Comment links: an experiment

Tue 14 July 2009 16:10, Joost de Valk

Comment links: an experiment

As you might know, I do a lot of blog SEO. My article on WordPress SEO pretty much sums up my ideas about it, but to get those ideas, sometimes you'll need to experiment. One of the things I've always been a strong proponent of, is the use of nofollow to sculpt internal PageRank. Now Matt has made that sort of impossible (at least that's what he says), so I'm looking at other tactics.

But if you stop using nofollow for PageRank sculpting, maybe you should also stop using it in other areas. I've been thinking about what I should be doing with the links in my comments for a while now. Even though nofollow still works to prevent link juice from going to those sites, links associated to comment authors are, at best, fun, but hardly ever add anything to the conversation.

So why should you link out to comment authors? Sometimes it helps to understand their background and makes the conversation easier, so when a post is fresh, and still being commented on, it provides a sort of usability to be able to click through to the commenters side. But that effect is gone when the comments have "died".

What I've decided to do is the following experiment: after 60 days, all comment author names on my posts are delinked, though the URL still shows after their name, and all links IN posts are replace by "anchor text [url]" (so not linked anymore). Check out my WordPress hosting post for an example.

I'll keep you informed as to what I see this do in terms of rankings and spidering. If it works, it might just become a plugin. I'm curious to hear what you girls and guys think though, is this a good idea?

Comments (23)


  • Interesting idea Joost, if anyone actually commented at my blog, I would throw in and give you some more data ;-)

    Di 14 jul 2009, 16:18

  • A nice test as follow up on this one, would be to enable URL's in the comment itself, instead of the URL to the author. When commenters include other pages with relevant information and 'tie the knots' together to really create a usefull discussion, what effect would that have on ranking and spidering.

    Di 14 jul 2009, 16:23

  • Interesting test. I'm looking forward to the results.

    I've been struggeling with problems like this at blogs and have been leaning towards follow links in comments of logged-in users, and nofollow comments in links of users that are not logged in.
    Of course this only works with blogs that have a user base.

    And I never liked the whole nofollow thing. It was rotten when they launched it and it never really worked for what it was meant to do.

    Di 14 jul 2009, 16:44

  • This is very interesting for me Joost. Are you saying that you still think that page sculpting is worthwhile? In any case I'll be watching for your updates on this. :)

    Why don't you use TweetMeme plugin so we can tweet you?

    Di 14 jul 2009, 16:54

  • An interesting aside: My site dropped from PR4 to PR3 in the recent toolbar PR update, after turning my DoFollow plugin off. I would have thought it should have gone up (leaving other factors aside).

    Back to your plan - I had been thinking about doing this myself (although as part of a DoFollow plugin, where only certain commentator qualified for a link and the rest got this treatment). However, I'll wait to see how your test goes before I proceed.

    For usability reasons though, perhaps the URLs could be turned back into links using jQuery after the page has loaded. Google probably won't count these as links. What do you think about this idea?

    Wo 15 jul 2009, 02:46

  • @Dennis: in theory you're right, in practice though, most links in comments these days are "footer" links, a very annoying habit...

    @Remi: I'll be honest, I used to love nofollow, for all the wrong reasons :)

    @Stephen: 1. I doubt the PR change had anything to do with the dofollow stuff. 2. that feels like to much of a bad hack to me...

    Wo 15 jul 2009, 06:03

  • @Joost, true, links in comments mostly are rubbish, but it might be worth a test with registrered users. On the contrary, users can also fill in 'footer' links in the inputbox for a website. :)
    But it kind of depends on your user base.

    Wo 15 jul 2009, 08:22

  • Interesting test, Joost, looking forward to the results.

    If we look at this from a bigger perspective, Google and other search engines can detect if a link is in the comments (or sidebar, footer, etc. for that matter).

    Therefore Google will assign more weight and pass more link juice to links within the editorial content than in comments.

    Nonetheless I reckon the waste of comment links, as little juice as they may accumulate.

    Looking for a solution, I also like this idea:
    - A WordPress plugin which rewards only regular commentors with a link (adjust threshold manually)
    - People with less comments than the threshold do not get a link at all

    And guess what; such a plugin is already built :)

    Wo 15 jul 2009, 15:27

  • If you run WordPress and are interested in trying this experiment for yourself, there is now a plugin just for that:

    Zo 19 jul 2009, 17:29

  • I'd rather change the links to javascript links than to unable them.

    Ma 27 jul 2009, 20:28

  • I really like the idea of giving out links to people who engage with your site. Comments can add value and why should you not reward that? It always comes back to the abusers ruining it for everyone.

    Remi - I think the nofollow worked particularly well at what Google does best - keeping everyone completely mystified about search and constantly guessing.

    Di 4 aug 2009, 14:03

  • Haha, you're right about that last point Nate ;-)

    Di 4 aug 2009, 16:17

  • @Joost your experiment is implemented on I do not get it: although the post comments are 60 days old the urls are not unlinked? What is it I do not get.
    @Eduard I like the solution of Hobo much more. Reward regular commenters is far more in the spirit if the inter...NET.
    Dofollow, unfollow, I never believed in PR sculpting anyway with this linktools. Whats good for users must be leading and that is that links should work also in comments.

    Do 20 aug 2009, 12:48

    • Internet Marketing Bureau
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    @Nate I completely agree!

    Za 24 apr 2010, 15:17

  • The idea that pagerank leaks via dofollow links is already busted.

    It is better for your website if you use dofollow comments. More people visit your website and more content gets created without having to lift a finger.

    Zo 25 sep 2011, 15:41

  • Many people find it very hard to find dofollow sites. I think this dofellow would be a great hit for these people. Hope to hear more updates about this one.

    Za 19 nov 2011, 10:43

  • A little bit late, but is there a way to find the results of this test Yoast? Or can I conclude by visiting your site that the test has failed (the links on your site are still active in the comments).


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