How Facebook Comments impact Google search rankings

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By Brendan Irvine-Broque Comments

This post provides a brief introduction to Google’s update; content publishers and webmasters should read on for the full, free, overview at The Facebook Marketing Bible.

Google’s November 2011 changes to its web crawler have created new opportunities and liabilities for all websites implementing Facebook Comments, with important implications for SEO. Webmasters who properly implement and manage Facebook Comments stand to gain, but the recent changes could significantly hurt the rankings of sites who do not properly prevent and manage spam.

Google announced last November that it had begun indexing Javascript and AJAX content, without requiring webmasters to implement workarounds. While Google has not yet claimed to be indexing 100 percent of Javascript and AJAX content, it became clear soon after the change that Facebook Comments, which is displayed using AJAX and HTML5, are now indexed by Google.

Facebook Comments Example

Previously, in order to get Google’s crawler to index Facebook Comments, webmasters had to use a workaround like displaying an duplicate plain-text version of Comments that was visible to Google’s site crawler, but invisible to visitors, who would still see the regular Facebook Comments.

This workaround required webmasters to use the Facebook Graph API to pull Comments (access to Comments through the Graph API was announced on the Facebook Developer Blog in April). The technical nature of this workaround meant that few websites implemented it, and therefore, for most sites, Facebook Comments had no impact on Google Search rankings.

Given the November change, Facebook Comments are now indexed by Google without any workaround. Since Google’s search rankings are affected by the quality and relevance of the text on a given page, as well as the quantity and quality of outbound links, this change means that any site visitor can affect search rankings by commenting. Quality, relevant comments and links may help boost a page’s ranking, but spam in Facebook Comments may also hurt rankings.

To learn more about the specific advantages of Facebook Comments for site owners, read on for our free, detailed overview in the Facebook Marketing Bible, where we cover:

  • Facebook Comments versus Disqus, ECHO, and IntenseDebate
  • Who should use Facebook Comments? A few examples of live sites that are doing it well
  • Getting a search ranking lift through Facebook Comments
  • Facebook Comments and the spam risk

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