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Yesterday I noticed a warning in my Google Webmaster Tools. It told me that one of the posts on my blog had a slow load time - a post which happened to be by far the most commented on. So, to rectify this, I lowered the maximum number of comments per page to 50 and resubmitted my sitemap. (This means that newer comments appear on a separate 'comments page'.)

Now I've noticed that my site has slipped to #2 for my top search term, for which it had ranked #1 for since October '13. So this got me thinking: has my decision to move the newest comments to another page affected it badly? Reduced its freshness, maybe? Or could the negative effect have come from the resubmitting of the sitemap?

Edit: Also, just checked. CTR was increasing, as were number of social media shares.

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2 Answers 2

If I were you, I didn't use separate pages to display comments because loading text is rarely a loading problem for a page. That's why I think the problem is elsewhere. There are many possible reasons, maybe a script has been injected in one of your comments or a JS file takes a lot of time to load in your page.

Moreover, Google ranks pages and not sites. Therefore, If you modified a page and your site has slipped to #2 for one of your keywords, it's not linked in general.

However, indeed, comments are good for SEO because they affect positively a page (because of freshness as you mentioned). A new comment updates the page and specifies to Googlebot your page is still alive; you thus have chance that Google keeps your page in the top of the results in its index.

My advise is thus to analyze your page to find the problem. The console of Safari or Chrome or Firebug for Firefox can help you for this.

P.S.: I also think resubmitting the sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools has nothing to do with this.

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3rd party is the enemy...unavoidable? lol if you're that good. if you're the rest of us, only use 3rd party as last resort. you can wpo everything x 10000 and marry matt cutts, and when your site hangs bc some wretched script is preventing the page from rendering.....facebook, i'm looking at you. do like the other points as well, just really like that you pointed that out. yay. –  albert Feb 12 at 9:22
    
Indeed, 3rd party like comments are not perfect. They're good for SEO but they also have pitfalls. –  Zistoloen Feb 12 at 9:46
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@Zistoloen Thanks for such a good response. I've actually just checked my Page Timings on Google Analytics and the page I was talking about has a load time of 15 seconds, which doesn't actually seem so bad. I checked with Firebug too and couldn't find anything. –  Zetland Feb 12 at 9:48
    
@Zetland: Ok and you're welcome. –  Zistoloen Feb 12 at 10:41
    
@Zetland 15 Seconds isn't bad? bare in mind google recommends a page to load inbetween 2 and 3 seconds.... –  Liam Sorsby Feb 12 at 10:47

There are many things that relate to ranking, one very important is freshness, specially for blog posts, which means that yes, it may be affected by removing comments. Although, most comments are just garbage, and the only useful thing is the "live" they impart to a post, so if you are going to split things, the ones that you should move out are the oldest ones.

You have a few options to do this in a proper way

  1. Use a dynamic script that loads more comments after the first 10 - 20. This way the page loads faster and you still may decide the order and quantity of the posts to appear.
  2. Remove useless posts, things like spam, short answers like "yes", "me too", "i like this" and so on. Those short comments don't add anything but still carry HTML markup to present them.

You mention that you are trying to improve the speed of the page/site already, that's a good first step.

Also consider that if the only reason your post(s) is ranking number 1 is because of freshness, although it's good for you, doesn't mean that the content is much better that the competition. There are many posts on Internet that rank very high and they have 0 comments, either because the owner removed them or because they never allowed comments.

Of course I don't know the specifics of the post and your site, but consider all the elements involved.

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