’ve written this but it makes a lot of sense. I mean, this is also a dofollow blog, on purpose because I had to add a special plugin to get it done, and I do that on all my blogs.

      You’ve given me even more to think about; thanks for that. 😉

      1. No worries Mitch. Again, given your goal of relationship building, the reality is that even if you only got 4-5 comments on a post … but all from people who were honestly interested in having a conversation … it would probably be better than getting 25-30 comments per post, but with 3/4 of the commenters primarily motivated by the fact that they’re leaving a link.

  14. Hey Mitch

    I’ve been thinking about the same things over the past few weeks in relation to links.

    In the past I’ve let through some comments that link to sales pages but I don’t do that any more.

    If the comment isn’t related to the post or is just questionable then it gets deleted. I don’t want their CommentLuv link on my blog!

    I also find that increasingly I’m getting people commenting whose gravatar picture is a different sex to the name in their email address and they all point to sales pages. They get sent to spam straight away even if the comment is related to the post.

    I’ve considered going back through the comments and removing the CommentLuv links to those that are questionable. I’m not sure it that will help though after the fact.

    1. Tim, it will probably help, but it’s also time consuming. I have over 25,000 comments on this blog, and even if half of them are mine that’s still a bunch to look at just to find links that may be dodgy. I could do it in stages but man, that’s a killer of a project.

      So, it’s probably better taking a stand on newer comments rather than the older ones, unless you have fewer comments to look at. 🙂

  15. I think I like the idea of editing the comments Mitch.
    It’s always the blog owner’s decision if he/she wanted to edit the comments and the links being inserted there.
    For me, as long as the comment is valuable, I would consider that.

    1. Thanks for your comment Shane. It’s definitely something that I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to even think about or even look at, thus I had to write about it to see what others thought. That and strange links.

  16. It looks like most of us are in agreement. That’s a little surprising because I thought I was a little on the extreme side. Like you said, I have no problem removing a link. I’m like Ileane, it depends on my mood. I’ll often remove links that have no relevance to blogging, social media or online business. When someone leaves a link to their hairdressing site or hotel review blog, there’s a very good chance that the link will be removed no matter how great the comment is.

    1. I think that’s really the key .. it’s not how “good” the comment is. Whether the link is left should have much more to do with the site that it leads to … and whether it’s something you, the blogger, would feel comfortable linking to anyway. In other words, I shouldn’t ever have to link to say a Credit Card comparison website just because “Jim” showed up on my blog to tell me he really liked my latest pictures. 🙂

      1. Todd, your words have carried a lot of weight with me, and I’ve been a lot more judgmental with both comments and the sites they link to ever since you originally commented. It’s great perspective, and my only lamentation is that it took me so long to even think about it.

    2. Brian, I’ve found myself deleting entire comments over the last week after writing that post & reading some of the comments. I hadn’t thought so many people had been looking at links before that; makes me think I’m really behind the times.

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