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Misspellings And Grammar Errors In User Generated Comments
Panda Bites Down On Quality
Spelling Errors In Comments
Many website owners have been questioning the importance of proper spelling and grammatical correctness in user comments on their blogs or on revenue sharing sites such as Hubpages. The theory is that grammar errors and general misspellings in a user comment can hurt the overall rating and subsequently affect SEO in a negative manner. Webmasters need to know whether user comments are being used to calculate a page's position in the Google serps in order to effectively manage and make the right decisions regarding such user comments. This has become even more relevant with the Panda 3.3 update (and previous Panda updates) which have begun to place a brighter spotlight on the social aspect of the internet and user interaction through web 2.0 features. To sum up the conclusion of this post for those not wishing to read it in its entirety: yes, I believe that misspelling and grammar errors play an important role in Google SEO and should be moderated appropriately. Their significance seems to increase greatly as the ratio of user generated content (comments) to author generated content (hub) begins to become more equal or if the amount of comments usurps the original content. The rest of this article will detail why this conclusion has been made.
First off, I will share with you a secret I have learned through some trial and error processes. It is an seo secret that many may already be familiar with, but the value is good and it can help increase a pages serp ranking. The seo secret is that comments play a crucial role in ranking for keywords and sometimes this can be as important if not more so than your keyword density in the original content. For example, an article on the subject of "pink slime" or "nanotechnology" will do better if there is a relevant keyword in the comment section. User comments let the Google ranking algorithm know that the content is good enough to inspire readers to interact with it and therefore the posting becomes more relevant and valuable in terms of authority and ranking. The keyword "pink slime" appearing in a user comment is a flag to Google that the article is definitely about the ground beef additive controversy. I have found that keywords (and related terminology such as "ground beef" in this example) might even occasionally have a higher value than stuffed content because of the fact that they are indicative of relevance.
So, feeding off of that ground beef example, if user comments can play a role in raising the seo value of a page, then it is also true that they can play a role in lowering it as well. This can be in the form of random comments of text that do not really relate to the topic. Conversely, these type of comments could help the article rank for other keywords, but it also might cause a dilution effect where the article drops from its desired target. I would suggest that this is no reason to go about deleting random comments as the negative effect in that case is probably very minor. However, it is a good idea to write relevant comments when you respond to someone's Hub and to make sure to include a few keywords that are related to the topic. This will help the Hubber rank better for those words and is generally good for karma. Those type of comments are much better than the unoriginal "Good post" type material. Also it is smart to avoid copying lines of text from sources and other articles when posting comments. I have moderated comments of this type because of concerns about duplicate content.
But misspellings and grammar error problems in user generated content and comments can have a negative effect on SEO as well. Rather than basing this on my own meandering experiences, I will point you to the words of a Google employee John Mueller. He expresses in a forum post to a concerned webmaster that it is wise to help users create quality content. Spellchecking features and even grammar correction are nice additions that help those responding to maintain quality in forums and comments. The Google employee then goes on to mention that it would be somewhat unethical to edit user comments (not possible on Hubpages anyhow) but that the webmaster should take proper discretion when removing user generated comments in order to maintain standards. He goes on to discuss a few other methods of addressing spelling errors in comments: comment ranking systems (might be a worthwhile feature on Hubpages), summarizing comments, etc. Google worker John Mueller released these tips well after the initial Panda update in early 2011 and his advice was tweeted by Google's official account - you can read his entire response here. As he stated, it is up to you to decide where to draw the line, but just know that seo can in fact be affected.