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Will Converting Comments Into CONTENT Cause Ranking Problems?

     
2:55 pm on Aug 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have a couple of articles that get a LOT of comments (around 50 plus).

I have been thinking of taking the comments (and my responses) and editing them and incorporating them into the main content of the articles.

I would like to do this to help congregate information about particular sub-topics on a page into one area. So instead of mentioning "Widget A" up near the top of the page and then having a comment way down at the bottom of the page mentioning "Widget A", I would like to reword that comment and incorporate it into the main text of the article.

Would you do this?

And if so, HOW would be the best way?

Should I only a couple of comments a week or so? (As mentioned, there are around 50 comments). If I did all 50 in one go, will google wonder where all the comments went and why there is so much content added into the main content area?

~~~~

Most of the comments are informational queries and are along the lines of:

"I just bought widget A. Can you tell me how to use it?"

or...

"What type of widget do I need for my new whiz bang?"

The nature of the page (and the site in general) is one-way information, as opposed to a site like webmasterworld where it is expected that people will contribute as much or more than they actually take away.

Thanks in advance.
1:50 am on Aug 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Two aspects of the question come to mind, both leading to additional questions....

1) Google has seen this material as UGC. How would they look at what now purports to be publisher-created content that's evolved from this UGC? My thought is that if you were migrating these comments to FAQs, this might be OK... but it might help if you somehow worked in a way of acknowledging the sources.

Working it into the main text of an article might be more iffy, though I don't know how Google might track that kind of distinction... nor do I know how your users might react to the "appropriation" of their comments.


2) And the other, looking at it from the perspective of credibility... which might not apply in this case... if the material is in any way testimonials, does it lose credibility by being removed from interactive comments?

I've always thought testimonials in the body of an article might have less credibility than testimonials in comments. This is complete conjecture, though. It's something I've wondered about on sites that don't have a live interactive commenting capability.
11:37 am on Aug 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A few months ago I converted a wordpress site to joomla. Many of the articles had tens or hundreds of comments, but rather than try and convert all of these to a different comments system I just copied them en masse and with no changes into the bottom of the articles ( people can still add new comments below using a joomla comment system).

I didn't notice the slightest change in rankings as a result of the change.

I also frequently change the order of paragraphs within articles with no effect on rankings.
4:35 pm on Aug 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ Robert Charlton:

Thanks for the input and for the food for thought.

1) My situation might be most analogous to an FAQ: Visitors upload a photo of a widget and ask me, "What exactly is this widget? My grandma found it in her attic and blah, blah, blah (a lot of stuff related to their grandma's house but unrelated to the widget).

So the UGC would be what you or I might consider "fluff": related to how the commenter acquired the widget and completely unrelated to the widget itself.

I could indeed acknowledge that the topic was suggested by so-and-so if I do re-write the material into the main content.

But the majority of the comments is actually CONTENT WRITTEN BY ME in a reply to their comment.

So a typical situation might be the commenter writes a one- or two-sentence question, and I write a paragraph or two response to that question.

2) I don't think credibility would be an issue for humans, but it might be an issue for search engines.

Since the commentss are NOT reviews of products / testimonials, I won't have to worry about a sudden loss of social proof / peer approval.

However, the next question is; will google see a sudden lack of comments as a lack of social proof / user interaction for its algorithm?

While I have no doubt that extracting content from the comments and incorporating it into the main content would make for A BETTER USER EXPERIENCE, is there such a thing as too good of a user experience?

If you answer ALL the questions / cover all the possible angles, so that people DON'T submit comments (because their questions are already answered), will google see the lack of comment submission as a negative?

I believe that Rasputin's answer tends to nullify this concern, however.

@ Rasputin

Thank you so much for the input. Both of the issues you mentioned - the comment incorporation and the rearrangement of paragraphs - are both something that concerned me.

Thanks again to both of you.
7:24 pm on Aug 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My only consideration would be taking UGC and turning it into site content. Some who make comments might find that copyright infringement, unless you have a TOS that allows you to use such commentary without further notice.
8:24 pm on Aug 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ tangor:

My only consideration would be taking UGC and turning it into site content. Some who make comments might find that copyright infringement, unless you have a TOS that allows you to use such commentary without further notice.


You bring up a good point.

Most of the TEXT that is submitted in the comments is worthless. Since my site is about "the meaning of widgets," most of the comments are along the lines of: "You forgot to mention widget XYZ. What does that widget mean?"

However, some people have included PHOTOS of their widgets that they uploaded to my site. So their comments are: "Here's a picture of this widget I just bought. what does it stand for?"

I would like to use some of the images they submitted, but since I didn't have a terms of service in place specifying copyright of submitted text and images, I don't know how much liberty I can take with their photos.
7:47 am on Aug 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wish I had an easy answer, but can say that if they (user) took that submitted photo they have a copyright on that image. Best foot forward would be to ask permission to include as site content... and more importantly, is you create a TOS that will cover this in the future. You will get yowls and grumps, but what can you do? You have to be fair to them, and fair to yourself.
3:33 pm on Aug 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Tangor.

1) Contact the people who submitted them and ask for their permission to use them in the content section.

2) Search through all my old photos and see if I have a photos I took myself of a similar widget.

3) See if their is a creative commons image out there I can use if I strike out in points one and two.

~~~~

This page is something of a problem child for me.

I love writing about the topic, it gets the Lion's Share of traffic... and it doesn't make ANY money for me (at least, according to google analytics, anyway).

However, I think having the page helps give my other pages a boost in the rankings, so I will keep it. It gets the most social media traction on my site, and if I got rid of it, I feel that rankings for my other pages would tank.

I haven't even checked to see if it has a lot of backlinks since I don't have a backlinks checker tool.
6:14 am on Aug 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We've all probably seen pages with some limited amount of information and a "more" link to access all the information.

If possible, I'd try to put big snippets in content with a link to the original comment/question and response. Try 3 or 4, see if the SE's choke. I don't think I'd do all 50, but I'd target the top 10.
6:59 am on Aug 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In my experience user generated content brings with it a moderation problem. If you have a method of cleaning up the comments and weeding out the unrelated or useless ones then you might have content that can stand on its own. You'll need to become trusted with your process but it could work, many forum owners face the same issues you describe.
8:09 pm on Aug 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ Clay_More:

Thanks so much for the suggestion. I will work on that.

@ Sgt_Kickaxe

"If you have a method of cleaning up the comments and weeding out the unrelated or useless ones then you might have content that can stand on its own."


thanks for the input.

I am "lucky" in that I only get about ONE comment per day.

Also, most of the comments are actually just one-line questions, like:

"What about XYZ widget?"

or

"what does my widget represent?"

And then the BULK of the material is MY response in the comment area.
2:14 am on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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And then the BULK of the material is MY response in the comment area.


And in that you have a perfect right (and copyright, too!) to convert to site content. Back to the original question about converting to content (site) cause ranking problems... I'll utter a strong "NO IT WILL NOT"... particularly if you remove the UGC related to that conversion. After all, it is your words, your work, your commentary... and you don't need THAT duplicated on your own site.

Your words. Your Content. You just did it in a comment previously, it is now SITE content.

No worries, mate, as the Ozzies might say. :)

(Aside: I've been doing this for years with zero negative results). I, too, have a fun spot with invited comment which causes me to comment... and MY comments are MINE and I can do with them whatever I like. Secondary, if it does become SITE product, I don't need that previous UGC stuff as it has been CONVERTED to a site page. (Going with your commentary that most of the UGC was not significant in te first place).
5:03 am on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the assist, tangor.

(Going with your commentary that most of the UGC was not significant in te first place).


Yeah, it's funny. People who want to ask a simple question like "what is this widget," will go into a long back story of how they acquired it - or how much emotional attachment they felt to it when they first saw it.