I’m a co-owner of GatorTailgating.com, which I genuinely believe is the absolute best website on the entire internet. Having a popular website has a downside, though - we get tons of comment spam.
Sure there’s ways to combat it. We use a combination of Mollom, Honeypot, and good ol’ fashioned moderation to remove it. But, it still gets through. So, how can we really hit the spammers back?
How can we make them hurt?
By hitting them in their pocketbook, that’s how. By removing their business. This whole idea revolves around one premise: That many of the websites being linked to don’t know that they’re responsible for comment spam.
So, I started letting them know.
I started reaching out to the websites that are spamming my site. I navigate to their site, go to the contact tab and will either phone, email, or submit a form. The emails typically look something like this.
Hey < COMPANY NAME>,
You or someone you’re paying is spamming my website with links to your website. You can see this in action at < LINK >.
My guess is that you’re paying an internet company or SEO company to boost your rankings. What they’re doing is scummy, borderline illegal, and ineffective. You need to kick their asses to the curb.
Anyway, email me back at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 352-XXX-XXXX and let me know that you got this and what you’re planning on doing about it.
< SCREENSHOT HERE >
I leave the link up for a day or two to let the company see them. Then I’ll go in and take it down.
If I don’t hear back, I’ll also call them out on Twitter (this guy ended up emailing me back claiming not to know what was going on).
Hey @passbeemedia, why are you putting linkspam on my website? Are you doing it, or paying an #SEO company? pic.twitter.com/9cY13f1HKr
— Mike Herchel (@mikeherchel) August 21, 2014
I’ll also phone them. I’ll be relentless… because they are, too.
But, what usually happens is I usually get back a variation of this:
I had no idea that this happened. My web designer starting doing SEO for me. This is what I just sent him.
> Hey there Brent,
> Please take a look at this email I received. Do you know how this happened?
> Let me know ASAP!
My hope is that the typical small business owner will realized how fucked up this is, and stop paying these spammers. I honestly believe this has happened in several of the conversations I’ve had. At the very least, I’m shaming them and letting them know that it does affect someone (me).
My greater hope is that website owners as a whole will start doing the same. If we can contact these SMB owners and let them know where their money is going, my guess is at least some of it will dry up. And, the internet will be a better place because of it.