User generated content is a great way for your blog or website to increase reach in the search engines. SEO has always depended on quality content and allowing users to provide that content seems like an easy decision. Not so fast! As much as Google loves quality content, it despises spam.
If you have a website that has an unmonitored comments section, you might need to start checking in periodically. There are many entities spamming these comments sections, placing links back to their own websites in an effort to boost their search rankings, creating user generated spam. This can lead to a punishment of your webpage, something you obviously want to avoid.
What You Can Do
Moderate your comments section and remove spammy messages. Wordpress allows you to set up a system where comments must be approved before they are posted in your comments section. If you have the time to read through and approve the comments, you should take this approach. If you cannot monitor multiple comments, then make sure that when a user does place a link, it is automatically “nofollow.” Google has a great page explaining no follow links, and why/ where you should use them.
If you do receive a penalty, you will see it in your Google Webmaster tools messages. This will give you an opportunity to fix the issue and submit a reconsideration request to remove the manual punishment. Google may provide you with more detailed information AFTER you submit the request to clear up any other problem areas on your website.
The take home message is the necessary need for management of user-generated content sections of a website. Without rules or a moderator in place, spammers will take advantage, and you will end up with the punishment.