Google has said user comments on web pages could provide additional SEO value, but only if they are tightly moderated for spam. Google has remarked the latest webmaster hangout, responding to a comment from a site owner who became concerned after changing their website to an AJAX-based model. The site had an SEO-focused forum before the change, where users were able to leave their own comments and get involved in conversations. It was primarily used for FAQ purposes and helping each other.
Google has suggested that user comments on web pages could provide an additional SEO benefit, but is using this as a best practice rather than a recommended tactic.
User comments might sound like a hassle for marketers to moderate, but user comments on web pages could provide additional SEO value, Google says. Google came right out and said on Reddit that user comments on web pages could help a website's SEO efforts. While they noted that comments must be closely monitored to make sure they meet your standards, there's definitely some potential value there.
User comments added to a web page may be something that Google notices and these can positively impact SEO. Google however cautions that user comments could be “used for manipulating how a site looks in the search results.” But in general, user comments can provide value by allowing for two-way communication and feedback between the website and its customers.
Google says in a fairly recent update to its “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” that user comments that result in the page having added value could contribute to the page’s overall quality: “High-quality comments can provide useful information and help webmasters tailor resources to user needs. Low-quality comments with little or no added value are not appropriate and do not benefit sites. Unmoderated comments pose a potential risk because spam or malicious content could be displayed on the site, which is harmful to users and search engines.”
Writing on its Webmaster blog, Google said: "If the comments are relevant and appropriate, they might make your site more informative and helpful for readers and maybe even help search engine rankings. On the other hand, if comments are just hollow sales talk or they're so far off topic they seem irrelevant, they can quickly clutter a page."
Many website owners may think user comments are just a waste of text and can be ignored, but they have an impact on search engines. For example, Google’s Matt Cutts gave the following explanation in response to a question at Pubcon South: “From our point of view we do see comments as a part of the content… ultimately if people are finding your pages based on the comments there then, if you delete those comments, then obviously we wouldn’t be able to find your pages based on that.”
Thus, as long as there is a genuine user engagement, Google will see this as a signal to rank the page higher. However, if the comment contains nothing but links or affiliate feed from an automated system like Disqus or IntenseDebate this could be viewed negatively by both users and search engines alike so it’s important to monitor those types of interactions closely.
User comments on your site supplement SEO value. Here are some things to consider regarding comment SEO, and how to make sure user comments work for you, not against you.
John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst with Google in Zurich, Switzerland, has confirmed that comments on your site can help SEO. By considering SEO best practices with user comments and implementing them on your site, reviews, ratings and even testimonials can enhance the content of your site, resulting in higher rankings.
User comments can be valuable to websites, helping foster a sense of community around the site, and often help answer questions that people have about the content. While user comments will not directly count as ranking signals for keyword searches, useful comments can actually help more differently — boosting the ranking of the content proximal to those comments.
User comments can supplement your website’s SEO value. If your site gains a reputation for having insightful and well-written comments from readers, then it will benefit from the increased authority of that strong content. Further, this can result in more links to your site as others use your comments as a reference in their own content.
User comments are a form of user-generated content, and we know that Google loves authentic UGC. Based on our analysis of 800,000 comments across 300,000 URLs, we know that user comments significantly contribute to SEO value. From a technical SEO perspective, user comments can create duplicate content issues if not handled properly. However, these are easily preventable with proper implementation.
Reviews and ratings can also help improve your SEO if you use them to fuel your content strategy. When people search for what you have to offer, they’ll be more likely to find you if you have interesting, relevant content related to their search topics.
Whether you’re an agency or a business owner, you know that generating website traffic and leads is key to staying afloat. Sure, anyone can create content and launch a website, but to see consistent results takes more than a few blog posts or pages. Monitoring user comments on the website can you're your SEO and marketing endeavors to an entirely new level. You see - there’s a science behind it all and you now know how to leverage it to your competitive advantage.