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.”
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.
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.