This morning I found myself reading a post about Search Engine Optimization at Reuters. You know a topic has hit the mainstream when a news service like Reuters picks it up; I suppose the JC Penney SEO debacle mattered even more than I realized.
I decided to comment. I believe in adding value to others’ web sites by adding comments, and while that position might be cynically viewed as self-serving (it adds to the SEO juice pointed at us, and is part of the strategy we employ for our clients as SEO Consultants), well … I truly believe in it.
I’ve been outspoken about this issue. Going back as far at when the Managing Editor at C|Net scolded me for leaving a signature on a comment, I’ve told anyone who listens that if I add value to your web site it’s reasonable to get credit. Lately, I’ve taken an even stronger position, expanding on that statement to add that if I comment and don’t tell readers who I am the value of the comment is reduced for everyone.
I’ve called others to task for disabling comments, too, especially people who claim to be social media mavens but don’t want to hear what their readers have to say.
You get the point, right? Back-and-forth communication matters on the Internet, and while the things happening at the Huffington Post / AOL Content Farm don’t justify their “unpaid” bloggers suing them, the idea that a contribution to someone else’s web site adds value and that you should be compensated in some way for adding that value makes sense.
What’s this have to do with Reuters?
Before I could comment on the piece at Reuters, I had to register as a commenter. I jumped through the hoops, which Reuters made easy. And because I registered using the Virtual VIP Twitter account, I chose to view the link that would point there from Reuters as good enough to satisfy the issues that matter. During registration, Reuters included a link to their terms of service. Here they are.
Those terms of service are human. They make sense. And they cover, explicitly, the idea of give-and-take conversation and what Reuters considers to be acceptable in terms of comments needing to add value to their stories.
I’m not going to get excited about it being a couple of hours later and my comment not yet having been posted against the story at Reuters; I presume that they person who makes decisions and releases comments for public viewing is busy, and that my comment will show up eventually.
The point is that Reuters is both making it easy to comment and protecting the integrity of their website. And more important, Reuters is respecting their readers and allowing a reasonable measure of SEO to take place. I applaud you, Reuters.
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