I have been a writer for Search Engine Land for 5 to 6 years now. A couple week’s ago, I noticed a change on their website that was genius. In addition, as a contributor, I was able to experience the results first hand.
I am talking about removing their comment option and putting in place a prompt to interact on social media instead. See below:
Why would Search Engine Land and Marketing Land do this? Well, first, I want to say I have not discussed this with them. I am simply putting my own thoughts out there. But with that being said, I can give you a few good reasons.
Encourage Social Shares and Interaction
The most obvious reason, is that this is really a tiny form of growth hack. Instead of getting one comment, this tweak makes it so that if someone wants to engage, they have to do it on social media. Using my account for an example, if I leave a comment on Search Engine Land only a few people see it. But if I comment on my Twitter profile, over 20,000 people see it. This makes it so that each time there is an interaction, an entirely new audience is engaged.
We can see they have listed Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the main websites to interact with. They have done this to promote shares and engagement on those social sites. In addition, they want to grow their communities there. The larger the social media communities on those sites, the bigger the distribution they have for each article. This of course leads to more traffic, page views, and benefits contributors and advertisers.
Generally, many people think that comments can help your SEO. But, that is not always the case, especially if your commenting gets out of hand.
Major Issue with Comment Spam
Search Engine Land and Marketing Land have fought all kinds of comment spam on their website. In some cases, it might be someone trying to leave a link, someone trying to promote a product or even just plain bot spam. Fighting spam is not an easy job and it gets frustrating. We even have spam issues here on the Ignite Visibility site, I can’t even imagine how tough it would be for SEL and ML. The main point is, these comments do not help SEO. The only comments that help SEO are those that add value to the page. They need to expand on the article in some way and continue and lengthen the quality of the content. Now, Search Engine Land and Marketing Land did get a lot of quality content as well, but the question becomes, “Is it more valuable to get that quality content on social media instead?” I believe it is…
Also, there is a lot of fear around comments now, especially after John Mueller recommended to Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable that he removed comments to fix his Panda issue. Barry is a very popular SEO blogger who gets more comments than most SEO websites. The main issue was that there were so many comments, many with negative language (cursing) or broken English, that the length of the comments overpowered the rest of the content on the page. Thus, reducing the quality of the content.
One other thing to point out is that there are some pretty negative comments online. People will in some cases be more polite on social media, when they know all of their friends and followers are watching. This makes it so that in a way, the social media commenting option is self-regulating.
Summing It Up
At the end of the day, this was a very calculated move by SEL and ML. They have some tremendous SEO abilities there and now are showing some innovative growth hacking skills as well. This is one of the first sites I have seen do this. But moving into the future, I expect to see many more that simply force you to engage only social media opposed to allowing people to comment. Since they have done this, I have seen a significant lift in social interaction.
What are your thoughts on this?