Update: So finally, after lots of trial and error, I reduced my replytocom links from 25K to a mere 300. These 300 will eventually go away after some time. I will keep updating the article based on my experience. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a message on Facebook.
I was trying to figure out what lead to a 20% traffic drop of ShoutMeLoud after I was trying to recover from the Google Panda launch. In the process, I was fixing 404 links using the Google Webmaster Tool and, most importantly, working on duplicate posts.
Thanks to the QOT tutorial, I was reminded to cross-check replytocom links for ShoutMeloud.
I have already taken care of this by adding a parameter into the Google Webmaster Tool, but I was shocked to see lots of replytocom links still indexed from ShoutMeLoud which must have created the duplicate content issue.
Here is a screenshot:
What is a Replytocom URL?
Replytocom is for blogs which allow replies to comments. So whenever you “Reply” to comments, you will see a link like this:
Obviously, this link should not be a part of Google Search. But for me, there are tons of replytocom links from ShoutMeLoud in Google Search.
How to find out if your blog is also affected by the replytocom duplicate issue?
Open Google.com and search with following string (replace domain.com with your actual blog domain URL):
- site:domain.com inurl:replytocom
Click on “repeat the search with the omitted results included”.
Fixing Replytocom WordPress issue:
Fixing using Webmaster Tool parameter handling:
This is the first step which I would suggest you do.
Login to your Google Webmaster Tool and click on Site Dashboard > Crawl > URL parameters.
Now click on “Edit” in front of the replytocom parameter.
If you have an old site, you might see replytocom in the parameter field but if not, you can add it manually and set an action as shown in the picture:
Once done, click on Save.
This will take some time for Google to deindex those pages, but it’s worth each and every second you spend making these changes. You can also do the same for the other parameters seen there.
Also make sure replytocom links are not blocked using robots.txt, as it will stop Google bots from crawling and your links won’t get deindexed. This is one mistake which I did, and later after removing the replytocom parameter from the robots.txt file, I was able to get most of my replytocom links deindexed.
Update: This article has been updated after Google added a new URL parameter option in the Google Webmaster Tool.
There is also a WordPress plugin which is said to fix replytocom issues, but I had that plugin installed and I still see lots of replytocom links indexed in Google. Also, my Webmaster Tool parameter handling was set to ignore such links, but it didn’t work.
This is the step I would suggest when you don’t have any replytocom links in the search engine.
Many webmasters suggest that you should add replytocom in your robots.txt block list. Though this is a bad start, as Google won’t be able to crawl your replytocom pages, and thus you will still see replytocom links in search.
The best way is to follow step 1 (parameter handling).
In case you don’t have any replytocom links in the search engine, in your robots.txt file add this entry:
- Disallow: *?replytocom
You can check the effectiveness of this by using the Google Webmaster “Fetch as Googlebot” tool.
One lesson which I have learned after this is:
No matter what, one should always do an SEO audit of their site once or twice a month.
This way you can figure out small issues which can lead to bigger problems in the future.
Though the best way to check if any of these methods are working is to search in Google for your latest post with comments.
This will show all indexed links from that page which will tell you if your efforts are successful.
Do check your website for this Replytocom issue and let us know in the comments if you also facing a similar issue.