I am sure some of this post is going to blow people’s brains, though this is only the tip of the iceberg.
WordPress Comment Solutions
Shaun almost a month ago released a modified version of Lucia’s Linky Love that removes links from comments rather than nofollow them as a partial solution to Google’s changes to PageRank distribution in regards nofollow.
Dave Naylor is also doing something similar
I also now need to take you back to a comment I left over on SEOmoz
Option E – Increase the amount of internal linking and flatten site architecture.
My old Sandcastles linking structure works great with the new algos, though there is now a need to remove external links totally from dupicate content pages rather than nofollow them.
WordPress does this by default with their really ugly automatic snippets
Option F – there is an even better way, that maximises the benefit of user generated content, still providing dofollow links, but retaining 95%+ of the juice from all external links on a page, without using nofollow at all.
Vladomir Prelovac has come up with what I would regard as a partial solution to this problem
I am glad someone has done this as I have been dropping hints about taking this approach for the last year in various places, back to the old Webbbs days, though it needs taking a few steps further to be truly effective.
There are however some big monster bugbears that need to be considered with this approach, just like with tag pages.
The benefits you will see on his site, with a huge amount of PageRank to play with from the release of WordPress Themes are potentially significant, whereas with a smaller site it can lead to complications, and you might for instance want to noindex the newly created comment pages ;) Vladomir doesn’t use tag pages extensively, more selectively.
For the last six months or so, my understanding of how Google ranks pages has changed significantly, in part due to studying the way Google handles huge sites such as Blogcatalog & Technorati, but it would be wrong for me to publish details without clearance from Tony at Blogcatalog because I had access to their analytics.
Whilst a lot of it would be speculative… almost like a fairy story, for some it might be more akin to a lightening strike than a light bulb moment.
Imagine you have a choice between having a tag page or a comment page in Google’s index
- A tag page you can specify the exact title tag
- A page created with SEO Super Comments you can’t, in many ways the comment is about as optimized as a Tweet on twitter.
Twitter’s upstream based on Alexa is only 10% Google.com, so maybe 20% overall – a large proportion would be navigational queries & Twitter account holder names.I am not 100% confident about Alexa upstream numbers, but they might be more accurate for Twitter than many sites.
You would get an occasional tweet ranking for very long tail terms, but it is not significant.
So if you are creating new pages for comments, you would want them in the index only under specific circumstances.
- Existing flat site architecture with all original content in primary index
- Your categories are indexed and viable landing pages
- You have your tag pages sufficiently indexed which may require various techniques to make the content more unique and useful.
- Have ways to use comment data on tag pages
- Have ways to create tag pages based purely on comments and 3rd party content ;)
- The permalink for a comment from comment feeds points to the new pages, not to an anchor/fragment/”#name” – this has been something that needed fixing anyway, because permalinks on WordPress posts with lots of comments are currently broken, because comments can move from page1 to page2 – there are lots of ways to then use this RSS feed pointing to unique URLs on your site ;)
- Rewrite rules for comment URLs
- Link to a comment should use anchor text based on the title
- Link from a name should provide all comments from that user on a single page
- Extensive use of Ajax – this gets a bit complicated, and it would be experimental, but why have the whole comment on the post permalink at all? At least from a spider perspective. A representation of the comments can be pulled in as pre-cached page fragments. Comments could also be pulled into member profiles if a person commenting is also in some way a site member, and maybe in that situation an individual commenter page should be totally replaced by a member page.
- Integration with social media – if you are pulling in tweets, friendfeed etc, give those a page as well, and then allow people to even comment on those directly from your blog, and push the data back out to whichever service.
- Pull more data from trackbacks/pingbacks – grab an excerpt and host it on your site on a unique page. If someone comments on it from your site, send a pingback
The Future Of Commenting And Aggregation
An even more radical approach would be to totally get rid of “comments” as a unique entity, and many other social sites for that matter, and have only unique personal streams of media, long or short form, video, pictures, text or a mixture, and what appears on other sites, whether on a blog as a comment, or on Twitter, Youtube or an social site would just be a syndicated copy of your original content. Just one permalink for the original content, with full ownership and privacy controls over who could see it.
In many ways Youtube is just a video feed reader where you syndicate your unique video, and you should link back to the original source, and get the original source ranking :)
What I am suggesting is a somewhat reverse approach to “Echo” recently launched in private beta or the Friendfeed aggregation.
A single source that you push out to other sites, rather than a multitude of aggregators. More like Tumblr or Posterous, but with much more control.
As a marketer however, it makes it difficult to reward comment participation without some kind of additional registration process.
The Complexities Of Syndicated Comments & Social Mentions
What really turns your mind upside-down is when you have a situation where you have a private blog post in a members area, and someone leaves a comment which is specific to the private content.
The commenter needs to maintain access controls, but at the same time the owner of the site with private content needs control as well, which can possibly be overridden. Who gets priority and ultimate control?
Who would have moderation rights? If moderated, would it be only the syndicated copy on a publishers site, or the canonical version maintained by the commenter.
Do you really want to mention in an “echo” on your blog that you cross-posted the same content to 100 social media sites?
I recently highlighted Disqus as a solution, it still is, but my reservations are increasing after using the service for a month – whilst the WordPress integration is clearly stated as being beta, I am going to call it a very raw beta – there are tons of problems with synchronization and comment moderation leaves a lot to be desired. My last support ticket to them was 6 days ago, with a second full comment export to try to get sync sorted out remains unanswered.
I have informed them already that I am pulling the plug – the synchronization attempts are hopefully to fix problems that might prevent others having problems in the future.
There are other issues that I don’t feel should be aired here on the blog. I am giving them some time to hopefully get them fixed.
Other WordPress Plugins?
A big shout out to 4 other plugins I have been using recently
What I have also done is hacked things so Disqus uses local CSS and images, that I will eventually be able to migrate to a CDN, though the Disqus CSS brings up all kinds of horrible warnings in Yslow and Page Speed Firefox Plugins.
Wp Supercache Plus – I am currently using it with Eaccelerator – I am using the “bleeding edge” version from SVN, and am in the process of implementing fragments with thematic – I had a few problems using it with memcached WP Supercache combined with Memcached object-cache.php.
Fragment caching with comments especially will reduce server load each time a new comment is added to a blog under heavy load, such as a product launch.
Probably also long overdue is a mention of Tim’s WordPress Membership Plugin. On the surface most plugin offerings look the same, it is only when you look at the code and how they have overcome hurdles that some solutions shine – I was involved a little with the early stages over a year ago and many features have since been copied, and other offerings have leapfrogged Your Members in more obvious ways, but at its core I still believe Your Members to be the most flexible solution (oh and you can see the support in public). There are lots of useful hooks and ways you can extend the platform, relatively easily, though a little PHP knowledge goes a long way. It is also pretty secure.
The full reasons deserve a lot longer post, but other solutions get promoted extensively without extensive research into alternatives – I need to spend another $500 on alternative solutions before I can realistically write a comprehensive review.
With Your Members it is possible to control access level to comments as well as the posts themselves. If you have a private post, you also want to selectively keep the comments private.
FAQ-Tastic – Zain now has both a free light version (that is very flexible) and a pro version – it is a serious solution for anyone looking to leverage their audience to create new product or content offerings. I am frequently asked to add an “Ask Andy” section here on the blog, but I will most likely do it in a more private area.
Comments on custom areas of WordPress is something I don’t think 3rd party systems will ever handle effectively.
This post has been a little bit of a mixed bag, but hopefully you find something useful & worth sharing with others.
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