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Google On The SEO Value Of User Comments On Websites

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Google On The SEO Value Of User Comments On Websites

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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.

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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.

Mueller states:

“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.

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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.

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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.

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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