Blogging in essence is a means of self-expression as well as a medium through which meaningful written interaction can take place. In the early days when blogging was in its infancy, bloggers published posts somewhat in virtual solitude, since the practice of blog commenting was not commonly done or even expected. But as time went on, commenting began to take on a more central role in the blogosphere, to the point now where blogging and commenting are practically seen as two sides of the same coin. Blogs that receive lots of comments are considered to be the “hot spots” of the Web, while blogs that have no commenting activity are viewed as digital ghost towns. This stark contrast reveals an essential truth that aspiring bloggers need to grasp – comments are truly the lifeblood of your blog.
Benefits of Comments
The benefits of receiving blog comments are many; first of all, they assist in creating value by providing additional relevant content to your blog posts. This is a positive on many levels – your readers get a chance to check out other people’s perspectives on your blog posts, and you receive free content that increases the overall relevance of your blog to the topic at hand in the eyes of the search engines. This is a somewhat hidden SEO benefit that many bloggers miss – they are a little too “trigger happy” in their comment moderation, and many times they will delete comments that actually can boost the Latent Semantic Indexing value of their pages to the search engines.
Positive with Negative
Many bloggers don’t realize that even negative comments can be great search engine “spider food”, and although a commenter may disagree with their stance, they should be big enough to still approve the comment for the sake of providing additional relevant content to their blog – for free. When bloggers begin to see that blog comments (whether positive or negative) are actually free user-generated content that increases the relevancy of their pages in the eyes of the search engines, it may cause them to rethink becoming a “comment Nazi” for the sake of keeping the conversation geared in their favor. Many times ego can separate a blogger from receiving the benefits of blog comments, because they only want to approve the various compliments and “atta boys” that come from positive commenters. It’s better to allow EVERY voice to be heard, even if it bruises your ego a little bit.
This is not to say that you should approve the crazy spam comments that flood your moderation queue. Remember, we only want content that’s relevant to some degree. Nobody cares about what “buy viagra cheap” has to say, so of course, use your better judgment when it comes to those types of comments.
Another benefit of blog comments is that they provide your blog with a greater sense of community and interaction. Although time zones and distance may separate us as denizens of the World Wide Web, there is still somewhat of a camaraderie that takes place when we’re all engaged in lively conversation over a given topic. Many times the right comment at the right time can not only boost your spirits when you’re feeling low, but it can also be a fertile breeding ground for more post ideas. In fact, one of the best cures for writer’s block is to go through the comments on your various posts and really give thought to w
hat your readers have contributed. This can many times lead to your blog taking on a fresh, new and different direction, and can fuel your own impetus to write more engaging posts.
What to Avoid
Since it is obvious that blog comments are vital to the health and growth of your blog, how do you go about getting more of them? There several different theories and methods out there ranging from really good to ridiculously bad, so it would be wise to identify some of the more unprofitable methods first in order to keep you from wasting your precious time. First of all, never stoop to the level of buying blog comments from the various online blog commenting services that are available. The quality of these services is very unpredictable, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. Most of the time you’ll be stuck with a bunch of generic comments that have little relevance to the actual content of your post. The last thing you would want to do is to spend your hard-earned money on a blog commenting package only to litter your blog with such brilliant comments as “Great post!” or “Thanks, this was very helpful.”
Another surefire way to reduce the value of your blog is to publish an insincere or even obnoxious post as “comment bait”. Bloggers sometimes will purposefully “stir up the hornet’s nest” by publishing a post that is way over-the-top as far as controversial subject matter is concerned. They may use some recent tragedy or other current event as subject matter for their post (even if their no
rmal blog content has nothing to do with these types of events), only to incite arguments and feed comment wars. True, you may get a short burst of traffic wi
th this method, but it’s not a profitable exercise over the long haul; it can actually cause more people to alienate your blog rather than be drawn to it.
More Comments The Right Way
If you’re looking for legitimate and sustainable ways to get blog comments, it will be best to stick with more white hat methods in order to add real value to your blog. The blogosphere is littered with the remains of many wannabe bloggers that crashed and burned by using short-term, borderline black hat methods, so staying white hat is the best way to go. It is important to remember that not only do people despise insincerity, but they can smell it a mile away, especially from a blogger that seems hungry to gain a following.
So what methods can you use to get more blog comments? Believe it or not, one of the most important things to establish first is the type of commenting interface that you’re going to use. There are tons of them out there, but due to a possible lack of technical know-how or because they just don’t feel like fooling with it, most bloggers are content with using the commenting interface that comes standard with their particular CMS of choice (i.e., WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, etc.). There are other third-party commenting systems that have gained popularity in recent years such as IntenseDebate, Disqus, and LiveFyre as well. Social media applications such as Facebook’s commenting plugin are available as well, and they allow you to leave comments by logging into your Facebook account. Although this may seem to be somewhat of an insignificant issue, the ease of use (or lack thereof) afforded by these different commenting modules can either encourage or discourage your audience from leaving comments on your blog.
The reason for this is because most people by nature will choose the path of least resistance. Whether this is a good thing or not is not the point; it simply is what it is. If your blog commenting interface is too complicated or too convoluted to use, most people will not bother to jump through all of the requisite hoops just to leave a comment. If they’ve had to “run the gauntlet” before they even get a chance to comment, you may run into a situation where they simply say “Nevermind” and head for greener commenting pastures elsewhere. Most people despise being forced to log in or having to solve difficult or buggy captchas before they can leave a comment. The bottom line is–make it as easy for them as possible to comment on your blog. This one point alone may earn you more comments, with zero “comment bait” from your end.
It’s no secret that readers drop a comment to be seen / heard and quite often expecting or at least hoping they will get a reply. If a reader want to drop a comment on a good post, and see there are already say 50 comments, this is likely to have a two-sided effect. One is the social proof. If that many people leave comments, it is likely to encourage other read ers to drop a comment too. However, the likelihood that one more comment will get any attention / response tend to decrease when the number of comments posted increase – in other words, the next comment is just a small part of the mass. Avoid this situation by using Commentee – a plugin for wordpress which allow reader to drop comments, questions, suggestions and answers. This way, readers have a better chance to stand out. The blog administrator is also in a better position to answer all questions as he easily can tell one type of comment from the other.
Traction with a Community
Another important practice to employ in order to get more blog comments is to really become serious about developing an online community surrounding the subject matter of your blog. Sorry to say this, but there are simply no shortcuts where this is concerned. This is the “secret sauce” behind many of the uber-popular “mommy bloggers” in the blogosphere; they have simply taken the time to build a loyal following through actively engaging in regular interactions with the community of people that share their common interest. This means going above and beyond your usual levels of comfort to encourage and interact with the people that visit your blog.
After you have crafted a rich, well-written post with compelling and engaging content–which, by the way, should be the unquestionable standard of your blog posts–ask readers to share any personal experiences that they have in relation to what you have shared. Ask them for their input, and be sincere about interacting with them once they begin to leave comments. If they have taken the time to leave a well-thought-out comment, don’t just respond with a generic one-liner, but actually pick things out of what they said and hone in on them to unearth more topics for discussion. Be encouraging, be sincere, and commit to adding value to them, as they have done for you by leaving their initial comment.
If WordPress is your blogging platform, it doesn’t hurt to employ the use of certain comment plugins such as CommentLuv or KeywordLuv, since they will automatically provide the commenter with a keyword-targeted backlink to their own site. This is an obvious incentive, but if the comment is not hurting your blog, it can only help (remember the earlier statements about the SEO value of comments). Of course, you will have those that only want to drop a generic comment to get a quick link, so again, use your better judgment.
What Goes Around Comes Around
One of the most effective ways of getting comments to your blog actually takes place somewhat “off-site”. It will require you to find blogs that are highly relevant to yours–some might even say that they are your “competitors”–and leave constructive, sincere and well-thought-out comments on their posts. This is one of the most overlooked but yet impactful ways of getting comments to your blog. Call it karma, or “what goes around comes around”, or whatever name you want to give it, but when you are willing to engage in an act of goodwill by being generous with your comments on other related blogs, it always has a way of coming back to you. People are naturally more interested in themselves than they are in anyone else, so when you show them that you can support their work first, it will many times spark them to return the favor.
The best way to find these types of blogs is to use Google and type in the main keywords that are relevant to your blog’s subject matter, and then wait and see what pops up. Many times you’ll see blogs on the first few pages of the search results, often denoted by their Google Plus profile pictures (yes, Google has a bias in that regard). Take the time to actually read their blog posts, and leave thoughtful comments for them to digest. While there are no absolute guarantees that the blog owner will approve your comment, you will put the odds in your favor by adding quality insights to the conversation. Again, sincerity will be your best friend in this regard.
Another “off-site” activity that will bring great results (and subsequently more blog comments) is utilizing the various popular social media sites to your advantage. Set up a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and a Pinterest page and tie all of them to your website. You must distinguish yourself on these types of social networks by providing genuine engagement and interaction with the people that contact you through these different means. For your Twitter page, find and follow the Twitter accounts of other bloggers who run in the same circles when it comes to subject matter. Find a handful of their tweets that really resonate with you and retweet them. Leave comments on other related bloggers’ Facebook pages through your own Facebook account. Repin and comment on photos from related bloggers that have Pinterest accounts connected to their blogs. Again, these acts of spreading goodwill will only serve to help you in the long haul.
Another effective technique is to make your posts more open-ended. In other words, as it relates to the subject matter of your posts, leave certain questions unanswered. Don’t present yourself as the be-all and end-all of information. If you give readers a flat, static, FYI-type of post, it doesn’t exactly inspire conversation. Use the inquisitive nature of people to your advantage by crafting your content to inspire more curiosity and more questions.
Although many people would like to sell you on the idea that you can apply some type of magical formula and your blog will be instantly flooded with comments, this is simply not reality. Keep the tried and true techniques listed above in your mind as guidelines to help you obtain more blog comments. Sincerity, diligence, patience, and genuine engagement will always win out in the long run
Now please share your thoughts on the above mentioned as well as your own preferred ways get more comments…