Should you allow users to leave comments on your website? They could help with SEO, as long as you’re able to moderate them, Google says.
This topic was addressed by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on February 18.
An SEO professional named Vahid Parsa joins the livestream to ask Mueller a number of questions, one of which involves user comments and whether they’re considered a ranking factor.
It’s not accurate to say website comments are a ranking factor, because your site won’t rank better simply by allowing users to leave comments.
Depending on what users type in the comment section, however, they have the potential to assist with search rankings.
Here’s how Mueller explains the SEO value of user comments.
How User Comments Can Help With SEO
User comments can add SEO value to webpages in the form of additional context.
If users stay on topic, and leave comments related to what the page is about, then that information can assist with search rankings.
Comments relevant to the subject matter of the webpage can help Google understand the content better and know which types of queries it should rank for.
“What I think is really useful there with those comments is that oftentimes people will write about the page in their own words and that gives us a little bit more information on how we can show this page in the search results. So from that point of view I think comments are a good thing on a page.”
The reverse is also true.
When users leave irrelevant comments they could drag down the quality of the entire page.
Off-topic comments may send mixed signals to Google regarding what the page is about and which queries it should show up for.
Websites are responsible for user comments, even though they may be written by people who are not directly affiliated with the site.
If it’s on your website, you’re responsible for it.
Comments containing spammy links, for example, could make you liable for a penalty or demotion in search results.
With that said, it’s best to allow comments only when you’re capable of moderating them.
As Mueller says, the greatest challenge with user comments is ensuring they stay on topic:
“Obviously, finding a way to maintain them in a reasonable way is sometimes tricky because people also spam those comments and all kinds of crazy stuff happens there. But overall, I think if you can find a way to maintain comments on a webpage that gives you a little bit more context and helps people who are searching in different ways to also find your content.”
Hear Mueller’s response in the video below:
Removing Comments May Impact Search Rankings
If your website currently allows comments, keep in mind that removing them has the potential to impact your search rankings.
Depending on your situation, the impact may either be good or bad.
Cleaning up a comment section that’s full of irrelevant and/or spammy content may lead to ranking improvements.
On the other hand, removing comments that add valuable context to pages may lead to ranking drops.
Mueller addressed the SEO impact of removing website comments in a previous hangout, stating:
“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.”
There are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to user comments, as they can both help and hurt SEO.
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, February 2022.