Whether we are blogging to support our business or blogging simply to rant about, well, just about anything, we all crave comments on our blogs. Not only do comments show us that somebody, somewhere out there is interested enough about what we wrote to respond, but comments also can help build traffic as well.
If content is king where blogs are concerned then comments are evidence of the power behind the throne.
Mitch Argon of FreeNevadaMove.com asked a good question yesterday over on Business Blogging 101 – Comments post. He said,
I’ve been blogging for about 9 months. I’ve tried different techniques on writing posts to get more comments from readers but am still searching for the ’secret sauce’ to create more community.
Any thoughts on some good resources to accomplish this?
As I said, it’s a good question. And the answer is both less of a secret and harder to achieve than most people are willing to admit. I say “harder” only in respect to actual effort being involved. Don’t be misled into thinking attracting comments is overly complicated. But it does take some concentrated effort.
So here’s a list of things you can do to attract more comments to your blog and build blog traffic at the same time.
To Attract Comments…
- Write quality content. Good writing may not automatically attract readers but bad writing will surely repel them. Make it interesting, unique and original. Flavor it with a little of your personality. Avoid stuffy corporate PR speak in your blog. People are much more likely to converse through comments with real people than some anonymous company hack. If they fall asleep or click away before they get to the end of the post there is no chance they’ll leave a comment. Copyblogger is a great resource for writing tips.
- Comment on other blogs. This is the single surest way to attract blog comments. Find other blogs that are interesting, especially if they are in your same niche, and comment on them. But don’t just leave a “Great post. Come back to my place.” type comment. Be polite. Respect their readers. Add value to their conversation. Over time this will attract comments on your own blog in a simple application of the law of planting and harvesting. Liz Strauss of Successful-Blog fame is the single best person I know of in this area. She has built such a large community at her place that it inspired the SOBCon blogging conference.
- Don’t say it all. Resist the temptation to write masterpiece blog posts. If you say everything there is to say on a subject, or if you come off as knowing everything, then folks will be unlikely to comment. Leave room for discussion. Before you hit publish read through your post. If it completely covers the topic consider editing some of it out to allow others room to speak.
- Ask for reader input. One great way to stimulate discussion is to simply ask for it. Be creative though. Make asking an interesting question your goal rather than just saying something like, “What are your comments?” Dawud Miracle is the master of this approach. Read through some of his posts and you’ll begin to get the idea.
- Make commenting easy. This one seems like a no-brainer. But I’ll say it anyway. If you want more comments on your blog then make it easy for people to comment on your blog. The more hoops you make people jump through, the fewer comments you’ll get. Captcha’s work, but they put the burden of spam protection on the commenter and not on the blog author. Instead consider using a good spam filter like Akismet or Defensio. When people’s comments disappear into moderation they are unlikely to return to comment again. And don’t even talk to me about blogs that make people register before they can comment. Bloggers who do that should expect much fewer comments.
- Police your comment section. Displayed spam inhibits legitimate comments. Even the best spam filters make a small percentage of mistakes with false negatives and false positives. Read through the comments on your blog regularly, daily if you’re serious. Relegate the spam that leaked through the filter to the spam hell where they belong. And save any misidentified legitimate comments from that same fate.
- Stir up controversy. You really want comments on your blog then take a strong controversial stand on something. People will come out of the woodwork to comment. Just be forewarned. This approach is not for the thin skinned or the feint of heart. Some folks have a tendency to get nasty when they, um, discuss things they are passionate about. Controversy is the reason political blogs tend to have so many comments.
- Reply to comments. You want to show your readers that you notice when they comment at your place then respond to them publicly in the comment section. Engage them in dialog. Liz Strauss does this so consistently. She is obviously interested in and values every single reader that makes the time to comment on her blog.
- Be nice to people. There’s not much that will squelch a conversation quickly that ripping someone to shreds. If you attack people who comment or are mean to them then you are sending a message that you don’t value other people’s input. That’s a message people will get loud and clear and they’ll stay away from your comment section in droves.
- Post less often. One reason some blogs don’t see as many comments as they might is because they are simply churning out too many blog posts. People don’t have time to absorb what you’ve written and give their two cents. Some people won’t comment until there are a few others who have. Give them time to have that opportunity. One way to get more comments per post is to have fewer posts. If you really want to see more conversation taking place consider posting less often.
- Post more regularly. If you take long breaks at irregular intervals, then actively post for a while, you send mixed messages to your readers and they probably wont be as willing to comment. Consistency is the key. When your readers know what to expect from you they will be more likely to engage in conversation and participate more actively. [As a note this is one area that I’ve been particularly weak in here at SuccessCREEations, especially lately. I’m working on it.]
- Highlight commenters. You might consider highlighting commenters on your blog to attract more comments. There are several ways you can do this. You can make it a habit to use blog comments as stepping stones for blog posts like I did with this one. You could use a recent comments widget like I do in the sidebar. Or perhaps you might want to install something like the Top Commentors widget.
- Turn off NoFollow. If you want to reward quality commenters then consider turning off the NoFollow attribute in your comments. The short version is that Google introduced NoFollow to discourage comment spammers. Trouble is it doesn’t work. Spammers weren’t dissuaded at all. Yet we’re still stuck with it. To turn of NoFollow in WordPress get the DoFollow plugin. If you are using another platform, Andy Beard has compiled a great list of resources for disabling NoFollow in most of the more popular blog platforms. Just be forewarned. If word gets out you might find your blog on one of the many DoFollow lists that are floating around the web and end up getting more spam comments as a result.
- Implement a comment policy. It was the spam comments people left as a result of these lists that prompted me to formalize my comment policy here at SuccessCREEations. Some may see guidelines as restricting and think they would inhibit commenting. But the truth is setting boundaries makes people feel generally more comfortable and willing to comment because, for example, they know they wont be personally attacked here. And if they are I reserve the right to delete the offending comment.
- Give it time. Finally remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time and some focused energy in all these areas to really attract comments like an A-Lister.
These are some of the things I’ve seen work over the years. But I know the list isn’t all inclusive.
What is your favorite approach to attracting comments? What examples would you share?
Leave us a comment and join the conversation.