Nothing says ‘Buzz’ on blog like a healthy list of interesting and engaging comments after each post. Naturally if you’re trying to promote yourself as someone to be taken seriously (whatever your niche) you need to be seen to attract vibrant discussion, appreciation and enthusiasm from your readers.
One you’ve begun to attract traffic to your blog, then to engage with your audience further and build up your credibility as a blogger, the next question to ask is this:
How do You Entice Your Blog Visitors to Comment?
Obviously you could pay your friends to write a line or two, cajole your Mom into leaving you a few words of praise, or pen a reply or two yourself under another name. But let’s face it, those are silly strategies which aren’t going to do any real favors for your credibility. We’re looking for some serious Social Proof.
Social Proof is a term for the phenomenon by which people always gravitate towards a crowded restaurant, as a opposed to the empty one beside it irrespective of the quality of its food. Another good example is the way that a young dude who walks into a disco with a beautiful girl on each arm is instantly more desirable to most of the other women in the room than the hot, intelligent guy who walks in alone.
What lends this Social Proof to a Blog is genuine, quality comments being left by real people. The kind of comments that are worth replying too. The kind of comments that make your visitors keep right on reading, all the way down the page even after they’ve finished the article itself.
Now I don’t profess to be the comment generation maestro here, but I have observed all these strategies in action and they work. You may not want to use all of them at once (I don’t) but test them out for yourself to see which ones work best for you on your blog.
How to Get More Comments On Your Blog
Design Your Content Right
1 – Pick the Right Topics – Topics that your readers will have a genuine interest in (make it relevant to their needs). Think about what makes for the Perfect Blog Post and write accordingly.
2 – Write Controversial Content! – Write about things which will engage people emotionally and will have opinions about.
3 – Get to the Point – You’ll get less comments if your post is a waffly ten minute read. Make it snappy and direct, that way people can remember what they want to say about it by the time they reach the end.
4 – Call to Action – Tell your readers you’d like to read their comments! Even better, open up a discussion with specific questions or an invitation for people to share their own experiences on the post topic.
Set Your Blog up With the Commenter in Mind
5 – Make it Easy! – Don’t make people Login to comment, and scrap the ‘Captcha’ if you have one (use GASP instead – see #14). Both of these take time and effort on your reader’s part, and put an extra little hurdle in place which will put off a few would-be commentators. Independent comment systems (such as Disqus) may also reduce your audience participation.
6 – Use threaded comments (it’s an option in your Discussion Settings) – Threaded Comments allows you and others to reply to a specific comment directly, without being limited to following the chronological order they were added in.
7 – Don’t moderate comments automatically – It’s a bit of a turn off to write a comment and see it swept off into moderation-land. Not a feature which encourages people to come back. Of course, this works best if you have a good spam protection in place (see #14), otherwise you’ll find yourself forever deleting dubious comments.
8 – Keep the Conversation Going – offer readers the chance to subscribe to comments. The ‘Subscribe to Comments’ Plugin give readers the opportunity to subscribe, whether they choose to leave a comment or not.
Give Something Back…
9 – Make it worth their while – The ‘CommentLuv’ Plugin allows a commentator to leave a link to a recent post on their blog below their comment. Now a popular feature on many blogs (including Technshare), this encourages a free flow within your community and gives an extra incentive for visitors to share their thoughts.
10 – DoFollow back – Some links allow Search Engine bots to follow them, others don’t. WordPress blogs are set to no follow by default, so adding the DoFollow plugin will give a little Search Engine value back for each comment. Another good incentive.
11 – Hall of Fame – Use a plugin such as ‘Top Commentors Gravatar’ or ‘Top Contributors’ to display a shortlist of your Top Commentators. Good coverage for any networker – the pay off for contributing to the conversation on your blog.
12 – Make the current conversations on your blog more visible – Try using a recent comments widget in the sidebar to let your readers know what’s being said about your posts. ‘Customized Recent Comments’ or ‘Better WordPress Recent Comments’ are two plugins which can help you here.
13 – Open up more comment avenues – Giving other options such as commenting from their Facebook profile (use the ‘Facebook Comments for WordPress’ plugin) makes it ultra-easy for visitors to add their thoughts, without even having to enter their name and email.
14 – Eliminate Spam and Stupid comments – The best plugin for this is ‘GASP’ or ‘Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin’, but the occasional pointless, link driven comment will still appear, making it look like you don’t care about the conversation. My philosophy – if someone clearly hasn’t read my post, or adds an empty, valueless one liner, then BAM! Delete.
15 – Offer a juicy Reward – Publish a monthly list of top commentators with links back to their website, and a few words about them and their contribution to your blog. A great way to reward those who’ve put in the effort to participate in your conversations and challenge others to get even more interactive the following month.
16 – Don’t ignore your commentators! If your readers have made the effort to read your post and leave a comment, they deserve some acknowledgment. Thank them or engage with their questions and suggestions, whatever the moment calls for. Don’t wait too long, or they’ll have forgotten about the conversation and moved on. The ‘Comment Reply Notification’ is a great plugin to let your commentator know when you’ve replied to them. Another plugin to consider is ‘Thank me later’ which sends out an automated thankyou email to every commentator.
17 – Comment on Other Blogs – Many bloggers will repay you in kind if you make the effort to read a post of theirs and add a constructive comment to it. It’s generally best to stick to blogs related to your niche of course.
18 – Join a Commenting Tribe – Find a tribe on Facebook, or another community, Who agree to comment on each others blogs. It’s a great way to build up friends, get your face out there on other blogs, absorb some quality content in your niche, and of course – get more comments on your posts.
Now it’s up to you. Try implementing some of these strategies out on your blog. See what kind of response you get.
Have a look through the blogosphere and take note of the tactics being used by bloggers who attract loads of comments for every post. Take a few moments to leave quality comments as you go, and in time, others will do the same for you.
Before you go, I’d absolutely love it if you’d share this post with your followers and friends, and then LEAVE US A COMMENT!
What strategies have you used successfully to attract more comments on your blog? What makes you stop to comment on a blog you’re visiting (or not!)?