Widgets, Blog Comments and Top Commentator Links

This is the first post I have had chance to write this week as I have been working on another project which has meant a great deal of research and content creation.

For those of you who didn’t know, as well as an SEO consultant I am also pretty heavily involved in ‘niche blogging’. This basically means I rank blogs on Google to generate income through ads and affiliate links, hey once you have learnt SEO why not make some money out of it and leverage your sites?

Anyway I may talk about niche blogging in later posts and my current project is not finished therefore posting at SEOwizz is going to be down to once a week I’m afraid.

What I wanted to do today is highlight a couple of things that may be obvious to a lot of my readers but thought I would highlight it for the minority.

We all have widgets we use in the sidebars of our blogs, whether its recent comments, recent posts, popular articles, friends lists, blogrolls, rss feeds or simply ads, we all have them. All these features help our readers interact with our content and our community, however recent comments and popular posts widgets also benefit us from an SEO point of view, let me explain.

Recent Posts

Yes most of us have the recent posts widget in our sidebars acting as a site wide link to our most recent pearls of wisdom, however having them there does so much more than simply helping readers find your newest material.

A common problem many bloggers face is getting their most recent content indexed quickly, now this can be down to a lack of back links or it could be that Google does not think the new page is important enough yet.

A recent posts widget puts a link to that page on every page of your blog, what could be more important than a page with a link from every page of your blog? The page will be crawled more and therefore indexed quicker.

There is another benefit to having your recent posts displayed on every page and that is, exposure. If you don’t have a recent posts widget then your post is only displayed on your blog homepage, but what about visitors that hit deep pages? They may only read the deep page and bounce, however if your most recent posts are displayed in the sidebar there is a chance one of the titles may attract their attention and WHAM!! They click through and a bounce is saved.

I still don’t think bounce rate is a ranking factor yet but it may be one day and having a low bounce rate is good for any informational site.

Popular Posts

Again having a popular posts widget is a great way to increase interaction with your readers but it is also a great way of increasing the value of your most popular posts.

Again if your most popular posts are linked to from every page on your site, Google will index them quicker and the pages will rank higher.

So you will be getting more traffic to your cracking content via search engines and obviously more traffic to the pages by having links to them on every page of your site.

What does this mean?? Well,, your content is popular for a reason, that’s because its great!! So naturally the more people that read it the more links you will acquire, the higher rankings you will get and more visitors will keep streaming through.

So in broad terms Recent Posts + Popular Posts = More Visits, More Links, Higher Rankings, More Traffic, Lower Bounce Rates.

Dofollow Blogs

Over the past month I have been experimenting by leaving comments on dofollow blogs and getting the site wide ‘top commentators’ links that give you a link from every page. All I wanted to know was, how much value does it have as a link building method?

OK…. The first bit of news is yes the links were recognised by Google and Yes my link popularity went up around 5% from 4500 to about 4800 ish.

Did this effect rankings

NO – but let me discuss this at the end.

Did it do anything in terms of SEO

YES! I noticed a significant increase in search engine traffic, in fact one day I had 500 visits from search, 2 weeks after ‘top commentator’ links were recognised on 2 sites. Unfortunately the increase could have been caused by other factors, like link age or long tail ranking increases, however the fact it came directly after the commentator links makes me believe this had something to do with it.

Now I want to talk rankings and I want to talk about it very carefully, this due to the fact I don’t want people to rush out and spam do follow blogs.

OK…. My rankings did not increase, not even one place and I believe there are better ways to build links for rank.

Anyway, I believe do follow blogs links can be beneficial for ranks if….. You use a target anchor text.

Now I am actually going to discourage blog commenting for SEO purposes for the following reasons;

A – Only the site wide ‘top commentators’ links are really worth it

B – Commenting simply for a link decreases the value of the discussion

C – The longevity of these type of links are questionable, to say the least (The blogger could remove the link or ‘top commentators’ widget.)

D – If your link drops out of the top comments widget you have to start all over again.

Let me explain point D a little better;

If you place a load of comments on a do follow blog and get a link in the ‘top commentators’ widget then congrats you have a site wide link, however…..

Google has this little aspect of their algorithm that gives weight to the age of links, what happens if you forget to comment for a while, get knocked out of the top spots and Google crawl’s the page and your link is not there?? (Most blogs are crawled daily – well the ones worth getting these links from are)

This will mean you have to go plant a load more comments and you are right back to the beginning with Google seeing it as a fresh link, I hope you follow that.

I am not saying don’t comment at all, but only do so to add value and when you really have an interest in the conversation or topic. I wouldn’t want anyone commenting here that was doing it for a link only.

Also if you are trying to build a solid link profile, these types of links are far too risky, you could see half your link profile vanish in days given the right circumstances.

Anyway these are my observations; please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

22 thoughts on “Widgets, Blog Comments and Top Commentator Links

  1. Tim,

    I use Recent Posts, Popular Posts and Similar Posts for improving my bounce rate. But I didn’t know it help with Linking and Rankings – so thanks for sharing.

    I also use the plugin “Where did they go from here?” (http://ajaydsouza.com/wordpress/plugins/where-did-they-go-from-here/). This plugin will show “Readers who viewed this page, also viewed” links on your page. Bit like Amazon saying, “People who purchased this book also purchased these books.”


  2. I like to keep my sidebar clean, but recent posts and popular posts are always there. It’s great way to increase page views and thus, increase the chances of “converting” new visitor as a regular (because that visitor finds more great content than just the one she landed on). I guess it’s the same with “related posts” links at the end of each post, although it’s not sitewide like the sidebar lists, but it’s automatic internal linking anyway.

    I love blog commenting, mostly for the relationships it builds. I’ve also experimented with commenting to the doFollow blogs as well as the “KeywordLuv” blogs. It has had some moderate effect, but in the end I don’t see blog commenting as long term link building strategy. However, it is essential for a beginning blogger to start gaining exposure and links, even if they’re “no-follow”.

    I haven’t bothered with climbing the top commentator lists as it takes a lot of time and like you said, you’ll be out of the list unless you keep it up. On the other hand, I’ve had great experiences with trackbacks and blogs that list “latest trackbacks” on the sidebar. Of course it’s a whole new subject, but as the trackback on the other blog is usually linked with your posts title, it can send great direct traffic as well as have SEO effect.

  3. I do target dofollow blogs once in a while. I have also installed popular posts, related posts, random posts, recent posts plugins to increase the page views as well as ranking of the page. I need to find some do follow blogs to increase my backlinks count to improve my PR. Although I have started getting somewhat traffic to my blog, I still need to improve my PR to get some quality advertisement and paid posts.

  4. Hi Ricky.

    All I would say is stick with dofollow blogs you have an actual interest in, try here to find them http://www.dofollowblogs.com/, don’t forget there are other ways to get links and recognition. Guest posting is a great way to get some blog recogniition and directories and articles can still work to increase your search rankings.

    Use lots of methods incase one stops working.

  5. Hi Antti,

    Good point about the trackbacks, I find on my own blog that a lot of visitors click on the trackback links. Trackbacks in general are great for getting links to deep posts, obviously for the links to count they need to be dofollow.

    I think your right to keep commenting on a social level, there are better ways to go about simply building links.

    Thanks for your input.

  6. I loved reading your suggestions. They reaffirmed the common-sense approach to blogging, i.e., put what makes it easier for readers to find info on your blog. I’ve done most of what you recommend as a means of communicating with my readers. And, the blogs I post comments on are selected based on tech teacher interests.

    I’m not patting myself on the back–I’m congratulating you. Common sense ideas always seem the best.

  7. Hi Kali,

    Go ahead pat yourself on the back. It really is simple common sense but you would be surprised at the amount of blogs that do not include simple navigation widgets. This is one case of blogging where “what is good for the user is also good for search engines”. You want your readers to find your best stuff not just to entice them to subscribe but for them to fire you a link maybe??

    There are many different approaches to blogging, you have the 100% “I do it because I like writing” bloggers, you have the “social bloggers” who attempt to build communities around a particular niche, then you have the “internet marketing bloggers” who target search engines in an attempt to pull in targeted traffic that convert, I think most of the advice on this blog falls into the “internet marketing category” however every now and again I show the benefits of social techniques, because SEO and Social Marketing do meet in areas.

    Thanks for reading and your comment, its appreciated.

  8. I own a local carpet cleaning company. I used blog comments as the primary linking building strategy for my website. Of course this is not a competitive niche, but it works because I’m now #1 for Missoula Carpet Cleaning. What would you recommend as the #1 link building technique?

  9. Hi Joe,

    To be honest Joe I don’t believe in a link building technique that rules, I think you need to use a mixture of strategies. The problem I have with blog commenting is that most blogs are no follow and the ones that aren’t usually pass very little juice, however thats not to say you can’t use it in small niches. For niche sites I like to use a mixture of directory submissions, article marketing and making use of blog networks like linkvana.

    If blog commenting is working for your niche sites then don’t stop, all I would say is try to mix it up a little as if Google were ever to devalue blog comment links you could see a huge drop.

  10. Highly informative articles. It gives important clues to link building. I was also wondering as to how to generate good backlinks. You have raised a very valid question about lasting of the comments on the blog commenting. However , i feel that, till the time it is removed it remains- atleast some benefit it may be offering.

  11. I guess the commentator system would have its’ pro and cons. It will still be necessary to monitor the content of the comments

  12. Interesting comment about the ‘top commentators’ link. I agree that it makes most sense to take a varied approach which will make you less vulnerable if Google changes the rules.

  13. Thanks for the discussion about commenting and using top commentator sites for commenting and link building.

    When I comment on blog, I don’t care whether the blog is dofollow or nofollow…

  14. Great article, specifically the part about do-follow blogs. It’s been a complex issue with google on blog links, weather they count for a lot or nothing at all. I’ve even heard that google still rank you based no-follow links?

  15. Not sure about the no follow rankings, however Google always wants to see a natural profile, so a few no follows in there won’t harm.

  16. A couple times a week I will search for Blogs using CommentLuv to see who is writing content on social seo and if the author is on the mark, then I will drop in a comment.

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