Google Discusses the Value of User Comments
Many SEOs wonder if allowing their readers to comment on their pages would be good for Google website SEO. Google revealed that these comments could actually improve website SEO, given that the site owners moderate them. Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller discussed this topic in the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout on 18 February.
A website SEO expert appeared on the live stream and asked Mueller if Google uses user comments as a ranking factor to influence search rankings.
It is wrong to say that user comments are a ranking signal since merely allowing visitors to post their comments does not improve a website’s position in the search results. However, they can still help with search rankings depending on what users write in the comment area.
How Website Comments Improve SEO
Website comments from users may provide extra SEO value to web pages in the form of additional context. If visitors stick to the topic and publish relevant comments, Google can use that information to improve search rankings. Relevant comments may help Google better comprehend the content and determine which user query it should rank for.
Mueller said that users frequently write about pages in their own words, which allows Google to understand the context better and show the page in the search results. From that perspective, he believes comments are beneficial on a website.
However, it could work both ways. Irrelevant user comments may drag the entire page’s quality down. Off-topic remarks might send Google the wrong signal about the web page’s contents and which queries it should rank for.
Website owners are accountable for user comments, even if the people who wrote them are not directly affiliated with the site. They are responsible for anything posted on their sites, regardless of who published it.
For example, spammy links in comments might result in a website being penalised or demoted in the search results. Therefore, it is safer to allow only positive remarks if the site owner can moderate them.
Mueller admits that it is challenging to ensure user comments stay on topic because people also abuse their freedom to comment, and all sorts of other crazy things can happen in the comment section. He urged site owners to look for a way to keep track of comments that provide more context and assistance to users who are searching for the content.
Deleting Comments Affect Search Rankings
Site owners should always remember that deleting comments may potentially affect their search rankings. The effect could be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on the circumstances.
For instance, cleaning up a comment area filled with irrelevant and spam content may result in ranking gains. On the other hand, removing comments that provide valuable information about the pages themselves can lead to ranking losses.
According to Mueller, Google sees comments as an important part of the content on a website; in other words, if people are visiting the website because of the comments, then they will be unable to find them if the site owner removes them.
Therefore, Mueller reminded the SEO community about the impact of removing website comments, as well as the pros and cons of giving users the option to comment.
Mueller on Removing Website Comments
Mueller does not give any tips on when to delete comments because that is a decision for each site owner to make. In a previous Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, Mueller provided information that might assist SEOs in determining whether or not to remove comments.
Although Google views website comments as a part of the content, Mueller states that the search engine can differentiate comment texts from the main content, so the comments will be treated differently.
Comments may be useful to pages if they provide extra information, but such comments are rare; usually, user comments provide little or no value.
Before site owners delete all the comments, Mueller suggests looking at the questions leading to the pages first. Doing so allows one to determine how deleting all comments can affect one’s rankings.
It’s possible that the information in a pages’ comments helps users with different queries. Site owners should also see the number of comments that their web page has. From there, they can decide the best thing to do for their Google website SEO.
Mueller also emphasised that Google does not ignore comments. If one chooses to delete comments, it’s only natural to expect the search rankings to change.
5 Type of Comments to Delete
1. Spam Comments
Automated bots and real users can leave spam comments without providing any links. Some users may also take time to post worthless messages on the Internet for no apparent purpose. To make things easier, site owners should have a moderation system on their pages so they can avoid thousands of spam comments.
2. Offensive Responses
It is the site owner’s responsibility to maintain a positive tone in discussions. If two users exchange offensive comments, the content publisher may intervene and hold or delete such comments. Deleting negative discussions will help other readers focus on the content rather than being drawn into pointless comments.
3. Unnecessary Links
When leaving a comment, visitors may include their website address in the link text area. However, many individuals include their own website URLs in a hidden manner, such as linking a period or dot in the text. Therefore, site owners should think twice before allowing a comment to be published.
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