Google Indexing – Our Comments Exposed?
Search engine indexing is the retrieval of web documents and data by an automated software program – a spider or bot. These data are then placed into a digital index that is used to filter a query’s key word/s in order to locate URLs for search engine results.
Previously, search engines could not read the programming of comments on most public websites because the spiders could not break down comment system codes. This meant that when a query was entered on a search engine, comments were never uploaded to search engine results because the index did not store any comment content.
Yes, we said Facebook Connect add-in…but, before the ‘invasion of privacy’ debates start, let us clarify. Comments or postings on a third-party website are not subject to that users Facebook privacy settings. So, when a Facebook user signs onto a third party website their posted comments are accessible by Google. Please note we are describing what happens off of a third-party website or a public profile.
Comments are not lifted off of Facebook’s actual social media site as long as the user has privacy settings. If your profile is open, then consider your personal Facebook page a public website and, therefore, fair play to Google.
Now, considering the fact that there is an increased likelihood of showing up on a Google search, one might presume censorship of their comment content.
For those of us who enjoy venting – now it is even more important to remember that there can be serious consequences for what you post. Do you really want your complaint about a controversial topic, client, boss, manager, or job to end up on first page Google for all your friends, family and co-workers to see? Didn’t think so.
Casting a spotlight on comments may encourage us to filter our posts, which, for the sake of everyone out there, could be a great thing. Imagine a digital world where (more) comments were actually insightful, constructive, and relevant feedback or ideas.
Now, onto the business side of indexing:
Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webscam team, explains that the ability to index these comments makes their search engine results more dynamic.
These dynamic comments can help increase business and topic presence, which increases a company’s Google PageRank. Social media influence extends its relevance past the social media platforms to overall business presence on Google. Companies that interact more with customers will be indexed more frequently, which means better SEO, which means more presence, which means… awesome.
On the flip side, what if comment results overshadow more relevant data that are born from credible sources and businesses. Ideally, when a customer types your brand name into Google, you want actual information + your website to come up… will the abundance comments be more popular than your webpage?
If comments begin to interfere with what users are actually looking for in their search queries, perhaps Google can implement a new ‘social’ tab (next to Web, Images, Video,) dedicated to comments and microblogs, including Twitter.
One more thought; as users and businesses will start to adapt to this modification in search engine indexing – as we begin to censor ourselves – will we have to worry about comments we have previously posted?
Brad McCarty, editor for TNW, questions whether Google will search only new comments or whether Googlebot will spider it’s way back in time to comments posted months, even years ago. Should users worry about something they posted somewhere four years ago? We think that unless the content has anything to do with current trends or news, you have little to worry about. But, bear in mind, what happens on the web stays on the web, and there is always a chance of somebody else finding out!
How do you think users react to this news? How will it affect the way we use search engines?
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