Giveaway Bloggers – Google Thinks Your Reader’s Comments Are Spam!

Giveaway Blogs - Delete Spam Shows Undesired Electronic Mail Filter

Giveaway Bloggers love to receive comments on their blog and I’m no exception. The first thing I do after turning my computer on in the morning is check my blog to see what my readers have to say. I delete fifty or more ridiculous spam comments first, then check the ‘real’ comments for their validity. If they’re not vulgar or offensive I’ve left them in the past. But things are going to change and my Readers and fellow Giveaway & Review Bloggers need to know why.

Comments Can Be The Fatal Demise Of Your Giveaway & Review Blog

Leslie Loves Veggies recently had a ‘spring cleaning’ by SEO expert Kevin at ROI Web Hosting and after reading his report I was shocked to learn that reader comments have made my blog susceptible to violating Google’s Quality Guidelines.

High Number Of Short Comments May Send Red Flag

I wrote a giveaway for Therabreath products back in 2011. This post was filled with comments such as: “I’d like to try the Therabreath gum”, “I follow Therabreath on Twitter or Facebook”, “I’d like to win” and “Thanks for the giveaway”.  Google flagged this post and said “Comments may qualify as spam because there is a high number of short comments that artificially increase the percentage of keywords on a webpage.”

But I Have a Spam Filter

I do too! But those spammers are tricky little devils! They’ve become so inventive that sometimes it’s hard to tell a real comments from spam and it slips by the spam filter. According to Google: “If your site has too much user-generated spam on it, that can affect our assessment of the site, which may eventually result in us taking manual action on the whole site. Some examples of spammy user-generated content include…Spammy accounts on free hosts, Spammy posts on forum threads, Comment spam on blogs.” (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2721437)

New Comment Policy at Leslie Loves Veggies

Effective immediately, please don’t leave 1, 2 or 3 word comments. Comments such as “I’d love to win this prize” or even “Thank you for the giveaway” will unfortunately be deleted. Please leave comments containing 2 – 4 sentences that the folks at Google can’t possibly mistake for spam. Of course questions are always welcome. I love to read what you have to say. Let’s not let those sneaky schemers and spammers win!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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FTC Disclosure: The sponsor provided a product or sample for this Review & Giveaway. Read full disclosure here.

Facebook Disclosure: This giveaway is brought to you by our sponsor and is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

***Winners are contacted by email and listed in the monthly Winners Post after they have responded. Winners then have 48 hours to confirm before a new Winner is chosen.***

Comments

  1. 1
    Rhonda C says:

    I appreciate the heads up on this issue. I am about to relaunch my site and this article will prove to be very helpful in the coming weeks. I can totally relate the mention of having to delete fifty or more of the spammy ones. I remember grabbing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and going in to clean out the spam so that after the littles got off to school I could sit down to enjoy the real comments and engage…

    • 2

      Hi Rhonda,

      Some of the spam are quite entertaining… and once in a while a spam slips through and you’re like “what the hey hey”.. until you look at the URL.. and click delete real fast!!! Good luck with your site and thanks for your comment!
      xo
      Leslie

      • 3
        Rhonda C says:

        Thanks Leslie,
        I do remember some pretty entertaining spam comments. Some got pretty shocking there for a bit. when I first set up my site a few years back I did not realize how sneaky they can be… but i’m a fast learner so hopefully I will be on top of it this time out the gate. :) xo

        • 4

          Hi Rhonda,

          On yeah, those spammers can be pretty inventive alright. I use the free aksimet filter which is pretty good and catches most of the spam. But Google says that ‘real’ comments that are short 2 or 3 word comments increase key words in your post. These need to be filtered out as well.

          Leslie

  2. 5

    Goshers. They institute the oddest rules and regulations. It is good to know what is going on though. Thanks for letting everyone know, usually we try so hard for brevity and short but tweet style comments ;) who knew that would actually be bad…

  3. 7
    md kennedy says:

    To be honest, I believe that this “policy” by Google is great. As a giveaway participant, I am always trying to put meaningful comments when the widgets ask for them, including making them as personal as possible. I get so frustrated when I see the crappy 2 or 3 word comments that fill up the entries. Not only should these comments – and the related entries – be deleted, and ALL the entries for entrants who makes lousy, spammy comments should be deleted from the giveaway as well! Let’s keep the internet as clean as possible!

    • 8

      Hi md,

      I learned the ropes on how to blog, by entering giveaways. And like you I put a lot of effort into my answers on a giveaway comment. But there were no rules that said you had to. To me it was a sense of responsibility to the company offering a product for me to possibly win. I wanted to look, see what they had to offer and give my opinion in exchange for the opportunity to win.
      Fair is fair, right. Some people don’t do that. The post, I’d like to win, over and over and over. Which has spoiled it for all!
      Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate it!!!
      Leslie

  4. 9

    I mostly get why Google is doing this but it sure is a pain in the arse. Thanks for the info on this, so I can maybe make the necessary changes on my blog.

  5. 11

    While I do see their point I also kind of think its dumb. If the leave a comment on a giveaway wants to know what color you would want I’ve seen a list of one word posts with just the colors. Is Facebook part of Google? I ask because they seem to take issue to people “liking” a lot of pages at once.

    • 12

      Hi Candy,

      LOL no Facebook is not part of Google. But I see where you’re going with that. Rules are squelching giveaways, right? The liking think on FB is there “Terms of Service” agreement.
      The comment thing, is Google’s deal.
      Leslie
      xo

  6. 13

    I’m thinking there are a lot of bloggers who aren’t aware of this info.
    There are some very polite people (or maybe just confused) who always post a thank you and some of the requested info as a comment when entering drawings. I’ve always appreciated that you used the RC to capture needed info while other bloggers adopted the form but retained the requirement that we separately post the links and various info as comments. Even using a full sentence, it doesn’t take many words to say we subscribe or follow the blog on Twitter.
    Thanks for the info!

    • 14

      I agree Betty,

      On the RC Widget you do NOT need to be wordy at all. On the comment section of a blog, you do need to leave more than 2 or 3 words to satisfy the spambots and googleots. I know I know I know. Crazy stuff, but that’s what it is and those are the rules. I hope it doesn’t stop my readers from leaving comments because reading what you all have to say is one of the fun parts of my job!
      Leslie
      xo

  7. 15

    Thanks so much for sharing this post with us. It really is sad that spammers make blogging such a hard and constantly changing job for us. I admit that sometimes I am guilty of shorter comments. However, more often than not (especially on a giveaway) I notice that my comment is very wordy compaired to others. I guess I just have more to say. On a tangent note, as a blogger, I do not like one or two word comments. It doesn’t take a lot to put a little thought, or actually, no thought is easier for long comments to respond on something that took hours to write!

    • 16

      Bravo Allyson,

      I almost have the feeling that big “G” has it in for Bloggers. What do you think? I’m jumping through fiery hoops trying to please the powers that be and that’s not a great feeling. I wanted to pass this info on so other bloggers avoid a penalty, not a great feeling.

      Leslie
      xo

  8. 17

    This is very interesting. Thanks for posting.

    For someone who is looking to get into doing a giveaway blog, this is a little discouraging, on Google’s part. Why they have to force you to have to mention to your readers to leave long comments is … frustrating.

    Won’t stop me from reading, or commenting, because I try to say more. Thanks again. :)

    • 18

      Hi Beck,

      I found it very discouraging as well. If you’re doing a giveaway, it’s ok for readers to post short comments on the Rafflecopter Widget. The short comments on the actual blog section are where the problems lie.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Leslie

  9. 19
    D Schmidt says:

    Thank you for sharing this information, I am only a giveaway entrant and not a blog owner but I would personally never want to do anything that looks in any way spamlike. It is rather depressing though to see how things have evolved, Facebook has become a nightmare to use due to all the accusations of spamming for liking too many things or sharing anything! I do understand why Google are cracking down in this way but I just wish more blogs would share the information as you have done.
    For me personally Rafflecopter was a dreadful invention purely because many more entrants came out of the woodwork and not all are honest, and for a better word conscientious people. I really like the way you host giveaways because there is no way somebody can get around undertaking the mandatory entry so I do not feel like I am wasting my time by entering and doing things the right way.

    • 20

      Hi D.,

      Some like Rafflecopter some don’t. All in all I think it is a great tool. And for me, I think it helps me weed out the cheaters! Thanks for your comment!
      Leslie
      xo

  10. 21
    D Schmidt says:

    And I must apologize, I have no idea why that posted twice on your blog since I truly only hit the post comment once, very bizarre indeed. Perhaps I should just have not said anything ;)

    Anyway a huge thank you again for sharing the information.

  11. 23
    Teresa Salerno says:

    Wow this is good to know. I will make sure my comments are much longer even for the sweepstakes. If that help’s and I hope it does.

    • 24

      Hi Teresa,

      It does and I thank you so much!!! Remember to also leave your comment on the Rafflecoper Widget. Thank you!
      xo
      Leslie

  12. 25
    Daily Woman (Lacey) says:

    Thank you for the heads up on this issue. I have a small blog on Google and I am always getting alot of spam in my comments. I have read some of the spam and they are almost always a LONG comment. To me it seems that it is always the opposite of what Google says, the longer the comment the more likely it is spam. I think spammers have figured that out a long time ago. It seems to me between Google and Facebook it is going to make it harder for blog to have giveaways or it is going to be alot of trouble to enter them. I enter alot of giveaways and my FB has already been marked as spam one time even though the only thing I do is share stuff with my friends. I am really worried about what is going to happen with all this. I love entering and hosting giveaways plus it is the way I learn about all the new and exciting products out there. Lets hope things don’t get too hard for us all.

    • 26

      Hi Lacey,

      I hear ya. As Bloggers we do have to be aware of the basics and keep up with the changes that never seem to end. Webmaster Tools is a great place to find a lot of the answers to your questions. Facebook is a beast of another color. :) I’m trying to figure that one out as well. Thanks for a great comment.

      Leslie
      xoxo

  13. 27

    I had no idea!! Man, I am definitely going to have to do some major clean up on my blog. Thank you SO much for letting us know. It’s so great when bloggers share instead of keeping secrets to themselves! ;) Love you, girly! (Be expecting an email from me either tomorrow or Tuesday.)

    • 28

      Hi Ang,

      I know!! I was flabbergasted to say the least. The blogosphere can be a cold place when you’re starting out. You don’t know where to turn for info and any little tidbit of information is welcome. So when I got this news I wanted to share it so a new blogger could learn BEFORE getting into a huge hole. Who wants to find themselves on Google’s bad side? And the bad thing is, sometimes you don’t even know why!!!

      I’ll be looking for that email Ang!!! LOVE you lots!
      xo
      Leslie

  14. 29

    Thank you for the info. Do you ever feel like Google is trying to take over the world – at least the cyberworld! I started using Rafflecopter this year and usually give people the option of either commenting on the post or on the RC form. Looks like I will take the blog comment option out of the mix. Love your blog by the way!

    • 30

      Hi Cake Mom,

      Yep I kinda do feel that way sometimes. Like they are the “Great Oz” behind a green curtain working their ‘magic’ while us little guys jump through hoops to to try to please them. Just who’s behind that curtain?? :) It’s kind of funny in a way, if I wasn’t pulling my hair out trying to please the googlemonster! :)
      xo
      Leslie

  15. 31

    Thanks for letting us know about this. I usually leave at least a sentence when I’m entering a giveaway and am asked for a comment. I’ve been marked as a spammer this week by Facebook because of liking and sharing. Since the advent of Rafflecopter bloggers have gathered together for huge giveaways that require liking way too many pages. Seems to me that I am sharing with people that have chosen to “like” me, so how can I be spamming??? I haven’t been able to use Rafflecopter , Facebook, or Google+ for five days…hope they unblock me soon! I appreciate the way you’ve run your giveaways and enjoy your non-contest posts, too!

    • 32

      Hi Cindy,

      I’m a SOLO blogger. :) This whole FB thing is just a nerve wracking mess isn’t it?! And remember you cannot like a Google+ page for entry into a giveaway either. :)
      Thanks for your kind words!
      xo
      Leslie

  16. 33

    I read this the other day and though it such a good article. I thought I’d commented, but today realized that my comment was in one of your giveaways but it also addressed this spam issue. I have had a few spammers hit my comments on Chat With Vera and they are usually pretty easy to sort out when I moderate them. I have only had a very few that Blogger/Google has actually caught as spam – at least to my knowledge.

    I find delight in finding items I can review after trying them out and then providing an opportunity for my readers to win the same. Kind of like being a channel of blessing to someone. I love the way you speak of “being blessed to…..” when you refer to your giveaways and reviews, Leslie. That is how I, too, feel.

    So this likelihood that Google will start to capture our reader’s short comments as spam is rather discouraging. That means we need to make certain as much as possible that our entry questions require a few more words than yes/no/brand-xyz/product-abc, etc.

    My blog doesn’t bring in any money, so if Google clips my wings, so to speak, it hurts.

    • 34

      Hi Vera,

      Your Blog, your rules:) Sort of:) But you can make a few dollars and be withing Google’s guidelines. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I do feel that blogging is a blessing for me. And that it IS a Blessing for my sponsors to provide products for my Readers to try. This is fun for me, my readers and my sponsors. But realize it is hard work. And it is discouraging when the threat of being penalized for spam looms because of “comments”??? Crazy!!!

      Thanks for your comments Vera, they are really appreciated!
      Leslie
      xo

  17. 35
    Kate a.k.a. Gwenelle says:

    I found this post through a similar one on “Blessed Beyond Words” … thanks so much for sharing this info! My blog has sort of been on hiatus for … omg … about a year now :( but I’ve been wanting to get it started up again, so it’s good to know this kind of thing before I relaunch. It’s so discouraging though, all the rules we as bloggers have to follow to be able to share things with readers without being flagged as trying to cheat the system!

    • 36

      Hi Kate,

      I love Angie and I was Glad she posted after reading what I wrote here. Being flagged by Google is something you want to avoid at all cost. So you need to be aware of the ins and outs of blogging.
      I’m a nurse by profession. Like most bloggers this is not my first job. I’ve learned along the way.

      Good luck starting up again Kate!
      xo
      Leslie

  18. 37
    Heather Johnson says:

    Can you show me Google’s official policy that indicates this information?

    • 38

      Hi Heather,

      Absolutely!

      http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2721437

      Google’s Webmaster Guidelines outline best practices for website owners, and the use of techniques that violate our guidelines may cause us to take action on a site. However, not all violations of our Webmaster Guidelines are related to content created intentionally by a site’s owner. Sometimes, spam can be generated on a good site by malicious visitors or users. This spam is usually generated on sites that allow users to create new pages or otherwise add content to the site.

      If you receive a warning from Google about this type of spam, the good news is that we generally believe your site is of sufficient quality that we didn’t see a need to take manual action on the whole site. However, if your site has too much user-generated spam on it, that can affect our assessment of the site, which may eventually result in us taking manual action on the whole site.

      Some examples of spammy user-generated content include:

      Spammy accounts on free hosts
      Spammy posts on forum threads
      Comment spam on blogs

      Since spammy user-generated content can pollute Google search results, we recommend you actively monitor and remove this type of spam from your site. Here are several tips on how to prevent abuse of your site’s public areas.

  19. 39

    Oh goodness! I had no idea but leave it up to Google. That is one bossy chick LOL Thanks for the info.

  20. 40

    I had no idea! I sometimes leave short comments on blogs because that’s all I have to say.

    • 41

      Hi Miss, :)

      I know, most of us didn’t realize. But comments from readers like “I’d love to win” are mistaken for spam. I have a reader who is STILL leaving the comment I’d love to win this prize. I cannot get him to stop. I want to throttle him each time he leaves it. It’s frustrating. And after hundreds of that same comment it’s tiring. It shows a lack of respect for my site. I supposed that’s why Google instituted a policy like this. Thank you for your comment! Much appreciated.
      Leslie
      xo

  21. 42

    Hi Leslie – I just heard about this via Jammie and wanted to chime in here that this is NOT true. As someone who has had YEARS of *writing* (yes, writing) for SEO blogs and has attended more SEO conferences than I can count (plus, I read SEO blogs every single day), your commenters can never sabotage your site for you. It’s about what you, the blogger, writes. If you provide good original content, the comments are just that: extra comments. Google will NOT zap you.

    I am sorry to say it but Kevin is wrong. Clearly SEO isn’t his forte.

    • 43

      Hi Tamar,

      I’m not basing my post on Kevin’s opinion Tamar. :) I’m basing it on Google’s own guidelines:

      According to Google: “If your site has too much user-generated spam on it, that can affect our assessment of the site, which may eventually result in us taking manual action on the whole site. Some examples of spammy user-generated content include…Spammy accounts on free hosts, Spammy posts on forum threads, Comment spam on blogs.” (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2721437)

      That I was penalized for and gave just one example of. So this is indeed a fact. I was and have always been diligent about removing real spam.
      Leslie

      • 44

        Hi Leslie, understood, and thanks for the link. You should also check out http://www.seroundtable.com/google-user-comment-penalty-16678.html
        And especially watch the video with the comments from Google’s John Mueller.

        When Google is referring to spammy content, it should be clear that content like “Thanks for the giveaway” is not spam. However, comment spam like XXYfdhfjkdsfhjsdfhjsfhjkdsf[URLgoeshere]hfjhfjds is (and I’m sure you get that; I get it across all of my sites). Also, the stuff that calls attention to medications that deal with male erections – that’s what Google means by comment spam. Or those weird words with little links to Louis Vuitton bags or Burberry Outlets.

        When bloggers adopt rules like “the comment must be at least 15 words long,” it’s misinformed. It’s not about the “spam” you see as a giveaway host. It is about the spam that all blogs, giveaway blogs included, receive. In other words, I strongly feel that you are in the clear. There’s no spam content here.

        • 45

          Hi Tamar,

          Thank you for your email. I used the disavow tool recently and received feedback directly from google letting me know that my comments (which I moderate heavily) were marked as spam due to exactly what I wrote about. With Google’s rules changing so frequently I wasn’t aware of this. But this is the case prior but make no mistake this IS what happened to me.
          Leslie

          • 46

            Then I guess I am confused since Google as in the post I linked to claims that is not the issue and is being said directly by Google’s Webmaster Central team. Did you watch it?

            • 47

              Hi Tamar,

              I did. :) I guess this is one instance where we are going to have to graciously agree to disagree. :) According to Google: “Comments may qualify as spam because there is a high number of short comments that artificially increase the percentage of keywords on a webpage.”

              I had 172 instances of the keyword “XXX” and “XXX” on one of my giveaways that was interpreted as spam by Google’s bots. This is only one instance. AND because I am a Giveaway and Review Blogger this happened frequently causing my site to be penalized. So yes, Reader comments can be misinterpreted as spam, unfortunately.

              I do appreciate your taking the time to comment Tamar.
              Leslie

              • 48

                Thanks. I guess I suppose I need to see the comments in question…cuz yeah, I might actually agree after all. I doubt that all of the comments or even the majority meet that criteria, though. You have pretty good content, and as far as I can tell, decent comments. ;)

                Have a great weekend :)

                • 49

                  Thank you so much Tamar,

                  You made my day. It kills me to delete comments. I love my Readers and each comment is precious to me. To get dinged my Google is bad enough but for reader comments? CRAZY!!
                  I’m so glad you took the time to comment and let me comment back to you and listen to what I had to say. Thank you so much. I appreciate it more than you know!
                  Leslie

  22. 51

    I got sent to Twitter jail recently after supposedly posting too many unsolicited tweets. I only had 130 tweets up to that point and they were all tweets that were requirements to enter various contests. My only followers are mostly bloggers and a few sponsors of these various contests, so I don’t see how they could be “unsolicited.” I don’t know if someone complained or Twitter just took it upon themselves to do this. I see people with thousands of tweets who post the same thing I do. Why did they zero in on me? I also got busted on Facebook once for basically the same thing. It’s really frustrating!

    One question, if you were to ask a question like “Would you rather win the red shoes or the blue shoes?” We can no longer just post the words “Red Shoes?” I would have to write 2 sentences about preferring the red shoes? All these rules by the Twitter, Google and Facebook cops sure make things difficult!

    • 52

      I agree Elenna,

      You can leave your comments on the Rafflecopter Entry form. :) And if you’d like to leave a comment on my blog that would be awesome too .

      You could say something about the company. Tell me what one or two products you like and why. Or tell me a product or two that you like and what you’ll use them for, who will use them or something along those lines.

      Thanks for your comment!!
      Leslie

    • 53

      Elenna,

      Twitter jail is if you tweet too much in a specified period. See this: What is Twitter Jail?

      100 tweets per hour (or 1000 per day) is pretty excessive. I realize some folks get there (especially when liveblogging at conferences), but 100 giveaways in an hour/1000 in a day is only something wonder woman can achieve. hehe :)

      So yeah. My recommendation would be to not do all the twitter entries or try not to enter so many! ;)

  23. 54
    Kevin Hicks says:

    Hello everyone,

    Google is all about user experience and the ability for users to find quality relevant information. There are a lot of spammers out there (most of them bots / scripts) where their sole purpose is to gain links back to their website or input their content on your blog posts so that it benefits them. In order for Google to improve it’s user experience they have to apply certain regulations that sometimes affect websites negatively. Some industries get hit harder than others. Giveaway websites that rely on comment posts and user interaction are getting hit hard. Some of these websites are being manually flagged by Google for various reasons. Google’s Guidelines are the best place to find information that’s reliable and up to date. Comment spam may not be your websites top issue that Google sees as reason to flag the website as a lower quality website. It’s likely not a huge issue for most websites. Giveaway websites are a tough industry to keep in Google’s good books and it might just be the combination of potential issues that could arise by being in this industry.
    1) Affiliate/Advertising links you want to add no follow so that it doesn’t pass link juice, 2) Duplicate content (Don’t copy too much of the offer, try to write it all yourself or only use small snippets of content from the actual prize or giveaway description. The rest of your content for the page should be original). 3) Comment spam: Be careful if you allow comments to be a part of the content of your page. If you allow comments to be indexed and part of your website content then this now is scanned as part of that web page content. Comments may qualify as spam because there is a high number of short comments that artificially increase the percentage of keywords on a webpage.

    In conclusion, keep your site content unique, add no follow links where necessary and ensure your comments are adding value to each page of your website. It’s all about the user experience. If a comment adds no value or is just a basic thank you, do you feel you should keep the comment on the page? This is a nice pat on the back to you. Although, do users want to scroll through a page full of ‘Thank you for posting’ comments on a popular blog? I know I’d prefer to just see the GREAT comments as a user. What is Google’s take on this. We all know Google is all about user experience and quality content. They may not state exactly in Google Guidelines to remove short comments even if they are not spam. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Well, I would have to stay safe and say that they are thinking the way I am also. User experience and quality content are KING!

    http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=81749
    (Scroll to the bottom of this page. There’s a link talking about where to find top keywords for your website through webmaster tools. This could showcase if your blog has too much keywords for irrelevant content and to find out if your blog has spam.)

    Thanks,
    Kevin

    • 55

      There you have it folks a great explanation from Kevin at ROI Web Hosting. Thank you so much Kevin. I appreciate the time you took to comment and I hope my readers will apply this to their own blogs.
      Leslie