I'm upgrading some themes I use and sell to use the comment features added in WordPress 2.7 and run into an SEO problem.
The new comment_reply_link function that creates a reply link so readers can comment directly on a specific comment currently uses a nofollow attribute and this is not good from an SEO perspective for pages with a lot of comments.
With Google apparently no longer treating nofollow as it used to: according to Matt Cutts (Google employee) website http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/ now the link benefit that used to be "protected" by nofollowing a link is now lost into a blackhole!!!
This means if we set 50 comments per page that's 50 nofollow reply links on heavily commented posts. If an average page of a WordPress blog has 50 other links (category links, blogroll, linking to related posts etc...) this means half of the link benefit is completely wasted due to the new reply links!
Add to this the nofollow links on author links etc... and a popular site could loose significantly more than 50% of it's link benefit due to nofollow, from an SEO perspective this is terrible!
I don't have a solution for the nofollow links to author URLs etc... (personally I remove them from my themes so there's no author links and recently read using a form for these links as a possible solution, need to test) but there's a very easy solution to the comment_reply_link, remove the nofollow attribute. Since the link it creates is internal and points to the same page the comment is on with this format
Google etc... will treat the link as a link to
Since the pages content will be identical, so there is no reason to nofollow it.
Currently the code for this link is found in a core WordPress file which means we can't edit it at theme level. Could it be made editable at theme level? I'm an SEO consultant and use WordPress a LOT and would like to remove the nofollow and add the title of the post as the anchor text for this link, something like:
Reply to this comment on "postname"
Where "postname" is the name of the post.
As long as you make your post names keyword rich this would add a lot of keyword rich text to posts. Currently can't achieve this without editing core WordPress files which I could do (have removed the nofollow this way), but then runs into update issues.