You’ve likely heard by now that an active comment section can boost your SEO placement and even generate leads for your business. Comments can add hundreds of words to your post and increase your inbound and outbound links. A healthy comment section can be a valuable content marketing tool, but much like a bonsai plant, starting one up from scratch can be incredibly difficult. So much so, that many blogs don’t even bother. Which is a shame, because they’re often missing out.
Without an active comment section, it can feel like you’re posting into the void. Allowing comments on your blog will give you an idea of whether or not your audience is engaging with your content. It can help you to figure out if you’re writing about topics that people care about.
There’s also something so authoritative about having a healthy crop of comments trailing each post. It encourages people to see you as more of a brand authority. Even if they don’t comment themselves, just seeing that other people have will lend you even more legitimacy in their eyes.
We might as well say it like it is: having comments on your blog means you’re more popular. And just like in high school, the most popular companies get more of that coveted brand trust.
It can be hard to get the comment train rolling from a complete standstill, so we’ve broken this advice up into two basic chunks. First, we’ll go over how to get people commenting in the first place. Second, we’ll discuss some tips for managing your comment sections once they’ve gotten started.
Step 1: Encouraging comments
The first step is to encourage people to start leaving comments in the first place. This can be tricky, especially if you’ve never really catered to commenters before. It’s important that you still provide high-quality content. Don’t let your posts suffer just for the sake of attracting attention. (Some blogs, for example, swear by the power of controversy as a way of enticing people to comment. We don’t recommend this as it can damage your professionalism or brand authority. Leave this tactic to the celebrity blogs.)
Better ways to encourage comments include the following: becoming more personable, proper placement of the comment box, and straight-up asking for input.
The personable blog
Blogs that are too formal or distant may discourage discourse. If your content looks and feels like it was written by the Star Trek Technobabble Generator, people will not feel comfortable leaving comments.
You can make your blog more approachable by emphasizing the author (or at least the employee who is in charge of running the blog). Putting a face to the blog makes readers feel like they’re having a conversation.
Other subtle changes can have a big impact, as well. Try adopting a more casual tone of voice for blog posts. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon grammar and good sense, but try to make your posts read like something a human being might actually say.
The perfectly placed comment box
Your comment box should be right at the end of your post. Make sure your page is set up in such a way that previous comments appear below the new comment box so people don’t have to scroll through a sea of other comments to get their turn. Avoid asking for too much personal information like email addresses as this can put people off from commenting. (This may be a policy you change later on if your blog becomes very popular.)
Ask for suggestions
This one is easy. Posting about the top ten celebrities in your industry? Close your post with a shoutout to commenters asking them to “add” anyone you forgot. Detailing a post about how your product can solve a specific problem? Ask you commenters to share their own stories of how they handled similar situations. The possibilities are endless.
Be careful not to sound too much like the “discussion questions” portion of a middle school literature book when you do this, though. You don’t want to patronize your audience by talking down to them. Try to find a natural-sounding way to encourage this kind of dialogue without just closing each post with “share some comments, please!”.
Step 2: Caring for comments
Now for the next step. Once your comment sections have begun to grow, you’ll want to keep them strong. Continue utilizing tips from section one, but also consider the following advice. You want to get the most out of your comments by doing the following: engaging with commenters, taking comments onboard and writing comments of your own.
Replying to comments
Let your readers know you’re listening to them. You don’t necessarily have to respond to every comment you recieve. (“Hey, man, I liked this article” probably doesn’t need a response). But you should make an effort to validate those who leave thoughtful words. If someone took the time to offer a well thought-out response to your post, do respond to them.
This goes double for questions. Potential customers may use your comment section as a way to scope you out before committing. Current customers may also leave comments in an attempt to reach you about a product they purchased. Don’t let these comments go unaddressed.
Engaging with comments
You can take the previous tip one step further. If someone comments with suggestions for content they’d like to see (ie: “This was a great article on British lawnmowers, would love to see something similar on Australian models!”), then consider giving them what they want. Use the comment as inspiration for your next article, and of course, give the commenter a shoutout as thanks for the idea.
Writing your own comments
You can connect your blog to others in your industry by writing comments of your own elsewhere on the internet. This may make sense for some businesses more than others, so use your judgement about where you post. Leaving comments is a good way to draw traffic to your own blog, if it’s done organically.
Don’t try to spam other blogs with your URL (they’ll likely block you from even posting). Instead, seek out like-minded blogs that aren’t direct competitors and cultivate a presence there. It’s absolutely vital that your blog have a human face if you’re going to try this. Remember that commenting on other blogs can be time-consuming and tricky, but very rewarding if you pull it off.
The one downside to comments is that you have to moderate them. You can allow people to publish comments without your approval, but doing so puts you at risk of spam or inappropriate comments. Most small blogs may not have to worry about this, but if you start seeing some serious traffic, then expect to spend some time parsing through nonsensical spam comments.
Some businesses disable blog comments to avoid this trouble. And it’s possible that one day you may find yourself in a similar position if you feel you can’t spare the resources to steadily moderate comments. But there’s no guarantee it will ever get to that point, and the boost in SEO and engagement you’ll see from allowing comments should outweigh this risk. Maybe someday you’ll have to turn the comments off, but for now, you should encourage them and enjoy the many benefits they’ll bring.