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Blog comments are a tricky issue for many business websites. 

On one hand, everyone dreams of building a community of loyal customers that follow every post and regularly have a healthy discussion in the comments. Not only can it be helpful for other potential customers, but comments tend to help Google rankings and help inspire future content for your site. 

On the other hand, most business-based websites receive significantly more spam than genuine comments. Even the best anti-spam measures can’t prevent every sketchy link or comment on every post. For the most part, these are more annoying than being an actual problem. However, if left completely unmonitored, spam could build up and potentially hurt your rankings.

This can make it tempting to just remove comments from your blog entirely. If you do, you don’t have to worry about monitoring comments, responding to trolls, or weeding out spam. After all, your most loyal fans can still talk about your posts on your Facebook page, right?

Unfortunately, as Google’s John Mueller recently explained, removing comments from your blog is likely to hurt more than it helps. 

John Mueller Addresses Removing Blog Comments

In a Google Search Central SEO hangout on February 5, Google’s John Mueller explored a question from a site owner about how Google factors blog comments into search rankings. Specifically, they wanted to remove comments from their site but worried about potentially dropping in the search results if they did. 

While the answer was significantly more complicated, the short version is this:

Google does factor blog comments into where they decide to rank web pages. Because of this, it is unlikely that you could remove comments entirely without affecting your rankings. 

How Blog Comments Impact Search Rankings

Google sees comments as a separate but significant part of your content. So, while they recognize that comments may not be directly reflective of your content, it does reflect things like engagement and occasionally provide helpful extra information. 

This also means that removing blog comments is essentially removing a chunk of information, keywords, and context from every blog post on your site in the search engine’s eyes. 

However, John Mueller didn’t go as far as recommending to keep blog comments over removing them. This depends on several issues including how many comments you’ve received, what type of comments you’ve gotten, and how much they have added to your SEO.

As Mueller answered:

“I think it’s ultimately up to you. From our point of view we do see comments as a part of the content. We do also, in many cases, recognize that this is actually the comment section so we need to treat it slightly differently. But 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.

So, that’s something where, depending on the type of comments that you have there, the amount of comments that you have, it can be the case that they provide significant value to your pages, and they can be a source of additional information about your pages, but it’s not always the case.

So, that’s something where I think you need to look at the contents of your pages overall, the queries that are leading to your pages, and think about which of these queries might go away if comments were not on those pages anymore. And based on that you can try to figure out what to do there.

It’s certainly not the case that we completely ignore all of the comments on a site. So just blindly going off and deleting all of your comments in the hope that nothing will change – I don’t think that will happen.”

It is clear that removing blog comments entirely from your site is all but certain to affect your search rankings on some level. Whether this means a huge drop in rankings or potentially a small gain, though, depends entirely on what type of comments your site is actually losing. 

To watch Mueller’s full answer, check out the video below:

matt-cutts

Google’s Matt Cutts

With the big crackdown on spammy link building practices over the past two years at Google, there are still many webmasters left with questions about what exactly constitutes a spammy practice. Google has previously advised against using links in forum “signatures” as a means of link building, but what about using a link in a comment when it is topically relevant and contributes to the conversation? That is exactly the question Matt Cutts answered in a Webmaster Chat video on Wednesday.

The short answer is that using links to your site in your comments is fine the majority of the time. Everyone who actually contributes to forums has a habit of linking to relevant information, and that often includes their own blogs. But, like everything, it can be abused.

Matt gave some tips to ensure your comments don’t get flagged as spammy by Google or the sites you are commenting on.

  • If you can, use your real name when commenting. Using a company name or anchor text you want to rank for gives the appearance of commenting for commercial marketing purposes, which raises the spam alarm.
  • If you are using leaving links in blog post comments as your primary means for linkbuilding and the majority of your links come from blog comments, Google will probably flag you.

You can see the video below.

 

When trying to pump content out for a blog, it is easy to become focused on resharing news or tips essential to the community, especially with SEO. The problem is that SEO changes so quickly, most of these posts go out of date very quickly. This is why every blog needs a good amount of “evergreen content”.

Evergreen content is the term for any posts or articles on your blog that will always be relevant to your content. Sujan Patel from Search Engine Journal uses an example to show the distinction.

If you are running an SEO blog, an article about the latest Penguin update won’t be relevant a week or two later when the next update appears. However, a post like “What is SEO?” will always be important, especially for any new readers you gain. The definition of SEO isn’t going to change, and the overall idea of the industry stays largely consistent, though you may need to update the article every few years.

Evergreen content is always up-to-date and will always be a primary interest for your readers. For blog managers, it offers more effective content, that can be re-run later with the same impact it originally had.  For readers, it is helpful because new readers are always looking for basic information.

I like to think of it like Wikipedia information. Wikipedia articles tend to consist of factual information without touching too much on “best practices” or other time sensitive issues. When someone accesses a Wikipedia article, they want a basic explanation of what something is and why it is important. If you can convey that in an article, you have the recipe for great evergreen content.

 

We all use different ways to identify ourselves online. Most use their websites or social media pages. The problem is, once you go outside of your own domains and comment on blogs or forums, you become, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. Not so if you use a Gravatar, or ‘Globally Recognized Avatar’.

What is a Gravatar?

A Gravatar allows you to make a sort of ‘brand’ image of yourself by concisely providing a visual summation of the identity and personality of your choice.

The trick is choosing one that works best for your business, whether it is a standard head and shoulders photograph of you or your brand or product’s logo.

Everyone knows that blogs and forums are some of the most useful resources one can have to keep in touch with the trends and technical issues of their industry or areas of interest. What many may also realize is the comments sections on these posts are sometimes even more useful than reading the articles.

If you take a moment to look at comments sections, there are usually three different types of commenters.

  1. Spammers – The posters who leave generic comments that are often irrelevant.
  2. The Interested – Posters who appear to have a genuine interest in the subject, but are not usually very informed.
  3. The “Experts” – The people who post relevant and informative comments.

You will notice the Experts almost always have a Gravatar next to their names.

How Do I Create a Gravatar?

Creating a gravatar is as quick as it is easy and free. If you have a WordPress account, it’s as simple as logging in to Gravatar.com. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you can just associate your Gravatar with your email address.

After that, all there is to do is set up a profile with a suitable image and a few personal or business details. You can even add links to existing blogs, websites and social media pages.

Now, anywhere you comment, you will have your Gravatar next to it.

What Are The Benefits of Gravatars?

If you participate in comments sections frequently, you will begin to be recognized by others in the industry. This is why it is essential to have a professional looking image. This will help raise awareness of all of your pages, as well as their reputations inside the area of interest.

Considering it takes almost no time, and Gravatar doesn’t send you waves of spam e-mail, there’s really no reason not to sign up. You’ll be surprised by just how much your Gravatar does for you.

 

If you need more persuading to check out Gravatar, check out Alistair Harris’ article at ClickThrough.