Your Blog Comments Could Be Hurting You
Untrustworthy claims are a quick way to get kicked off of Google, but there are places where they can sneak in without your noticing. A picture of a fit person without a disclaimer can be construed as an untrustworthy claim, for instance. There is one place, however, where false claims can be made without notice.
We had a client with a weight-loss product come to us. A competitor had left a comment on their blog with specific claims about the product, praising it in glowing terms and detailing how much weight they lost. Then the competitor ratted them out to Google. Google saw the claim and shut the site down – a classic case of misrepresentation. In the super-competitive world of weight loss products, shady practices like these aren’t uncommon. Fortunately, we were able to get them back online after a lot of work.
Now, if you’re running a large social media site, a blog comment with an untrustworthy claim isn’t going to get you shut down. Otherwise, most news sites wouldn’t be here and technically blog comments aren’t Google’s responsibility, but for Adwords advertisers it a big deal. A common tactic for comment spam is to make untrustworthy claims for products in news sites.
You must filter your comments before they go live on your blog. From Google’s perspective, if you sell a product or service, you are responsible for everything that is on the site even if it is user generated. And this makes sense. There’s nothing stopping a website from faking a bunch of blog comments (or disclaimers, or even reviews of a product) in an attempt to make themselves look good. If Google wants to keep their ad network clean and fair they have to guard against such things.
So how can you fight back? One good way to start is by requiring users to register before they can leave comments on your site. This, at least, gives you something to go on for finding trouble users who might sneak in comments like the one we talked about above. Second, every comment must be filtered for claims. Depending on the popularity of your product, yes, this can take a lot of time. But consider the alternative. You don’t want to suddenly lose AdWords access because of a rogue comment!