I think they do. If I have commented on an article, I notice that several of my friends will also comment after me. It is probably because of the MY ACTIVITY section.
In order to see where my friends are commenting, I often look at their activity to see what they are reading and I'm sure they look at my activity as well. If they are reading something I'm interested in, I will go read the article, the comments and sometimes even leave a comment. I have followed quite a few writers this way and either by courtesy or genuineness, they have followed me back. So, yes is my answer to your question.
Do you think Google notices? By that I mean does it count for keywords and things like that?
I know that comments are recognized by Google in search results, because just a quick Google of my name shows not only my work but all my comments. Certain words are boldface type which Google views as searched words, not keywords. But I guess they could become keywords if enough people searched for them. In that respect, I think Google notices.
But do they put value on them? I don't know. I guess that is a question for the HP team.
I think they do, Brie. It creates interest and interest breeds interest. On a few of my works, one comment or two can cause more than twelve respond. And twelve responding to any hub I write is rare.
Certainly, comments drive us traffic.
It's a truth revealed by Neil Patel of Quicksprout.com.
Neil replies to each and every comment posed by the readers. and till now he replied to 50,696 comments.
He agrees this is the secret of his success.
I have heard that Google likes freshness, and comments count as fresh content. Don't know if it is true though.
I have also heard that sometimes if a keyword is placed in a comment, a search engine might find that keyword and put it on the list for a search for that word.
Comments are content on your page, they add length and also additional keywords. As someone has already said I believe they also count a bit towards freshness.
So the answer is - yes; comments are good for you.
Good information to know. Often times I just read and don't make any comments or identify how I felt about the article.
From what I've read, Google does take comments into account - which is why many webmasters delete meaningless comments like "nice post", because too many will dilute your content with irrelevant words.
Comments do count as "fresh content" too, which has to be a good thing.
However, some of my Hubs - and most of my blog posts - have very few comments and it doesn't seem to stop them doing well.
They can. But they aren't the be all and end all.
One of my hubs got over 100,00 views before it got a comment.
Like Marisa points out, comments are not always a good thing.
I have heard that negative comments with profanity are an adsense violation so should be removed. (I choose to approve all comments before they are visible.)
The other concern is people who comment to get a link, either in their name (if you're not logged into HubPages, you can link your name to a website) or in the text itself. In a lot of cases those websites are bad neighbourhoods and you really don't want links to them on your Hub - that's why I also approve all comments before they're visible.
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