Matt Cutts Explains How To Avoid Spam Penalties From Blog Comments

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Matt Cutts Explains How To Avoid Spam Penalties From Blog Comments

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, answers a question about link spam in his latest video where a user writes in to ask:

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines discourage forum signature links but what about links from comments? Is link building by commenting against Google Webmaster Guidelines? What if it’s a topically relevant site and the comment is meaningful?

Matt begins his answer by saying that he leaves topically relevant comments on topically relevant sites all the time.

For example, Matt frequently leaves comments to debunk SEO conspiracy theories with a link to relevant information that shows why the author of the post isn’t correct. Sometimes he even links to his own blog rather than the Google Webmaster blog.

Lots of people do similar things all the time, which Matt says is completely fine. However, Matt goes on to warn us about certain spam signals that we should be concerned about.

Matt says when leaving comments, stick to using your real name rather than a keyword to be used as anchor text for a link back to your site.

Focusing too much on leaving blog comments for backlinks is also a bad idea, Matt explains. If your link portfolio is full of links from blog comments without any real people giving you natural links, that could be considered a link scheme.

If you’re just leaving relevant comments using your real name, Matt says that’s not something you should worry about at all.

So go ahead and leave me a comment letting me know what you think about Matt’s latest video! Just make sure to use your real name.

See the full video down below:

Matt Southern
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing... Read Full Bio
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  • Glenn Bearsky

    Quite an inspirational video! It makes me want to write a new eBook: “Million Dollar Baby : Why you should name your child after a Top-Money keyword and register an exact match domain for your newborn” 🙂

    • Matt Southern

      Haha! I wonder what Google would have to say about that one.

  • Matt O’Toole

    I’m with Google on this one. Spammy comments drive me nuts, especially when you see them on reputable sites (like this one,,, etc). I’m constantly having to delete spam comments on our own blog too. I wish some editors could see through the fake phrase/link to my site type comments too.

    • Matt Southern

      I have the same problem with spam comments on my blog as well, but in the end they’re only hurting themselves. It does make the comments section look bad though if they’re not deleted.

  • Przemek Bednarz

    one word – diversification

  • John

    I wonder how this comes up against negative seo. We have people working “in our name” using heavy keywords as their contributor name pointing to our site. It is a no follow link, but indeed the pattern is making a link scheme and how would you protect your sites against this? Also, if somone has only profile pages in forums (created with the single purpose to hurt another site), which give you do follow links (site url only) like phpBB and you get several competitor-made such links, how would you defend your site? I have examples for the two types of negative seo. It is a serious issue in both case.

    • Matt Southern

      That is a great question, John. Really the only thing you can do in this case is find where the links are coming from and disavow them. Also make sure you’re building enough high quality, real links to cancel out the malicious ones.

  • Norm

    Thanks you for posting this. I’ve recently received push back on blog commenting as a questionable SEO tactic. However I argue it is exactly the kind of content and user engagement that Google wants. We all know the difference between spam comments and comments from real people. Though the spam comments are getting better. A few times I wasn’t sure and I took a sentence from the post and did a Google search and low and behold, found thousands of exact matches.

    I do wish blog owners did a better job of protecting their own resources from this kind of activity, but meanwhile, good to know quality comments are still welcomed.

    • Matt Southern

      I agree, site owners could be doing a much better job of protecting themselves against these comments. I think one problem is that many people don’t recognize spam comments when they see them, which I bet is especially true for new blog owners. Raising awareness of spam comments is the best way to encourage site owners to be more proactive, which I hope this post has done.

      Quality comments will never be a bad thing, and I do thank you for yours!

  • Zac Johnson

    As an owner of multiple blogs, I’ve always hated seeing comments from people with “keywords” as their names and not having a real bio picture. I pretty much just delete them all now.

    • Matt Southern

      Same here, Zac. It’s annoying and time consuming, but it has to be done.

  • Dean Marsden

    I hope Google stays true to this as I think blog commenting is still a great way to a diverse and natural link profile. The problem is that is has been abused so much so that most webmasters just don’t enable commenting. Perhaps commenting systems such as Google+, Facebook and Disqus are they only way forward but its good that Matt Cutts still believes there is a valid and useful side to blog commenting.

    • Matt Southern

      Commenting via Google+ is an interesting idea! Imagine if leaving good quality comments contributed to Author Rank? It sure would encourage more interaction like this on blogs.

  • Danny D

    I’ll admit this was a tactic of mine years ago but I’ve since abandoned it. Any unnatural linking is not worth it anymore. A lot of these SEO companies which offer link strategies will no longer exist soon. The second I see someone putting a keyword in their comment that usually means that a non-contributing comment follows.

    • Matt Southern

      Well that’s good you haven’t abandoned commenting altogether. Do you find that your keyword-rich commenting tactic hurt you when the Penguin update starting rolling out?

      • Danny D

        Absolutely! How did you know that even happened to me ? or are you just taking a guess? As these updates are rolling out I think SEO is going to be down to a few tactics and how well you can leverage social media with your website.

  • Nate Balcom

    Seems fairly straight forward. All the steps Cutts implements are in the interest of returning valid reliable results. Relevance should always be favored.

  • Victoria Gumaer

    I think that it’s good that he addressed this publicly with some concrete examples of what is considered OK in terms of possible penalty, and what isn’t. As responsible practitioners move further along the earned media links path it’s going to be much easier to sell legitimate link-building services than it is right now. Having video documentation from a Google representative stating that overuse of blog commenting as a link-strategy is a bad practice is definitely something I can share with potential clients that are evaluating my services against “the cheap guy”.

    • Matt Southern

      Good point, Victoria. I’ll have to keep this in mind as well when potential clients are looking for quotes

  • Mohnesh Kohli

    My question Can we use our brand name instead of personal name like Megrisoft instead of Mohnesh Kohli

    • Matt Southern

      Hmm that’s a tricky question. Personally, after seeing this video, I wouldn’t want to use anything but my real name when commenting. I’d prefer to stay on the safe side. That’s going to have to be a judgement call I guess.