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I've been trying to answer this question myself by researching and searching on google but I haven't been able to come with a final answer. I have some hypothesis I would like share anyway:

  1. The average website intends to reach the higher audience possible.
  2. User generated content by comments is an efficient way of increasing the relevance and the valuable information of the average website.
  3. Indexing comments will make any site attractive to spammers.
  4. Indexing comments is more convenient for new/low-traffic websites than it is for old/high-traffic websites.
  5. The web in general is currently choosing not to index comments in the average website because of fear to the SPAMMERS.
  6. The average author of a content-valuable comment would like his comment to be indexed
  7. Not indexing comments discourages the creation of content-valuable comments.

So, what do you think finally? Is it positive or negative for the average website to allow search engines to index user comments? Why?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 20 '10 at 1:36

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

4 Answers

If you don't moderate user comments, you can have a negative impact if they contain spam.

But if your site contain a lot of quality comments, so it's a very good thing to let search engine index it!

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Overall its positive for an average website. Unique, fresh and relevant content is priceless for SEO :). There are many ways to fight spam other than moderating all comments. Some I can suggest:

1) Automatic spam detection software

2) Moderate only the first comment by a user.

3) Have a "flag as spam" button on the comments, so your users can flag spam comments (many variations, enhancements are possible here).

and perhaps MOST important::

4) Either do not allow any hyperlinks in the comments OR make them all nofollow. This will save you from the class of spammers who are looking for just links.

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Spammers don't care if you let search engines index your comments, they don't even care if the comments are ever shown, the idea behind spamming is to send your spam to as many sites as possible planning that maybe 0.5% of sites won't block your message - if spammers can find you they will spam you.

That means you may as well index the comments to improve SEO, not indexing them will not solve your spam problem.

On my site comments are moderated - they don't show up at all until they are approved by me - and yet they site used to get tens of comments every day about a drug beginning with the letter v and the most offensive sexual content I've ever heard about.

I've added some very basic spam filtering to my system and spam dropped to zero.

So, what I've learned is:

  1. If a spammer can find you he will spam you - they don't care about the specifics of your site or even check if the spam is ever displayed.

  2. If you run a small site even a basic easy to bypass spam filter will work because the spammers don't even check if the spam is ever displayed.

  3. If you have any user generated content you must have some form of spam control

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The main benefits of allowing comments are:

1) freshness: on-going comments on evergreen posts provide fresh content for Google to index, and that keeps the crawler visiting your site more frequently

2) unique content: if you enable user comments on content that are otherwise duplicate (e.g. product descriptions taken from affiliate feeds) then it can help you rank.

In sum, these are positives.

In my experience, the spam issue is very solvable with captchas, moderation, and not enabling dofollow links.

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