In this article, I am going to talk in depth about the replytocom links or pages generated by WordPress. For many WordPress bloggers, these links never create a trouble. Even I myself had many previous blogs in WordPress and these replytocom links never created any problem for me before.
But recently, my present blog got badly troubled by thousands of replytocom links which got indexed in Google. I suddenly saw a huge decrease in my blog’s traffic. It was almost a 50-60% decrease suddenly in one day. So, there was something wrong, something very wrong.
Digging deep into the problem I found out what it actually was. I was penalized by the Panda update mainly because of duplicate content issues. But I have never ever created any duplicate page in my blog myself, then how this penalty happened.
What These replytocom Links Actually Are?
Replytocom is basically a URL parameter, which is generated by WordPress blogs which have got their “reply-to-comment” feature enabled. Whenever anyone wrote a new comment in your WordPress blog, then what WordPress does, is that it creates a separate page containing exactly the same parent content with just the new comment as extra.
These pages are the replytocom pages. It looks something like this:
http://yourdomain.com/post-title?replytocom=XXX, where XXX is the number of the current comment.
What Problem Does This replytocom Pages Actually Create?
For many bloggers these pages, never create any problem, as they don’t get indexed in Google. Most of us have the “replytocom” URL parameter set as “Let Googlebot decide” in the Google Webmaster Tool. So, fortunately for many bloggers, Google decides not to index them.
But unfortunately, for several other bloggers, Google (I don’t know why) decides to index these pages. Now, this creates sure duplicate content issues with your blog. And Panda will frown on you for this.
For example, suppose you have a post in your blog, which have got 100 comments. Now, what will happen is that, a total of 101 pages will get indexed in Google. Only 1 page is the actual, unique post and the other 100 pages are simply nothing but duplicate pages of the parent post.
I think you have understood what the problem is actually, but Google will not, so there is a huge scope of getting your blog penalized by the Panda for excessive duplicate content issues.
How To Solve This replytocom Issue Permanently?
Now, I guess you have understood what the problem is now. If you lucky enough and have not been victimized by it yet, then also it is recommended to you to take necessary preventive measures, to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen anytime in future.
But if you have already been affected by this problem, then you should first take the curative measures and then go for the preventive measures.
1) Remove the parameter completely – You can use the SEO by Yoast plugin, to remove the URL parameter completely. It will turn the URL to “#comment-XXX” and these links will never get indexed as Google never takes any URL with “#” into account.
So, this is a great way to completely get out of this mess. You will never see any replytocom issues ever after this. But the links that have got indexed are still there.
2) Block the parameter using Robots.txt – You can use the robots.txt file to block the parameter completely. Just add “Disallow: ?replytocom”. This will block the crawlers from crawling and indexing these links. The links that have already got indexed in Google, will also get de-indexed slowly.
3) Ignore these links permanently using GWT – You can also go to Google Webmasters Tool, and under URL parameters option, you can select “replytocom” to be treated as “No URLs”. These will solve the problem permanently.
Google will start to ignore all the newly created replytocom links and it will also start de-indexing the previously indexed links slowly.
The process will take some time to complete. It all depends on the number of replytocom links that have been already indexed in Google for your blog. If you have less links, then obviously the de-indexing process will complete soon, otherwise it can take quite some time to get all the replytocom links removed from the index.
I hope this article will help you to understand the problem in depth and also to recover from it if you have already been penalized or to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening anytime in your blog. If you have any more queries, feel free to ask me in the comments section, I will get back to you as soon as I can.
You can also share your experience in dealing with this problem with us. This will help our readers get a better insight into this problem.
Author Bio:- Aritra Roy is the co-founder of a Technology blog, daPazze.com where he writes on topics like Blogging, SEO, Social Media, Technology and much more. Check out his latest blogger vs wordpress comparison here.