Does Commenting on Dofollow-Blogs Work as a Link Building Strategy?

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This post is about commenting on so called “dofollow-blogs” and whether it makes sense as a link building strategy. Let me explain why:

No doubt the power of habit is the reason you perpetuate the worst mistakes sometimes.

For instance some people will vote for the same party again and again no matter what disastrous laws it will enforce. They just always voted for them!


Bad Habits of Early Webmasters

Webmasters are prone to be victims of the power of habit. The power of habit can be even inherited! Then it’s called tradition.

People who have never done a thing before will do what they perceive to be a habit of others. They just practice the same things others have done before them. After all they worked for generations already.

On the Web people stick to the same habits like in the real world. The Web changes at an amazing pace though. What worked yesterday may backfire today.

Thus many webmasters still stick to the habits of the late twentieth century while we’re already part of a very different Internet nowadays.

One of the hopelessly outdated habits is: search engine and directory submission.

While search engine submission is obsolete since the appearance of Google more than 20 years ago, directory submission did make some sense for a few years longer.


Google vs Directories

In 2007 and 2008 Google killed off most general Web directories for being too low quality. Ever since directories were a thing of the past.

By now even DMOZ – the most important directory of the early Web – ceased to exist. The popular Yahoo Directory disappeared even earlier.

The nineties are irrevocably over. Yet many people still can’t give up their habits. Just like animals that come back to the same place where they’ve found some food before.

Sometimes when the place is gone they are trying to to do the same thing in other places.

Some directories still exist but they are a completely different breed of directory. Crunchase is my favorite example.


The Bad Habit

I do not want to write about directories this time though. I want to write about the “directory submission approach”. It’s clearly a bad habit. Its like smoking.

It is very often part of the typical SEO 1.0 mindset. People just don’t get the change that took place. Even without directories people still want to act as if they do.

Most webmasters still seemingly assume that the best way of gaining links is to “submit” them somewhere.

Where can you submit nowadays when directories almost disappeared? You can press “submit” on blog comment forms. It’s even the same word!

It looks very similar and does not take that much time. Many people still recommend commenting on “dofollow-blogs” that is blogs that do not add the “nofollow” attribute to comment links.

This way the links do not get discounted by Google and are helpful to improve yr ranking in search – theoretically.


The nofollow Stigma

Usually the nofollow attribute marks links as worthless for search engines. Especially Google discounts them. Now that Google also added more link attributes WordPress by default adds UGC to comment links.

To make sure their comment links count many webmasters still collect “dofollow blogs”. My blog is part of several lists by now and the more popular I became due to these lists the more

clumsy commenters visited my blog and left their meaningless comments here just for the link.

For a while I have formulated quite strict instructions as to how you should comment here but many people failed to follow those simple common sense rules.

Low quality “commenters” who aggressively self-promote simply get their comments removed for breaching my commenting guidelines.

Also I’m amazed at how people apparently assume that blog commenting is a viable link building strategy in the first place. Why?

Dofollow links in comments get discounted as well!

It’s widely known at least since 2006 that Google knows where a link resides on a given page. They can trace whether a link is in the footer, in the sidebar or in the editorial part of a page.


Google Reads Comments

Google knows that a link is a comment link. This is no wonder as most blogs out there are either Blogspot or WordPress blogs. Additionally most other platforms have a similar page structure.

Not surprisingly Google assigns less value to comment links.

Footer links have been discounted many years ago – I think 2005 or 2006. Sidebar links have been discounted a while ago as well – in 2007.

So called “blogroll” links have been demoted when the first anti “paid links” campaign by Google has been started.

Google simply prefers editorial links that is links added to page by the author or publisher of that page. It’s no secret whatsoever.

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Even when your comment link is on the same page as the high value editorial link in the post your link counts much less if at all.

Watching the bizarre ways people comment for links I can only scratch my head:

  • Barely any context agreeing: “I also like SEO”
  • Bot-like flattering: “Thank you, great post”
  • Stupid questions: “What is the difference between blogs and SEO blogs?”
  • Repeating a phrase from the post or rephrasing it, sometimes ignoring the message in the post: “Dofollow blogs are great for link building”

The ways people used to circumvent my guidelines were ridiculous as well.

  • Making up a keyword containing nick name like “SEO guy”: I said a name not keywords, besides, I’m the SEO guy here.

Do you really think that dropping a nonsense comment on my blog will be of advantage for you?

Do you really assume that I won’t notice “solely for SEO” links as a SEO practicioner since 2004 and online publisher since 1997?

Google by now discounts or even downright penalizes sites for having too many low quality comment links like these. Even when you link out too much to low quality sites you may get penalized.

Finally I had to bow down to the Google pressure and simply remove all the comment links from my blog.

Literally thousands of them were broken or redirected already anyway. Most ended up linking to parked domains at best.

In general be cautious when commenting just for the link juice. It might backfire. When you add genuine comments you are more likely to get an editorial link in contrast.


Real People Comment

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Luckily a few real commenters also visit my blog, be it other bloggers or my peers from social media. Even without seeing their names I can already recognize their style of commenting:

  • It’s adding value
  • it’s conversational
  • it’s not flattery even if it’s a compliment

I check each of my comments and I visit the sites you link to.

  • I will delete links to empty pages etc.
  • I will just take a short look at the “directory submission style” comment links.
  • I will visit the pages of real commenters and read the content there
  • I may retweet your posts or share it elsewhere
  • I may bookmark or link your blog

Do you notice the difference? The SEO 1.0 type commenters add no value and receive no value. The SEO 2.0 type commenters add value and get more value back.


Sense vs Nonsense

OK, then. Does commenting on dofollow-blogs make sense as a link building strategy? No, it doesn’t.

Does it make sense to participate in debates on comment sections of blogs to get links and traffic?

Yes, it does! In case you have some valuable content it will often end up getting a retweet to my engaged audience of thousands of Twitter followers, a bookmark or a link.

* Creative Commons images by Sprout Labs