Sorry if this is a topic that has been addressed, but I am pretty new to marketing on the web and would value your input on this question.
I am a regular on a couple of forums that get a lot of traffic and has a lot of solid posters who give great advice.
There have been a good number of spam posts that are pretty obvious spam and those get deleted. However, some of the spam is obvious to me (kind of like how photoshop folks can see bad compositing). There have been two pretty subtle ways of doing it.
The first method has been to post a helpful “review” or question with links to a product. The products are fairly well known on big online retailers. I am not seeing how this could possibly be effective, but then folks will respond to the original post as if it were a legitimate post and there are of course no follow ups by the OP. I have a tough time convincing folks this is spam, but it seems fairly obvious to me.
The second method is to post a short question that sparks a debate, and then go in after the debate and add links in the footer. This also seems to be of very low utility for whatever goals
I have two questions: what is the rationale behind spamming a forum in this fashion, and why the heck do people fall for it?
Does it actually accomplish anything? Is it a worthwhile strategy to use to promote a website?
Certainly not in on this site, or you’ll be banned. Spammers no doubt have some rationale for their actions, but at least as far as this site is concerned, we try to rub it out as quickly as possible. If you do see posts like that, please click the orange flag and report them.
Oh, I certainly wasn’t talking about this site. I see pretty good anti-spam controls here.
And I am not so interested in using this place to promote a site-- I have gotten a lot of legitimately good info here and try to do same for other folks
However, there are at least three other non-web-related forums where I have seen these dubious techniques used, and I am just curious if there really is any utility to them and why the heck people’s turing tests suck so badly that they don’t see spam…
First let me say that IMHO the only SEO experts are those that do or have worked for Google or another search engine. And even then I doubt if they know the complete details involved in how things work.
Judging from my experience with SPAM it seems that most SEO “experts” are not very intelligent. For the most part usually a case of “the blind leading the blind”.
Most often the focus is on getting a link-drop to boost the Page Rank with little to no thought regarding page authority, link density, page visibilty, click-through, … or any number of other factors much more important than simply getting a link on a web page.
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetically sad. For example
Scorch SEM, a Tampa SEO Sarasota Internet Marketing website SPAMs to help itself. To be fair, some facets of it’s business may be more professional, but it’s SEO techniques are pitiable.
It places links on forum pages that can’t be seen by search engines and never get visited by forum members. So the effort (albeit running a bot isn’t much effort) produces no benefit. Yet Scorch SEM continues to SPAM anyway.
But we’re talking about posts that do get seen.
Why do members reply? You may be surprised, but look hard to determine if those replying are SPAMmers themselves. eg. an alias or friend trying to make the post look legitimate, or another SPAMmer joining in to get their own “SEO boost”.
Well, there are actually a bunch of folks on the forums who are there as part of their marketing. They are actual industry folks or people whose business is related, and you will get PMs with offers for equipment or services.
I think that is a good thing: they are providing useful and helpful answers to people on the forum. Sometimes the conversations there are odd because it seems like about half the folks on the forum are there in that respect :D.
And it makes it kind of odd, because as a pro in that particular field my general answers are along the lines of “you don’t need more equipment/services, you just need to do something smarter”.
But I will look and see if I can see some patterns in that direction. But my intuition says that these folks just have a bad sense of what constitutes spam.
I saw someone do this just the other day on a heavily trafficked Internet marketing forum. A few astute people noticed, and the guy got called out, but others fell for it - hook, line, and sinker.
In answer to your questions, I think people do it because:
They read about “forum posting” in an ebook somewhere as a way to get traffic, but no one taught them about forum etiquette, so they just end up abusing the system because they don’t know any better.
Even though some people do know better, they do it anyway because it probably works to some extent.
As for why people fall for it, they could be naive, or they might not be falling for it at all…They could be participating in the thread because they know it’s a hot thread with a lot of traffic, so they stand a chance of more people seeing their own forum signatures.
Forums can be a fantastic way to get traffic and build relationships that result in sales, but only if it’s done right: