Google’s John Mueller advises site owners that removing all comments from a website may adversely impact search rankings.Mueller offers this advice during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on February 5.
A question is submitted by a site owner asking whether blog comments are factored into Google’s search rankings. They want to remove comments from their site and ask if that can be done without losing rankings.
The short answers are:
Yes, Google factors comments into the ranking of web pages.
No, it’s unlikely comments can be removed from a site without impacting its rankings.
For more context on each of these points, continue reading the next section.
John Mueller on Removing Comments
Mueller doesn’t make any recommendations on removing comments or not. That’s up to each individual site owner to decide.
In his response to the question, Mueller offers details that can help inform the decision of whether to go through with removing comments.
Site owners should be aware that Google sees comments as part of the content. If a comment contains information a searcher is looking for then it can help a page get surfaced in search results.
However, Mueller notes that Google is able to distinguish the comment section from the main content, so comments up being treated differently.
There are cases where comments can be valuable to pages if they offer additional information beyond what is included in the main content. But that’s not always the case, and sometimes they offer little to no value.
Mueller suggests examining the queries leading to pages on a site to estimate what the impact of deleting all comments might be.
You may find that information in your pages’ comments is assisting searchers with various queries. From there you can figure out the best action to take for your site.
“I think it’s ultimately up to you. From our point of view we do see comments as a part of the content. We do also, in many cases, recognize that this is actually the comment section so we need to treat it slightly differently. But ultimately if people are finding your pages based on the comments there then, if you delete those comments, then obviously we wouldn’t be able to find your pages based on that.
So that’s something where, depending on the type of comments that you have there, the amount of comments that you have, it can be the case that they provide significant value to your pages, and they can be a source of additional information about your pages, but it’s not always the case.
So that’s something where I think you need to look at the contents of your pages overall, the queries that are leading to your pages, and think about which of these queries might go away if comments were not on those pages anymore. And based on that you can try to figure out what to do there.”
Mueller concludes his statement by reminding everyone that Google does not ignore comments.
If you choose to delete comments it’s reasonable to expect at least some changes with regards to search rankings.
“It’s certainly not the case that we completely ignore all of the comments on a site. So just blindly going off and deleting all of your comments in the hope that nothing will change – I don’t think that will happen.”
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below: