SERoundtable hit by Panda?

5 comments recently reported that they've been seeing a decline in organic traffic that the main guy, Barry Schwartz, believes is due to Panda 4.1. Specifically, the theory (posed by John Mueller) basically is that with short articles followed by tons and tons of comments that are often far longer than the article itself, the low-quality/high volume comments are weighing down the high-quality/low volume article.

The fix (aside from turning off comments) seems to be to convert the Discus comments from HTML to Javascript so they don't get indexed. It's an interesting issue and one that could affect other sites that have a high volume of comments. For additional food for thought, look in the article comments for the discussion between Marie Haynes and Barry.



Need SEO research on de-indexing comments

Serious bloggers have been discussing how comments impact search for years. At least one serious blogger I know never uses a link to her site in any comment she makes because of concerns over the impact of inbound links. 


CommentLuv bloggers in particular may need to decide between having a thriving community and search engine traffic. For most bloggers, the community is more valuable even if it means no search engine traffic. Some larger blogs have a tougher decision to make. 


We have long debated the pros vs cons of indexing comments. We really need some sharp SEO folks to give us some guidance on whether we would be better off de-indexing comments or not. 

Value of comments

Check out the section about Disqus here:

"Disqus, a blog commenting system, generated 730 goal completions from 1,016 sessions"

"It demonstrates the value of blog commenting as both a means of generating more traffic, and converting it."

"When you take the time to engage with people, discuss topics and give advice, it creates trust. People learn by engaging with others in their spaces and they get inspired to take action.

The quality of traffic is exceptional because the user is already engaged in dialogue. You should take careful note that engagement creates conversion. I see many businesses in social media trying to covert by using automation tools that remove the engagement component, as opposed to enhance it."

Action summary based on his data collected: 

"The most obvious action to take is to start commenting more."


Wow, very interesting info

Wow, very interesting info! Thanks for sharing!


I would say though that I don't think search engine traffic and a thriving community need to be mutually exclusive. Generally, I wouldn't expect comments to rank highly in organic search and you most likely wouldn't want them to, as you'd rather have the main article be the main thing ranking. So, having them be unable to be indexed would probably not harm your SEO efforts. On the other hand, it also would be unlikely to harm your community or have any negative effect on the conversion rates since they're referral traffic from the comment rather than organic from a search query.


This is why SER has chosen to load their Discus comments as Javascript rather than their previous method, HTML. It keeps the community and doesn't affect the user but also keeps the comments from being indexed. Only time will tell if that's the best solution or the "fix" and it also should be noted that what works for them may not be the best solution for someone else.


As an aside, regarding the blogger you mentioned, its important to remember that linking to things online is a perfectly normal, natural thing to do. If she's commenting on something and has written a post that is relevant, linking to it in her comment makes sense and maybe it'd bring her some additional traffic and new visitors. I generally wouldn't recommend someone take a policy of never linking to their site no matter what, especially in light of the Discus data you mentioned.

Comments in blogs

It seems like it would be fairly easy to create a plugin for Blog owners that converted actual links to non-links. That way you could have your cake and eat it too. Google wouldn't know it was a link and the readers would get their valuable info. Just click the button when you wanted to add a link and let the software create the non-link text version. Perhaps put an addon in Firefox to translate the non-link back into a link when you selected it. Problem solved. No passing of link juice to offend the Almighty Algo.

You guys gotta get creative.


I think there is such a

I think there is such a thing, but the reason they suspected it was a Panda algorithm hit was because lots of short comments that Google might be interpreting as low quality. Panda focuses more on content quality, thin content, duplicate content, that sort of thing. Penguin might be what you're thinking of, that's the one that focuses on links and link spam. Using a plugin that makes all external links nofollow should have the same result as making them not-links.

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