SEO Spammers: Leave Social Media Sites Alone!
You’ve seen them before. They create accounts that have either a gibberish name or “SEOSuperstud”. No avatar, or one that is their company logo. They might have lots of people befriended. They may have none.
They always submit. They never vote/Digg/upmod anyone else’s submissions. Their submissions get 1 or fewer votes (unless they are a MASS – a Multi-Account-SEO-Spammer, in which case they will have more than one, but it will always be the same amount and always voted by the same “people”).
They submit stories or websites that nobody from social media visits or votes for, and they don’t care. They are the social media SEO Spammers. If nobody clicks on their link, no worries. The only visit they care about is from Googlebots, and sadly (in some cases) Google will visit and take note of the website.
We wanted to make a video spoof on the “Leave Britney Alone” theme, but neither Chris Crocker nor Seth Green were available. Instead, we’ll just put together a nice little rant about why Reddit, Propeller, Newsvine, Mixx, StumbleUpon, Sphinn, Digg, and the others are not communities tolerant of spammers. More importantly, we’ll offer ways to combat the issue. Read on.
For those unfamiliar about how Search Engine Optimization works, here is the one basic premise that draws SEO Spammers to our hallowed pages: Links Rule. Inbound links with the proper title (or anchor text) posted on many social media websites gives the target site a boost in rankings for their particular keywords. There is much more to it than that, but that’s the basic idea.
SEO Spammers realize that a link from SM sites can be a powerful tool in their SEO arsenal. The problems are many, but the one that affects the masses is simple: we don’t care about Viagra, unsecured credit cards, penis enlargement, free credit reports, or any of the other hundreds of things that SEO Spammers are pushing. Period.
Is everyone who uses social media websites for SEO bad? Are they all spammers? Absolutely not. Some of the most respected members of the SM sites are SEOs by profession. Without “outing” any, it’s clear that they are active contibutors who submit quality content. They participate in many ways, more than just submitting. They vote, interact, and in general they add more to the website than they take.
Every now and then, you might see them submit content that is possibly spam. To social media purists, this is bad. To us, it’s earned. If 1 out of 50 submissions is for their benefit or to benefit a client, we shouldn’t worry. To us, the other 49 quality submissions supercedes the spam.
So, the question remains. How do social media websites combat the problem?
Newsvine is the most heavily policed social media website in the world. The members are passionate. They have a “Greenhouse” where new members are scrutinized, watched, reported, and subsequently banned for spammy behavior. They track multiple accounts very well and they take action quickly.
Still, Newsvine is very small in comparison to the other social media powerhouses. Reddit uses the SEO-dreaded “nofollow” attribute on any stories that do not get over 1 point through upmodding. Spammers generally do not get the full benefit for this reason. It is somewhat effective, but barely makes a dent because even in the SEO ranks, many do not check for nofollow. Even amongst those who do, there is a debate over whether the nofollow attribute is real or not. Could it be red herring? We say no, but our opinion doesn’t matter to the SEO Spammers, so they continue to use it.
StumbleUpon uses it on all of their posts, but the effect from Stumbles is too strong to make the spammers care.
Digg, Mixx, and StumbleUpon rely on members to report. This, to us, is the only real recourse that active members can use. If enough people file a report, eventually, the spammers will get banned. They can return, but some will not. Is it futile? As with so many things, it’s only as futile as the general public believes.
Propeller has people who hunt for spammers. Pound for pound, this may be the most effective method for larger sites. While Newsvine is the best policed, its ways are not practical on a scale as large as Digg. Propeller’s on the other hand, is. While it isn’t as hole-free as Newsvine, it is better than what is currenty being used. It would require money spent to hire people, but Digg, Reddit, and Stumble have the money to invest. Isn’t user-experience important enough of an investment?
What can we, the users, do about it? Some was mentioned above, but here is more:
1) Report abuse to Admins – It takes a few seconds out of our busy day. It’s worth it if we don’t have to sift through spam, in our opinion.
2) Report abuse to their Clients – It doesn’t take long to follow a link to find out the source. Send their admin or webmaster an email asking if they are aware that their SEO vendor or in-house SEO team is spamming. Tell then that you are not interested in buying products from companies that use/condone spam. If it’s a Viagra or one of the other types of sites listed above, it probably won’t make a difference. If it’s some other type, it just might help.
3) Make their posts invisible – Most social media websites have a threshold that makes a particular post become virtually invisible, both to the people and to the search engines. If you find extremely spammy posts, bury/downmod/sink their submission. Get your friends to do the same. Contact the SEO Spammer and let them know. If it doesn’t help, they won’t do it anymore.
Anything we missed?