Alice Elliott
June 9, 2016

How allowing comments on your blog can attract more readers

Following on from a period when allowing comments on blogs was out of favour, it’s now time to reverse that trend and get commenting again!

Yes, I know social media has taken over. But really is that a good thing? Don’t you find the quality of comments there can leave much to be desired?

Many bloggers claim you get more discussions happening on social media. But we’ve all seen Facebook discussions veering wildly off track and away from their original intention. And without necessary moderation systems in place, the threat of trolls and other inappropriate feedback loom on the horizon.

So I want to advocate the return of blog commenting. Here’s an Infographic I threw together to explain why:

How allowing comments on your blog can attract more readers

Remember Web 2.0?

Yes, that was a long time ago. It was the rise of interaction on the web. Blogs made it possible for their readers to leave feedback there and then, actually on the same page as the post, and readers could see their contribution published instantaneously.

However, as with all good things, nothing lasts because it is abused. With the rise in spamming, and latterly with trolling, the luxury of seeing your comment instantly visible underneath the post it is attributed to, is a rare phenomenon.

Moderation has become a necessary requirement if you are allowing comments back onto your blog. There is so much bad on the net, which is attracted to free visibility like bees to a honey pot, the onslaught effect has destroyed the experience of real, bona fide commenters who genuinely want to have their say in support of the blog.

‘Tis a pity that so many can ruin the enjoyment of, what has recently become, so few. Spammers and trolls are taking away the very reason a blog is a blog. And so the readers are forced to go elsewhere, namely on social media.

All for the sake of satiation

We live in a time-poor world in which we have learned to expect immediacy. Thing have to happen now. We have lost the patience of waiting.

This is because social media happens in real-time, whereas poor blogs do not. They are now outdated, a back-water for comments, a dinosaur for discourse.

Because social media is in real-time, is blog commenting seen as a dinosaur for discourse?Click To Tweet

Nobody is prepared to wait for an answer, especially when one is immediately forthcoming on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. It’s far more exiting to see a response materialise in front of your eyes, barely long enough for the other to read and reply. The magic of thumbs can provide quick-fire reactions, and this expectation has become the norm.

So why should we bother to sit and wait for a blog comment reply? It seems archaic that these things take so long, when gratification is so readily available on social media.

Quality versus quantity

I maintain that feedback by allowing comments back on your blog is only valuable if it is carefully thought through and constructed accordingly.

Sometimes if you want to receive something worth your while, waiting for it can be a good thing. And the person who is delivering this phenomenal counteraction equally should relish the process of producing prose that merits reading.

OK, it’s not fast moving, instantaneous fulfillment that satisfies that constant craving for direct immediacy. Things need to be quick, short and simple (unlike this post!).

But what does suffer is quality of content. Predictive text interferes, spelling goes to pot, sentence syntax is non-existent, meaning is misconstrued and has to be supplemented with emojis.

Responses are based around conversations. And that is not a bad thing. We all think in a conversational manner inside our heads, so why shouldn’t this be translated onto the page, whether as a blog post comment or a discussion on social media?

Proving your popularity

This is something we all yearn for. For some it is their raison d’être. Social media provides this in spades, but only if you do it right and play your cards correctly.

I was at a lively blog meet recently, and I tentatively brought up the subject of commenting. Many of the bloggers there confessed that two years ago, commenting was one of their favourite pursuits that contributed towards gaining new contacts and making blogging friends.

Now this function has been transferred to social media, but there isn’t the blog post at the centre of the proceedings. The main crux has been overlooked or forgotten. Conversations go off at tangents, or lose their purpose.

Many blogs that allow comments find this area now lies deserted, neglected, empty. Dusty winds blow tumbleweed across the scene. And this abandonment belies a lack of readers, which may or may not be the case.

This has far reaching repercussions. Lack of social proof is not conducive to encouraging others to participate. Nobody likes to dance on an empty stage. This rejection of responses doesn’t help the fact that blog commenting has fallen out of favour.

Creating a community

Regular blog commenters are a special breed. They need, nay deserve, to be carefully nurtured.

This is done by revelling in your blog’s community. Reply tactfully, purposefully and appreciatively to each comment. Reward them with a response that matches the effort they have made to create their feedback.

Each commenter needs to feel special. Write your posts specifically for them. And there’s no reason why you can’t benefit from what they have said, ask another question or position a statement that develops into an ongoing discussion. You can use this newly found knowledge to write a better or more relevant post next time.

By allowing comments, you need to entice commenters to return. Those that choose to single out their support could become advocates for you and your blog. Give them suitable call to actions to help you with increasing visibility, raising awareness and encouraging new readers to join the throng.

Just like those ladies from the blog meet, who developed their network via the blogosphere before the transition to social media, there is no reason why blogs can’t resume that role again. There are communities of like-minded people, populations that aren’t diluted with inappropriate conversation and misleading subjects leading off down cul de sac avenues.

Blog commenting previously developed networks focusing on like-minded writers, so why not again?Click To Tweet

Focal points of subjects should be kept on the straight and narrow, discourse relevant and pertinent, points of view appropriate and constructive. Uninvited intruders are kept out. Equilibrium is maintained.

Venturing outside

All this activity needn’t be confined within the boundaries of your blog. Feel free to roam abroad.

Commenting on other blogs is a great way of finding new readers. Not to mention another way of gaining more recognition and reaction to what you have written, both within other comment boxes as well as inside your own posts.

Just as you relish a comment, so do other bloggers. So go out and write some. The old adage “give before your receive” certainly works here. It is certainly therapeutic as well as beneficial to spread your net a bit wider while populating other blogs in your field with your thoughts and observations.

Remember to be helpful and forthcoming. If you do choose to disagree, always have a good reason as back up and only focus your opposition on the blog’s subject, not its participants. An alternative opinion is always good for stimulating discussion, but it needs to be constructive and relevant. And it’s also worth taking other points of view into consideration, especially if they arise because of what you’ve said.

The better your comments are on other blogs, the more increased awareness of you and your blog will occur. Write something outstanding, and others will want to follow those natural links commenting creates to locate what else you have written. This is much better than rocking back and forth in your writer’s chair moaning about the lack of interaction on your blog.

Give ’em a really good reason

If you want to attract more readers by allowing comments again on your blog, you need to work at it. Two years is plenty enough time for other practices to get a hold. Social media is not a natural solution, since these comments are more ethereal and fail to have a long lasting connection to the source of the discussion.

Think what you will gain by allowing comments in the first place. Is it to make your blog appear to be more popular? Do you value the feedback your readers give you? Do you want the post’s subject to be continued, explored, examined, criticised? Or do you just want to know there are readers out there that have read what you’ve written and care enough to let you know?

Some blogs always get comments. This is due to the subject matter, the natural readership, the voraciousness of the blogger on other platforms (social media, forums, conferences, linkies, etc). But whatever the nature of these comments, good, bad or ugly, the response is always the same: huge appreciation from the writer.

Write real blog comments that stand out head and shoulders above spam, trolls and other trash. Click To Tweet

So let’s get out there and start commenting. We may be bombarded with spam, trolls or worse, but that is no excuse, since real commenting will stand out head and shoulders amongst the trash. Show your appreciation. Put forward your point of view. Continue that conversation. Fill in the gaps with added value that enhances the post. And above all, let bloggers know we are reading their stuff, and that we care!

PS: What about moderation?

Spam and trolls have become the bane of a blogger’s life. They totally disrupt the raison d’être of allowing comments.

However, robust measures put in place to combat this invasion prevent inspired readers from having their say. Being confronted with a barrage of ‘tests’ to prove you’re human (which doesn’t stop non-robotic spammers anyway), let alone stringent logging in procedures that crash and destroy any heart-felt comment in a trice, is hardly conducive to encouraging feedback.

Moving to social media doesn’t help either. Abandoning the blog to search out a suitable social media platform, further exasperated when you realise that the whole world and his wife can conveniently see what you’ve written, fast evaporates the spontaneity of leaving a comment.

Even with the lack of privacy, the little, if no, moderation on social media leaves comments wide open to abuse from trolls and other inscrutable ‘beings’. So to start allowing comments again, blogs overcame this violation of the right to reply by installing a suitable moderation plugin. However, others have taken a more wise approach and have opted for a small window in which comments are available.

The latter solution is much more humane, and works because the older the post becomes, the more likely it is to attract spam or worse.

Others still, such as Curatti, have opted to use the increasingly popular Disqus (see below and do please comment!)

If your blog is blessed with a lively and engaged readership, by allowing comments, they will gladly populate your blog in the time allotted. Moderation can be easily regulated and replies composed to keep the conversation flowing until it is time to focus on the next post.

If you work with your readers, show your appreciation and provide excellent content for them to comment on, they will gladly reciprocate. The importance of allowing comments builds a strong long-term relationship with your audience which most bloggers (sometimes even secretly) crave.

 

Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_burakowski‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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If you are a beginner blogger who is looking for someone to "explain things really simply" about blogs and WordPress, then go ask Alice Elliott! Her award winning blog Fairy Blog Mother explains blogging using ordinary, everyday words. And take part in her 90 Days Challenge to Commenting Mastery to get more readers and traffic!
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  • Great post. Alot of these things I do implement and try to implement. Probably the toughest thing for me, at times, is being the first comment. Especially if it’s a popular blog I know how being that first commenter (that leaves a great comment) can bring some decent traffic to your site. However it doesn’t always work out that way for me. So now, I don’t focus on being the first. I try to just do my own thing and write quality content.

    And that’s what really matters. Quality comments that add value to the conversation.

    • Thanks Ashley. Leaving a quality first post to get the ball rolling is always welcome (and I thank you again for yours) because it starts to show interest in the post, which in turn encourages others to notice and want to find out what is going on.

      Comments on posts are so rare nowadays, any post that has more than one instantly marks it out as something that might be worth reading. One tip I can pass onto the blogger is that by replying you are instantly doubling the amount of responses!

      Taking the initiative to focus on being the first is an admirable quality, Ashley, and I suspect there will be many bloggers who will be thankful to you for that. I just wish there were more like you. And even being second is a good thing!

      And if these first posts can introduce valuable subjects that can stimulate a discussion, this interaction instantly helps the social ranking factor of the blog.

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    • Thank you, Jesse. It’s always great to hear that our crowd-sourced articles are interesting and helpful. Also happy you chose to leave your comment in Alice’s great article