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Is Facebook’s Comments Plugin Bad for SEO?

Kenny Novak • Updated on May 11, 2014
Written by ContentPowered.com

Facebook stepped into the third party comments game by launching a Facebook Comments Box social plugin. Webmasters can use this plugin to activate Facebook-powered comments for their website and blog posts, regardless of the social integration of the site. It’s a powerful, easy tool to use to enable comments, and it’s grown quite popular. However, is it bad for SEO?

The Pros of Facebook’s Comment Plugin

Facebook’s Comment plugin has a few highly beneficial effects. First and foremost, it’s an easy form of comment submission and display to implement. Of course, other alternative, such as Disqus, are just as easy to use. Facebook’s plugin has the added benefit of Facebook integration, allowing users to link their profiles to your blog to remain logged in for posting future comments.

Facebook-powered comments also post automatically to the poster’s wall, which can generate extra social shares and link power. It’s a great way to generate organic traffic. Some users will turn this feature off – it’s controllable from the user’s perspective – but those that don’t will benefit your site organically.

The plugin also helps combat spam comments in a number of ways. Few spambots register Facebook accounts for commenting purposes, which limits the number of incoming spam comments. Facebook also helps to combat these spambots actively, rather than you being left on your own to fight spam on your site.

Facebook also has a number of ways to organize comments on your post. The most common is based on a specific Facebook algorithm that determines the most valuable comments and sorts them to the top. This encourages several ongoing discussions in a small space.

The Cons of Facebook’s Comment Plugin

Facebook integration is not without its faults. Primarily, some users are still hesitant to use Facebook outside of the platform itself. Requiring a login just to post a comment on your blog is going to discourage some people from posting.

The-Cons-of-Facebooks-Comment-Plugin

Another potential concern is that, while you are the site admin, the comments are not stored on your site. You have to set your own Facebook ID as the admin for the comments plugin in order to moderate those comments. Even so, the actual data for the comments is stored on Facebook’s servers. In the event that you wanted to obtain a full transcript of the comments, you wouldn’t be able to. In the unlikely event of a malfunction, as well, there is nothing your site can do.

The biggest detriment, and the focus of this article, is the impact Facebook comments have on SEO. Namely; none.

Why Facebook Comments Don’t Help

The problem is the way the Facebook Comments plugin is coded. To serve up comments, the plugin creates an iframe at the bottom of your post. This frame is then populated with content from Facebook, ranked according to the set sort order and styled according to parameters the webmaster set. The box looks like the site it’s integrated with, and to the average user, it’s just a normal comments box.

The key is the iframe. From the perspective of a search engine, that iframe is completely invisible. As far as Google knows, there is no comments section on that blog post. Used site-wide, Facebook Comments are invisible to search engines.

By contrast, Disqus and other common social commenting plugins do serve Google with the text of the comments. You can test this simply by running a Google search of the contents of the comments from a Facebook comment plugin and from a Disqus comment plugin. How does Disqus appear, but not Facebook?

Circumventing Frames

Disqus uses hidden div tags to display text copies of the comments to the search engines. The div tag is made invisible to the average user, so it does not interfere with the styled version of the comments displayed for use. The invisible text is strictly to allow SEO indexing of the text of the comments.

Normally, Google frowns upon such hidden text. After all, using invisible text to hide keywords for SEO power is a common Black Hat technique from years past. Google understands that most webmasters no longer want to moderate their own comments with their own software, and thus use these third-party plugins. It records this invisible text, in this one instance, as benign and beneficial to both the search engine and the site in question.

Crawling Facebook Comments

Facebook’s comments plugin, in its early days, did not have any way to index the comments for the web crawlers. Developers created code that would generate a similar format of invisible text for Facebook comments as what appeared behind Disqus comments. Eventually, Facebook made a change.

Circumventing-Frames

Currently, you can pull the Facebook comments from your blog using a Facebook Graph API. Specifically, you can visit https://graph.facebook.com/comments/?ids={YourURL} to pull a copy of the comments on display. You can then use this feed to render comments into the body of your page invisibly, behind the comments box. In this way, Google still sees comments and gives your site the benefit of their SEO juice.

A Problem of Defaults

The primary problem with Facebook comments is that, while they can be made to pass SEO power, they do not do so by default. Many webmasters never know this without research. They learn about Facebook’s power for SEO, learn that Facebook has a comments plugin, and install it without testing it. Then all they see is a slew of active Facebook comments and no corresponding SEO power.

Facebook integration can be very powerful and very useful, particularly in the other social metrics. Posts benefit from comments through social media, and your posts gaining more exposure on Facebook through your comments section will be at least partially beneficial. Unfortunately, unless you know to utilize the graph API to display comments for search engines, you lose out on all of the additional benefit of an active community on your site.

If you have an implementation of Facebook’s Comments plugin, or if you are considering implementing it, you should research the best way to use the graph API and resulting data to display your comments for the search engines.

Comments

  1. Kelvin wostro

    says:

    Very nice and helpful. thanks https://boostlikes.com for this share…

  2. Economy News Today

    says:

    I was thinking that comment system is dofollow but I guess it’s not. Thanks for answering my question.

  3. Nicole Adams

    says:

    To me, it is working fine. SEO dense comments helped me attract niche specific traffic for my wordpress blog where I have installed this plugin. I even purchased some comments from Fiverr and this worked very fine for me.

  4. Sinoun Chea says:

    I don’t know why, but I usually avoid commenting on blogs with the Facebook plugin.

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