Marketing & Sales Videos, Search Marketing

How Comments Impact Search Engine Rank

Does commenting on other blogs help my search engine ranking? Google’s ranking algorithm weighs heavily on relevant links back to your site. Since links back to your site help, wouldn’t it make sense that commenting and leaving your links everywhere would benefit your site? Not exactly.

In this recent video, Matt Cutts (Search Quality for Google) discusses the potential risks of allowing users to post comments with link spam on your blog. You have control over the content on your website, and if Google catches you linking to spammy websites, they’ll likely consider your website spammy as well.

He also touches on the reason Google typically doesn’t penalize your website for spammy in-bounds links. If Google penalized websites for any type of in-bound link(s), then competitors would be building the worst links possible to each other attempting to remove competition from the search results.

There are still plenty of blogs that do not add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to comment links. Why would a blog owner want to do this?

A dofollow blog comment link is a simple reward to users that add valuable comments and feedback. The blog owner gets valuable user-generated comment and the visitor who leaves a good comment gets a dofollow link. Most blogs that allow dofollow comment links strictly moderate those comments and links, so you’re not likely to get away with posting a link unless your comment contributes and adds value to the blog post.

Another reason a blog might allow dofollow comments is if the blog has been around for a long time and the owner doesn’t update the platform often. Believe it or not, there are thousands of blogs that have not been updated since the rel=’nofollow’ attribute was invented. Many of the blogs are still used and new posts are added regularly. Many of these blogs are moderated closely or filled with blog comment spam.

If you’re trying to build your backlink profile I would stay away from blog posts with other spammy comments. You’re not likely to get penalized from posting links next to spammy links, but Google often identifies these spam riddled pages and filters them from their link graph.

In most cases the effort of building your backlink profile by posting blog comment links is not worth the effort as these sites normally contain so many comment links that the PageRank value is divided too much to pass substantial value. Blog comment links with the rel=’nofollow’ attribute will not pass any value to your website.

9 Comments

  1. 1

    Jeremy,

    This is outstanding information. One note I would add, though, is that providing great comments on another blogger’s blog can often get you some attention. When I first began blogging, I commented often on blogs and provided great content and discussion for them. Many took notice and began linking to my blog. I know that’s not a 1:1 trade on backlinks, but it can be fruitful!

    Also – I thought Google had adjusted the way that they treat nofollow and dofollow because of what SEO guys were doing with page sculpting… is that not the case?

    Great post! Thanks!

  2. 2

    @Doug – Last summer at SMX Advanced Matt Cutts suggested that we should think of PageRank as “evaporating” when the nofollow attribute is added. If we take him as his word this would mean that you can’t craft or sculpt your site’s PageRank using the nofollow attribute.

    For simplicity sake let’s say that your blog post had a PageRank value of 10. You have the ability to pass this value to other web pages via links. If you link to 9 other pages within your website and 1 external website, you are losing 10% of the PageRank value that you could have kept flowing through your website. When the nofollow attribute was adopted by Google, savvy SEOs attempted to add this attribute to the external link in this scenario to keep all of their PageRank. The thought was that this would strengthen other internal pages of their website. If we believe Matt Cutts about PageRank evaporating with regards to nofollow, then the tactic of page PageRank sculpting with this attribute has no value.

  3. 3

    It is important to mention that there is still value in linking to other valuable resources in your blog posts. Enrich your blog posts with videos, images, links and useful information. You’re likely to get far more PageRank value from those that choose to link to your blog post than what you may lose linking out to another valuable resource or two. “Give and you shall receive”, “Givers get”, karma, etc. You get the point. It works.

  4. 4

    I’d also like to note that Google reserves the right to ignore the nofollow attribute. They likely would never ignore this attribute on blog comment links. They may however choose to ignore this attribute on popular social media sites like Twitter once they establish which accounts they can trust. Another example would be if CNN.com chose to add nofollow to every link. Google would likely ignore most instances of the attribute because they trust that links on CNN.com are valuable editorial mentions of a website.

  5. 5

    i’ve read a few blog posts on this topic and they all seem to talk mostly about blog commenting as spam. My question is what if you comment on a dofollow blog with strictly moderated comments that is relevant to your site with a real comment? How do the search engines treat these links? Are the links worth less in the comments than if they were in the body of the blog post?

  6. 6

    Great post, Jeremy.

    Regardless of the value, real or perceived, of backlinks from blog comments, this is an example of where it all comes down to content.

    Posting relevant, insightful comments on blogs can still help drive users to your site and your services. By putting yourself, your personality, your reputation out there for others you establish yourself as an authority that folks will seek out.

  7. 7

    An honest editorial link posted in a blog comment that does not contain the rel=’nofollow’ attribute is a valid link to Google.

  8. 8

    Definitely link building through similar/familiar blogs to your niche market would make you drive traffic into your site. As far as you provide interesting comments, adding value to those blog´s article posts, blog owners would be happy to receive those comments and let you leave your link as well.

    I recommend joining the conversation about What makes a website Page Rank increase on Startups.com! You can follow this http://bit.ly/cCgRrC link to get straight to the question and answers already posted by other experts.

  9. 9

    Jeremy, if one is using WordPress CMS, there is no provision to selectively give do=follow status to a particular commenter. How does one deal with this?

    Plus, there is this talk about “you should not share your page ranking with other websites”. Is there any validity in this argument whatsoever?

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