Blogging 117: Attracting Blog Visitors through Comments

Blogs are a conversational medium. As we learned in Blogging 101, a blog is essentially a newspaper. Two major factors that set blogs apart are:

  1. Anyone can be a publisher, and
  2. Within reason, every letter to the editor is published.

I say “within reason” because some people go out and leave meaningless or off-topic comments as a way of driving traffic to their sites. Thankfully, as a wordpress.com site, SMUG is protected against comment spam automatically by Akismet. But still, sometimes one sneaks through, with an innocuous comment like, “Great site. Keep up the good work” that includes a link to a Russian porn site. When that happens, I mark the comment as spam, which deletes the comment and makes it more likely Akismet will prevent that person from infecting other wordpress blogs.

But comment spam isn’t the main point of this post. This post is about how you can legitimately engage in discussions through comments on other related blogs, and as a natural byproduct attract visitors to what you’ve written.

If you’re commenting just to attract blog traffic through that single link, people will sniff it out and you won’t get much out of it. But if you’re contributing meaningfully to the conversation, you not only will get some visitors via the link in your comment (as described below); you also make it likely that the blog’s author will take notice of your blog and possibly link to it in a future post.

When you click on the “Comments” link at the bottom of a blog post, you will typically see a comment form that looks something like this, which I got when I commented on a post by Shel Holtz about the extent of the spam problem:

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When you comment on a blog, you will want to include the URL for your blog in the “URL” field. Then, when your comment is published, your name becomes a clickable link, so that as people see what you’ve said and think it’s thoughtful, they may want to come and see what else you’ve written on your own blog.

Shel’s blog uses both a Captcha (a device to prevent spam robots from polluting his site with junk comments, by requiring that the commenter type a word that is visible to humans but not machines.) He also employs comment moderation, so he catches any spam that somehow sneaks through. That’s why, when I submitted this comment, i got the following message

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I personally don’t use comment moderation or a Captcha, because I don’t want to slow up the conversation and because Akismet does a great job of sniffing out the bad stuff. I have occasional problems, but I’d rather have my commenters get instant gratification for their efforts. I ruthlessly root out any spam after the fact.

(And by the way, I appreciate that Shel’s Captchas are generally straightforward and don’t have letters that are so distorted that humans can’t easily make them out.)

If you have a blog on wordpress.com and are logged in, it’s even simpler to comment on another wordpress.com blog. So when Scott Meis regularly comments here, he doesn’t need to fill in all the
personal information or his URL. His comment form looks more like this, which I got when commenting on one of his recent posts:

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Because Scott doesn’t moderate comments in advance either, my comment showed up immediately, with my name as a link to SMUG.

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You also can sometimes paste a link to a specific post within your comment, but do this with care and make sure it’s relevant. Links within comments are sometimes viewed as suspicious, that perhaps the commenter is more interested in promoting his or her site than in contributing to the conversation.

I first met Scott through a thoughtful comment he left here. Commenting in the right way, by becoming meaningfully involved in the discussion, is a way of doing well by doing good.

Assignment:

You guessed it…leave a comment below. Include the URL to your blog. You will at least get one new visitor to your blog as I check it out. Maybe other SMUGgles will come for a visit as well.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

13 thoughts on “Blogging 117: Attracting Blog Visitors through Comments”

  1. While some comments can be “worthless,” I like the topic of your post. For many people, blogging just “isn’t their thing” but they can still engage in conversation via commenting. I have seen many people that don’t really “like” to blog but enjoy participating in topis of interest. So, “great post” and “way to go” with your topic! 🙂 Engaging in new conversations is what it’s all about…

  2. Pingback: Get Girls
  3. Whenever I see a headline that suggests anything to do with attracting visitors to my blog I naturally read … this was the first one that focused on commenting from a strategic content perspective. But as I consider this, I realize that my favorite blog is indeed one in which the commenters are fully engaged in a dialog (check it out at http://blogs.asaecenter.org/Acronym/) and that I often click through to rad more from them.

    PS – just did followed your link to the Social Media Survey and took it – thanks http://tinyurl.com/5j22k3

  4. Hi Peggy – your comment had been held in moderation because it had two URLs in it; WordPress.com defaults to hold those in moderation if they have more than one link, because that’s a common spammer technique, to just overload with links.

  5. I like your post. I have turned a long time personal site into a sort of webzine/blog and noticed the random 100 guest occurances. I had no idea if this was a glitch or what — it makes sense, the certain time of day. This post is useful — I found it while searching on google for tips on gaining visitors/community members. I’m still attempting to build a sort of community for unique women.

    Thank you. 🙂

  6. I found this article useful and interesting. As a photo blogger I often leave comments on other peoples photo blogs and in return find that they will drop by and leave a comment on mine. Commenting on other blogs is a great way of attracting visitors to your site as well as creating some interesting conversation.

    Thanks

  7. I found you and SMUG through some twisted “7 degrees of Twitter” this morning and I’m glad I did. I look forward to catching up on Social Media through your informative yet easy to read site. Great job! I’ve already recruited a few other smuggles as well!

  8. Lee, I have been working through your course on lesson at a time. What I like best is that you explain things in a simple manner and don’t make them more complicated than they need to be.
    My blog is a newspaper about our HIE efforts in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

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