Friday Finds – Facebook Hashtags, Google and CommentLuv do-follow Links

by Sherryl Perry on June 14, 2013

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This week’s post in the weekly “Friday Finds” series raises the questions: Do clickable Facebook hashtags raise privacy issues? Are you concerned that Google will penalize your CommentLuv enabled blogs for do-follow links? Would you buy a book to teach your toddler how to code a website in HTML?

Hashtags on Facebook

Facebook is joining other social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and Instragam by supporting the use of #hashtags. You can already include hashtags but the new feature that Facebook is rolling out (over the next few weeks), makes them clickable. Mobile apps won’t support hashtag feeds yet but you will be able to insert hashtag phrases into your blog posts from mobile. (Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said that the company is making it easier to find things on Facebook.)

The introduction of hashtags to Facebook is once again raising privacy concerns. Because status updates containing hashtags will be easier to find, they will be more visible across the network. A good article to read on this is Facebook Hashtags: Time to Go Over Those Privacy Settings Again which was posted on ABCNews.com.

An interesting article that I found on Forbes.com is 5 Reasons Businesses Should Care About Hashtags by Steve Cooper where he presents creative ways that businesses are using hashtags. After you read his article, you may want to re-think how you’re using them. To learn more about hashtags including tips on how to promote your business and which hashtags are trending, visit hashtags.org.

CommentLuv Do-Follow Links and Google

We’re approaching the final days of the CommentLuv Premium Last Chance sale that I blogged about earlier this week and Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) asked my opinion if I was concerned that Google is now penalizing sites that have do-follow links in their comments. I’ve always been concerned about having links to spammy sites which is why I love the feature (in the premium version of this plugin) that allows you to keep a comment and either remove the link or remove the do-follow tag and keep the link.

When I asked Andy Bailey (the author of CommentLuv Premium) to reply to Suzanne, Andy included a link to a Matt Cutts video where he discusses “Can having dofollow comments on my blog affect its reputation?” Granted, the video was uploaded in 2010 but I haven’t seen or read anything recently from Matt Cutts addressing Google penalizing do-follow links. (Please let me/us know if you have read or seen anything official from Google relative to this topic.)


In the video, Matt talks about using editorial discretion. There’s no substitution for being diligent about what we’re linking to. CommentLuv blogs attract more spam. That’s a fact. Many people who are trying to increase their SEO by getting links will target you. It’s up to you to try to prevent them. If you start to get a lot of comments, it can be time consuming to manage them. That’s when it may be at a point that you need to rethink your overall strategy and determine whether it’s time to discontinue using the CL plugin and switch to another commenting system.

Should Coding be Taught in Schools?

A few weeks ago, I shared the “What most schools don’t teach” video that promotes teaching children to code. This week, thanks to Jerry Silfwer (aka Doktor Spinn), I learned that there’s a children’s book about HTML coding. You can find out more about it here: Meet Cody The Coder — A Children’s Book That Teaches Kids HTML. To quote Doktor Spinn, “Even adults can learn a lot from this.”

Over to you:

What are your thoughts about hashtags on Facebook? Have you read or seen anything from Google that substantiates the concerns that have been raised over the risk of being penalized by allowing do-follow links on your CommentLuv enabled blog? I’m aware of other bloggers who are concerned. Personally, until I learn more about this, I’m continuing to allow do-follow links but I do make it a habit to frequently review the CL links and remove any that I don’t want to be associated with. As I investigate this and learn more, I’ll share.

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zibby April 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

Do you think that if everyone stops do follow links and sets their websites all to to nofollow links that google is going to be forced to consider nofollow? And if this is the case then wont spammers start again?

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Honestly, I think that as long as Google is getting paid for search, that they won’t care whether we make our links no-follow. Organic search traffic is not their bread and butter.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Hi Chetan,
Thanks for joining the conversation. I’m a big believer in CommentLuv even though using it definitely encourages spammers. It’s a great way to build a community on yoour blog.
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Mike October 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Hi Sherryl,I found your blog whilst looking for info on using hashtags in Pinterest – not only did I find that info but also a lot more useful stuff – you cover just about everything which is refreshing.On the subject of hashtags I followed some links from in here but still have one lingering question – applying the hashtag to a keyword phrase, e.g. #red widets are useful, if tha keyword phrase is contained within a sentence then how do you \’limit\’ the content you want tagged?, e.g. using the above example, if it was #red widgets are useful because they are better than blue widgets which has been proven in a number of recent surveys. These surveys …..Does the whole sentence get tagged up until the full stop? looking forward to some input please,cheers, Mike

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Mike,
I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you sooner. Somehow, your comment got by me. I’m not sure if there’s a way to limit the content that will show up when you post with a hashtag or even why you would want to limit what is returned if someone is searching. The key is to only use hashtags that are relevant to your content. Doing this can help with SEO.

BTW – Thanks for letting me know how you found me!
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dare khuji
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 11:29 am

Hi Sherryl,

A respected friend recently removed the commentLuv plugin; and this adds to my perception on the issue of blog spamming.

I think I will need to get the premium plugin once I migrate my BlogSpot to my new website.

Regards,

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Hi Dare,
There have been quite a few respected bloggers who have moved away from CommentLuv. I believe there’s also quite a few of us left who continue using it. Personally, I think that a lot of the bloggers who moved away from it have reached the point where they have built such a strong community of bloggers that most of them are not looking for the backlink and they’ll continue to comment. For those bloggers who are still trying to build their community, CL can be a huge incentive. It does encourage spammers though. There’s no getting around it. The premium plugin does make it much easier to manage them.
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Aileen C. Crane July 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

I agree with your point about not owning the comments. I think that’s a pretty strange way for Google to behave regarding how this works. I guess it’s just like using Disqus it’s also the same, you don’t own your comments ever. Over the long term, I think it will help, I’m looking back at 2007, 2008, 2009 and my blog has a ton of garbage comment links to sites that don’t even exist anymore! Cleaning this up has been a nightmare for me. bbrian017 recently posted.. How to Hit the Front Page of Blog Engage?

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Aileen,
Sorry I missed your comment! (I’m just reading it now.) You raise a good point about Disqus comments. I just went through a massive link cleanup after my site was penalized by the recent Google algorithm changes. I wrote about some of the tools that I used and I attached a link to it below (in case you’re interested in reading it). I found that the brokenlinkcheck.com site was extremely helpful.
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Justin June 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I see, so that’s why I’ve been seeing hashtags already in Facebook. But everyone should be careful of using hashtags because followers in Facebook are in wide range. Perhaps there are some hashtags that shouldn’t be shared to a certain age group. It all still matters on responsible posting. And about coding to be taught in school? Definitely!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Justin, That’s a great point about using discretion when using hashtags. Actually, I’m not sure what age is appropriate for even being on Facebook. I’m definitely all for teaching coding in school though!
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Amy Hagerup
Twitter:
June 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

HI Sherryl, This is very interesting. I’ve started utilizing hashtags in FB myself but haven’t tried to follow any yet. Regarding commentluv, I just removed about 90 broken links in my oldest blog that were from dofollow links on comments! That took me a long time but I was so glad to get them cleared out. I was able to keep the comment and just remove the bad link, so that was good. There sure is a lot to keep up with when we are blogging. Thanks for your tips. I put you in my google plus circles too. Nice to meet you. blessings, Amy

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Amy,
Did you run the CommenLuv Link Checker script that Andy Bailey wrote? I ran that over a month ago and it took hours to complete. Now, I’m manually going through all of my comments and aggressively removing do-follow tags from sites that I don’t want to be associated with. I’m also checking the links of any sites that I’m not familiar with. Thankfully, many of the links are from bloggers who I know and trust. So, I can skip over them but I’m finding a lot of dead sites and 404 errors. It’s labor intensive but necessary.

You are so welcome! It”s nice to meet you also and I’ll circle you too.
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Jeremy Norton June 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

Thanks for sharing these updates. I haven’t been updated lately with what are the latest.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm

You’re welcome Jeremy. I started the Friday Finds series a couple of months ago and it’s been well received. It’s a great way to foster conversations too.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds – Google Author Rank, Digg’s RSS Reader, Hashtags & PinterestMy Profile

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
June 20, 2013 at 12:37 am

Sherryl — I know the big-time bloggers all have nofollow so they get the SEO benefit. and people who are legitimate don’t always want to comment on blogs that are no-follow, but with the amount of spam now, I think it is prudent to have all nofollow comments. That’s the default setting in CommentLuv. You have to check the dofollow box if you want dofollow. Unfortunately, it’s the world we live in.

I like CommentLuv because of the exposure it brings to my posts, but also it gives me the opportunity to visit the commenter’s blog and return the favor. I’m getting much more selective in who I allow to comment. If their website is at all questionable I don’t post the comment.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Jeannette, Up until I read Susan’s comment, I was still allowing do-follow for people who had left 10 approved comments. (I had upped that from 5 about a month ago.) I try to be more selective in what comments I allow and what links I allow too. The ability to strip both links and do-follow tags at the individual comment level is a huge advantage of the premium version of CL but it has been getting time consuming handling the recent influx of spam.

BTW – Don’t be surprised if you suddenly start seeing the Google+ commenting system here (along with CL). I’ve really been stepping up my presence on G+ in general and I can now see how using their comment system would make sense for me.

Kimberly Castleberry
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I love that we are getting more robust in how early we are teaching coding. I also love that coding is become more of an everyday element and isn’t just left to a few elites. Most people and segments can benefit from knowing at least a little. It’s fun to see this expand.
Kim
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Hi Kim,
I feel the same way that you do about teaching coding at a young age. Most children will pick it up easily. Last week, we were in awe when our 10-month old granddaughter taught my mom how to swipe photos on an Android. It turns out that my daughter-in-law had downloaded a baby app that she had been playing with. This generation is growing up on technology. It’s time the schools adapted.
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Ana Hoffman
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 12:49 am

Great collection, Sherryl – had no idea you do news roundups.

Personally, I am not a big fan of hashtags; that’s why I love it that G+ adds hashtags automatically – one less thing to worry about. lol
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi Ana,
Thanks! I started roundups a little over a month ago. I’m sure you’ll be seeing one of your posts here soon. I don’t feature many at once because I like to write a little recap and foster a discussion if I can.

I don’t mind hashtags on Twitter but I can’t imagine how they’ll be used on FB. That tends to get so cluttered anyways. We’ll see!

Gaurav Sharma
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Facebook is slowly- slowly copied many social networking sites to remain in the competition of Social Media and One more attempt done by Facebook is hashtags. But, what is this?? Hashtags without having a proper search like twitter. It is full of crappy update made by Facebook. May be the days of Facebook mania come to end soon…

God Bless Mark ZukerBerg and Facebook. A drowning ship

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Gaurav,
It will certainly be interesting to see what becomes of Facebook hashtags. As I learn more, I’ll revisit this topic. (Probably by sharing posts that I find in my Friday Finds articles.) Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I stopped the do follow on CommentLuv a while ago after reading an article which I can’t remember as I was getting too much spam and I didn’t want to waste time checking out links. The one thing about the Hastags on Facebook is I question the necessity of it. In theory I can understand it but is it wanted by those on Facebook or only by Facebook.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

That’s interesting Susan that you stopped the do-follow. I wonder how many other bloggers have done that. I’ll have to pay closer attention to it.

That’s a good question about who wants hashtags on Facebook. My guess is that most of the FB users will be annoyed by it but we’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, there will be some pluses for businesses. As I learn more, this topic will probably end up as one of my Friday Finds.

Susan Cooper
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Hashtags are not something I have done much with. partly because I’m a novice at it and need to learn more about it and it capabilities.

As far as the “do versus don’t follow” feature, I have read that it is something that needs to be watched. In a nutshell, it all boils done to the site reputation.

I think teaching coding is something that needs to be explored. Again it will all depend on the quality of the teacher. A good teacher will make it valuable, a bad teach could do more harm then good. Just my thoughts for today. 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I agree with you Susan about the do-follow tags. I believe it comes down to diligently monitoring the links to the comments that we approve on our sites. It’s an effort but one that I believe is worth it.

I agree with you about needing good teachers but that’s true of any subject. (I personally do not enjoy history at all at least in part to my experience with a 7th grade student teacher. History probably would never have been a favorite subject of mine but his method of teaching was atrocious. Unfortunately, the teacher who was supervising him condoned it.)

Catarina
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hashtags is obviously something I have to start using. The Forbes article was useful. Will later this summer start a hashtag on a project I’m developing with someone. Then we can hopefully spread news more efficiently and get more people involved.

Personally never write anything online that I would not want the whole population of the world to read, so I’m not concerned about privacy on Facebook.

Think the Swedish book on how to teach kids how to code is a great idea. By the way, Doctor Spinn is the person Dino introduced me to:-)
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Catarina,
Thanks for letting me know that you found the Forbes article useful. I don’t normally go directly to that site but I seem to read a lot of tweets with great articles from them.

I am the same way as you when it comes to Facebook. I will sometimes share a limited amount of personal info but it’s nothing that I would worry about anyone seeing.

Doctor Spinn sounds like a great connection. I’m glad Dino introduced you to him. (Thanks to both of you networking in my comment section!) 🙂 – Good luck with your project.

Silviu
Twitter:
June 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

Hi Sherryl,

1. About do follow links and commentluv. I have 1 question, for you and for everybody:

Do you really think that switching to other commenting system (like G+, for example) will determine the spammers to avoid targeting you?
I think it’s just the sheer power of novelty and social thinking. There is no hurry. I’ll wait and see.

2. Coding in schools? It’s a GREAT idea but only if it’s OPTIONAL. There are children with a mind structure that rejects technology, maths etc. They will experience enormous difficulties if forced to learn coding. For many this is a surefire way to develop code allergy.

Have a nice day
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

Hi Silviu,
You raise great questions as always. Here are my thoughts (and I encourage others to weigh in on this as well).

1. With CommentLuv, we get a lot of robot spammers that are crawling the web looking for the do-follow tag. With Google+, we’ll be getting more human spammers (from people who are paid to create Google+ accounts for link-building scams). At least with CommentLuv, we have a moderation queue. You don’t have that with G+ comments.

2. I think coding could be introduced around the 4th grade level. I believe it should be fun and everyone should be exposed to it. It’s my belief that children at that age would be very receptive to learning it. Even if it were only once or twice a week, if they could have a short lesson and actually see the results (for example, they programmed something simple that they could see work), they would just absorb it. (BTW – I’m an ex-teacher and the proud grandmother of a 10-month old who recently taught my mother how to swipe pictures on a smart-phone. This generation is teething on technology. 🙂 )

You have a nice day too!

Leora Wenger
Twitter:
June 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm

If the teacher can teach kids well and knows code, yes, sure, teaching the basics of coding at a young age is a fabulous idea. But give the code to a lousy teacher, and kids may hate coding for life.

Regarding spammy links, someone today left two very intelligent comments on my blog. I at first approved one comment, then I visited the link and found pornography. That got unapproved and spammed fast. Sigh. I’ll be following the discussion on Comment Luv.

One of the problems in general with FB is that people say all sorts of stuff and think their privacy settings will keep those comments private. Whatever happened to if you tell five friends, then they tell ten friends … I discourage people from posting anything they don’t want posted in the New York Times, even if they do have the privacy settings on.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
June 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I think that’s true of any subject Leora. I owe my loathing of History to a 7th grade student teacher who absolutely killed the subject for me.

Yikes! I’ve rejected many spammy links before but I’ve never found one to a porn site before. (Hopefully, I never will.) What makes me mad is when I’ve grown to trust and respect a blogger and then (rather than continuing to link to a site that is somewhat relevant to my niche), they switch gears and start linking to sites that are riddled with ads. Honestly, in the back of my mind, I’m toying with the idea of establishing a policy that the only CL links I’ll accept need to (in my eyes) add value to the readers of my blog.

As for FB, my 30+ year old daughter is guilty of sharing cartoons and pics that I think could be harmful if a potential employer were to check out her page. They’re basically innocent yet sometimes they include words that I would never use. I try to discourage her too but to no avail. At least I don’t think she know what a hashtag is (yet).

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