To have a successful blog these days, you have to build community spirit. Contests, giveaways, guest posts, and all that are great ways to get people interacting with your site–but nothing screams community to the average visitor than a lively comments section on your posts.
Comments are a catch 22. You need comments to build your blog’s community spirit to boost your success and notoriety on the web–but sometimes it’s tough to get those comments when you’re just starting out. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best tips to get those comments flowing.
- Encourage Comments
Sometimes all your readers need is a bit of encouragement. Pose a question at the end of your posts or throughout the body. Ask what your readers thoughts are about your posts. If you’re doing some kind of a tutorial, tell them that you’re happy to answer any questions they may have. That little push can help you build tons of comments on your posts.
- Don’t Make Your Readers Register or Fill Out a Capcha
A lot of people are easily dissuaded from adding a comment to your blog–so don’t make it any more difficult on them than it already is. You readers are spending a few minutes (or more) of their time typing their comment already. Including required registration or a capcha is a great way to turn off a would be commenter. You’ve got a spam filter, what are you so worried about?
- Reply to Every Comment You Get
What’s the point of filling out a comment if it seems like the blog’s owner doesn’t even read it? Much like you reply to people in a forum, do the same with comments. Your readers care enough about your site and your post to let you know their feelings, so make them feel like they’re welcome members of your community. Plus, adding your own comments further increases the comment count on your posts.
- Choose a Side and Stand Your Ground
It’s your blog, you can say whatever you want on it. And if you’re looking for comments, you need to stop playing the part of the flip-flopping politician and talk about how you actually feel about an issue. Maybe you love Mac OS X and hate Vista. Perhaps you want to slander people who would spend money on a blogging platform like TypePad. Post a love-fest for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. Go ahead. You’ll get loads of comments weighing in on how right or wrong you are.
- Make Your Top Commenters Feel Special
There are a few plugins out there that make it easy to show off the people who comment the most often. Install one and “reward” those who contribute the most to your blog’s community. Or, if your blog is generating a large amount of income already, consider offering monthly giveaways to top commenters who provide good information with each comment.
- Can People Relate to Your Posts?
Drafting that perfect post can take a lot of time and effort. And, if you’re not careful, you can come across as sounding elitist, know-it-all-like, or just plain boring. I know I’ve been guilty of all of the above at some time in my writing career. You need to be able to write conversationally, or at the very least, in a style that people can relate to. Since comments are a conversation, make your posts the stepping stones for starting off each topic.
- Turn Off Comment Moderation
You may be tempted to moderate your comments before you allow them to be posted on your site. I know I’ve gotten quite a few scathing comments on other blogs I own–but let them get posted anyway. Every time I’ve had someone post a negative comment, two more have followed with a positive to back me up. Let the conversation flow naturally–without the need to look over each comment as you get it. When your blog grows, you’ll turn moderation off anyway, so why not turn it off now?
- Don’t be a Jackass
Remember those scathing comments from the previous tip? Yeah, those comments that you are tempted to moderate but you’re not going to. Whatever you do, try not to respond to those with the same nasty tone as they used. So you don’t agree on a topic or he called you a name–get over it. You have a reputation to uphold, and if you tell off too many people, you’ll end up scaring away any potential commenters.
- Set Your Comments to DoFollow
By default, most blogging software sets commenters’ URLs to be “nofollow” links which have no bearing on the majority of search engine rankings. By setting comments to “dofollow”, you give commenters a nice little backlink for their troubles. While you may not be too keen on doing this if you somehow feel that you need a level 9 PageRank, everyone else should consider this option.
- Turn on CommentLuv
CommentLuv is a relatively new plugin for WordPress that automatically finds and adds a link to your commenters’ last blog post. Much like the DoFollow tip, people actively search out blogs that include CommentLuv as one of their plugins, bringing in more traffic and comments to your posts. However, you need to reign over your comments with an iron fist, or you may find spammers trying to take over your site’s comments section.
- Fake a Few Comments Here and There
Alright, so this last tip is a little underhanded, but it can work. Much like some people need encouragement to post a comment, they also want to feel like they’re not the only people reading the post. If you’re just starting out and not getting much traffic, put a few “fake” comments here and there to get the community going. You can even combine encouragement and fake comments for double the commenting benefits.
And there you have it, a nice set of seven tips to help you get more comments on your blog. If you have some tried and true idea that I overlooked, let me know in the comments below.