Editor’s note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO experts Shelly Fagin, Ryan Jones, Adam Riemer, and Tony Wright. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
This week for Ask An SEO, we have a question from Ed in Memphis. He asks:
“Are blog comments useless for link building?”
If you run or manage a WordPress site today, especially one that hasn’t activated Akismet for spam protection, you know all too well that people love to try and comment on blog posts purely for the sole purpose of dropping a link in the comments.
I can see how it might lead some to wonder whether this tactic is an effective form of link building today.
To answer your question, Ed, blog commenting is a useless form of link building today.
In fact, Search Engine Journal’s Roger Montti listed blog commenting as one of 18 link building tactics to avoid.
The Rise & Fall of Blog Commenting for Links
Blog comments were a popular link building tactic many years ago.
You might come across lots of older information that suggests using this tactic because it once worked extremely well.
Please hear me when I say this tactic used to work.
It does not anymore – and hasn’t for a long time.
Like many other popular link building techniques, this one was quickly abused.
Gone were the insightful comments from people who took the time to read the articles and comment thoughtfully.
Instead, blog posts quickly became overrun with spammy, incoherent, generic comments left for the sole purpose of building links with keyword-rich anchor text.
Eventually, spammers developed tools to automate this process, and the spammy comments quickly caused significant problems for site owners.
Most blogging platforms and other content management systems that allow users to submit comments started implementing the nofollow attribute on all links added by site visitors’ comments.
The nofollow tag was announced by Google in 2005 to help site owners combat spam and for publishers to use on sponsored links and advertising sold on their websites.
When applied to an outgoing link, we are telling search engines that we do not endorse the website that this link is pointed to, and no value should be passed within that outgoing link.
Google recently released new attributes, rel=” UGC” and rel=” sponsored” as a way of allowing us to qualify our outgoing links further. (UGC stands for User Generated Content.)
The UGC rel attribute is for sites that allow outside visitors to contribute content or post a response to site content.
Another good example would be web forums.
Soon after, WordPress announced they would be adapting the UGC rel attribute and applying it to WordPress comment links.
Are Blog Comments Useful at All?
Even though blog commenting is useless for link building, when utilized properly, it can potentially result in an increase in traffic to your website.
Within the blogging community, it’s a common way to help gain exposure and form blogger-to-blogger relationships when you engage with others in your niche by posting value-added commentary and support to other bloggers.
As a site owner, user comments on your content can help improve your rankings.
Lots of comments left on a post will not only signal that your content is highly engaging, but it can also provide additional valuable and indexable content that’s a supplement to your own.
Users’ comments can provide additional insights into the topic of that page and typically are rich with targeted keywords used naturally in phrasing.
In particular niches, such as food blogs, the comments on recipes commonly also include the ability to allow visitors to leave a rating on the recipe, a highly valuable functionality.
So please do not use blog commenting as a way to build links to your website.
If you are looking to gain exposure within your niche, I would instead only consider commenting on relevant blog posts where you can add valuable and helpful commentary based on your expertise on the subject.
You might find that other readers will come across your comment, find it informative, and visit your site as well.