Why Satan‘s? Well he seems to be the most cunning person (…or thing …or whatever he is) out there, and many tricks that I’m going to share in this guide happen to be quite cunning.
But before we jump into all of the crafty techniques that took me a year to collect, let’s talk about the importance of your comment section and why you should care about them anyways.
So why comments matter?
I’ve listed only the main advantages, yet I’m sure there are many more:
- Visits – yeah, I think blog comments do help your blog to get a bit more visits as people might come back to see if someone answered their comment, or the topic was so interesting and engaging that they might want to see what others think about it.
- Engagement / Loyalty / Social Proof – let’s put one more “yeah” here. People tend to think that blogs with more comments are more popular and therefore more important than others. Blogs with 0 comments can be considered dead or abandoned, meaning they don’t deserve any attention.
- Links – I’d say “somewhat”. A large number of comments may make the post seem more credible and thus more likely to be linked to. Except for this, there may be some interesting conversation occurring in comments and one may want to link to it. But frankly speaking, this does not happen too often.
- Search – Yeah! Believe it or not, but comments is a unique content that gets indexed by Google and sometimes you might get a visit or two for some long-tail search term that was found in one of the comments.
- New Visitors – this only happens in case your comment system allows sharing the comment on one of the major social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. This way this comment can be seen by friends of the commenter and they might as well jump in.
Obviously all above does not apply to low quality comments: Spam Comments; Troll Comments; “Thank You”, “Great Post” Comments. Those don’t have any value at all, don’t hesitate to kill them as you spot them.
21 Tips To Skyrocket Your Blog Comments
Below I want to share my collection of the most powerful tips & tricks to get as many blog comments as one possibly can. A decent number of them (almost all, actually) was
stolen taken from posts by other cool bloggers, but some of them were born in my own head :)
#1 Write great posts … but don’t finish them.
This trick belongs to a guy by the nickname Blog Tyrant and it’s so powerful that I’ve decided to make it my #1 Trick. What he noticed is that when you totally exhaust your topic – your readers will sure appreciate it, but this way they’ll have noting to add, other than “Thanks, that was cool!”. Blog Tyrant is suggesting that you write long comprehensive articles, but not quite finish them, this way you leave some room for people to make their own research and discuss it in comments.
#2 Make it easy to leave a comment.
This may sound obvious, but it’s not. Some blogs ask you to register before you can leave a comment. Some only allow to login via Twitter – what if a person does not have a Twitter account? Some have Facebook comments while most of the corporations block Facebook, so people are unable to leave a comment from office. Some may require you to fill in too many fields (I’ve heard cases when computer illiterate people gave up commenting when they saw “Your Website” field: “I don’t have a website, I have nothing to fill in here, so I guess I can’t leave a comment” – yeah, some people are like that). And finally… CAPTCHAS… God knows how much I hate them. In other words: the lower the barrier is – the more comments you get.
#3 Ask for comments
We’ve already discussed the power of asking in my recent post “Boring Story of a Single Post That Increased My Traffic by 128%“, so I guess I don’t need to repeat myself over and over. Just try asking your readers to leave a comment with their opinion on the topic and see the result.
#4 Host a game in comments
I once owned a music blog and once day I came up with this “game” idea. I posted a track and asked my visitors to suggest their own one that was similar to mine. And it worked! People were really happy to play this game with me.
#5 Link to bloggers.
You must already know that most bloggers know when someone is linking to them. Either by pingback, or by referral traffic or perhaps they have setup alerts in Google. In any case quite often they will check your post and if it’s good – you might get a comment. So here’s a challenge to you: write a post “100 Bloggers You Can’t Stand Subscribing To” and see if it gets any comments from them. By the way you can reach out to them on Twitter to make sure they are aware they were included in your post.
#6 Reply to everyone
It’s not only about building relationships with people and being grateful for their attention. This actually doubles the number of comments that is shown right next to your post(social proof – remember..?). For some it may seem like cheating, but if you ask me – I love when authors reply to my comments!
IMPORTANT: One thing I’ve just noticed is that Facebook Comments do not count replies as “comments”, so the post shows 10, while the actual number is over 20. Lame…
#7 Close comments
This is another tip taken from Blog Tyrant. After two weeks he closes the comments on his posts as he believes that this way your comments section automatically becomes more alluring. I’m not sure if this works, but I will definitely try it someday.
#8 Mention Your Commenters
Another thing I’ve noticed is that when you mention some names of your readers when writing a new post – there’s a very good chance that they will leave a comment! Open any book on psychology and it’ll tell you that the most precious sound for any person is the sound of his own name. You shouldn’t act like your commenters don’t even exist – devote a paragraph or two to your top commenters. Express your gratitude to them publicly, share the ideas they’ve mentioned in comments, ask for their personal opinion. See this:
The idea of this post was born while I was communicating with Kris Olin by email and he asked me to share my experience with Facebook Comments. I started writing him a reply, but then decided that it was getting too long and it was actually worth a nice blog post.
I also want you to meet Anshul Tiwari (@social_newbie) – this guy has commented most of my blog posts and I am really grateful for that, as this helps me to stay motivated :) I was also really tempted when he congratulated me with my marriage :) Thanks again, mate! :)
…now you see why this is a “Satan’s Guide”, right? :)
#9 Rewrite those boring phrases
Most of us run WordPress, right? And all WordPress templates are pretty much the same – once you browse the posts you see those very familiar messages: “No Comments“, “5 Comments“, “21 Comments“. Is that engaging – NO. Can this be fixed – TOTALLY!
Give a few bucks to your programmer to make some changes in your blog design:
Change No Comments to This post lacks your opinion!
Change 12 Comments to 12 awesome people left a comment!
I did that here on BloggerJet but right now I’m using DISQUS and I’m afraid it lacks this functionality.
#10 Let them leave their URL
Have you heard of the fundamental SEO practice called “Blog Commenting“? What about a sub-practice called “Dofollow Blog Commenting“? If you’re a n00b, I’ll explain: “blog commenting” is when you leave valuable insightful comments on popular blogs in order to get noticed. Most comment forms allow you to input your website URL, so once you are noticed – people might want to check out your website.
By default the comments on WordPress blogs are nofollow, meaning they don’t have any value for Google (at least that’s what Google guys say). In its turn “dofollow blog commenting” is when the links in comments do not have a “nofollow” attribute attached to them, which means Google counts them.
If your comments section allows people to promote their websites they will be far more likely to comment, but once your comments have “dofollow” links – you’ll get TONS of comments!
#11 KeywordLuv & CommentLuv
- KeywordLuv – separates a commentor’s name from the keywords that are linked to his website;
- CommentLuv – retrieves the last post from RSS of commenter’s website and adds a link to it into a comment.
Again, this will mostly attract people that are only interested in getting a nice link from your website rather than participating in a conversation.
#12 List top commenters on your homepage
Just another “shady” trick to motivate people to leave more comments. The principle is as follows: once you leave the most comments – your name appears in a “top commenters” widget on a blog’s homepage giving you a direct link to your own site. Do a search for “top commenters Worpress plugin” and you’ll quickly find one.
#13 List your recent comments
Let’s return to “social proof” – another great way to show that your blog is cool and engaging is install a widget that will showcase latest comments on your homepage or somewhere in blog’s sidebar. And yes, this way your commenters have another chance of getting a direct link from your homepage.
#14 Write a blog comment policy
I’ve spotted this one at SocialMediaExaminer. Funny thing is that I list this tip while I do not fully support it. I’m afraid I can’t understand how a “comment policy” can drive you more comments? In my opinion this is just another obstacle for your commenters. Correct me if I’m wrong…
#15 Let your visitors vote for comments
Open any post at SEOmoz blog and see how people are voting for each others comments. Analyzing my own behavior I must confess that when I posted some decent comment at SEOmoz I was bookmarking the page just to see if it gets some votes from the community afterwards. I don’t think your visitors are any different :)
Sadly most comment voting plugins I’ve checked were quite glitchy, please suggest a good one and I’ll post it here.
#16 Style your comments
Again, if you look at comments on SEOmoz – they are beautifully styled! They have big avatars, they are nested, each comment has it’s own box, new comments have a different color as opposed to old ones, under the avatar some guys have shiny badges. Dare I call their comments PERFECT?
Here’s another example of really awesome comments – A visual guide to navigating blog comments (it’s dated 2003!! where were you in 2003?)
#17 Rich Editor
I bet that 99.9% of the blogs have plain text comments. That’s quite lame! Would your comments become more interesting and noticable if you allow rich text and maybe even some media? What if someone wants to post a cool picture or a video in comments? With plain text they’ll have to post a link – which will require people to leave your website, while if the image/video is embedded – they will stay on your page!
#18 Let users edit their comments
How many times you’ve clicked the “post comment” button and in a second realized that there was more to add? Or maybe you’ve made a few silly typos which might make you feel embarrassed? If you care about your commenters and strive to a better user experience you need to allow them to edit their comments at least for a short period of time.
#19 Subscribe to comments
Answer this question: “Have you ever subscribed to a comments feed in order to get instant updates and easily follow the conversation?” I do it all the time and I bet this practice can triple the amount of visits you get on a blog post. This is so obvious that I won’t explain any further.
DISCLAIMER: some of the above tips were stolen from this AMAZING post by Michael Martin – 10 Best Plugins To Get More Comments. There are a couple more which I didn’t list to make sure you follow the link :) I didn’t post links to WordPress plugins as well as Michael already did that.
#20 Comment Permalinks
Did you notice how I linked to my comment on Jonathan Snook’s blog in tip #18? That’s because each of his comments has it’s own permalink.
I think WordPress has permalinks for comments by default, but what about custom themes that you install? What about comment systems like Disqus or Facebook Comments? If your blog has permalinks on comments you need to ensure they are easy to spot, as they might be hidden in “not so obvious” places. IMO the best way is to have a small word “permalink” next to each comment.
#21 Wise Moderation
I hate when I see “your comment is awaiting moderation” message. Somehow that doesn’t feel good. I love people and I’m an advocate of giving them a chance – let the comments be published instantly, you can always delete them afterwards.
WANT MORE? I’m not a big fan of “Write about fear“, “Be unexpected“, “Be controversial” kinds of tips. If you were hoping to get some of those from me – I’m sorry. However there’s a nice post that should tame your appetite – 31 Proven Ways To Get More Comments On Your Blog.
Anything else? YES!
Turn your commenters into email subscribers – amazing tip by Yoast which explains how to enhance your comments box with an extra feature and turn your commenters into email subscribers. I’ve recently described this trick in my Complete Email Marketing Guide
Greet your first time commenters with a special landing page – want to build rapport with your commenters? Send them to a special page once they leave a comment for the first time. You can use that page to express how grateful you are that they took part in the conversation. And there’s a plugin for that.
Send a “thank you” email to your commenters – I know this can easily get annoying, but it works great when used wisely. There’s also a plugin for that.
WANT MORE PLUGINS? U can haz ‘em! Again I’m giving you a link to a great post where I took some of the above ideas – Great WordPress Plugins for Blog Comments
Which “Commenting System” is the best one?
Wheeew… 2700 words behind and the time has come to answer the question I’ve been asked numerous times since I’ve launched BloggerJET: “How are you doing so far with Facebook Comments?”.
Once I’ve launched BloggerJET I decided to try Facebook Comments as guys at TechCrunch said they are cool. And I was mainly hooked by the nice viral effect they described.
So by now I have one month of experience with Facebook Comments. Want me to share it? I think I have a better idea – let’s break down the pros and cons of the most popular commenting systems based on the tricks I’ve listed above.
Native WordPress Comments / Custom Comments
- Anyone can leave a comment, no need to register or anything;
- Users can put their website address into “your website” field;
- You can quite easily customize the way they look: nested comments, “boring phrases”, colors, sizes, etc;
- They can be enhanced with lots of cool plugins: top commenters, voting, landing page, rich editor, etc;
- Easy to moderate from WordPress Admin Panel;
- Permalinks + RSS subscribtion;
- Your comments are stored in your database so you’ll never loose them.
- Too much hassle with all above: lots of plugins are glitchy and for some powerful customizations you will have to hire someone;
- No community – well, you can install another WordPress plugin which will allow people to register and have their own account with rewards and stuff, but again it’s too much hassle;
- No social effect – your comments are not shared on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t get an email once someone mentions you in comments. Unless you install some additional plugins of course.
RECAP: In my opinion “WordPress comments + plugins” or either “totally custom comments” (that incorporate all required functions) is definitely the best solution! Once BloggerJET gets mature I will for sure invest some money to develop a kick-ass comments system for it, but for now it’s too much hassle.
- Anyone can post: you have a variety of login options, even Facebook & Twitter login;
- Easy to install: your existing WordPress comments will be imported into Disqus once you install it;
- Your comments are safe: DISQUS does store them, but once you decide to quit – you can always import all of them back into WordPress;
- Great administration and moderation panel;
- Variety of powerful features: nested comments, top commenters, popular threads, pagination etc;
- Adjustable look: couple themes and lots of settings (all in admin panel);
- Subscribtion, notification, replies, votes & so on;
- I find it really handy that you can reply to comments by email;
- Social effect – there’s a LIKE button, once pressed it suggests you to share the post on Facebook or Twitter;
- Your site gets a nice profile at their website;
- Whole DISQUS appears to be a huge community of bloggers already, all you have to do is jump in and be a part of it;
- Ok, why don’t you read this and this and this for some more opinions (some articles are outdated, but still…).
- All your customizations are limited to what DISQUS has to offer in its admin panel (correct me here if I’m wrong);
- Once you want your own community with rewards & stuff – you’ll have to move to a custom comments system anyway;
- You can’t do all those tricks with custom landing pages, newsletter subscribtions, CommentLuv & KeywordLuv and so on.
RECAP: I consider DISQUS to be the best “ready-made” comment platform. Without any hassle you get tons of functions, features, widgets and customization options.
Intense Debate / Livefyre
First of all I want to apologize for mixing these two comment systems into one. That’s because I don’t have experience with any of them. And that’s the main reason why I won’t give you any pros and cons, but rather link to some nice reviews.
- A Review of Livefyre @ SpinSucks
- Livefyre Review @ Gadarian
- What, Why, and How-To’s of Livefyre for WordPress @ WPbeginner
- Livefyre WordPress Commenting System, Review @ DailyTut
- Why Keeping Livefyre for My Blog Comments Is Good for You @ CatsEyeWriter
- Why I’m Loving the Livefyre Comments System @ DannyBrown
- Is Livefyre Destroying the Value of a Blog Comment? @ TheSalesLion
- Plugin Review: Intense Debates @ MySeveralWorld
- Review: Intense Debate, And Why Every BlogSpot User Should Get It @ BlogHerald
- IntenseDebate Review – Let’s comment @ BenTremblay
RECAP: As you can see, Livefyre generated quite a buzz compared to Intense Debate. However one only thing that stops me from trying it on my blog is that you cannot leave comments as a guest! I think this may decrease the amount of comments you get.
As you may know, I was running Facebook Comments on BloggerJET from the very launch so I have some experience of my own to share.
- Social Effect – frankly speaking that’s the main reason why I’ve chosen Facebook Comments back then. Each comment has a decent chance to be automatically posted to Facebook and lots of people may see it. Isn’t this sweet?
- Voting – you can “like” the comment and ask your friends to “like” it. This will increase it’s EdgeRank a bit and it may get a little more visible;
- Relationships – as people are commenting from their personal accounts you can easily “friend” them on Facebook and get in touch once needed.
- Some corporations block Facebook, so people may have difficulties with your comment section when they are in the office;
- Still there are some people that are not on Facebook, how are they supposed to comment?
- I don’t think every comment gets shared, as people might uncheck this option. I have a poll below to see how do we act in general when posting a Facebook Comment;
- Facebook Comments don’t get indexed by search engines, though there’s a hack posted at SEOmoz which may solve this issue;
- People can’t promote their website as their name links to their Facebook profile by default;
- Facebook Comments are not customizable (I’ve actually heard they ARE, but you have to be a really badass programmer);
- The notifications are lame – I had to open each post every day to see if some new comments have appeared;
- People may feel uncomfortable posting the comment with their Facebook account;
- The total number of comments does not count replies;
- With Facebook comments you cannot leverage all those tricks described above;
- They are glitchy and for a guy like me it’s a pain to fix them.
RECAP: You don’t have to read all of the above, to get the idea that Facebook Comments are quite lame. Want some more opinions? No problem!
- The Pros And Cons Of Facebook Comments | TechCrunch @ DanielMiessler
- Ten pros and cons for Facebook comments @ ABCAcommunity
- Facebook v Disqus: The pros and cons for using Facebook comments @ Journalism.co.uk
That’s the end of this huge post!
You must be wondering if there’s a way to “thank” me for all the work I’ve done here. Well… It would be really great if you could…
1) Post a comment with your opinion or maybe share your own experience with blog comments – together we can take this post even further!
2) Click those social buttons! Believe it or not, but it feels so good to see the numbers grow, especially after 3 days of hard work on a post!