One of the best ways to improve your website SEO and increase website traffic is to create and regularly contribute to a blog on your website. When you are providing useful, quality information, it helps set you apart from the pack by establishing you as a thought leader. Search engines love fresh, new content and reward websites who regularly update their content with improved search rankings. But did you know that the comments left on these same blog posts can have an impact on your SEO as well?
It’s true. When visitors interact and leave comments on your site, this has a positive effect on your SEO and helps with rankings. But on the flip side, if non-legit or spam comments are present, they can actually hurt your SEO. Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to the actions taking place in the comments section of your blog.
Below, we’ve created a short list of strategies and techniques to help you manage and make the most of your blog comments:
Moderate All Blog Comments Go into your blog’s settings and require that any comments be approved by a designated admin prior to going live. The site administrator will receive a notice, at which point he or she can choose to trash, approve or mark as spam any new comments. Allowing comments to post live automatically upon submission puts you at risk of spam junking up your comments. This both diminishes the appearance of your site and can result in search engines penalizing your site. “If one or two spam comments slip through the cracks, it won’t destroy your SEO,” states Walker Oxley of Oxley Internet Solutions. “But you need to stay on top of these as much as possible, otherwise spam bots will realize they’ve found a site that’s not closely monitored and will abuse that and really hurt your search ranking.
Mark Spam As Spam Don’t just trash spam comments – report them as spam if they are indeed spam. Reporting it provides intelligence to your system that helps it recognize future spam comments, blocking them before they even get to the admin to moderate. Plus, as an extra added bonus, it’s really fun to click that button and think “Ha, gotcha! Can’t fool me!”
Take Advantage of Google Webmaster Tools Another method to aid in comment moderation is to use Google’s Webmaster Tools. These review incoming comments and content, looking for anything malicious. It won’t catch everything, but can help minimize the number of illegitimate comments getting through. We recommend you use these tools even if you don’t choose to manually moderate comments.
Require User Accounts Or Use CAPTCHAs Some sites require visitors to create an account if they wish to leave a comment. This method definitely cuts down on the amount of time an administrator must devote to moderating comments, as it takes a human with something legit to say to create an account. However, in today’s fast moving world, most people don’t want to spend the time creating a new account or don’t want to volunteer their information for fear of getting spammed themselves. Requiring site registration greatly discourages quality comments that are beneficial for site SEO. You could also employ the use of CAPTCHA forms for comments. These can help differentiate humans interaction from spam bots, but do be aware that they aren’t foolproof.
Allow Appropriate Linkbacks If you receive a comment that contains the words trackback, pingback, refback or webmention, don’t just delete or report it as spam. Some of these are actually quite beneficial. These are called Linkbacks. They indicate that another website has linked back to your site as a reference. If it’s a legitimate site with decent content, you’ll want to approve these linkback comments as they can boost your SEO. But be warned, spam bots are getting smarter and trickier and can also use this method, so if you receive a linkback that routes to a site that appears questionable, spam it and get rid of it.
If you’ve never really paid attention to weeding out the inappropriate comments, it may seem overwhelming to try to start now. We’ve known a few colleagues who reported upwards of 20,000 comments to wade through. If this is the case, even though you may lose some quality comments, Walker recommends you delete all comments and start fresh. “Yes, you’ll lose a few good ones, but now you’ll be better prepared to properly moderate your comments going forward and that outweighs those few lost comments.”
Finally, Walker warns, “Be cautious of allowing URLs in your comments, with or without approval. I always recommend that blogs be closely monitored to make sure links are legit. It’s not worth the risk of allowing spam links to virus ridden sites as these will quickly get you blacklisted by the search engines.”
Inviting comments on your blog posts is a wonderful way to encourage interaction and conversation that improves your SEO and search ranking. But it’s important to stay vigilant about the comments posted to your site. You’ve worked too hard creating great content to let it be spoiled by spam comments.