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Google indexing Facebook comments

Watch what you say – it could turn up in search results!

Google has started to index Ajax/JavaScript content, so comments made on sites that use services such as the Facebook Comment Box or Disqus will now be discoverable via Google search. These comments will also contribute to a site's Google PageRank. Matt Cutts, head of Google's webspam team announced in a tweet:

"Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JS to index some dynamic comments".

We asked social technologist Suw Charman-Anderson what this will mean for website owners: "It's swings and roundabouts,” she replied. “For some website owners, it'll be great to have their comments indexed as it will help attract more traffic. But it will mean that they have to be more careful about moderation because spammy or astroturfy comments could put people off visiting.

"It will also be interesting to see what happens with comments that are duplicated across multiple blogs. On the one hand, it will help readers understand the context of the comment if they can see that the same person has repeated it across the web, but on the other, it could damage a website's rankings if they have to compete for attention not on the individuality of their own content, but on that of their commenters. But as with many things that Google does with search, we'll have to see the results of the algorithm they use before we can really figure out the ramifications."

Search-friendly?

We also spoke to content strategist Kristina Halvorson, who questioned whether searchers would want to see comments appearing on the results page.

"Google search results are already a mess,” she told us. “For example, yesterday my daughter had a headache and a fever, which was deeply concerning to me. I searched the term, and several of the results that came back were from forums (with comments from non-professionals) and "content farm" sites (such as ehow.com).

"What's going to happen once comments from Facebook are included in those results? Will I get status updates from people complaining about having a fever and a headache? Will I get a string of comments of people who aren't medical professionals giving advice to one of their friends about her child? Why would Google force me to wade through these?

"Also: Google is just now trying to beat out the content farms (ehow.com, wikihow.com, etc.) in order to deliver content that better meets quality standards: usefulness, true relevance, accuracy. I can never, ever be sure that comments are accurate, and if the platforms are unmoderated I can't be sure I'll get comments that are actually useful or appropriate.

"Finally, the last time I checked, Facebook is primarily a social platform for people's personal lives. If we can't relax there because we are constantly being monitored by The Eye of Google … then where? It's like always having to invite Google along to dinner with friends: suddenly I have to watch what I say at all times."

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