If you’re doing SEO, you’re probably doing link building, and if you’re doing link building, you might be doing guest blogging as a tactic. Despite Google saying that it’s done as a tactic a while back, I think it’s still a good, viable strategy – if you’re doing it properly, of course.
When it comes to comments sections, the issue with guest blogging is that you’re relying on someone else to manage and administrate the comments for you. On your own blog, you may choose not to have comments on blog posts at all, but if you do, you’ll probably check them and approve/deny them before they go live – and even so, you’d probably get a notification if a new comment is pending. If it’s a guest blog post then you’re leaving that process in the hands of someone else. Some of them actually notify you as the author (e.g. I get notified of comments against my posts on State of Digital), but not always…
I had a heart attack when a client’s guest post had a negative ‘troll’ comment against it. For six months. Neither me, the client nor the blog owner spotted it until I happened to check something on the post and caught it then.
The nightmare moment
Ironically, I discovered the troll comment because I was contacting another blog about a guest posting opportunity and they wanted to see other examples of the writer’s work, so I went onto the site to dig it out. It was only then that I discovered the offending comment (…and obviously I didn’t share it with the person who wanted to see examples – for obvious reasons, heh).
There were already two comments against it. The first one thought that something we’d said in the post was wrong, so they argued against it. A second comment acted as if to say “are you sure?” in response to the first comment. The third comment was pure trolling – all it said was: “Chat sh*t, get banged – Jamie Vardy” and embedded(!) this NSFW image of a footballer* giving the middle-finger to someone off-camera. Lovely.
* Presumably Jamie Vardy – I know sod-all about football.
The commenting system being used by the blog was Disqus. When I spoke to the blog owner, he said something along the lines of “ahh sorry, if Disqus doesn’t detect that it’s spam then it goes ahead and auto-publishes it.” …I’m sorry, what? Holy crap. So I could make the most ludicrous, offensive comment on one their posts and – so long as it’s not seen as spammy – then it’ll not only make it onto the site, but neither the blog owner nor the author are even informed of its existence?! Jeeeez.
Fortunately, he was happy to delete it, as it contained swearing, so an obvious breach of the community guidelines. We kept the other two live though – I’m all for happy n’ healthy debate/discussion, so that was fine by me. They’re also decided to ‘close’ their comments temporarily site-wide while they look at a better solution (or simply a better Disqus configuration) so as to avoid this from happening again.
Establishing a process to check old posts
It’s as simple as this: if you’ve been guest blogging, and you’ve had a fair few posts published, routinely check them for new comments. This is good practice if the post is brand new anyway (and some bloggers expect you to respond to comments – not simply publish the post and then skedaddle), but it’s easy to forget if the post is months or even years old.
Set a reminder to check posts. Even if it’s just once a month, as a quick 5-minute task, at least you’re catching any offending comments while they’re fairly new and not months old…
Asking the question of bloggers
- Does your blog publish comments? If not then that’s fine. Of course, you might be able to see this for yourself without even having to ask the question…
- Do your comments ‘close’ after a while? I think this is implementable via WordPress, i.e. comments close on a post once it’s been live for 30 days, for example. Other platform may honour it, too.
- Will I be notified of any new comments?
- Who manages your comments? Do you check them before they go live?
If any of the answers are shifty (e.g. “all comments go live without checking”), then you might wanna give it a miss and move onto the next opportunity. You have been warned, friends…
Got any guest blogging and/or commenting horror stories to share? Leave a comment below… but no sweary footballer pics, ok? Good.