How Blog Comments Can Be Dangerous Sometimes

Did you ever guess that the comments at your own blog can completely kill your blog? No, I am not talking about the spam or irrelevant comments. A huge number of comments, genuine as well as extremely related to the article, can invite a Google penalization. So, how the comments at your own blog can harm you? Let me describe.

In late October of 2012, I experienced a huge drop in my blog (Tech Tips Geek) traffic. It jumped down to monthly Two lakhs page views from Four lakhs. I received an email in my Google Webmaster tool stating that there was a big traffic drop in my top performing pages due to site configuration change.

I was bit confused to figure out the meaning of “Site Configuration Change”. Henceforth, I started to guess what the heck damn thing I did with my blog configuration.

1. At first, I guessed, there should be some problem with WordPress as I upgraded it to 3.5 just 2-3 days before that alert from Google. I searched the web to find out if there was any bug with WP 3.5. No major feedback! I was frustrated as my traffic was going down and down.

2. Two months after the impact, I though there must be some Panda update which might have eaten my traffic. I started to pickup older articles which have almost no traffic. I could find 15-16 pieces of such content. I deleted them and decided to wait for some times. Also filed a lot of DMCA complaint against the scrapers. But, nothing did work for me. Traffic was more downwards which made me much frustrated.

3. Suddenly, I noticed that Google was delaying to index my new posts. I started checking the reason out again. But again, nothing found!!

4. Lastly, I opened Google Webmaster Tool for my site. I tried to check if there were too many 404 error pages (some time huge ‘404 Not Found’ links in your pages can discourage Google to index your pages). But there was no such broken links.

Eventually, I went for the “Fetch as Google” link at WMT to submit my new posts into Google index. Here, I discovered some dramatic result. The fetch results for my top pages contain a suspicious line. The line was like this:

“The page content that is displayed here may have been truncated. Please check the Help Center article about Fetch as Google for details about fetch limits.”

truncated-page

I noticed that Google is not reaching to the last of the page. It ends up far before the closing BODY and HTML tags. I was wondered! How does it possible!! When I am opening those pages in my browser and checking the source, it seems everything is fine there.

I started Googling and came to know that Google can fetch only less than 100 KB of the text version of a page. Curiosity was going high! I deeply noticed that Google is ending up in between the comment section of those pages which have a lots of comment.

Then, I decided to Fetch the pages which do not have too much comments. Yep! I got it!! The page was completely accessed by Google according to the fetch result.

Finally, I fetched all the pages of my blog which have more than 100 comments. The result was expected. They all were truncated due crossing the 100 KB limit.

Now things were clear to me. Google was trying to access those page and getting a truncated version. As everything about an authority blog is monitored by various tools of Google, my blog was not the exception. They send a message to me stating the configuration problem. It was my limitation that I could not figure out their hints.

And lastly, I received an alert message in my Adsense account asking to minimize the size of the HTML resource of my blog. They also gave a link of one the best performing page from my site as an example.

How did I get out of that problem?

After receiving the alert from the Adsense team, I was confirmed that the traffic drop in my site was due to page size. I followed some tasks in order to get out of the situation.

1. I deleted some comments which do not sound good or do not have any value.

2. I wiped out unusual div classes and sections from the comment part. For instance, if you use several div classes e.g comment header class, comment meta class, comment author class for the design purpose, you are nothing but creating a huge number of HTML resource for the page. Suppose, you’re using this code in your comment section:

<div class="comment-header">

<div class="comment-author-image">

<div class="comment-author"

</div>

</div>

</div>

<div class="comment-meta">

</div>

Here you should avoid the inner sections of the comment-header section. Because, those extra words (11 words) will be repeated 200 times if you have 200 comments at you blog. As a result your page will contain extra 200 x 11 = 2200 words as HTML resource which is much more than your content body has. It is recommended to remove those inner classes and design simply.

3. Installed W3TC (you should do it with caution as it may break up your site if configured improperly. Do not enable Database cache), configured it according to my need. I enabled the Minify option, activated comment removals, white space removals, line break removal options for HTML and CSS. Also enabled the Browser cache to set expire headers, HTTP compression etc.

4. Applied CSS sprite tricks to combine too many HTTP requests for the static CSS image sources.

5. I do host images at a subdomain for my WordPress blog for a better performance. I followed some tricks to optimized the images served from the subdomain.

As a result, my weighty pages became lighter, started performing great in Google Page Speed tool. According to the Google Page Speed tool, the score is about 92-93/100 for my pages.

Conclusion

Comment is an important part of your blog. It involves readers in conversations and asking for a solution of their problem. Again, relevant comments also help a bit in search engine ranking as well. But if the number of comments in a post exceeds hundred, you should close the comment for that post. Otherwise you’ll be a victim of high HTML resource issue.


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On April 25, 2013 by in Blogging | Short Link: http://hbb.me/Pox9np  

About
I am a professional Tech blogger from Kolkata, India. Writing 'how to guides' on computer and internet related problems is my passion.


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21 Opinions on “How Blog Comments Can Be Dangerous Sometimes

  1. I didn’t think this way that comments can be dangerous, thanks for share :)

  2. You can try customizing your template by showing only limited number of comments at post page…means first or recent 50-60 comments on post page other comments in second page (just like in Swift Theme)…i hope you get it…Anyway Thanx for sharing….:)

  3. I was unaware of this issue. Thanks for bringing this to my notice. Very good and descriptive share :)

  4. tanmay you bring out the point about commenting which i never think about. it means if you are getting good response from visitors in terms of commenting be aware and check every of them carefully….

  5. Thank you for the fantastic and most generous content. once again you over deliver for your readers.I think 70% people don’t know that comments can be dangerous but you forced us to think that comments are dangerous thanks buddy….

  6. I have a question here. Can we avoid this problem by using Disquss for comments. As far as I have heard Duisduss comments are not indexed by google.
    So will it be fine to use Disquss to avoid this issue??

    • Nope! Disqus can’t be any solution. The issue is with your page size, no matter whether it is indexed or not. You check the page source of those having Disqus comments. If it exceeds 100 kb (text version), google bot won’t reach to the last of the page and your page will be truncated in the view of Google bot.

  7. Again a great post Pradeep. Never thought comments can do any harm to a blog. I’m just curious if you were able to recover the traffic. And if you did, how long did it take?

    Ram

  8. It is really nice information you shared with us. Before read your post i was unaware about the weight of the page when we are going to fetch any particular page. After read the whole post i got this point “Google can fetch only less than 100 KB of the text version of a page”. It is the most important think i learn from your post and will share with my friends who are in this industry.

  9. That gets me thinking- I am going to be very cautious about approving of comments on my blog from now onwards.
    Thanks for the warning! :)

  10. timeinmanny says:

    I thought about this even before the penguin and panda updates. Good thing wordpress can prevent this to happen by disabling comments on newly content posted. Good thing wordpress is flexible enough to prevent this from happening. Good post Tanmay!

  11. another great post, i am totally un aware that comments also be dangerous. thanks for this article

  12. Thanks for the exhaustive article. Negative impact of Blog comments is completely new for me.

  13. I didn’t know leaving too many comments can turn out to be that dangerous ! However it’s good that you investigated and found out the reason for the drop in traffic.

  14. sometimes robots will do some comments on my blog,i hate that.

  15. Thanks for the Good Posting add.

  16. Finally a post that gives some REAL information and a new outlook on traffic drops. I didn’t know about this before I read this post.
    Nice article man.

  17. Comments are great for blog it tells search engines that how much a visitor is engaged to your site.
    so take a chill this is no issue.

  18. Great information. I didn’t knew about it earlier.

  19. Haha Tanmay Da , Finally , You write a post on that issue. I hope your traffic is recovering now

    • @Ved: It is not so easy to get back your traffic once you lose it. It can take upto six months to recover.

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