When scrolling through Twitter to see if there’s anyone I had to respond too, John Henshaw from Coywolf had shared something about Google allowing comments on search results. Then Kristine Schachinger (I think it was her) linked to the webmasters post where they are indeed testing this out in a few niches. It looks like sports results are first.
The good news is more keyboard warriors have a place to vet their opinions. Because that is totally awesome and something we need more of, especially when others can view this and it can directly impact your business (eye roll and sarcasm). And we have another great side effect, scammy SEO companies who will pretend this is the all new way to do SEO and will get you to the top. It could potentially also open up the doors for affiliates to post their links or custom coupon codes that fire sales back to their accounts and directly from your trademark searches. Same goes for influencers “use my coupon and save” directly on your own search results.
This could be done on the main URL, products URLs from your own site, over other affiliates’ sites and reviews third parties have created, etc… Lots of bad that could happen (and will if it takes off), but this might have some value and good sides too. I’ll get to those shortly.
This post is broken out into three parts.
- What to expect rumor wise
- How it could actually impact your visibility good and bad
- What to do and to avoid, assuming this is something they keep
Very similar to when Google would show live twitter results in the top top positions or boost visibility if you had connections through circles in Google+, this is going to be a fun ride, if they keep it and push it out further.
What to Expect Rumor Wise
Instead of paragraphs, here’s the scams you’ll be getting pitched with (more than likely)
- we can get you 100’s of real comments and engagements
- Because the person has to be logged into a Google account to comment, this will be easy to map, do not fall for it.
- you have negative comments on your content, we can help remove it by getting you real and good comments
- Just like YouTube and others, things will be a weighted system and if you go for these “real comments” then you’ll probably create more damage than good.
- by getting more comments, you’ll instantly get more traffic because your content quality appears to be better
- This has some truth too it, but do it with your own real users and readers, not some third party service.
- the more comments and positive comments the better your content will do
- This could be real. I go into this below with past Google social experiments.
How it Could Impact Your Visibility, Both Good and Bad
Now that we got through the the big rumors and scams. Here’s a few way this could actually play out in a realistic scenario.
I’m basing this off of:
- YouTube (a Google property which has comments, likes, dislikes, embeds and shares) many features which will also exist within these comments.
- Google+ (although dead, this could be the replacement) When this was live and you were logged into a Google account, you got different SERP results based on your connections, previous likes and your circles.
- Authorship (at least from when they showed your photo in the search results) would also lend a hand in showing your content more frequently to people who were engaged with you or people in your circles when you were logged into a Google account.
Here Are a Couple Ways Google Comments Can Impact Your Search Rankings
Google likes the comments and sees them not being abused so they keep them. They can now start to figure out your interests, likes and dislikes and keep track of them since you are logged into a Google account. They can now customize and personalize the results to match your specific needs and interests. This is absolutely going to cause conspirists like the ones saying the algorithm swings left in politics to go crazy, but the reality is that it is a really good way to give a more personalized and relevant experience to the end user.
By using this data, Google can show better wording/phrasing, color palettes for websites and websites that cater more to your demographic and interests. Not to mention they’ll be doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, give the best result to the individual user based on their search query.
By knowing what and who the user is engaging and interacting with, both positive and negative, Google can fine tune results for individuals instead of group intent. This could also mean 2, 3, or 10 companies can have the top 10 result for the same query, based on the end users commenting and social behaviors which can hurt your organic traffic.
This is interesting from an ORM standpoint. If your company does something well and gets an accolade, and you decide to share it, angry past employees, people with a vendetta against you and others can now start to bash you on the announcement and cause some serious issues. It’s going to open a market for comment ORM SEO, and also a lot of money for lawyers who are simply looking for something to sue about. This is all going to depend on how much info Google reveals about the commenter and how much of an ability they give the site owner or company to be able to track the communications and respond, as well as let the company verify and remove things that are 100% not accurate.
You can ignore this like most will and should (at least for now). Google has tried to be social for many years and in many ways. It’s just not part of their company’s nature. They can build algorithms better than anyone, software and operating systems that rock, but they can’t be social. That’s why Facebook, Instagram and others own the space. It’s just something they cannot do until they fix their own demons and learn to think non robotic and more about helping people engage with each other. It is unlikely they will (at least in the near future), so I wouldn’t worry about this too much, chances are it’ll be gone before it gets too big. Think back to them showing Twitter results in the top ten positions and other past failed experiments. If it does take off for a while, it’s going to reek havoc if it becomes a ranking factor (not signal) and can impact results.
What to do and Avoid if Google Keeps Comments
Go on like you normally do. You deal with this on yelp, you deal with it on Google reviews and you deal with it everywhere anyways. This is just another PITA thing you’ll have to deal with because we’re in a new era where everyone wants to have a voice and to be heard. If someone has a legitimate complaint, address and do your best to help them. Not everyone will be happy, but show you can do your best and keep going like normal.
The big difference is if it does indeed impact search results. YouTube can be manipulated with likes, dislikes, comments, embeds and shares. Author images were able to be gamed and so was parts of Google +. If they begin using these same attributes that they have on other channels, it opens companies with lots of angry customers to have a very negative impact on their SEO and also gives competitors an easy way to bash and destroy their competition. At the same time, if you’re a smaller company and have a loyal and happy customer base or following, this can be an amazing opportunity for the same reasons above.
The big thing to remember is that SEO is only one channel. Unlike others it changes sometimes daily and will always be that way. As a business owner, focus on your company and don’t obsess over one comment on a blog post from 5 years ago that doesn’t bring you any traffic anyways. You should always have at least 3 profitable channels if you want to survive, this being one of them. It isn’t live across the board yet, when it is nobody will have any real data (only guesses like the ones above (but they’ll share lots of screen shots from marketing tools)) and stay calm and look at your data.
Last take your data and begin analyzing it correctly to make informed decisions about how you can create more positive engagements. This is just smart business. Happy customers and content readers can mean referrals and growth. Keep them happy, they’ll keep the positive comments, likes and sales coming.