Google Gives Comment Spam Zero Credit

Kevin O’Keefe wrote an interesting post over the weekend about how some lawyers are using blog comments to market themselves. The problem with the post, and with Scott Greenfield’s original assessment, is that blog comments have absolutely nothing to do with Google rankings.

Let me explain…

Back at the beginning of 2005, Google introduced the ‘no-follow’ attribute for links. This was done so Google’s indexing spiders would ignore ALL links coming from within blog comments; and more importantly, according to Google, “those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results“.

That announcement was then followed by the insertion of the ‘no-follow’ attribute on almost every blogging software out there: wordpress, typepad, blogger, livejournal, drupal… In fact, I can’t think of a blog software that doesn’t use no-follow’s for comment links.

So, ethics and optics aside, which should be good enough reasons not to drop comment spam, let me say this. No SEO worth his or her monthly fee employs these types of tactics. If your firm is employing an SEO company recommending these tactics, that person or company is a shill, a shyster, a fly-by-night’er (I’ve got more, those are just the nice ones…), who will do more damage than good.

Not only do spam comments make your practice & ethics look disreputable, but this is a tactic that’s been completely ineffective for almost three years!

I don’t have a problem with Lawyers publishing blog comments on the posts of others. I recommend it as good way to introduce yourself and your blogging presence. But doing so in a contrived way, lacking authenticity, or forbid, hiring others to do it for you? Those are some of the quickest ways to deep-six your professional profile online.

What did your mother say about your inability to say something nice? That’s right. Step back from the keyboard, and go take a walk before hitting that submit button.

And please, don’t blame this shady tactic on SEOs. Most SEO companies know better.


  1. I think I like the term “shyster” best! I actually just finished reading Kevin’s blog post and also wrote about it on my blog. I think this is going to be a popular topic today! I read and comment on other blogs semi-regularly but not for any expected return, just because I enjoy the conversations or want to be sure the bloggers know they are reaching someone. If I see 0 comments I want to reach out and let them know I enjoy the work they are doing.

    It’s too bad some shysters are abusing the system, but I guess it’s like junk mail – bound to happen. Take care!

    @ 9:32 am
  2. Steve; You are right about the no follow rule.

    But this is just another example of google’s overkill – shouldn’t the decision about whether a particular link from a blog comment be left up to the owner of the blog?

    I can easily re blog the comment with the link, so what is really be achieved by google?

    @ 9:55 am
  3. Actually, I’m ok with this Google change. Blog owners can turn the no-follow off and give full link credit at their discretion. It’s a pretty easy fix with something like WordPress.

    But your point is well made that the power should be in the hands of the website owner. If the commenter wants to re-blog the comment? That’s a better solution in my mind anyway.

    As Laurie said above, comments are for relationship building, not link building…

    @ 10:06 am
  4. Steve,

    I agree with Scott. Please don’t use my comment section to advertise. Add to the conversation in a meaningful way. Make it relevant.

    Maybe that’s not good blogger etiquette. I really don’t know. But when I write a post on banks failing and I get a comment, ‘great post’ from someone selling Viagra, you get my point.

    But I don’t want spam so I’ve enabled moderation. Better no comments than valueless ones.

    @ 6:15 pm
  5. Thanks Susan, I completely agree. It’s terrible blogger etiquette to do anything less. I think most bloggers moderate their comments, as do I, for the very same reason.

    There are two issues in play here. One is the questionable ethics, optics and etiquette – to which you won’t get any argument from me – blog comments need to be treated with respect, and unless there’s substance, most shouldn’t bother even trying to contribute.

    The second issue is whether there is technically any SEO value to leaving these questionable blog comments. And the answer here is clearly: no. Links in blog comments get no weight in the SERPS; as well as it being a sign of an unsavvy SEO practitioner.

    @ 9:31 pm
  6. Ryan Weal said:

    Comment spam is a real pain to deal with. I remember the days when website “guest books” were all the rage and the same problem was occurring back then. Regardless of whether it is a blog or a guest book someone still has to go in there and remove the posting.

    For the good comments – the useful ones – I really enjoy the links provided. More than a few blogs I have on my blogroll were discovered this way. These links *can* have an impact on SEO if visitors keep coming back but it is a different approach than the “Miami Lawyer” example that Kevin provides. In his example the user is not trying to develop contacts but rather trying to cheat the “link reciprocity” algorithm in Google.

    Different approaches, different outcomes. It is no surprise the spam tactic is discouraged by search engines and it is worth repeating so others do not fall into the same trap.

    @ 5:27 pm
  7. Ryan Weal said:

    I should have caught the error in my post, I was referring to Scott’s example which Kevin had quoted. My apologies!

    @ 5:29 pm
  8. Nick Holmes said:

    Why would these guys need to worry about ethics?

    Types of Cases handled by Miami criminal lawyer Robert E. Abreu:

    * Marijuana Grow-House Operations
    * Mortgage Fraud
    * Insurance Fraud
    * Cocaine Trafficking
    * MDMA Trafficking
    * Organized Fraud
    * Prescription Drug Fraud
    * DUI
    * BUI
    * Grand Theft
    * Money Laundering
    * Medicare/Healthcare Fraud
    * Credit Card Fraud
    * RICO
    * Alien Smuggling

    @ 11:27 pm
  9. Not sure I buy into a lawyer’s areas of practice dictating ethics.

    My experience with criminal lawyers is actually quite the opposite. You need to implicitly believe that every person deserves a competent defense; and that without it, the justice system simply doesn’t work.

    And, believe it or not, there are different classes of accused criminals, and areas of criminal practice that are more lucrative. Ethics do count when you want your practice to evolve in those directions.

    @ 8:20 am
  10. […] here’s the rub, and something I’ve blogged about before: almost every blog software out there has a ‘no-follow’ attribute on comments – as […]

    @ 3:10 pm
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