Make Facebook Comments Box Indexable by Search Engines
Posted by Roy Peleg
This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Dear SEO friends,
Recently I considered implementing the Facebook Comments Box in several sites. I tried to consider the pros and cons.
The obvious pros were (there are more):
- By default comments will be posted to the user’s wall (though they can disable this), which can potentially create a lot of organic traffic and buzz.
- Fight spam as the user need a Facebook account to post a comment, which help fight agains most eviil spam bots out there (not to mention Facebook is at your side to stop the spammers as you can report the account and assist having it blocked).
- Facebook implemented a ranking algorithm that promotes comments which are more valuable
The two obvious cons were (there are more):
- Users need a Facebook account to post a comment
- Posts are not crawlable as they are loaded in an iFrame
The first one is an issue no doubt (for some more than others), but the second one is the critical one as far as I’m concerned. I almost gave up of the whole idea but after long researching I found a very valuable comment by a guy who identified himself as an engineer on the Facebook Platform team when asked about the crawlability of the comments. The guy said that there is a way to export the comments for any given URL with the help of a simple script (can be done in multiple programming languages). I don’t know why didn’t this make waves in the SEO world as I know that it’s a common belief that Facebook comments aren’t indexable and that they are closed behind the "Facebook walled Garden".
I was amazed by the simplicity of the code and that no authentication is needed. If you’ll examine the code you’ll also see that the comments can be styled easily to fit any site’s layout. So basically you can now use Facebook Comments Box on your site and serve GoogleBot (or any other crawler/browser agent) with the comments to have them crawled & indexed. Obviously this won’t be considered as cloaking as you’re serving Google exactly what the users see (just like creating an HTML version for a Flash website).
One important point, I noticed that not all the comments are exported. Seems that for URLs with many comments (100s or 1,000s) only part of the comments are exported using the supplied code. It may be a bug or something by design, anyway, this requires more research.
Don’t know about you, but this made me smile. I hope you’ll find this useful as well, at least I think that now using Facebook comments is much more appealing.
This of course opens the door for a lot of black hat SEO tricks, I’ll let your imagination go wild
Note from Jen: We got a lot of comments last week on our post about Facebook Marketing Tactics You Might Not Know About asking about Facebook comments. Hopefully this helps answer some of those questions.