As a marketing guy working in the franchise industry, I keep myself informed by reading the news, and subscribing to blogs. The problem is there is not many good franchise-related blogs. Most of them are created by franchise directories with the sole purpose of writing articles stuffed with links to various pages on their site. That is pure blogging for SEO.
Last week, one of the blogs I follow (note that I am not linking to it) posted about how one of Guy Kawaski‘s people approached him to help create the new franchise page on AllTop.com. I thought it was pretty cool so I commented the following, adding my name and my company’s URL as it is common practice to do when filling out a comment form:
Congrats on being noticed by Guy’s team! Do you know how I can submit franchise-related content to the alltop?
That was a totally genuine comment. I was truly happy for this blogger that AllTop got in touch with him to put up the franchise section together.
The next few days following this comment I had made, I also posted two additional comments on his blog. These comments were related to choosing the right franchise and buying an existing business.
Today, I went back to the site to read a new post and realized that my 2 previous comments were not there. Hmm. I scrolled down and saw that my comment about AllTop was there with an additional comment so I opened the post to read this follow up comment. This comment was posted by the blogger, telling me I was spamming to get links back to my “weak ass franchise site”.
I picked up the phone and called him as he gives his phone number on his blog (which I think is a great idea). I told him my name and he didn’t seem to connect the dots as he was welcoming me with a warm “Hi Sebastien, how are you?”. Then I told him I was the guy who commented on his blog and that he accused me of spamming. The tone of his voice changed right away and he went on telling me he gets many spam comments every day and that I was just commenting to get a link back.
I was really hurt that this guy labeled me as a spammer. I tried to explain to him that I don’t care about his link back for several reasons.
- It’s a TyPad blog (I hate those). When you post a comment, your link doesn’t even show up as it does on WordPress with the nofollow tag. Instead, the URL showing is a redirect from TypePad to my site. So if you put your mouse over my name, you will not see http://www.worldfranchising.com as the URL, but you will see something like http://www.typepad.com/t/comments?__mode=red&user_id=2125124&id=132339572. While Google supposedly pays no attention to nofollow URLs, it has been demonstrated in the past that Google actually use these for “discovery”, aka, finding new pages. However, I have nothing to gain by having a redirect such as the one mentionned above to my site. The only benefit would be that someone may click on my name and go to my site, which brings me to point #2.
- This blog is never commented on which could mean several things: a) it gets no traffic. I really doubt it though as it ranks pretty well for some key keywords. b) there is traffic but traffic leaves the site right away, which is likely to happen as people come here looking for franchise info and most likely don’t find what they want. c) comments are deleted by the blogger himself as they come, in which case, why don’t you turn off the commenting feature?
- Understanding the 2 points above, why would I waste my time commenting on his blog, other for the genuine purpose of commenting and creating a conversation on some of his interesting posts? That’s the question.
I tried to convince him that I wasn’t spamming him, told him about the other comments that were meant to show a different point of view (ie. he was saying you have to love a franchise to buy it. I was saying that it’s true, however some businessmen buy franchises without giving a shit about the product. These are the true business people who are not involved in the day to day operation but they are highly involved in creating a business vs. operating it). On the other comment, I was trying to get the blogger’s opinion as he pointed out to an interesting article that basically said that it is safer to buy an exisiting business. I asked the blogger what he thought about it. After all, I come to his blog to get his opinion, not the one of a newspaper article…
My attempt to convince him of my good faith was vain. He still thinks I am a spammer and that I do this to get links back to my “weak ass franchise site”. This was very insulting too. I asked him if he knew my boss. He said he didn’t. Very strange, as everyone in this industry knows Rob.
During our phone conversation he mentioned he had relationships with other franchise directories (our competition), which I think was the real reason for not adding my comments. He just doesn’t want people to potentially leave his site to go to mine.
I asked him to at least kindly remove my comment and his comment about me being a spammer, which he agreed to. He didn’t have to but I think it’s fair. I just checked the post again and he just removed his comment about me spamming his blog. He left my comment on and I can appreciate that.
The moral of this story is that if you have a blog, you will always expose yourself to spamming. I get a lot of spam every day (especially on the iPhone Download Blog – which by the way reached over 8,000 people yesterday!) and if it is too flagrant that it is spam (like “I love your blog, thank you so much”), I simply delete the comment and mark it as spam. If the comment is somewhat genuine and the URL is the one of a personal blog, I approve it. If the comment is somewhat genuine and shows the URL of a foreign currency exchange type-of-website, I just edit the comment and remove the link. Doing this, I don’t give the SEO juice to the spammer but I keep the community feel of my blog alive. Because that’s what blogging is all about: telling what you think and also being able to hear what others are thinking.