Welcome to Sur.ly Help Service!
Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about Sur.ly, its features, security and administration. If you can't find the answer to your question in this FAQ, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Sur.ly?
Sur.ly is a plugin for content and forum management systems, powered by its own web service, which enables webmasters and site owners to control and analyze any outbound links published by site visitors in user-generated content (such as comments and forum posts).
Spam or unsafe links in user-generated content can involve your website into a bad link neighborhood (irrelevant or improper content - adult, malware, gambling sites etc), thus cause problems with Google search algorithms and harm your site positions (or violate AdSense policies that do not tolerate any spam). Sur.ly provides features that can help you ensure quality and safety of user-generated content: it takes any user-posted outbound links which safety is not yet approved under control. At the same time, Sur.ly tracks user activity on links posted in comments and forum posts, and can assist in retaining visitors.
How can I use Sur.ly?
You can use Sur.ly to fight spam hyperlinks, retain site audience and analyze visitor activity on user contributed outbound links. In general, Sur.ly combines the following features:
- Anti-spam protection. Protect your website and its visitors from accidental spam links that can lead to malware, adult or phishing sites and content.
- User retention tools. Help a number of visitors that follow safe outbound links in comments or forum posts easily find their way back to your site.
- Outbound links tracking. Analyze user-generated links on your site in terms of their popularity and other important metrics, such as visitor exits and returns.
How does Sur.ly work?
Sur.ly replaces any user-posted outbound links which safety is not yet approved with its indirect safe links to the same target pages (Sur.ly redirects them via its servers). Its aim is to avoid involving your site into a potentially bad link neighborhood with suspicious outer websites. You can whitelist trusted domains and users to leave their links untouched.
If a link leads to some malefic content, Sur.ly will detect it and take certain precautions to prevent users from accessing it immediately (see 'How does Sur.ly fight spam?'). As for safe outbound links, they can also be taken under control with the use of special retention toolbar (see 'How does Sur.ly retain visitors?').
How does Sur.ly fight spam?
Sur.ly can be highly effective as a part of a combined anti-spam solution, making your site non-sensitive to spam attacks. Even the most powerful spam prevention firewalls that you may use on your site have a considerable chance to fail and let some unwanted links be published by spammers in comments or forum posts; unlike Sur.ly that can instantly eliminate such accidental spam breaches.
Sur.ly fights spam using simple and reliable method: it automatically alters all user-generated links to reduce a potential danger for both your site and its users. In other words Sur.ly helps you to deal with the following tasks:
- Preventing malicious outbound links: if any user-generated outbound links that do not belong to trusted domains or trusted users (you can set them up manually) are posted on your site, they will be redirected to their target pages via Sur.ly servers. In case of spam, this action will help your site avoid bad link neighborhood, retaining your site's safety status. Later you may check these suspect links manually to decide on their relevance and safety.
- User protection: Sur.ly keeps users away from malware or adult content. Whenever your visitor follows an unsafe link posted in user-generated section of your site, Sur.ly will display an interstitial page with the warning message. It will prevent users from getting their computers infected or viewing inappropriate content, while leaving an opportunity to learn more about the page safety issues ('Learn More') or ignore the warning and follow the link anyway ('Open anyway').
How does Sur.ly retain visitors?
Sur.ly can work on user-generated outbound links that are formally safe and relevant. While sharing some helpful links can be an essential part of conversation between members of your community, such outbound links can lead some visitors away from your site to other resources, so these visitors leave your site for good. No problem for Sur.ly - it can help retain those visitors with the help of its toolbar.
Sur.ly toolbar appears on top of every external page that visitors may access via shared links on your site. It displays your content (such as recent posts and main menu) to users, and lets them keep an eye on your updates while browsing the external sources. The toolbar can be customized according to your preferences.
Sur.ly toolbar provides users with the following information and tools:
- Reference to your website: active URL and favicon of your site on an external page.
- Quick access to your site's main menu (customizable): you may add your website sections into this menu to help users select one of them to return to.
- Latest updates from your website (customizable): use your RSS feed to provide users with your fresh content entries which they can click on and return to your site.
- Sharing options: users can share a page with Sur.ly toolbar atop on social media, so their friends will open this page with the reference to your site.
- Quick drop-down report on domain safety issues and popularity rates, including Alexa rank, daily visitors, pageviews, etc.
How does Sur.ly help to track outbound links?
Sur.ly comes with dashboard that allows you to analyze a set of helpful metrics on user-generated outbound links, including numbers and durations of user visits. This data can be accessed via your account on Sur.ly website:
Sur.ly dashboard helps to analyze:
- Outbound links: learn the popularity of links posted by users (see the 'visits' and 'unique visits' count for each link per a selected period of time) and how long visitors stay on each of the external pages linked to yours ('visit duration').
- Exit pages: learn which of your pages have the highest counts of user redirections to external pages and which of the user-generated outbound links are most attractive to visitors.
- Return pages: learn the number of returns to your pages via Sur.ly toolbar and see which external pages your visitors return from.
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content includes comments, forum posts and some other ways for users to express their opinions, ask questions or share some information. Having user-generated content on your site is a good indicator of user activity - it means that your content is good enough to arouse interest of your visitors. Such a burst of user activity can be a great chance to enrich your content with some helpful comments and valuable shares (links) contributed by users, and thus attract\retain even more of new visitors (i.e. keep building the regular audience for your website).
Why care about user-generated content?
Contributing useful links at some point of conversation might be a legitimate way for users to interact on your website. But, unfortunately, you can never be completely sure if all posted links are really helpful and relevant, as in fact they can appear self-promotive or unsafe (spam). It’s important to keep your site away from any bad link neighborhood as it will cause problems with Google search algorithms, thus harm your site positions and violate AdSense policies.
Will Sur.ly reduce my site’s moderation duties?
Sur.ly doesn't totally eliminate your need to control the quality of user-contributed content, but it can make your job less stressful. Whenever any spam or unsafe link is posted on your site, Sur.ly immediately takes care of it, so your site and users can stay protected until you remove these links (see 'How does Sur.ly fight spam?').
Sur.ly doesn't block any comments, what makes your moderation policies less suppressive in terms of taking every user for 'potential spammer'. At the same time Sur.ly keeps user-contributed URLs under control. That’s important as many webmasters usually become highly concerned about unsafe links after spam attacks and may tend to completely disable comments, neglect any user-contributed links or just block everything until moderation. This approach is counterproductive as it ceases users conversations for a long time and causes visitors dissatisfaction which may lead to a loss of customers.
What makes Sur.ly different from other solutions?
Sur.ly plugin is not competing with any other anti-spam tools which employ different spam prevention principles, but it’s designed to strengthen your complex spam-fighting solution in combination with other tools. Sur.ly can successfully work along with tools like Akismet, making your spam protection even more sustainable.
Which content management systems are currently supported?
Sur.ly is available for all the major content and forum management systems including WordPress, Drupal, VBulletin and Joomla (as well as Sur.ly SDK for custom PHP projects). Please see the Download options for the complete list.
Is Sur.ly free?
Sur.ly is completely free for all users.
Feel free to contact our support service regarding the use and installation of the plugin, as well as suggestions, bug reports or any other issues.
Is Sur.ly safe?
We do not collect or share any private and personally identifiable data of users. Links analytics is accessible via personal account after login only and cannot be published or shared with any third parties, except to comply with the law. It was attested by WordPress and listed in their official catalog: http://wordpress.org/plugins/surly/
Is Sur.ly customizable?
Yes, Sur.ly allows you to make your own white-lists of trusted users and domains in order to keep their links untouched, and to automatically shorten user-generated links. You can customize Sur.ly toolbar to fit your website design, including color scheme and fonts, and also manage the toolbar functionality.
Can I use Sur.ly as a single anti-spam solution?
Of course you can. However for a better effect it is recommended that you use Sur.ly as a part of a complex anti-spam solution.
How to install Sur.ly on my site?
Download Sur.ly plugin for the CMS or forum software that is used on your site and install it according to instructions provided on the donwload page. Then register on Sur.ly website (Sign up) to access your dashboard and add your site(s) to track the user-generated outbound links.
I have two or more sites. Do I need a separate Sur.ly account for each one?
You need only one Sur.ly account to track user-generated outbound links on all your sites. You can add all your websites one-by-one via 'Add Website' in the Sur.ly dashboard settings (just make sure Sur.ly plugin is installed on each of your sites).