Google on the SEO value of user reviews on websites
Should you allow users to leave comments on your site? They could help with SEO, as long as you are able to moderate them, Google says.
This topic was discussed by Google search attorney John Mueller during Google Search Central SEO’s business hours meeting recorded on February 18.
An SEO professional named Vahid Parsa joins the livestream to ask Mueller a number of questions, one of which involves user comments and if they are considered a ranking factor.
It is not accurate to say that website reviews are a ranking factor because your site will not rank higher simply by allowing users to leave reviews.
However, depending on what users type in the comments section, it has the potential to help search rankings.
Here’s how Mueller explains the SEO value of user reviews.
How User Reviews Can Help With SEO
User feedback can add SEO value to web pages in the form of the context.
If users stay on topic and leave comments related to the topic of the page, that information can help search rankings.
Relevant comments about the web page can help Google better understand the content and know what types of queries it should rank for.
“What I think is really helpful with these comments is that often people write about the page in their own words and it gives us a bit more information on how we can show that page in the results of So from that perspective, I think comments are a good thing on a page.
The reverse is also true.
When users leave irrelevant comments, they can damage the quality of the entire page.
Off-topic comments can send mixed signals to Google about what the page is about and what queries it should appear for.
Websites are responsible for User Comments, even though they may be written by people not directly affiliated with the site.
If it’s on your website, you’re responsible for it.
Comments containing spammy links, for example, could subject you to a penalty or demotion in search results.
That said, it’s best to allow comments only when you’re able to moderate them.
As Mueller says, the biggest challenge with user feedback is making sure they stay on topic:
“Obviously finding a way to maintain them in a reasonable way is sometimes tricky because people also spam these comments and all sorts of crazy things happen there. But overall I think if you can find a way Keeping comments on a web page gives you a bit more context and helps people who search in different ways find your content as well.
Listen to Mueller’s response in the video below:
Deleting comments can impact search rankings
If your website currently allows comments, keep in mind that removing them may impact your search ranking.
Depending on your situation, the impact can be good or bad.
Cleaning up a comment section filled with irrelevant content and/or spam can lead to ranking improvements.
On the other hand, removing comments that add valuable context to pages can lead to ranking drops.
Mueller addressed the SEO impact of removing website comments in a previous hangout, saying:
“From our perspective, we consider comments to be part of the content…at the end of the day, if people find your pages based on comments, if you remove those comments, we obviously won’t be able to find your pages based on that.”
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to user reviews, as they can both help and hurt SEO.
Featured image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, February 2022.