Blog commenting is not an SEO technique

  • 0
  • May 28, 2009

The Guardian today is asking whether comment links are a form of spam after a London based SEO agency was apparently caught leaving spam comments linking to a clients website on the Guardian journalist Michael Pollitts’ personal blog.

Commenting on blogs for free evidently seemed the right move for the digital marketing firm Pancentric (in London) for its client, Beswicks Solicitors of Stoke-on-Trent. It targeted my blog on 16 April with a comment about a story entitled “A breath of fresh air”, about ozone.

“The idea of generating the ozone inside the sealed package is pretty inspired, really interesting,” the comment said, along with an email address for a “Paul Adkins” at Pancentric. But the comment author’s name was “selling a business” with a link to Beswicks’s website.

Pancentric turned out to be using a list of 500 blogs, The Ultimate DoFollow Blog List, put together by Stephan Miller in the US. This takes advantage of blogs that don’t use the Google-inspired “rel=’nofollow'” attribute created in 2005 to discourage spammed links (all the search engines’s algorithms now ignore any link with “nofollow” attached).

Every decent sized SEO company makes mistakes with link building & quality control, it’s impossible to manage campaigns perfectly every time and mistakes do happen. However the thing to do is hold your hands up, admit the mistake and promise to improve quality control in the future.

In this case the agency involved is trying to defend the strategy by saying that “blog commenting is a standard and widely practiced link-building technique”. I doubt many other UK agencies would agree.

This case also highlights precisely why you should never use dofollow blog lists. How many other journalists and Google employees blogs have made their way onto there?

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • Rick

    Im unsure where I stand with this.
    I do think that comment posting links IS spammy BUT i also think that, if the person posting the link is part of the community where the link is being posted, uses the site often and is helping a user, by perhaps linking to something relevent that they have asked about, this could be acceptable to an extent.

  • Andy Beard

    I have run my blogs with nofollow removed for 4 years, and will continue to do so.

    Do the links offer some SEO benefit? Probably… depending on a number of factors

    Is it something an Agency should be doing for their client? Again possibly, but not if all they are doing is linkbuilding.

    If an agency is fully involved in creating content on the client’s site, writing blog posts in their own name on the client’s blog, and acting in some ways as their brand ambassador in social media, it is the exact opposite… they SHOULD be commenting on blogs that are relevant, in response to blog posts etc.

    However the dofollow links are just a bonus. I look on giving them as a small reward and attribution link for the content added to the discussion.
    I delete 90% of human posted comments on my blog – I don’t see the automated stuff.

    Do SEO companies abuse the favour? Without a doubt, frequently, even on other SEO blogs, and they are stupid enough often to use email addresses that make it obvious.

  • Jamie

    From the Guardian article:

    “We would not condone, nor wish to be associated with spam-type techniques and have reiterated this point to Pancentric and as a precautionary measure we have asked Pancentric to put the project on hold,” says Woodings. Being advised to pay for Google AdWords would have saved him much time and trouble.

    Haven’t the Guardian completely missed the point throughout this entire article? They’re referring to SEO like its a waste of time, and that people should just be using PPC instead.

    • Mr T.V. Stand

      Yes I agree the article is written in a very one sided way. The reference to Google Adwords just highlights a lack of understanding of internet marketing and the growing costs of Google Adwords. I would expect more informed journalism from the Guardian. Why not explain the software which automatically posts spam comments, this is far more of an annoyance than the occassional manual submission with a keyword attached.

  • Matt Davies

    Always interesting to see something we’re all quite used to spills over into the “public domain”, and the resulting fallout. I can’t believe anyone would be so transparent on what will obviously be a heavily moderated and very public blog though!

    I’d say there’s nothing wrong with blog commenting as a valid technique for online marketing in general. A link is a link after all, and if the blog owner is happy for the link to be posted, I don’t see a problem – well written comments can improve your “real” reputation just as the link will improve your reputation as seen by Google (provided they follow it). Just don’t go spamming the hell out of irrelevant blogs, claiming your name is “make money online” or some other obvious anchor text. Leave a useful, constructive comment (if you have nothing worth saying, say nothing), identified with an actual name. Recognise that there’s an actual person on the other end, so take the time to give them a reason to post your comment, rather than just press the spam button.

  • Patrick Altoft

    Thanks for the comments, I think the key difference between adding to the conversation and spamming is whether you use your real name (or company name) or a keyword link.

  • Andy Beard

    No, the link has to point to something specifically related to the person commenting.

    I have had UK SEO agencies commenting on my blog, using their real name, an email address that would probably be responded to by them (either personal, their agency, or [email protected]) but the link goes to the client site that doesn’t mention them in any way.

    I don’t just delete the link, I delete the comment in full

    They also need to be aware that if it was on a consumer blog, they are probably breaking the consumer protection act – something you previously covered Patrick

  • Daniel Mcskelly

    I think the key difference between adding to the conversation and spamming is whether you use your real name (or company name) or a keyword link.
    So if I write a carefully considered & substantial comment but use “Red Widget Rob” instead of “RobCo Ltd” I’m a spammer? Bobbins. I don’t see the issue with people using favourable anchor text for comments so long as it can be used as some kind of identifier.

    And to”Blog commenting is not an SEO technique” I ask “since when”? When done right it can:

    * Build links
    * Build referral traffic
    * Increase your visibility in relevant places on the web

    Just because 99% of people who do it do so in a crappy fashion (“Great post tnx! [link]” doesn’t make it a crappy technique. Sure it’s of fairly limited value and should be a small part of overall strategy at most, but the same can be said of most items in the toolbox.

  • Robert Enriquez

    It really depends on the intentions of the commenter.

    Company name or anchor text? I dont think that matters as I would rather know what I’m clicking than trying to figure out what Andy Beard’s website is all about before clicking. (I know what his website is about but others do not)

    The comment is what really matters.
    Was it in context of the post? Was it lengthy or does it just say ‘great job’?
    If it does say something like ‘great job’ is it coming from a well known commenter?

    Although blog commenting maybe at the bottom of link quality (if it’s dofollow), it can still generate traffic. It maybe a great social media tool to use when participating in blogs that are in the same niche of your website. If this is the case, then nofollow/dofollow will not matter to you since you’re looking to attract visitors not backlinks

  • Matt Chatterley

    I totally agree that spam commenting is irrelevant, however:

    1. Relevant commenting is beneficial to the blog owner, and providing a link back (ideally a follow link) is a nice gesture – after all the blogger is gaining a bit of content.

    2. No SEO firm should claim that this is a viable strategy – however, it CAN be worthwhile for site owners to comment on related blogs themselves – links are not just about search engines – people use them too!

  • stuartflatt

    There are actually many aspects to this article;
    Firstly the title – Blog commenting is not an SEO technique. Well it is amongst 90% of SEO consultants, and not just for the ‘link’.

    It can build brand awareness (though more of a marketeers role)
    It can build trust to a site (in terms of users respecting your comments)
    People want to find out more (if you make useful comments)

    Ultimately if someone wants to click on a link it is entirely up to them, whether that link be called ‘stuartflatt’ or ‘buy my pants now’ is irrellevant, users are entirely free to make their own choice.

    This blog post isn’t actually titled to let people know what the post is about, it’s to make people click on the link thinking that comments are no longer registered by search engines and create a bit of controversy.

    Tell me how that is any different from someone calling a link what they want? Both are a bit cloak and dagger!!

    p.s you cannot actually buy my pants

  • venkat

    wihtout interacting comments with readers what’s bloggers for ?comment gives insight of reader to blog author.

  • Jeulyanna

    Just some points to ponder- for me using keyword as username is not an issue. What is important is the content of the comment – if 110% irrelevant then by all means its a spam even if the commenter uses a name. But if a keyword is use and the comment is very much relevant, why accuse the poster as spammer? Its unfair.

  • Columbus SEO

    I definitely don’t think that blog commenting is a long-term scalable SEO strategy, and many times the links that are attained from blogs aren’t even relevant to the site your “building” them for.

    However, I do feel that commenting on other blogs is a good idea is it will help you begin relationships with other bloggers in your niche, and it can sometimes generate a small bit of traffic from your comment links.

  • Buy Cheap Slippers

    Dammit… looks like I`ll have to change my whole link building strategy for my new business venture

  • Glen Allsopp

    Lot’s of irony as to the name of the commentor above.

    How do you feel about approving them on your site, Patrick?

    • Patrick Altoft

      Glen I prefer people use their real name but it makes no difference because I use nofollow.

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  • @steveplunkett

    Comment spam has been around since bulletin boards.. spammers use it to spam pages with links that may or may not be on topic..

    blog commenting should not be an SEO strategy but sometimes it is for ORM, needlessly commenting just to get a link on a page is SPAM.. but as you can read above it is useful for SEO if done ethically.

  • Greg

    Glen, I think the irony was lost on you with that one, heh

  • Sankar

    Yup, you are right Patrick.

    Recently I observed that one of my blog post getting daily for sure 4 to 5 spam comments from the same domain with more links in content and different targeted keywords as names. I really frustrated with these spam comments. I hope most of the spammers are using some kind of softwares for commenting on blogs.


  • Sandy Morgan

    I find Blog commenting is best used to create user/site credibility within their industry. Whether a site url is used, or just the author’s name, this should be a decision made by the site owner, NOT a 3rd party which in worst cases may express an opinion contradictory to their clients believes. Perhaps the SEO agency should try and be a little more adaptable, find new ways of adding value to their ‘link-building technique’

  • Jeet

    Blog commenting is spamming if commenting guidelines are not followed. However, if there are no commenting guidelines, I believe it’s ‘grey’ area.

    Commenting on blogs that intentionally take part in dofollow movement is not spamming and I will put it as genuine link building technique. I refrain from using keywords in name and appreciate keywordluv enabled blogs for the same reason.

  • Enjoy Life Play

    So you should use no-follow blog lists instead? :)

  • Dave Ash

    Having observed the link profile of competitors of a client whom I’m carrying out SEO for via Linkscape – I would disagree that blog commenting is not an SEO technique as I’ve seen a few well ranked sites find some of their most valuable links from such sources.

    Personally, I would suggest this is viable so long as the comments are relevant to the discussion of the particular thread and it’s not blatent spam, as the example was.

  • Africa Holiday

    I have changed my name by deed poll to “Africa Holiday”. My friends have changed their names too – Egypt Deal, Kenya Holiday Junior and Fuerteventura III. Some blog owners insult us by saying “use your real name”. How dare they!!!

  • Smithy

    My agency (a top London digital agency) stopped blog commenting years ago, it’s definitely not worth the risk for a clients website. Also, the value from 100 blog comments is probably still less than one good link from an authority website!

    Of course, for my personal sites, I use blog comments, but I always make sure I add to the conversation. I generally won’t even use good anchor text as my name (i’d rather have a link, than have my comment removed and end up with no link)

  • Joel Leyden

    I was one of the first SEO’s on the Net (1995) before the term SEO was even coined.
    Blog commenting is for commenting – not for optimising.

    I would ban any SEO company which spams a bloggers comment space!

  • Dejan Petrovic

    Well I think it’s up to Google to recognise and dampen the value of the blog comment links. They have done a lot more complicated stuff in their algo, I’m sure this won’t be a problem.

  • Rob Thomas

    If you have a blog and you want to see much comments on it, then you have to give something to these people who write on your blog. For example, you can give them a backlink. Dofollow blogs have much more traffic and comments. You can delete posts if they are total spamy like “Very interesting, thanks for sharing!”, but if someone write a constructive comment, then it is ok to give to she/him a backlink… Backlinks do not hurt :)

  • Harish

    Hello so no blogs or spam messages with no follow ,good to hear a new thing and how t oescape from it

  • kevin

    I understand however if you are giving a good comment and making a contribuation why not get a link back something in return i blame the spammers if the never abused it then there would be no need for nofollow

  • MOGmartin

    Last year when I was doing the Interview rounds looking for a new job, I was interviewed (succesefully) for four agencies, including pancentric – but during an interview with Steak I got into a theoretical discussion about how you should go about doing things, and I was horrified at the procedures that agencies use to build links, from manual submissions to crappy directories all the way through to the ubiquitous comment spam. In my opinion (humble or otherwise) a complete waste of time, and clients money.

    In the end I chose not to work for an agency, and went to a big bidget direct advertisor instead, who were building an in house team.

    The best decision Ive ever made, and Ive been working online since mid ’96.

  • Rob Lewicki

    Personal branding is probably the main use for blog commenting. And by leaving great comments, you build trust in the reader and can attract visitors back to your website.

  • Ralph | Vertical Measures

    If you have two pages, both with good content, and one has 100 comments and the other has no comments, which do you think is more likely to be looked at favorably by search engines? Intuitively, I think we all know the answer. But the point is, comments improve the site that they’re on. So while everyone is talking about how these commentors are “taking advantage” of these dofollow blogs, you’re completely ignoring the fact that these blogs are often ‘dofollow’ with the specific intention of drawing people to comment there. And I’ll tell you what, my mother has no clue what dofollow means, so you can bet 100% that the people commenting on these types of blogs are SEO saavy. With that in mind, I have no idea why so many people make such a big issue about this. If someone left a comment with 100 links for WOW gold, that’s spam, but if I leave a good comment with a link to my business with keyword anchor text, you should be grateful for the comment, just like I’m grateful for the link.

  • Andy Beard

    Ralph unfortunately that isn’t how it works

    One real example

    I had someone leaving comments called Dan, no other anchor text, leaving comments to tons of social media profiles belonging to someone called John.

    Now if a visitor clicked the link, they wouldn’t find out anything about Dan who left the comment, just John.

    That includes me, I wasted time visiting a profile belonging to someone else.

    The comments left were reasonably intelligent – sometimes 2-3 paragraphs

    I deleted them, the email address being used has been added to my spam filter (which is not based upon collective intelligence)

  • SEODr

    @smithy ” it’s definitely not worth the risk for a clients website”…I don’t see the risk personally – you are creating a backlink and adding to their online PR. Start using Xrumer, then you are spamming.

  • Ralph | Vertical Measures

    @Andy I can’t say I disagree with your actions in that case.

  • DoFollow SEO Blog

    Thanks for the wonderful post. I’ve been looking around the web for this type of information and finally found it.

  • StoreCrowd

    The comment above this one just about sums up the whole conversation.

    How not to comment 101.

  • Article Submission Service | Darren Chow

    I comment on blogs not for seo purposes but for networking purposes. I totally hate blog comment spamming. One of my blogs end up with 5k+ unwanted blog comments :(
    Comments are never meant for link building. They are meant for discussions. Spamming a blog is similar to spamming a forum. The irony is, it’s bloggers who employ spammers to leave spam comments on other blogs…


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  • website seo

    But blog commenting is best way to increase link popularity to websites as well as Keywords ranking for targeted keywords……

  • agnes

    Blog commenting brings more traffic to your site.And it helps to increase the pagerank.It is one the best seo technique.And thanks for sharing the nice blogs.Really great indeed.

  • Avelina Marshal

    I think it is as you are providing your views along with the url.

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  • michael

    Though this post is so needed and great for consideration I am as a newbie in bogging is not convinced what is the best method and technique is. As I see from the opposite opinions on this blog still perhaps it is a right to allow a dofollow blog and to get backlinks as well. If someone can explain more how does it actually work it would be perhaps a great post for a blogger.
    Thanks anyway for bringing that ideas into the light.

  • ho'oponopono

    I hadn't heard someone take comment blogging off the table in such a way. It's certainly possible that Google or the competition will come across the link, but blog commenting isn't inherently against the rules (Google) and the quality of one's website isn't necessarily able to be duplicated (competition). I think the golden rule is always to build a website that's informative and helpful — good things will happen if one does that.

  • Chris

    I did write a nice essay but for some reason it decided to refresh my page….

    Anyway, this article is 50/50 split between right and BS, much like the author doesn’t have much of a clue about SEO, along with a lot of people commenting it seems.

    Blog commenting is a very basic, but very useful form of SEO, and there is nothing wrong with it when used properly.

  • Webguruz

    I am agree with you that blog help in SEO but also help to build a reputation as well as.

  • Chris

    Definitely, couldn’t agree with you more. Using blogs to build relationships with other bloggers is great. Gaining the trust of others and being able to exchange information in the form of blogs can be a very useful exercise all round.

  • Huck@seo services london

    I feel that we should comment on blogs with dofollow but not by using dofollow blog lists. Using such quick alternatives always have an opposite effect on the popularity of the site. It’s always best to use the slow reliable means to popularize our blogs and site.

  • Web Developer

    Although I do think that blog commenting is not a very powerful SEO technique but at the same time I would say it does help if the blog is a HIGH PR Blog.

    Nice discussion going on. Would love to be a part of it. Anyways, Thanks for sharing.

    • bizworldusa

      I liked this post very much as it has helped me a lot in my research and is quite interesting as well.


  • Talk Solar Panels

    I run the SEO for our company, and really try to minimise blog commenting, doing it a bit just for a variety of links. I would only ever consider doing it manually, and I always make sure I add some information or a good point to the debate. The website owner is getting some interaction, changing and unique content, so I think a link back is totally warranted. I’d love to write more guest blog entries for people, but the response rate is so low to emails, which is mainly due to spammers I’m sure!

  • Milan Direct

    Agree with many of the earlier comments. I find blog commenting to be one of the best ways of building relationships with other bloggers. In addition, it offers a basic but effective form of SEO.

  • villas for rent in Dubai

    I have discovered your blog today and I love it!! You make very beautiful things and your tutorials are very good. I will add your blog to my list. Congratulations for your works!!

  • iSEOforGoogle

    Well link building through commenting should not be viewed as spamming as long as the comments posted are related to the article and add something to the post. Otherwise all the other comments are spam.

    And yes, you are right most of the blog nowadays are suffering from spam these days. But most of them have started using nofollow now and which are not using are soon going to.

  • Jason Scott

    In some ways I agree with this. When I first set up a blog, I hated recieving comments and therefore blocked them all, as I just looked on them as spam. A few weeks ago I decided turn commenting back on and now that I’ve lightened up on commenting, you find that there is a lot of genuine comments, and often I have used the conversations that have sparked from commenting to think up new topics for my next post.

  • Government Tenders

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  • dog registry

    Personally I feel that blog commenting is fine as long as you add to discussion. By which I don’t mean the whole “omg awesome post, you so smart” sort that you get.

    Leaving comments is pretty much the only viable way to do SEO…especially since Google will come down on you like a ton of bricks if they find out you bought links. So you have blog commenting, and link bait…and that’s about it. Sure some times you might get a story written on you by a newspaper(which is pretty rare)…but the link itself tends to be next to worthless, since it’s on a page that will almost always stays unranked.

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