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Could Comments Hurt Your Search Engine Rankings?

It Seems That They Did For One Guy

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I am a strong believer in the idea that comments increase the value of articles. This holds true on small blogs as well as large news sites. Comments expand the conversation, and can provide insight into the original subject matter that was lacking from the piece to begin with.

It is my opinion that the more discussion there is around any given topic, the more informed the reader is likely to be once they finish reading. That said, there are certainly plenty of useless comments out there as well. I’m referring specifically to spammy ones, and they can do more than just damage the reader’s experience, but in some cases, they may even affect search engine rankings.

Google Search Quality Analyst Fili Wiese recently tweeted about (hat tip to Barry Schwartz) an article from Richard Baxter at SEOgadget, which details how some spam comments appear to have affected the ranking of a specific page of his in Google’s search results.

Fili Wiese tweets

Breaking out some Google Analytics data, Baxter shows us that one of his most popular keywords for driving traffic to his site had him ranking high in a search for that keyword until a few spammy comments about things like "hairy asian men naked," "nude female superheroes," and "large nipple galleries" were left on the page. Shortly after that, the page fell out of the rankings, but was re-included within 24 hours once the comments were finally deleted. See Baxter’s article for a graphical analysis of how all of this went down.

Richard Baxter The moral of the story here is that while encouraging comments on your articles/blog posts is a good thing, it is also in your best interest to keep spam at a minimum. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but if you know that your rankings might be affected, you will have a little more motivation.

"Comment spam, missed by Akismet," says Baxter. "Don’t get me wrong, I think Akismet is amazing, but it can miss some types of comment spam. It’s probably my fault for not adding a verification or a CAPTCHA to my comments are but I don’t enjoy the experience on other blogs personally, so I choose to leave that off."

To be clear, Google has not come out and said that these spammy comments directly lead to a penalty. Even Wiese simply said the article was an interesting read. I would hardly call this confirmation. Baxter’s analysis is quite intriguing nonetheless.

Could Comments Hurt Your Search Engine Rankings?
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  • http://www.TyrkietFan.dk Rejser til Tyrkiet

    Spam comments = bad links out = bad SEO.

    So I think it could be right.

  • http://www.havocmarketing.com/ Havoc Marketing

    Hi Chris,

    When I first started out as a blogger, I didn’t know much about SEO and the effect of spam comments. But later I realized since my blog started getting spam comments. It was really frustrating and time-consuming to delete each and every one of them.

    After that experience I enabled comment moderation feature in my blog. Now I get to monitor and decide which comments should be allowed to be posted and which ones should be deleted right away.

    Your post will inform new bloggers and they can learn from other’s mistakes.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Mani Raj
    Havoc Marketing

  • http://greentechspot.blogspot.com Swashata

    Well said! This is one of the worst mistake done by new bloggers. To gain comments we usually remove the nofollow tag to a dofollow and ultimately due to negligence we get punished by Google. Thanks for reminding it :)

  • http://www.brandontran.com/ Brandon Tran

    For sure getting negative keywords in there will effect your rank tremendously. Positive comments, I am wondering how strong of an effect would it change the density and results. When I write content, I don’t sit there and try to come up with some perfect algorythm. I type as to communicate a message. I focus more on the writing than the density of keywords. Let the natural flow of the topic deliver what the page is about. Now the title of the page, H1 H2 tags need to be spot on with a good keyword mix. For articles I feel that the comments shouldn’t directly effect the SEO as long as the comments are on subject.

    Now, how about for video type content when there is minimal text. You have a video that is full of information yet only a 1 line or 2 line description of the video then say 100 comments. How will that effect SEO for thin content? I would be more concerned with that scenario vs. articles. Hopefully those comments are also on subject.

  • http://www.rakebackftw.com pokergirl

    I believe in this and I think thats right!

  • http://www.iblbuilder.com Need More Backlinks?

    Wow – that’s interesting stuff. Perhaps its a bit crazy allowing comments to appear without moderation by the bloger nowadays? Every story has a moral.

  • http://www.bootlaces.com Mark

    This happened to us. Our retail site had an adult comment that led to it being classed as an adult site and barred by netnanny etc.

  • http://www.kratom-world.com Kratom

    More content is always good for SEO. I dont think that links out can be bad for SEO.

  • http://www.gtwcmt.co.uk/ gtwcmt

    Google has changed the way which it searches a few times over the past decade but some of the changes have made a difference that have both a positive and negative inpack.

    we all know that google now searching the pages for links in and out of the site and the keywords and words that are used in the links, then the websites that are linked to and from effect your website rank and result.
    With keywords, it is important for the content and weight for in and out links.
    with googles newish ranking system, sites that you link to will effect the results though, it would seem that the inbound links do not effect the page too much.

  • http://www.independentcomputerconsultant.com computer consultant

    If google is doing this it is not fair. The only way around is to monitor comments.

  • http://www.controldatainc.com Collection

    Spam comments are becoming a serious problem on many sites. I have been to many sites that end up with nothing but trash. Once someone finds that its not being moderated everyone seems to jump on the band wagon with junk replys. This site is one of the few good sites left with valuable content and remarks

  • http://www.tmondo.com Games

    Many blogs have NOFOLLOW attributes in their comments area…. Am wondering still then why some spammers used to spam the comments????

  • http://www.biogetica.com/cure-hpv.php HPV vaccine

    OH!!! very strange to hear this. Thanks for informing

  • http://www.abundantace.com/ ace

    Yes. And that’s the reason why spammers try to take advantage by spamming people’s blogs with garbage comments.

  • http://www.oceanofweb.com Atul

    Never thought of it.. Thanks

  • http://www.notjustthekitchen.com Rita

    I didn’t realize that a site could get penalized for having spammy comments. Now that I know, I will be more careful on the comments that my site receives.

  • http://hotelsinsiliguri.blogspot.com Raj

    Well after going through the details I can only say “comments matter’s Man”.As a new blogger I will always remember these tips.
    Thanks Mate.

  • http://seo-shumail.blogspot.com/ SEO Karachi

    yeah thats true we have to agree!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/theclickbankprofitsystemreview Clickbank Profit System

    Love the sentence “Baxter’s analysis is quite intriguing nonetheless.” It is intriguing, but not confirmed.

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