Why Comments Will Kill Your Website

Reasons why a Comments feature will hurt, instead of help, your site plans

Person looking at spam on their computer
Website comments can lead to spam links.

Every few weeks I get a call from a client who wants to add a comments feature to their website. They envision their website’s visitors having great conversations in those comments areas, adding valuable content to the site that builds off the articles that the company has published.

The reality of what happens when that comments feature is added is often much different than this idyllic scenario, however.

It is rare that a comments area actually adds anything of value to a website, and in truth, that feature is more likely to hurt the website as whole.

Reality Check

The promise of “user generated content” is incredibly tempting for many companies. The idea is that actual site visitors would add comments onto a blog article, offer reviews of a product or service, or contribute to a community forum like a message board. These contributors would keep the site’s content fresh and flowing and the interactions would increase overall engagement with that website and the company’s brand. That is the dream-case scenario, but the reality that is that a very small percentage of people ever actually leave a comment or review on a website.

Take Amazon as an example. While concreate numbers are not available to the public, estimates say that somewhere between .5% and 5% of people who buy a product on that site actually leave a review.

Because Amazon has such a vast user base, this means that even less popular products often receive a review, but this percentage is something you need to consider when planning your own user generated content initiatives.

If your website receives the low-end of the percentage that Amazon sees, (and even that is likely wishful thinking), that means that you would need about 200 people to view an article just to receive 1 comment – and there is no guarantee it will even be a quality content!

Many online comments are little more than “Great article!”, which ultimately adds no value at all to the website.

In the end, for you to have a website with articles that actually receive a fair number of quality comments, you would need thousands upon thousands of readers for those articles. If your site does not already have this kind of traffic, you are likely to have a comment section that goes unused – or worse, the people you don’t want to use it will find it instead.

Comment Spam

Comments areas are a fertile playground for online spammers. Sometimes these links are obviously spam, and other times they are much hard to spot. You may see someone post a comment like this:

“Great article. I agree with the points you have made and think that this link supports your ideas as well.”

They would then link part of that comment to another website that has nothing to do with your own or the article you have written, creating a spam link that is much harder to spot and moderate.

Moderating Comments

If you are going to have comments on your website, you must be prepared to moderate those comments. There are basically two ways that you can do this.

You can set up your site so that no comments are actually published until they have been approved by a moderator.

This prevents spammy content from hitting the site, but it also prevents people from getting that instant gratification of seeing their comments posted live. If you truly want to foster conversations on your site, instant publishing is critical.

The alternative to moderating comments before they hit your site is do so after they are published. This is an even worse scenario, since it means that spam links are sure to hit your site before you can remove them, and if spammers find a site they can exploit, you can be sure they will target it in droves! Moderating comments can quickly become a full-time job, and all those spammy comments are sure to drown out any legitimate conversations you were hoping to see on your site.

Another very real possibility with spam comments is that if search engines detect all those spammy links, they may penalize or even blacklist your site as being a link farm.

This can destroy any SEO initiatives you had working for your site, or even have you removed from the search engine index altogether.

In addition to spam comments, you should also expect comments that may not be spam, but which rum the gamut from inappropriate, to offensive, to downright hateful. The anonymity of online comments often brings out the worst corners of the Internet, and you do not want this bile to hit your comments area any more than you want spam links in there.

In Closing

If you already have a great user base and a team that can moderate comments regularly, then comments may be a fit for your site. Otherwise, adding a comments feature is almost certain to be more of a headache then a help for your online marketing plans, and in worst case scenario, it could actually kill your website success altogether.

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Your Citation
Girard, Jeremy. "Why Comments Will Kill Your Website." ThoughtCo, Jan. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/why-comments-will-kill-your-website-3469547. Girard, Jeremy. (2016, January 9). Why Comments Will Kill Your Website. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/why-comments-will-kill-your-website-3469547 Girard, Jeremy. "Why Comments Will Kill Your Website." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/why-comments-will-kill-your-website-3469547 (accessed November 25, 2017).