There’s a trend going on at the moment where blog comments are being turned off. There are three reasons for this – spam, spam and spam!
Well, there are a couple of other good reasons too but this is one of the main issues. Some high profile sites such as copyblogger.com closed comments due to spam. They found that although they had approved 130,000 comments in eight years, that only accounted for 4% of the total comments they had. Which means that 96% of their comments were ‘pointless, time wasting spam’!
Popular Science, an online science and technology magazine, did the same. Not only because of spam but also trolls – ‘even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story’!
Spam blog comments get automatically sent out via ‘bots’. Bots are programs that search for blogs and spew out blog comments with links to dubious sites.
These are fairly easy to catch in spam filters. The Askimet plugin comes as standard in WordPress and there’s the additional GASP plugin that deals with robots effectively.
Manual spam is produced by individuals who are trying to catch you out with some scheme or who are on sites such as Fiverr where you can buy 1000’s of comments on other sites for $5. (Note: Not all Fiverr gigs are bad news. I’ve had some great graphics produced for $5 – you just need to pick the right people).
Also on Elance there are big teams of what I term ‘SEO factories’ who do this sort of thing day in and day out for internet marketers.
Both the bots and the manual spammers are becoming more sophisticated with their tactics and it can be hard work sorting through your comments to see what is genuine and what is fakery.
Managing blog comments on your site
Here are a few tips on how to tackle comments on your site:
- Thank people for genuine comments and questions that add to the conversation. They have made an effort and deserve your attention and appreciation. It helps you build a relationship with your readers. It also encourages other people to comment.
- Be aware of ploys that manual spammers use. These are some of the things to expect them to do:
- Ask a question about your blog – ‘That’s an great theme you have there. Where can I get one like that?’
- Just say how awesome your blog is.
- Generic flattery of your writing.
- No reference to content.
- Not adding to conversation.
- Telling you there’s a problem on your blog.
- Selling you SEO – ‘If you hire me I’ll get your blog on page one of Google’.
- Look out for comments containing lots of links!
- Oh, and the grammar and spelling is dreadful too. Mind you, you have to have a little bit of care for your genuine visitors where English is not their native tongue.
Here’s a spammy blog comment I’ve seen on a few blogs recently:
“I see a lot of interesting posts on your page. You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work,there is a tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in couple of minutes, just type in google – k2 unlimited content.”
Top tip: Reward people who leave blog comments by using the Commentluv plugin. The premium version comes with the anti spam GASP plugin and you can set it up to only accept comments from those with Gravatar (Globally Recognised Avatar) accounts.
Why do I need to make blog comments on other people’s sites?
You may think you haven’t got the time to first find relevant blogs to comment on and then think of something intelligent to say to add to the conversation. But making blog comments on the right site can help you build up your visibility and credibility. You want to be seen in the right places and make an impact.
So what are the main reasons for leaving blog comments?
1. Drive traffic to your site from other blogs you leave comments on.
2. Get backlinks to your site to improve your SEO. Be aware that quite a few sites use no-follow on all their comments which means your link doesn’t count. My take on blog comments to get backlinks is that it is a tactical short term goal anyway as Google changes its search algorithm with the wind.
You could wake up tomorrow and all your commenting efforts have gone out of the window due to a change in what Google decides gets you points towards your rank.
Top Tip: Find backlinks on do-follow and other useful blogs by using dropmylink.com. You just need to enter a keyword and choose the type of site you want to leave blog comments on. It will pick up relevant blogs and websites which allow comments. See my YouTube video below:
3. Develop relationships. A more strategic approach is to develop a relationship with the blogger and their audience. Show up authentically, add to the conversation, share your knowledge and keep coming back. The blog owner will love you for keeping the conversation going and adding value which might even lead to them asking for a guest post.
Their readers will also start to see you showing up and recognise that you are also a voice in the industry. Which leads to them visiting your blog and starting to leave comments or sharing your content.
Making blog comments work
People don’t comment as much as they used to on blogs. The reason for this is that the conversations are happening on social media. It’s another reason copyblogger.com closed their comments down and moved the conversation to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google +.
A popular site such as The Sartorialist used to get 100 – 200 comments on each post. That is now down to about 50 on average.
So are blog comments on the way out? Not in my book. There is still value in having a blog commenting strategy to put yourself in front of key people of influence in your niche or specialist subject. You’re blogging to make connections – it’s the relationship that’s important, not the individual transaction.
If you do make comments you need to make sure you add something of value and are not mistaken for a spammer. You want to make your comments count, don’t you? Well-crafted comments can bring you to the attention of an industry leader.
Top Tip: Be really choosy about where you leave blog comments. It takes time and effort so leave them in the important places for you.