Why I do not allow keywords in blog comments

by Martin Reed on 23 July 2008 in Articles

Allowing or banning keywords in blog comments

Regular readers have noticed that I no longer permit keywords in the ‘Name’ field when submitting a comment to this blog. In this article, I will outline the reasons why I have taken this step and what I hope to achieve from it.

Share the link love

I ‘link love enabled‘ this blog from day one as I felt it was only fair to reward those that take the time to comment and get involved in the community with a full return link. Some warned me that I would lose search engine ranking as a result, but I care more about catering to my real, human visitors than I do the search engines. Others warned me that my blog would now be inundated with spam, but thanks to Akismet this wasn’t a problem. Additionally, I am not convinced that blogs offering full ‘dofollow’ links receive more spam than those with the ‘nofollow‘ attribute.

For the first year this system went well – I had to delete or edit a few comments, but they were a tiny number in comparison to the amount of constructive contributions being submitted. Over the past couple of months though, I have noticed a large increase in the number of keyword spammers – people submitting a worthless comment just to get a link back to their site with their preferred keywords in order to curry favour with the search engines.

Play fair

Perhaps it is my British genes talking, but I am a strong believer in fair play. I offer full ‘dofollow’ links to contributors in return for them taking the time to submit a comment which adds value to this blog and its community. Once people began to abuse this system, I was forced to take action. I am really hesitant to change links back to ‘nofollow’ as I still want to reward those that take the time to get involved by submitting comments, therefore the best compromise was to ban keywords from the ‘Name’ field in the comments form.

Online communities build relationships

As I have said before, a blog is an online community. For a community to be successful, it needs to encourage the development of relationships. It is extremely difficult for myself and other readers to develop a relationship with someone named ‘Make Money Online’ or ‘Cheap Blue Pills’. Consequently, by default these contributors add far less value to the blog than those that submit comments with their real name or a nickname.

This blog is a networking tool

A lot of online communities fail because the person or company developing the site doesn’t have any clear goals. Only when you have clear goals can you determine when your community is a success. This blog wasn’t established to make money – my goal was to network amongst community developers and those in the industry. To that extent, this blog has been successful and has put me in touch with a huge number of fantastic people.

It is hard to network with people who prefer to gain a cheap link at the expense of adding value to this blog. Similarly it is harder for me to come across as credible when readers come to my blog only to see it full of comments stuffed with keywords.

Your thoughts

Do you agree or disagree with my decision? Do you have a blog? Do you give ‘nofollow’ or ‘dofollow’ return links, and why? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

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Sue @ TameBay July 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm

I totally applaud your decision: as you say, a blog is a community and I cannot have a friendship with a collection of keywords :-D

Stephan Miller July 23, 2008 at 6:43 pm

I don’t like keywords in the name slot unless the comment was over the top. But for anything less than that, most of the time the comment is gone. I use dofollow on two blogs. On the one that gets more spam I use Lucia’s Link Love to only give dofollow after three comments. Still you find people commenting exactly three times to get this feature and then never coming back.

Yasmin July 23, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Do you agree or disagree with my decision?AGREE

Do you have a blog? Yes

Do you give ‘nofollow’ or ‘dofollow’ return links, and why? I just had a do-follow link added; but based upon what you shared in this blog…I will monitor it to make sure I’m not getting a lot of spam. When it becomes more about spamming than commenting…I will delete.

Mike Gates July 23, 2008 at 10:54 pm

I do have a few blogs and all are dofollow enabled.

I agree spam can be a problem, but with the spam plugins – askimet and spam karma – I haven’t had a big problem with spam. I do have to spend a few minutes each day moderating comments, but to me the little time it takes is worth the trade for quality comments I get from readers.

I do have somewhat strict rules and I don’t publish all comments. But if someone makes quality comments, about the post content, I reward them with a backlink with their chosen keywords.

I don’t post on other blogs just for the keyword backlink, I wouldn’t be posting here if I did. But I like to have the added benefit of a link back to my site with my chosen keywords.

I think a backlink with your name in it instead of keywords is pretty much worthless, so it will be interesting to see if your valid comments drop off.

thatsme July 24, 2008 at 12:52 am

What’s the use have a “do follow” blog if you don’t all keywords in the name/title? Just set your comments to use moderation and you can delete any obvious span at will. Without keywords, you may loose good comments from good people that also are trying to be successful bloggers themselves.

Mental July 24, 2008 at 2:42 am

Great, I have seen hundreds of dofollow blogs that just let that stuff slide. I seriously just disregard their posts as anything worth while because of that. Looks like someone is trying to set the standard.

Nicole Price July 24, 2008 at 10:22 am

I tend to agree with thatsme, I think i appreciate any value addition to the discussion, whether it is from a keyword or not really does not make a difference to me. If I am accosted by spam, i always have the option to delete.

Gerard July 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

As I said in the last post, when you subscribe to the comments here (as I do), you get a feel for how worthless and stupid some of the comments are. People were just writing arbitrary sentences to get their free keyword stuffed link. “Another excellent posts..youre blog is wonderful and great information which I must use for my site.” – signed Blog Stuffer…

I don’t actually visit Community Spark for dofollow links. Like some of the serious visitors, I run a forum myself and like the opportunity to listen to and share ideas. That’s why I use my personal blog rather than choosing to promote my own forum. And hopefully I provide a bit of value to other readers from my own experience :)

Mr Woc July 24, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Hi there

I wouldnt even feel the need to explain this myself lol, as this blog is to share information, its not here for people to gain cheap backlinks, I agree with what gerard above says, some people will just submit one line comments just to try to get their keyword in a link.

All my blog links are no follow, the do follow blogs get more comments but they also get more spam !


Amish July 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I endorse what thatsme and Nicole Price say. My comments do not contain any keywords chosen deliberately.

Ray July 24, 2008 at 3:43 pm

This is not the first time that I have seen a blog owner complain about comment spammers, so I would guess it is a big problem for large popular blogs.

I will admit that I have used my keyword in the name box when posting here in the past and thought nothing of it.

On balance I agree with the change and it will not put me off visiting/ posting here. Even better is the fact that it will deter spammers and improve the community feel of the blog overall.

Stephie July 24, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Your blog, your choice. Personally, i think you have made right move. If you have decided this blog to be link loved, then you can also make some rules with that about. Permitting keywords in Name field will surely filter out irrelevant comments from your blog.
So, thumbs up for this from me!

James July 24, 2008 at 7:35 pm

That seems fair to me. The second I see someone use a keyword as their name I immediately think “spam alert. Thank you for allowing this blog to be dofollow!

Smiley July 24, 2008 at 10:56 pm

The only people who will complain are the spammers. who probably won’t even read this post!

They just randomly show up, post any old comment such as “yes nice post i agree yes no yes” and bugger off never to be seen again.

You allow links, which I think is more than fair. At the end of the day this is a blog where we come to read for hints, tips and because we find your articles interesting – if we want to advertise then we’ll go to a site that’s for advertising on.

By we, I’m talking about genuine readers and contributors, of course !!

Angela Connor July 25, 2008 at 3:18 am

I think we’ve supported one another for quite some time, or at least since I’ve been commenting here on the fact that community managers have to lead and leading often means making the tough decisions. You did what you had to do. I’m sure a lot of thought went into it, which is clear since you went out of your way to explain it in depth in this post. We can’t be popular every day of the week. It’s not an easy gig. I feel awful whenever I have to post a “come to Jesus” blog in my community but the fact of the matter is, sometimes it’s necessary. So, chalk this up as necessary and live to blog another day.

Michelle July 26, 2008 at 3:37 am

I always used “Michelle from the Coulee Region” which I thought was a nice mix of a real name and a keyword and have never commented _just_ for the link love. I shortened it to just my name in light of your new policy. I can go either way on this decision. On the one hand, I can sympathise with not wanting comments filled with junk just for links. On the other hand, it kind of sucks that the people who tried to play nice with it lose out because of the spammers. I have a terribly time finding places I can get good links because my site is so niche.

But, it’s your site and your decision and I won’t stop visiting because of it. :)


Dan Thornton July 26, 2008 at 10:01 pm

I can totally sympathise and prefer this idea to nofollowing, as I agree that dofollow is one way to ‘reward’ people for commenting.

I do feel less inclination to comment on a blog that announces it’s a nofollow venue. Not because links are my primary reason for commenting, but it just seems to go against the caring, sharing side of blogging. The blog benefits from comments, so it seems only fair…

Thomas July 28, 2008 at 9:36 am

I believe your blog should use the nofollow. People should visit your blog for the content and insight, not for the link juice. If you want to build a community and interact with your visitors, try using the social networks like facebook or even better twitter. Just my 2 cents.

Steve July 28, 2008 at 4:15 pm

This is good comment policy and i have implemented this on all my blogs as well. One thing to explain, All my blogs were “no follow” and Akismet always has a lot of comments to eat but now my blogs are “Do follow” and I have many valuable and consistent users on all my blogs.

JArthur July 28, 2008 at 5:07 pm

I’m not entirely sure what constitutes a “keyword”….I have the same nick everywhere I post, so let me know if I need to use my email name instead.

In honor of full disclosure, I work for Uptake and live in OH. I also never enjoyed blogging, but needed to pay for grad school. I ended up getting involved with a great upstart travel site and eventually took over blogging–yes, to get the link love. BUT….one of the things that has happened in the process is that I’ve fallen in love with the blogging community. I still don’t understand much of the technical aspect of what takes place, but I have come to truly look forward to visiting the “do follow” blogs that I work with and have actually gotten to feel close to some of their owners.

In that regard, the do follow nature of this blog is what brought me here for work. But the benefits that I’ve reaped have become personal as well as professional. And I love that on blogs such as this one I actually have something to give in return. Having been a part of online fan communities for years, I love that I can interject my thoughts and experiences and feel as if I belong.

I feel that as a do follow blog, you have a really good group of loyal posters. Their reasons for being here may differ, but the end result is an intelligent, insightful, and pleasant lot. I enjoy scrolling thru the comments and reading from others whose names I have come to recognize. As opposed to a lot of no follow blogs that I read at which no one posts because they read and move along.

So that’s my two cents on the issue. In case anyone has managed to make it this far. Heh.

Greg July 28, 2008 at 10:59 pm

I admire you taking a stand to protect your community.

Whatever the search engines say, I think you have your priorities in the right order.

Martyn July 29, 2008 at 8:41 am

I know that I have spammed in the past but I do think do follow blogs shouldn’t allow keyword spamming. It tends to end up with people commenting with no relation to the article.

Swastik July 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

In my opinion, do-follow blogs shouldn’t allow keywords. Good step mate. Also, I like that you care about those who actually read you, not those Search Engines (more)

- Swastik -

Matt Belock July 30, 2008 at 12:23 am

Too many people are spamming now. It hurts the new websites out there because the older ones have done all these techniques to build backlinks and the new sites can’t build as quick because some people have overdone it. I think its a very good thing you are doing.


adrian July 31, 2008 at 12:45 am

I agree with your decision, permitting keywords just encourages people to submit SOMETHING ANYTHING for the sake of getting the link back to their site with anchor-text of their choosing. This method filters out a lot of spammers in disguise I would imagine


Maskio August 1, 2008 at 8:52 am

I use a dofollow policy. I think that SPAM has to be penalized but not blogs. However your decision is a good one, if you can track all your comments could be great, moreover I think that the name o f a user is his identity in this little community, will I let the others call me mobile_phone? or freeonline casino? I think that you can share a link with others, but only with people truly interested in posting in your blog as it is not for SPAMMING.

Passive Harry August 1, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Enabling keywords on “do follow” blogs is just as to invite spammers from all around the world. You will be checking your comments all the day and night. It is good not to enable them.

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Sue – Exactly. Thanks for your support.

Stephan – Offering up some link love once users have made a certain number of comments may not always solve the issue of spammy comments; indeed readers may be encouraged to make more in order to be ‘rewarded’ with the dofollow privilege, as you have found!

Yasmin – I don’t believe that ‘dofollow’ blogs automatically receive more spam comments by default. It depends a lot on how well you moderate comments and how much you advertise the fact your blog is ‘link love enabled’.

Mike – Sure, a link back with your name instead of your keywords may not be as good, but it is better than being able to use keywords but getting zero recognition from the search engines thanks to there being a ‘nofollow’ attribute. I started this blog to network and build relationships. I can’t build relationships with people who have keywords for names.

Thatsme – I don’t have the time to read and approve every single comment made on this blog, nor do I have the inclination to do so. Sure, I moderate comments and remove spam but I don’t want to be logging in to the admin panel multiple times every day to moderate comments. A link from a ‘dofollow’ blog is still better than a link from a ‘nofollow’ blog.

Mental – I am not so much trying to set the standard, just implementing a rule that helps me meet the individual goals I have for this blog.

Nicole – Yes, some ‘keyword commenters’ do make valuable comments but they are extremely rare. If someone really wants to contribute to the discussion and add value for readers, they should be happy to do so using their name – not a series of promotional keywords.

Gerard – That’s another reason why I made this decision. Sure, I can remove spammy comments but people who have subscribed to comments will still have received them before I got the chance to delete them.

Mr Woc – I wasn’t planning on making a whole blog post outlining my decision, however it was requested by a number of readers and I felt it only fair to fully explain myself!

Amish – You have been a regular reader right from this blog’s inception and I appreciate your support.

Ray – Like you, I used to regularly post comments on blogs with my keywords and I have to admit, that I occasionally still do if they are no comment guidelines that forbid it. I am not frowning upon how readers have behaved in the past – I had no guidelines prohibiting keywords. However, I do now, and make this clear on the comment form.

Stephie – Well it is probably too early to tell, but I think that the number of spammy comments has definitely decreased.

James – I often think the same, and didn’t want readers to get a negative impression of this blog as a result!

Kravitsk – Thanks for your support.

Smiley – Yup, you make a good point. I offer paid advertising on this blog – it is infair to my advertisers if I allow a link love free-for-all; if that was the case I wouldn’t be offering paid advertisers much in the way of value!

Angela – This wasn’t the easiest decision for me to make, and I had been considering it for a few months. Eventually the ever-increasing number of keyword commenters made the decision much easier for me to make, but after implementing this policy I decided it was only fair to justify my reasoning behind the move.

Michelle – Your comments were definitely valuable, and I never considered you to be posting spammy content. The problem is though, by implementing this policy it has to apply to all. Thanks for your continuing support.

Dan – Yes, I have to admit that I am the same. Submitting constructive comments does take time, and if I know a blog doesn’t offer full return links then I am less inclined to post. I feel the step I have taken is a good compromise.

Thomas – I want to build a community and build value right here, not on other social networks although I do recognise the value of sites such as Twitter and StumbleUpon.

Steve – I am hoping this blog will see the same results! Fingers crossed!

JArthur – Yes, I am afraid the name you used would be against the new policy however you raise some good points so I edited your name (I hope you don’t mind). This blog is still ‘dofollow’, I simply want to communicate with people not keywords. I hope you will continue to drop by and contribute valuable, insightful comments.

Greg – Thanks, I appreciate your kind comment.

Martyn – Well I hope you will now mend your ways ;)

Swastik – Thanks for your support. My readers and visitors have always been more important to me that the opinions of the search engines. I am amazed when others tell me they feel differently.

Matt – Thanks for your support.

Adrian – I agree. I am hoping people will actually contribute more constructive comments now in order to attract readers to click-through and read more of what they have to say on their websites, rather than just spamming to turn on the search engines!

Maskio – Perhaps we need to ask keyword spammers if they would be happy to be addressed by their chosen ‘name’ in the offline world. ‘Hey, payday loans how about a trip to the park?’ – Hmm, I think not!

Harry – You need to keep an eye on your blog comments regardless of your commenting policy. Having a ‘nofollow’ blog won’t really reduce automated spam, but it can reduce and deter human keyword spammers.

A. Georgiev August 6, 2008 at 7:57 am

Hello. I share your opinion because I am blogger too and I understand that you say. I do not allow keywords in my blog comments too. My blog was full with spammers but now I cleaned it and make new rules and everything now is better!

Marie August 8, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Sounds like a fair policy to me. Thanks for the link luv. I looks foward to being an active member of this blog : )

Paula August 9, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I have a few blogs and I turned one into a dofollow blog to see what affect it would have on the blog. It did receive more spam but as you say with Akismet it isn’t really a problem. I’m still tossing up whether to make my latest blog a dofollow as I agree with you that if someone is going to make a valid comment then they should get credit for it.

Jennifer August 11, 2008 at 1:10 am

I totally understand where you’re coming from. Allowing keywords is just an invitation for spammers. The quality of your blog and its comments should be most important. Thanks for the link love!

Danelle Ice August 15, 2008 at 8:48 am

I do agree with you, and my site is also a dofollow (in the comments only, however). I have had to crack down on keyword spammers lately, but I must admit that it surprises me the most when it comes from websites I know! It’s not so much strangers doing the keyword spamming comments, but bloggers that I am acquainted with and have participated in their sites’ communities. I have concluded that perhaps participation in their sites make them feel overly comfortable and ready to throw comment etiquette out the window! It seems counterintuitive, to say the least.

I actually just wrote an article this week about guidelines and rules for comments on my site. I’ve seen more and more of these popping up on sites everywhere, so it seems that we are not alone in our comment dilemmas. I’m keeping the dofollow on my comments section for now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always feel that way. I guess only time will tell if it just causes more work and headaches!

Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice)

Danelle Ice August 15, 2008 at 8:49 am

I do agree with you, and my site is also a dofollow (in the comments only, however). I have had to crack down on keyword spammers myself, but I must admit that it surprises me the most when it comes from websites I know! It’s not so much strangers doing the keyword spamming comments, but bloggers that I am acquainted with and have participated in their sites’ communities. I have concluded that perhaps participation in their sites make them feel overly comfortable and ready to throw comment etiquette out the window! It seems counterintuitive, to say the least.

I actually just wrote an article this week about guidelines and rules for comments on my site. I’ve seen more and more of these popping up on sites everywhere, so it seems that we are not alone in our comment dilemmas. I’m keeping the dofollow on my comments section for now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always feel that way. I guess only time will tell if it just causes more work and headaches!

AZ August 16, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I am confused. Ok its a plus if you get Keyword as anchor. if you dont and link is do-follow it is stil good for improving PR- so still attractive for spammer.
Confusion is, does keyword in anchor text may harm more than nick name?

Henry August 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Whatever you do, spammers will beat you.
Its just something you have to expect. But doesnt disallowing keywords hurt your blog?

Matt August 20, 2008 at 12:07 am

Your policy sounds reasonable to me. Allowing keywords just encourages spam and thoughtless comments. I hope you continue to get engaging comments.

kouji August 26, 2008 at 11:13 pm

i do agree with your decision, and i appreciate your taking the time to communicate it this way to your readers. :)

admittedly, i’m one of those persons who came across your site, and keep on coming back to it, partly because it has the ‘no follow’ attribute disabled. but at the same time, as a fellow blog owner, i can appreciate the anguish at having a comments section stuffed full of keywords.

i think you found a good balance here. i’ve been thinking about disabling the ‘no follow’ attribute in my blogs as well actually, though i haven’t yet taken the plunge.

Eva White August 28, 2008 at 8:28 am

I agree with your decision to not allow keywords in the name slot. Even if one is browsing the comments one likes to read names of people not products.

Nicole Price August 28, 2008 at 8:56 am

Martin i actually disagree with you when you say that keyword users very rarely add value to a discussion, because my experience has been otherwise. Besides a lot of people would simply read and leave not leaving a comment unless you make it worth their while to make the effort to comment.

Smiley August 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Such a shame people are disrespecting the clearly polite request to NOT use keywords in their username :(

The blog is linklove enabled, the advice given here is sound and if it wasn’t for this blog my site would be nothing! Probably have died off months ago. You’d think people would appreciate the free service provided here a tad more.

Adam Keynes August 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

I also allow dofollow on my blog, and although I’d prefer people not to use keyword rich names, if their comment is valuable and interesting it doesn’t really bother me. At the end of the day everyone is involved in the same Google scramble.

Marilyn October 25, 2008 at 9:43 pm

This does make sense. I hope that including my blog name next to my real name in another comment wasn’t problematic. Oops! It’s what I have automatically set-up in blogger to help the other blog moms keep me straight from other Marilyn bloggers. :D I wasn’t trying to spam ya or anything. Thanks for this explanation, also. I’m learning a lot from your site.