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:
- Anyone can be a publisher, and
- 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:
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
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:
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.
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.