Spam and abuse can be a nuisance to even the most secure websites. Many of us can tell the difference between a negative comment and what is a spambot, and it can be an eyesore to see on any website or platform.
As long as you have an open comment form, the ability to register on your website or even an email that can receive spam emails, your website may be vulnerable to spam bots and user-generated content that can violate guidelines.
It might be tempting to ignore these comments, but these can devastate your website and brand reputation. For instance, all it takes is one comment filled with specific keywords that search engines like Google filter out of their search and it could end up deindexing your website.
There’s also the risk of fake accounts and user generated spam that can put your other users’ experience at risk. That’s why knowing how to stop spam is essential to managing your business website.
Google recently made changes to Google Search Central, adding spam filtering suggestions to prevent it from making it to any website. This change suggests preventative measures rather than monitoring your website for spam and deciding how to react to it. But is it better to approach the risk of spam and online abuse with a preventative approach rather than a reactive one?
Here’s what you should know about spam and online abuse and how it can affect your online reputation:
Google’s Changes to Preventing Spam and Abuse
Google Search Central updated its page, “Prevent abuse on your site and platform,” which shifted to a more preventative tone on handling spambot accounts, user generated spam and other forms of abusive web content. In the article, Google listed six preventive measures:
- Make your spam and abuse policies visible when a user signs up on your website. This step makes users aware of your policies and can avoid unintentionally posting comments that can be counted as spam or abuse.
- Identify spam accounts based on typical spam patterns. You can tell what is a spambot from actions like form completion time, user names, spam emails and the number of requests sent from the same IP address.
- Enable manual approval for certain user interactions. Moderating specific user interactions can prevent spammers from creating spam content.
- Use a blocklist for repetitive spam. Blocklisting can automatically ban accounts that meet certain criteria. If you find a spam profile, you can check if their IP address has several spammy profiles and then add the IP address to a blocklist. This blocklisting feature will then permanently ban accounts made from that address.
- Block automated account creation. Require new sign-ups to undergo reCAPTCHAs or verification tools that can’t be automated. This step ensures that only humans are signing up for your website.
- Monitor your website and platform for abuse. You check for malware, spam signals, spammy keywords and more. Detecting irregular activity on your website may be a sign that can help you prevent spam attacks.
Google’s new suggestions are interesting because they take a more preventative approach than dealing with spam once they happen. Given the annoying nature of spam and how it can cost your business’s online efforts time, money and efficiency, taking steps to nip it in the bud before it affects your website can save you a lot of resources having to deal with the aftermath effects of spam.
Preventative vs. Reactive: What Are You Preventing When You Block Spam Comments?
Spam comments and abusive web content are a form of black hat tactics other sites can unethically use to their advantage. As the adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure,” so knowing how to stop spam is a better solution than dealing with its effects.
But first, it’s essential to know how spam can affect your website.
Left unchecked, spambot accounts can affect your site’s credibility or user experience. Here’s a rundown of what happens if you don’t take steps to prevent or remove spam from your website:
- Black hat spammers will piggyback on your website’s authority and credibility by spamming links to their website on any available open comment form.
- When search engines like Google crawl your website, it could take those spam links to mean that you’re backlinking to their website.
- Spammers can take the positive ranking factors of your website onto the spammer’s website to improve their authority and credibility.
Backlinking is a technique in search engine optimization (SEO) that can build authority and credibility as it shows that others view your website as a reliable source to link to. In other words, allowing spam comments on your website is a lot like telling search engines that you’re vouching for those websites, even if you’re just ignoring them in your comments.
Having these black hat SEO tactics piggybank on your website’s credibility may not seem like a major issue to you. However, these spam comments can actually have a parasitic effect on your website in three ways.
Penalizing Poor-Quality Links
Search engines like Google are now cracking down on poor-quality links. And if you’re choosing to ignore spam comments on your websites, your website could be punished for enabling links to these websites that your users could redirect to. This can range from getting penalized to dropping in the search engine results page (SERP) rankings to even being deindexed from SERPs.
Reducing Your Relevance
Spam comments can include links and keywords that can confuse search engine crawlers trying to figure out what industry or category your website falls under. For instance, if your business is about selling sporting goods, but you have spambot scripts commenting links for medical products, search engines might have difficulty figuring out what your website is about. As a result, they may put your website lower than it would have.
Risking User Experience
Website spam comments are the internet’s version of graffiti. Many of us have seen spam comments before, and a website filled with unfiltered spam comments can be a turnoff for some. It can give the impression that the business isn’t taking steps to do website spam filtering by cleaning it up, which can suggest a lot about its products or services. Even worse, some types of spam can have malware links or links to inappropriate websites. This could hurt your reputation as it ruins the user experience.
What If I Take a Reactive Approach to Spam Accounts?
Rather than knowing how to stop spam, you could always choose to take a reactive approach when moderating website spam. But when you consider the benefits of securing your website from spambot accounts, user generated spam and abusive web content, you’ll find that preventative measures are the more efficient solution that saves your business time and money.
When you prevent spam on your website, you’re preventing spam links from being posted on your website. This stops these spammers from piggybacking your website’s credibility and authority and having search engine crawlers assume your website is backlinking to those sites.
Alternatively, if you take a reactive approach, the risk of backlinking to spam websites is much higher. There’s no telling what kind of unfiltered spam content can end up on your website without constant spam filtering. There’s also no telling when search engines will crawl your site and take those spam comments as your website linking to those sites for your users to follow.
Spam Reviews: Reactive Measures and How Rize Reviews Can Keep Your Business Safe
Spam comments can hurt your website’s credibility. But dealing with spam reviews on platforms like Yelp is a different thing. Unlike your business website, where you can take measures to prevent spam, handling spam reviews is limited to reactive measures, said Tim Clarke, Rize Reviews’ Senior Reputation Manager.
“You just have to wait for the spam ones to be published and then manually flag them for removal,” Clarke said.
And it’s true – for platforms like Yelp, businesses aren’t allowed to delete any reviews. They can claim their business and conduct regular review monitoring, but they can’t delete reviews they don’t like. Instead, if it violates guidelines, they have to request Yelp to take it down.
This poses a problem with your business operations and bottom line. While preventative measures can save you time and other resources, having to perform review monitoring and review response can be an exhaustive process. On top of monitoring for spam, our review response services provide you with a professional team that can respond to business reviews – both positive and negative – and minimize the effects bad reviews and spam accounts can have.
With Rize Reviews, we can handle the reactive measures for your spam reviews with our review management services. Together with our reputation management services, we can handle the brunt of monitoring for spam reviews that could affect your online reputation or your authority on search engines.
Protect Your Brand Reputation From Spam Reviews With Rize Reviews
Google taking a more proactive approach to spam shows the importance of preventative measures. But in cases of spam reviews on other platforms, your options are unfortunately limited to taking a reactive approach.
When you work with Rize Reviews, you’re putting your brand’s reputation in the hands of a reliable team that can perform review monitoring, review response and reputation repair services. We’ll carefully monitor your platforms and deal with spam accounts and abusive web content that could potentially tear down both your SEO strategy and your online reputation.
Get in touch today for a free demo of our reputation repair and review management services.