I am developing a hit-and-run blog style posting mechanism for my already otherwise mind-bending HTML short-hand CMS schema that runs several of my sites. I am getting ready to start over on some sites and add a few small sites but want something to make my life simpler.

Since these are sites and not necessarily blogs, I hate blogs, I hate the word blog, is there still value in including a comments section and article rating mechanism?

To further my point, trends come and go and so does the value of such things. It appears that for a while comments really did help search, but now only serves to dilute the original content and requires monitoring and cleaning up troll excrement (which appears not to be of any value even in the garden). As well, it seems that people are finding that ratings do not show up in the SERPs easily where there can be some value. That is assuming that anyone pays attention to them anymore.

Is Google soooooo over all this stuff now? It appears to be the case. I know I am.

My question is this. Is there any real significant value for comments and ratings any more and is it worth including room for these mechanisms in my schema and code? Are any advantages measurable and absolute? No opinions please. I have one already. Otherwise, I would be very happy skipping the whole notion of including these into my work.

BTW- I am not accepting my own answer on this - at least for a while. I am inviting others to argue with me and bring as many solid arguments as they care to. There may be other valuable information that will shed some light on this question and I would like to know what that is. I am thinking of future users.

  • BTW- I tried to find a ratings tag but could not find one. Does one exist and I missed it??
    – closetnoc
    Mar 29 '16 at 21:08
  • I don't think comments has any value, because I have seen some of website like labnol.org using lazy load comments which is blocked from search crawler and ranking good in serp. Also most of developer sites are not using comment as well and who know how Google treat comments, hope you already see some of comment pages, which is not helpful at all or spammed, but they are ranking on top, so may be google have pattern to identify the comment section and not to include them in ranking.
    – Goyllo
    Mar 30 '16 at 7:07
  • @Goyllo Of the things I have seen regarding Google and comments, most was focused on recognizing the comments section and linking comment usernames and checking for spam. But so far, nothing on how comments fit into the algo if at all. I know that comments are separated from content, but them what? Who knows. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Mar 30 '16 at 15:08
  • I thought this was for abuse, not an argument.
    – Rob
    Mar 31 '16 at 3:10
  • @Rob Flog away mate!! Oh. That just sounds weird. Sorry. Never mind!
    – closetnoc
    Mar 31 '16 at 3:16

Regarding Comment Sections:

Search terms used: comments section seo

There are several considerations that need to be made before comment sections and ratings are to be implemented.


  • Time it takes to moderate the comments
  • Moderation must happen quickly or comments section will suffer
  • Whether the comments reside on the site itself
  • Whether schema.org mark-up is used - no evidence
  • Frequent changes to the page helps keep the page fresh - no evidence
  • Whether lazy-loading is used - may not be read
  • Whether pagination is used versus all on one page
  • Can help to support otherwise thinner content, lazy content creation
  • no evidence
  • Added linguistic semantic value, so-called LSI keyword variation - no evidence
  • Broken links and management
  • Me too, great post, or other useless posts must be removed
  • Grammatical errors block proper semantic analysis and can lower page quality
  • Lack of comments appears negatively
  • High authority sites may not benefit from comments - no evidence

My Comments:

Evidence is largely anecdotal. No real evidence or metrics are offered.

LSI keyword variation is primarily a theory of synonym use and that the use of synonyms are valuable. This is backwards logic considering the evidence of synonyms supports Googles use of synonyms in search and not how synonyms add value to a site.

LSI = Latent Semantic Indexing

It is not necessary for content to include synonyms since LSI will happen within the index anyway. Google recognizes the importance of recognizing search terms not used but still apply and will give semantic weight to any term that applies and exists within the synonym ontology. In this, Google equates synonyms automatically and using synonyms is not generally necessary and is a trigger in spam analysis.

My evidence supports that synonyms are valuable, however, not the way you think. It is wrong to use synonyms to add signals that Google does not need such as car, automobile, vehicle. However, it is correct that synonyms are used to directly support semantic weighting of topical terms, nouns, pronouns, etc., that are not generally supported within the ontology that defines synonyms, but rather are supported within topical ontologies. It is also not recommended that a content writer use synonyms for the sake of using synonyms and that a semantic analysis tool be used to weigh the effectiveness and appropriateness of any topical synonym. This works best on scientific or technical topics. For the record, there are cases of semantic term classes that synonyms work well for to support characteristics of a written work that while is not necessary from the standpoint of synonyms within an ontology, do support other aspects that positively effect search for other reasons. This is where the notion of synonyms by SEOs is wrong-headed and understanding the effects of synonyms far more technical and subtle than ever imagined.

Comment sections can stand in the way of appropriately weighing your content using semantic analysis and linguistic disciplines.

Matt Cutts in 2013

  • Whether the usernames used for comments are real user names
  • Whether the real users are well known experts or quality posters
  • Whether avatars are allowed
  • Whether link backs are to authoritative sites
  • Whether the comments are from users who comment on many or several sites often as a link back strategy
  • Whether the link backs are deceptive or become deceptive later
  • The quality of the outbound (external) links of the page overall (ratio)
  • Whether comments is the primary outbound link scheme
  • The quality of the comments overall
  • Whether the comments are topically relevant
  • Whether the comments are using known spammy terms

My Comments:

The consensus on an unnamed and well known blackhat SEO site is that comments do not help and that all comments are spam. This may be true to a large extent and certainly the primary motivation of leaving a comment is promotion of another site. Another point made is that comments are not good for Adsense. How that manifests, I am not sure spefically, but it is easy to see how comments can negatively effect earnings or whether an ad is placed at all.

The first thing that is needed to understand is that comments are not content in the sense that Google can easily separate content from headers, footers, sidebars, and comment sections. This is done using the HTML DOM model of several pages using pattern recognition to determine templated content from non-templated content.

Much can be easily evidenced by doing a search for the overly used great post which may match a comment in a comment section. What surprises me is that these low quality searches match low quality comments. Here is an example that I found humorous. On this page, https://blog.kissmetrics.com/double-your-social-media-traffic/ the term great appears 31 times including 7 times within the article.

This prompted an experiment using the linked article. Please stick with me as I offer some evidence using Tropes.

A Semantics Example - Article versus Comments

On the outset, this is an article on a site where the writers and commenters are rather professional and intelligent. This is a very well moderated site. It is expected that this example is a more closer to a best-case scenario.

Article Text Style

Style rather enunciative
Setting: involving the narrator
Some notions of doubt has been detected

Article Reference Fields

communication       0030
time                0026
media               0018
computer_science    0008
business            0008
language            0006
social_group        0005
person              0004
money               0003
cognition           0003

Article Frequent Word Categories

* Verbs :
Stative      36.2% ( 138 )
Reflexive    25.5% (  97 )
* Connectors :
Condition    14.6% (  13 )
Disjunction  12.4% (  11 )
Comparison   13.5% (  12 )
Time         9.0%  (   8 )
* Modalities :
Time         29.2% (  42 )
Manner       25.0% (  36 )
Doubt        2.1%  (   3 )
* Adjectives :
Objective    69.3% ( 183 )
* Pronouns :
"I"          13.4% (  16 )
"We"         13.4% (  16 )
"You"        45.4% (  54 )
"They"       7.6%  (   9 )

Comments Text Style

Style rather enunciative
Setting: involving the narrator
Setting: involving with "I"
Some notions of doubt has been detected

Comments Reference Fields

communication       0099
time                0099
media               0028
language            0023
computer_science    0015
work                0015
business            0013
space               0011
social_group        0010
device              0009
cognition           0008
location            0008
law                 0006
feeling             0006
person              0003
characteristic      0003

Comments Frequent Word Categories

* Verbs :
Stative           37.0% ( 221 )
Reflexive         29.8% ( 178 )
Performative      1.0%  (   6 )
* Connectors :
Condition         10.8% (  16 )
Disjunction       8.1%  (  12 )
Comparison        13.5% (  20 )
Time              6.1%  (   9 )
* Modalities :
Time              26.8% (  62 )
Manner            17.7% (  41 )
Assertion         10.8% (  25 )
Doubt             1.3%  (   3 )
* Adjectives :
Numeral           43.8% ( 283 )
* Pronouns :
"I"               38.2% ( 108 )
"We"              9.5%  (  27 )
"You"             21.9% (  62 )

Here are some interesting sample points difference just for fun.

Comments Text Style

Setting: involving with "I"

This means that the comments lean toward the "person" with personal pronouns rather than being purely stative.

Reference Fields

The following increases Comment versus Content Reference Fields

communication       0099 versus 0030
time                0099 versus 0026
media               0028 versus 0018
language            0023 versus 0006
computer_science    0015 versus 0018
work                0015 versus 0000
business            0013 versus 0000

This list indicates stronger semantic values for topics communication, time, media, language, and computer science and lesser values for work and business. Please note, this is not a complete list, however, you can easily see that semantic value of the original article changes with comments both positive and negative. If the entire lists were to be analyzed, we could see a larger negative effect.

Space: Terms found; Moon as in Garrett Moon
Law: Terms found; traffic
Feeling: Terms found; pleasure, hope, friends, love, cheers

This illustrates how semantic topics can easily be swayed.

Frequent Word Categories

The following increases Comment versus Content Reference Fields

Reflexive        29.8%  ( 178 ) versus 25.5%  ( 97 ) the effect is negative
Disjunction      8.1%   (  12 ) versus 0% ( 0 ) the effect is negative
Comparison       13.5%  (  20 ) versus 0% ( 0 )  the effect is positive
Manner           17.7%  (  41 ) versus 25.0% ( 36 ) the effect is negative
Assertion        10.8%  (  25 ) versus 0% ( 0 ) the effect is negative
Doubt            1.3%   (   3 ) versus 2.1% ( 3 ) the effect is moot

While this is not a fully exhaustive analysis of the semantic difference between the original article and the comments, there is a lot more I can add but would make this post far too long. It is clear to see that comments can effect how a web page is found both positive and negative with the potential for the negative to outweigh the positive. And that is the point.

Back to Comments

Of the research I read years ago, a lot of work regarding comments pertained to usernames, links, and recognizing the quality of the and reputation of the poster, the comment, links, commenting habits, etc. Clearly Google is looking hard at comments when comments can easily be ignored. This indicates two things. One, Google found that comments can potentially offer value in site/page evaluation both positive and negative. And two, comments require a lot of scrutiny.

Regarding Article Ratings (stars):

Search terms used: article rating seo

No evidence found.

My Comments:

Evidence given in SEO articles seems to apply to product reviews or business reviews and not article reviews.

I did a few searches on Google for various SEO articles. Not one of them had reviews.

Clearly, the results indicate that using review mark-up for articles is not shown or not used by content creators. Without digging further, which is the case is not clear. However, the evidence is clear. Ratings for articles have no value.

Answering My Own Question:

Comments are a lot of work. Especially when you consider that I code my own CMS and 3rd party plug-ins are not available. Creating a plug-in (in-line forms process) is very possible, but may take more work than I wish to undertake at this point with questionable gain. As well, I am a busy fellow. I do not have the time, attention, or will to moderate comments. I may in the future.

Article reviews appear not to have any value. While mark-up is an important factor, schema.org does offer options without having to resort to article reviews. I may implement this feature in the future.

For now, I will not include these options in my schema. There is room for them in the future if the search winds change. While it is better to build schemas and code early for future options, for a hit-and-run application to post to my site quickly, the implication is that the work currently undertaken now be quick and effective.


Value is already opinion-based term:) The value of comments you can benefit from is directly depending of the quality of your readers:

  • Are readers nice people - they write meaningful comments, you don't have the pain to struggle with trolls -> overall profit.
  • Once you have more pain/time loss on troll management, as benefit from meaningful comments - overall fail.

Google, with its overvalueing links, has perverted the comment idea - the most of web folks (my personal guess: 99,9999%) are commenting with the single goal of link dropping.

A kind of nearly clear answer to your question would be: yes, high quality user generated content has notable SEO benefit. But its value must go hand in hand with rational time investment to manage it.

It isn't only my personal point of view on the subject: many SEOs i met formulate it exactly so: yes, good comments bring SEO value, but the should always stay in relation with invested management time.

Edit: assuming there are no trolls, comments would give some pretty concrete benefits:

  • additional unique content, coherent to the page's main topic and containing keywords from the same lexical core as the page's topic,
  • every comment adds a bit to the freshness factor, which is a ranking factor, specially in news-alike topics,
  • each comment gives a boost to the page's user metrics - more time on site, less bounce, deeper click through
  • I appreciate what you are saying. There are always trolls in every industry. I am a landlord and deal with a lot of B.S. I also managed a small closed forum site in the past and a fair number of busy e-mail lists. I felt like I was babysitting what were normally very professional people on the forum site. You are right about management. And to be clear, I am not yet talking about adding a comment section or ratings, but features to a web based GUI and whether I should bother. ;-) I am interested in anything that absolutely nails down the SEO factor with metrics or solid examples.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 29 '16 at 22:47
  • I actually ask this for more than one reason. No DUH right?? I detest the whole comment section thing and almost as much for the whole rating thing. I am interested in studying more on how search engines handle these since there does not seem to be any effect found in the patents and whatnot I have read so far. I want to reverse engineer these to know if I do implement these features, is there any inside knowledge I can extract to make them effective beyond the pain of managing them.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 29 '16 at 22:51

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