A few months ago I received a copy of Inbound Marketing by Hubspot Cofounders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, and finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing insights from the book for your reading pleasure. Last week I shared about the Grateful Dead and Niche Marketing.
This week’s insight from the book is on blog comments.
In their chapter on blogging, Dharmesh and Brian touch on the subject of blog comments somewhat, but it is not a main point. As a b2b inbound marketer, I have often wondered: “What is the value of a blog comment?” For the reader, the commenter, and the blogger.
This post is an attempt to answer that question. I will draw on material from Inbound Marketing and pair it with some of my own research
I want you to close your eyes for a second, and think about your blog becoming everything you’ve ever imagined.
What do you imagine? 10,000 social shares? 10,000 views? The golden number will vary, but chances are the metric that makes your inbound heart flutter is not:… Blog comments.
Blog comments have become the lost metric in our blogging efforts; the ugly duckling so to speak. According to Blind Five Year Old, blog commenters make up 9% of the online community.
The blog comment seems to have died, or at least gone into hibernation. Except on industry leading blog posts, people don’t seem to comment anymore. In 2014, MLT’s Ideas@Work blog only received six comments! In fact MLT’s most popular blog of the year received zero comments! And this isn’t an anomaly… What’s the deal? Are blog readers today suffering from a severe case if shyness? Are blogs worse than they used to be?
Many believe that this lack of blog comments is due to the rise of social media. Now bloggers share their blogs with their social networks and readers interact with content there. While social media has many benefits, moving content engagement away from the blog, in some ways has made it harder to build and measure community engagement. Many times people share a blog on social media without even reading it!
Some blog comment technologies such as Disqus (what we use on the MLT blog), Livefyre, Comments Evolved For WordPress, and others have taken steps in consolidating social media and blog commenting by including social shares in the comment section. Check out this blog detailing the benefits of each.
Blog comments, when used the right way, can be valuable in a number of ways.
They help the reader:
- determine a blog’s authority
- see how other readers have processed a post
- create a sense of community on a site
They help the commenter:
- establish valuable connections
- establish thought leadership
- refer viewers back to their website
They help the blogger:
- see, monitor, and respond to readers’ thoughts and impressions in one place
- comments can enrich a post by adding to the authors point, disagreeing with the author or backing up an authors claim
The problem is that many times people haven’t used comments the right way. One of the main ways for your pages to rank highly on Google is to have lots of other websites link them. Marketers realizing that a blog comment allowed for a place to put a link to their website, spammed blogs with meaningless comments to build inbound links and thus increase their search engine ranking.
This no longer works. Google now marks links from most blog comments as “no follow” links, and does not take them into account when determining search rankings.
So how do we harness the benefits of blogging without being spammy?
Here are some ideas:
1) Make sure that your real name is associated with your comment
Comments from an alias or even a company name are more likely to be marked as spam. Make sure people know who you are.
2) Make sure to have a picture of you associated with your comment
Why are you commenting in the first place? To add to the conversation and become a thought leader? If no one knows who is making all these comments then your work is in vain. And your comments will look spammy.
3) Make sure that your comment is valuable and relevant
Rand Fishkin, in his post on blog commenting suggests that you read at least five posts from the author and 3 posts worth of comments to make sure you are not commenting in a vacuum. Get a sense of the author’s style and interests, and for the comment community’s protocol so you don’t look like an intruder.
4) Don’t make your comment too long or too short
Again going with Rand on this one, make sure your comment is “longer than a tweet and shorter than a blog post.” You want to add value without monopolizing the comment section.
5) Make sure not to have more than one link to your content
Having more than one link to your own content looks overly promotional. Feel free to have more than one link if it’s not to your content.
When used correctly, comments can gain the attention of readers and the author, even more than the actual post! Rand Fishkin has been known to write blogs that reference valuable comments on his blog and other blogs.
While commenting to build links in a spamy way is a bad practice, getting your comment included in a well-known blog post can have huge SEO benefits.
Check out these increbible posts about how to get people to comment on your blog posts:
Comments may not be the magic metric for you. If this is the case. Coppyblogger, one of the most succesful content marketing blogs around, removed the comment section from their blog. Read all about it right here:
So what do you think? Is blog commenting dead? Can it be resurrected? Show that it can be and tell us your perspective below.
Join me next time for Inbound Marketing Insights!