Recently, I discovered that Akismet banned one of my sites.
I’ve used blog commenting as a means to build back links for years. Through all the updates to Google’s ranking algorithms and quality filters, dropping a URL in a blog comment has always produced great results; it’s the one strategy that I trust and depend on.
And let me be clear — when I comment, I always produce a well-written, on-topic blurb that is often like a mini-article in and of itself. I put in the time and effort to give something of value back to the high quality blogs that I comment on. These are the kinds of blogs that have high PR value and offer do follow links.
Well, blog commenting worked great until Akismet labelled me a comment spammer!
My troubles with Akismet began a year ago when I realized that commenting frequently led to a blank screen (the white screen of confusion) after hitting the ‘submit’ button. After some trial and error with the input fields, I realized that only my email address had been banned.
Feeling the indignation, I contacted Akismet and debated my status as a spammer. In their response, they insisted that my commenting behavior was spam-like enough to warrant a ban. Obviously, I was pretty upset, but the workaround was easy; I just used a new email address.
So I went back to my regular blog commenting without much consequence. But some months later, I must of hit their spam filter once more. This time they took the ultimate step to stop me — they banned my site’s domain address!
The reason why they’ve taken action against me, twice now, is likely because I was commenting too frequently.
I had totally forgotten, but Akismet had actually warned me about this when I had contacted them about my banned email address. Somehow, I let this essential piece of knowledge slip from memory.
You see, I like to open a bunch of blog URL’s to comment on at once (I often use Scrapebox to find them in batches). I’ll hand write the comments one after another. Unfortunately, Akismet considers this as spamming, regardless of the quality and relevance of my comments.
I think it can be said that this method of back link building is just not acceptable as far as Akismet is concerned. Even if you post in small numbers and produce high quality comments, you’re still at risk for getting banned, because some blog owners will label any comment with an accompanied link as spam. The more you comment, the more likely you will one day get slammed by the filter.
So does this mean I’m officially done with blog commenting? No way — it works too well. I just need to be more careful, and, well, expect that sometimes the worst will still happen.
Here are my personal guidelines going forward:
Keep your commenting as spaced out as possible:
I don’t know how many comments Akismet will allow you to post per day, or hour, but considering what’s at risk, keep this number very low.
Target high value blog posts:
Make commenting worth its risk. Look for posts with high PR and do follow back links.
Target blogs that already have approved comments with back links:
If the blog you’re visiting doesn’t appear to have any comments with backlinks, it’s possible that they don’t accept such comments. Even worse, they may automatically label comments with backlinks as spam.
Know when to use keywords:
Some blogs will allow you to use keywords in place of your name, others will consider this as spam. Look at existing comments to determine what’s acceptable.
Target blogs with recent commenting activity:
If you’re on a blog with no recent comments, it’s possible that the moderator has given up approving comments, especially if it’s a high value blog that likely attracts tons of spammers. Perhaps the blog owner carelessly clears out their moderation queue by instinctively hitting the ‘spam’ button. Certainly, the vast majority of comments awaiting their approval will be of this variety.
Write your best on blogs that use Keyword Luv and CommentLuv:
Blogs that use these plug-ins are usually strictly moderated, because they inevitably attract hordes of spammers. Use your best writing and hit a higher word count to stand out from lesser efforts.
Build your own your blog list:
Always write down which blogs have approved your comments so that you can use these sources again in the future. As a bonus, you’ll be able to reference your previously approved comment(s) to quickly check what level of writing is needed to ensure an approval.
I use a spreadsheet and note the post URL that I commented on, with details regarding its PR value, do follow status and use of KeywordLuv or CommentLuv plug-ins. Also, if the blog has any quirks — a hard to find submit button or no post confirmation — I make note of these details.
Getting unbanned from Akismet
Most people agree that once you’re banned by Akismet, requesting to get off their blacklist is near-hopeless. But there is a way to get your site unbanned if you can get enough of your future comments approved. This is, of course, quite difficult, as all of your comments will be going straight to a blog’s spam list. What this means is, the moderator will first need to find your comment in their spam list, set it as ‘not spam’ and then approve it from their pending list.
If you own other blogs, or you have friends who run blogs, you’re best commenting on these sites to ensure that your approval numbers go up. With any luck, you might be able to re-train Akismet to not ban your site.
So that’s my rant about Akismet. If you’d like to share any tips about how to stay off their radar, please tell!