When was the last time you commented on a blog post? Yesterday…a week ago? A month ago? Despite all you have to do, you might want to squeeze in even 20 minutes a week to write a few good blog comments. Done right, they can get you more results than just adding a few more tweets to your Twitter feed.
A Short History of Blog Commenting
Commenting on blogs has been used to generate traffic and links for a long time, but it’s not talked about quite as much as other similar traffic-building tactics, like guest blog posting or commenting on forums. Just a few years ago, blog commenting was one of the #1 ways to build links. Some people used it as their primary link building strategy, almost to the exclusion of any other kind of link building. Don’t do that.
Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google has specifically said having a disproportionate number of guest blog post comments as links could hurt you. Cutts went further and said that if a site’s links where severely weighed in blog comments, it could even result in a manual penalty. It’s difficult to give an exact figure, but as a guess I’d say no more than 25% of your total links should be from blog comments.
As scary as manual penalties sound, please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – don’t think of blog commenting as a tactic that’s going to get you in trouble.
Actually, many of the warnings about blog commenting sound eerily similar to the warnings Cutts made about guest blog posts as a link building strategy earlier this year. The “Don’ts” list for both guest blog posting and blog commenting are almost identical.
- Don’t do either just to build links.
- Stay relevant. Don’t publish guest posts on blogs that aren’t related to yours. This applies to comments in a limited way. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever comment on a post that’s not related to your site, but do play it safe. Three or four unrelated comments a month won’t hurt you, but 20 comments a week, from blogs that have nothing to do with your site (and that may be in questionable standing with Google)… that could hurt you.
- Don’t publish bad content, whether it’s a generic comment or a watery post. The days of spun articles are long gone. So are the days of spun comments.
- Don’t have too many of your inbound links be guest blog post links, and don’t have too many of your inbound links be blog comment links, either.
About Comment Spam
Before we shift into the how and why of blog commenting, let’s sort something out: generic spammy, automated blog comments are just what they sound like: They’re spam. They deserve to be treated as harshly as email spam, unsolicited phone calls and all the rest of their ilk.
If your blog is buried under comments like that, check out the plugin Akismet. It’s free, easy to set up and will save you several hours a month as it automatically identifies and deletes all the spam blog comments.
The free WordPress plugin Akismet is one of the oldest and best ways to control blog comment spam.
What Makes A Comment Good?
But enough about the bad comments. Let’s focus on good blog comments – intelligent comments that contribute to the topic or discussion of the post. These good comments are on pages related to the topic of your own website (you will be linking to your website in your comment, right?), and the site you are leaving your link on is in good standing with Google.
Those are the good comments, and the only ones that help.
Why Comment On Blogs?
Well, there are a few reasons why:
- You get an inbound link. Every time you leave a comment on a blog post, you’re also adding a link to your site.
- You get traffic. Don’t expect a flood of it, but it’s likely to be very high quality traffic.
- You get recognition. Every time you comment on a post, you’re getting your name out in front of a very targeted audience. Blog commenting is one of the best ways to get noticed.
- You may get invited to guest post. If your comments are good, eventually you will get invited to guest post. You can also easily shift from being a commenter to being a guest blogger. Here’s how: If the blogger responds to your comment and says anything like “that’s an interesting idea”, offer to swing that into a guest post. They just might say yes.
What kind of results can you get from blog commenting? Well, David Arnoux and his team at Twoodo, an online collaboration tool, took a swing at blog commenting. Here’s what they got out of it:
- “6.5 hours of commenting got us 452 new visitors and 72 new sign-ups
- For every work-hour spent, we acquired 11 new users
- We acquired 72 percent of these visitors from the top three articles we commented on”
Those are pretty good results, especially if you look at the top three comments they made.
How to Write Great Blog Comments That Get Traffic and Attention
So that’s the why of blog commenting. Here’s the how:
1. Read the blog post through. Carefully. Consider reading it twice. You’ll reduce your odds of saying something dumb by about 90% if you just carefully read the post. This sounds obvious, but many commenters only skim the posts they’re commenting on. Some of them don’t even skim… they just scroll to the bottom. This is a bad habit that could lead to embarrassment and to annoying the blogger.
2. Say something more thoughtful than “Great post.” You can certainly open with that, but immediately lead into your personal experience with the topic, or at least your personal take on the topic. Sharing a personal experience on the topic almost always gets the blogger to respond, and it shows you’re practicing the tools of the trade yourself.
For example, “Great post. We’ve used this lead gen tactic ourselves, and it did well, but we got almost all our results from LinkedIn. Next time, we’ll skip all the other platforms and just do LinkedIn.” That both supports (agrees with) what the blogger has written, and adds a nice “one man’s opinion” kind of take to the discussion. It’s a comment that contributes.
3. Be positive (it’s the golden rule of social media). Support what the blogger has said in your comment.
If you do disagree, do it very, very carefully. And don’t be surprised if your comment is deleted. There are entire books written about how to disagree gracefully. I’ve never left a comment that even slightly disagreed with the blogger that didn’t end up either deleted or ignored, but maybe you’ll have better luck.
4. Comment early. You’ll get more traffic and a higher chance of the blogger seeing your comment if it is listed at the top of the comments. To get to the top of the comments, you have to be one of the first to comment. Use the app Feedly to keep tabs on when new posts are published, or just sign up for the blog’s email list – many smaller blogs automatically send RSS email updates the instant they publish.
5. Minimize self-promotion. Blog commenting is about contributing to the discussion. Really. Shameless self-promotion usually fails.
6. Track what works. Remember how David Arnoux’s team got 72% of their visitors from just 3 comments? That’s not uncommon. It’s a good idea to track how many clicks you’re getting from each comment. You can do this with Google Analytics, but if Analytics scares you, you can also do it with Bit.ly.
Bit.ly lets you create shortened versions of links and it lets you track who’s clicked those links. You can also group your links into Bundles, so you can see how one entire group of links performed over time. For the best results, you might want to create a Bit.ly account just for your blog comment links, because it will give you a graph like this:
These are some of the results from David Arnoux’s blog commenting experiment.
7. Use your name… your real name. It’s borderline spammy to use keywords where your name should be. Matt Cutts discourages it, and pretty much every blog owner everywhere discourages it. This tip bleeds into tip #5 (minimize self-promotion), but it’s one of the most common offenses of blog commenting. Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to fix.
8. Comment on blogs that get read. Is this obvious? Maybe. But I want you to get results from your blog commenting. It might be a little bit scarier to comment on big name sites, but you’ll get much better results.
So there you have it, the ultimate guide to making sure that you make the best of commenting. What approach do you use in your comments?