Before I get into this I need to make a bit of a disclaimer. I am not a Facebook fan. I have a Facebook account, a fan page (or whatever they are calling it these days) for my WinExtra blog, and I am a member of the Inquisitr page.
That said I have a growing dread about Facebook and its apparent intention to suck everything, and everyone, into that black hole where we have become nothing more that data points used to make money from advertisers and marketers.
The really big problem though, from a content producer’s point of view especially is that Facebook has become a major force for driving traffic. Here on Inquisitr I have watched the live stats as they roll by and without a doubt Facebook accounts for a huge amount of traffic.
This of course is largely due to the incredible proliferation of the Facebook ‘Like’ buttons and now Facebook is looking to capitalize by rolling out an improvement to their Commenting plugin for blogs.
We have seen a number of big name tech blogs start using the Facebook Comments in place of the built in commenting system for their blogging platform or using one of the third party commenting systems like Disqus.
A couple of things that those blogs are reporting as a result of using Facebook Comments is a reduction in the number of comments as well as a visible vanilla-ization of the comments.
However there is one other thing about using Facebook Comments that the majority of content producers, and commenter’s as well but to a lesser degree, are missing. Those comments now being left are for all intents and purposes invisible. By this I mean, they are no longer being indexed by search engines.
On the surface this might not seem all that important but if you stop and consider for a moment that comments add value to your content, and for commenter’s it adds to their reputation and identity. By removing these comments from being able to be indexed by search engines you are removing another important way for your content to be discovered.
As A.J. Kohn wrote in a post about this black holing of comments, which if you haven’t read yet you are missing a great post:
Search engines won’t see Facebook Comments.That is a big deal. Comments reflect the user syntax. They capture how people are really talking about a topic or product. Comments help search engines to create keyword clusters and deliver long-tail searches. Comments may signal that the content is still fresh, important and popular. All that goes by the wayside.
It’s no secret that search engines crave text. Depriving Google of this valuable source of text is an aggressive move by Facebook.
Is this on purpose? I have to believe it is. I can’t know for sure but it’s curious that my Quora question has gone unanswered by Facebook, even when I’ve asked a specific Facebook Engineer to answer.
I agree totally with A.J. that this is a totally intentional move by Facebook. In one simple move Facebook succeeds on multiple levels with the most important being the removing of content that Google would normally be able to index. Secondary is the fact that not only are they locking content producers even further in to the Facebook world but now it is locking in the readers of those blogs.
There is no doubt that Facebook Comments will start showing up on more and more blogs, mainly because of the decrease of trolls, but one has to wonder if that inconvenience is worth the price of bland comments that are replacing a vibrant comment community.
Then add on the fact that an integral part of your blog is no longer discoverable outside of Facebook and one really should be thinking long and hard as to whether the convenience offered by Facebook Comments is worth the cost.