Attack of the Comment Spam and Referral Spam!

comment spam and referral spam

Oh so tasty!

We’ve all received zillions of spam emails.  Since starting a blog I have, unfortunately, been introduced to new ways to be inundated and annoyed by spam:  Comment Spam and Referral Spam.  Here’s what they are and how to get rid of them quickly and easily.

Comment Spam

The first comment on a blog post that you’ve written is an exciting validation of all your effort and the courage you exhibited by putting yourself out there.

It can be a pretty big let down when you realize that this person didn’t even read the post.  In fact, they’re probably not even a person.  Their name is “best dating sites” and they’ve just typed something like, “Wow, ths artcle is exactly what I needed.  Thank you for this!”

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took a few of these to catch on that I was seeing spam.  Somebody, somewhere, thinks that the nofollow links in blog comments actually mean something to SEO and are getting paid to insert garbage comments all over the web.  Gee thanks.

The Solution

First of all, you should be moderating all comments.  This way they at least don’t show up on your site.  I was doing this from the start, but I was receiving 10-20 spam comments a day!

The Akismet WordPress Plug-In saved the day!  It’s free and it will filter all the spam and place it in a spam folder.  I’ve only had one false positive so far and it was easy to review a batch of spam (I do it weekly) and pull out the one that was a real comment.

Referral Spam

This one is much more confusing and insidious.  It only shows up on your dashboard or in Google Analytics.

The whole idea is to show a referral to your website in your analytics.  You get excited that somebody is linking to your site and you click on the referral to see who referred you and in what context.  Don’t do this!

The only thing you will do by clicking the link is:

  • Show that you are really there and unleash a whole new wave of spam.
  • Plant a referral cookie on your computer for alibaba or some other site.

Yep, that’s what this is all about.  Somebody out there is tricking you into using their affiliate link to a website you’re not even interested in!  A few of the thousands of webmasters out there will actually buy something and make it all worthwhile, though.  Please don’t be one of those webmasters!

There are a few flavours of this spam attack:

  1. A bot will visit your site and make it seem like it came from a backlink.
  2. Nobody will actually visit your site at all, but they will spoof Google Analytics into recording a visit from their backlink.
  3. A Google search term will be spoofed in your Google Analytics.

Some common sites are darodar.com, priceg.com, blackhatworth.com, and hulfingtonpost.com (not it’s hulf, not huff which I totally missed the first time).  You’ll also see an ilovevitaly web search term that is fake.

The only real danger of this spam is that it seriously messes up you Analytics.  It looks like you’re getting many more hits than you really are.  Most of them seem to come from Russia for some reason.

The Solution

You can create a filter that will exclude this fake traffic from your Google Analytics reports so that you can again see how real visitors are interacting with your site and where they’re coming from.  Analytics Edge has a great report on fixing referral spam and it fixed the problem for me.

I still have a worry in the back of my head that Google may see an increased bounce rate which might hurt my SEO, but I have to trust that they are the masters of fighting spam and will solve the problem soon.

Have you been hit by comment spam or referral spam? Tell us what sites hit you and what you did about it in the comments below. 

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