Blog Comments: Giving to Receive

Cole Wiebe
September 11, 2013
Read time: 3 minutes

It is perhaps satisfying to be in the enviable position of owning a blog that is so wildly popular readers are grateful to just see their name listed among the comments. They expect nothing else in return. A post may have hundreds of comments and the writer need only take a minute to dash off a one-line reply to the first two comments, and that's if they're feeling particularly sociable. For those of us that haven't reached that stature, I've discovered that it's important to give liberally of our time and ourselves.

I admit that jumping into conversations with strangers does not come naturally to me. It's been a learning process and I am beginning to enjoy the engagement more.

Give Comments

One of the best ways to get comments is to give them first. Generosity goes a long way. Many of the most active commenters have a strong sense of community. You'll find them listed in the 'Top Commentators' widgets in the sidebars of blogs and their comments sprinkled throughout the threads in the comment panels below each post.  When you click the links of active commenters you'll often find the same people actively commenting on each others' blogs. Congrats, you've just discovered a community or hub!

If the themes of these blogs align at least somewhat with your own, these active commenters will probably feel comfortable entering your conversations as well. To become part of the community you should make a commitment to actively engage and provide value. Create a list of blogs you want to become a regular contributor on. Then dive in, read the recent posts carefully, find some that you feel you can contribute to and add your comments. Don't just comment on the post; become involved in active conversations with other commentators.

Most bloggers don't require your praise, but knowing their readership gained something from their efforts can be rewarding. What insights and additional knowledge did you gain? Can you add value to the post by relating an experience that reinforces something the writer said? A life experience that is similar to that of the writer? Do you have a link to additional information (preferably not your own content when you're first introducing yourself)? Can you expand on one of the writer's points? Maybe you disagree with some or all of what was said in the post.

Take a look at the comments being left, check out the commenters' Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles and follow at least some of these people. Do the same for the author of the post. Take the time to retweet, like and +1 their social posts. You want people in this informal community to know that you would be a valuable addition to their circle.

Give Proof of Life

Some people that comment aren't there to gain comments or links. They want to be part of the conversation. They may have an opinion they want heard. It's important to acknowledge everyone that comments on your blog promptly. It's a very good idea to set up comment notifications on your cell phone. The WordPress app is great for this. Let commentators know that you value their input and are glad they took the time to write. Actually read over what they wrote carefully, then respond to the comments they have made with some thought, encouraging them to contribute again.

Give of Yourself

As bloggers and content marketers, it's easy to assume the role of lecturer. There's nothing wrong with providing information in a well-researched, structured format. You can gain a large following as an authoritative information resource. In-depth articles become content pillars Google loves to index, but they may not provoke any response... ever.

Newspapers and magazines may have a huge readership based upon the quality of content they provide, but it's the editorial section that gets the comments. If I want comments, I've discovered that I have to take a risk in sharing some of myself, my opinions, my successes, my failures, what I've learned and what I am still struggling with. Some people may disagree with my conclusions and I need to be okay with that, acknowledging their opinion and welcoming contorversy. Commenters love to interact with real people.

Final thoughts

I would enjoy hearing from you. Perhaps you have felt out of your element, jumping into conversations and commenting for the first time on a complete stranger's blog. Have you found other ways to give online, with rewarding comments in return? Are you using community-oriented commenting plugins like CommentLuv, Google+ Comments or Disqus?

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38 comments on “Blog Comments: Giving to Receive”

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Virgil. One of the greatest frustrations of clients I coach is that nobody can be bothered to comment after they invested hours into creating a post. I always ask them if they've taken two hours following the launch to spread some love on other blogs. It's always refreshing to hear from another writer that gets that connection. Have an amazing day, and keep commenting!

      1. Hi Cole,

        Oh wow thanks for that mate πŸ˜€

        Didn't see it coming but definitely glad to help out!

        Now to add on this topic, my content is always easy. Just make sure you are dropping good comment and readers all are going to appreciate it. I mean, what's the point of commenting on a subject you have no idea about right?

        The best part about commenting is you get to know the writer / blogger and most of the time, we ended become friends. After all, that's what it is all about right?

        Well written as usual Cole and thanks again for everything.

  1. I started my new blog site in March and it has been a learning experience. I started leaving comments on blog sites and was surprised that some would comment and some would not and most of all I was surprised that there was no reciprocation. To me blogging is helping other bloggers succeed. Google likes to see new content and leaving a comment does just that. It is annoying to see. Great Blog. Oh another great post. In my mind why bother. When someone is invited to a party, the common curtsey thing to do is to RSVP. What is the difference in responding to someone's blog.

    1. Thank you Arleen for commenting on my post. I can certainly feel your frustration. I actually gave up on commenting for quite a while. Many people just don't comment. They take what information they can find, without thinking to give anything back.

      It's only very recently that I began to realize that I needed to be interacting with the people that actively comment on other blogs. Admittedly, I'm not a completely selfless individual. When I give I expect at least something in return. If I comment on a blog I do hope they return the favor. If I labor over a post, I hope someone responds. By following active commentators to their own blogs, I discovered the same people were commenting on those blogs as well. Aha... there's a loosely defined network of bloggers that all comment on each others' stuff! I began compiling a list of people who comment in that circle of blogs and blog owners that respond to almost every comment. Expecting people to respond that haven't demonstrated that they get the reciprocal nature of commenting and replying to comments only set me up for disappointment. CommentLuv has been a big help because it leaves a link to the last post when I comment... love that!

      Again, very happy you dropped by and I hope to chat with you again in comments very soon.

      - Cole

  2. Yes, I need to thank you for the reminder too. I am going to read more blogs and put down a few more comments. The list of blogs you suggested to James, look great... will check them out too.

  3. Hey Cole, commenting is quite an interesting topic. Some just come for the links. Which none of us can deny I think. But of course I like to meet other bloggers especially in my niche (so thanks for commenting on mine -this is how we meet). I do notice what you said in the last point though, and that is that comments are short and sweet on my blog because my posts are quite sterile. I have difficulty getting away from this, but will try to do at least one more open post a month. nice job!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for taking the time to pop by my blog and comment. I can certainly relate to writing content that is quite sterile. I'm trying break out of that, putting a bit more of myself out there.

      I came across a post last night that I just had to comment on. The writer was like the Gordon Ramsay of blogging, and the language was very colorful, spontaneous and passionate. I've rarely seen that many comments to a post. I'm not sure I could get away with swearing in my posts, as a "professional SEO"... well maybe :-). I notice Gordon Ramsay earned 12 Michelin stars. It has occurred to me that Gordon has achieved the fame and success he has because he put himself out there, not for his well-researched, factual delivery of cooking technique.

      Again, glad you stopped by and I look forward to chatting again in comments.

      - Cole

      1. Cole thanks for sharing. You do infuse a lot of personality into your writing I did enjoy one on the history of typewriter.

        On the side is the Gordon Ramsay of blogging you are referring to?

        1. Hi Peter,

          Yes, I admire Gordon Ramsay's ability to just be himself, with little regard for what comes out of his mouth, while becoming a spectacular success in the process. The closest I've seen to that, in blogging, is Ash Ambirge.

          - Cole

  4. Hi Cole,

    It's good to be over at your blog too πŸ™‚

    Yes indeed, I think the lifeline of a blog are it's comment section to say it in a nutshell. I don't think I'd like to visit a blog with no comments, or perhaps go to one where there is no interaction.

    Honestly speaking, when I started my blogs nearly 3 years back, which were on a free Blogger platform, I had absolutely NO idea how a blog is maintained or what we need to do to receive comments. It was only with time and patience, and after some wonderful bloggers started visiting my blogs did I know what commenting was all about. Or perhaps being only a writer earlier, I had no idea about what it takes to be a blogger. But I soon I started visiting their blogs and commenting on their posts too, and it's just been getting by the day. Of course, I was quick to switch over to WordPress and got CommentLuv, which adds to the number of comments you receive.

    I agree with what you mentioned about leaving a thoughtful comment or adding to the conversation because it's only through our comments that we are really communicating our feelings with the blogger, isn't it? So, while we are on their blog, reading their post, and then taking out the time to comment, we might as well take out a few additional minutes and leave a nice comment - that's just what I love doing, and it's been working tremendously for me - helping me build my community and relationship with fellow bloggers πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment.

      I admit that I have struggled with commenting over the past few years. I would leave dozens of comments a night. None of the bloggers would reply. In a month, I'd be lucky if 1 or 2 visitors would stop by my blog as a result of all that effort. And it would be a miracle if even one of those visitors ever left a comment. Frustrated, I took two years off commenting. I considered it a complete waste of time. It's said that the best blog posts aren't works of literary or technical genius. They result from sharing an aha moment with readers. This post would certainly fit that description.

      I agree with you, WordPress and CommentLuv just work. Quite recently, with the increased difficulty in gaining backlinks Google is happy with post-Panda, I decided to give commenting another try. I was determined to figure it out this time. The first time I left a comment on a CommentLuv site and saw the backlink show up when I Googled my name, only two days later, I knew I was onto something. I began commenting on that site regularly, and every time, the link to my last post was included with my comment. Brilliant! Going over the top commenters on his site, I discovered other sites using the CommentLuv plugin. Out of curiosity I clicked on the post links for top bloggers on the next site, and discovered even more active CommentLuvvers. And there was a core group of the same people commenting on every one of these blogs. I had discovered a community. Since then I've plugged into two more CommentLuv hubs. I also discovered that the commenting "inner circle" bloggers also reply to almost every comment.

      Before purchasing CommentLuv Premium, I did some research. Two posts stated that CommentLuv was 90% marketing hype, 10% function. Perhaps Disqus or Google+ Comments do offer some features CommentLuv does not. To me, it didn't matter. CommentLuv has plugged me into a circle of bloggers and commenters that are on the same page as me and I'm now seeing results that were never there before. Perhaps it's the type of people CommentLuv tends to attract.

      I look forward to chatting with you again soon in comments,

      Cole

  5. Nice article Cole and yep, like many things in life you get back what you put in! I try and make time to spend at least an hour a day browsing round my favourite blogs and dropping a comment where I feel I can add to the discussion or have something to say.

    It's been said many times by bloggers much more famous than me (which would be everyone!), but it is often in the comments section where blog posts really come to life and I often get ideas for new posts from both comments on my own site and comments/questions on other blogs.

    I should really get round to buying commentluv premium....

    Oh... and thanks for the plug above. Much appreciated!

    1. Thanks David. I would have to agree. In the comments I believe the blogger has the opportunity to reveal a more personal side. That's something readers can relate to more readily than the post, in many cases.

  6. Hi Cole,

    I agree about the benefits of commenting.
    It's such a wonderful way to get to know people - and since I'm more of an introvert - commenting has actually been a cool way to socialize...lol

    I've had comments lead to guest posting, which has been another way to form relationships and welcome new readers - so all in all, it's definitely been an asset to blogging.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment Dana. I'm very much the introvert. Socializing online doesn't come naturally to me, so it's personal growth endeavor for me.

  7. Hi Cole

    I added your blog to my RSS feed a while back and I've been meaning to stop by ever since.

    Blog commenting is something I've been trying to do religiously every day since I started blogging.

    I had planned to try and comment on at least 5 blogs a day that I regularly visit. It can do wonders to help with referral traffic.

    Sometimes though it can be very time-consuming; particularly if you get involved in a conversation on a blog!

    I have cut back on commenting recently due to other commitments but try and comment on as many as I can throughout the week still.

    It's not just about links for me. It's about making connections with others and meeting like-minded people.

    I do see so many comments on my blog that I suspect are backlink hunters though. The Anti-Backlink module for CommentLuv premium should come in handy when it's released!

    Since I don't comment so often, I have seen a moderate drop in the comments I receive. It goes without saying, if you don't give, you won't receive!

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. My sincere apologies for not responding right away. I had one of those weird sixth sense feelings a few minutes ago, to check the Askimet spam box, and there was your comment. I've read it carefully and have no idea why it was flagged. (Note: Must check Askimet more often.) I agree, commenting can take up a lot of hours.

      We used to get a lot more backlinks from blogs before bloggers put nofollow attributes on their links. We considered dropping commenting at one point, in our client work, but discovered the same thing you did, the referral traffic is definitely worth the investment in relationship building with other bloggers.

      I believe there's a considerable difference between link hunters that get paid by the number of links they dump into blog comments and professional online relationship builders. Often a post really comes to life in the comments. Many people who comment professionally get paid to take an unusually active interest and contribute, to seek out and cultivate relationships with bloggers and readers alike, and build credibility in the industry by sharing useful information. I have absolutely no problem with relationship-building commentators that provide value in their comments, whether they get paid to so or are hoping to build traffic to their own blog. If they get a link out of it, good for them. I like to engage in lively back and forth comment discussions on their blog and mine and suspect that less than 10% of my commenters are motivated only by an interest in the subject.

      The one-time backlink hunters can be a nuisance. My concern is that strong countermeasures in plugins like CommentLuv will go so far in blocking link spammers that they will also exclude the very people that make blog comments the most interesting part of many sites. Askimet blocked your perfectly legitimate comment yesterday... oops! This could become the next Captcha, where there may now be less form spam, but in most cases there's also a corresponding drop in conversions. And then the spammers found ways to game Captcha, so now on many sites the only people no longer using them are the prospective buyers. Hmm...

      Chat soon, in your comments or mine,

      Cole

  8. Hi Cole,

    Nicely done! I like the approach you have taken to discuss how important the blog comments are πŸ™‚ Mostly I read others recommending it as a way to create backlinks only.

    I don't find commenting as a way to get more backlinks or benefits, 'cause I just like to comment on posts I can relate to. But I agree that being active in a community has more benefits eventhough we expect 'em or not. Mind you, I do when I have more time though πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, if the author doesn't take time to reply, I feel discouraged Cole. However, I don't expect them to visit mine and comment though. Personally, I'm against with 1-to-1 commenting as they just stop by expecting us to comment on theirs in return. Ugh... Better off from 'em. Else, I feel we are just wasting our precious time for someone doesn't care.

    I think hanging out with right folks always matter Cole. It won't happen overnight but as you walk, you will find 'em πŸ˜‰ One by one!

    You have a GREAT weekend mate!

    Cheers...

    1. Hi Mayura,

      Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment. I imagine everyone actually wants some kind of a return when they comment. A person that blogs and comments about their passions expects interaction with others that share those interests. It may not be 1-for-1, but if there's nothing coming back, it's reasonable they will move on soon enough.

      Much of the commenting done by our company is part of our client work, so we're accountable for how these dollars are invested. With the decline in dofollow backlinks from blogs, we considered not even using commenting in client work for backlinks. The real value was in the traffic we gained directly from people who read the comments our people left and stopped by. Many became subscribers to mailing lists and RSS feeds. Traffic, comments and subscriptions are a metric our clients value. I believe there's a considerable difference between a cheap outsourced commenter that gets paid by the links they drop in a day and blogging/social media specialists that build relationships online for a living. They get paid to care and contribute far more than the casual reader, to cultivate relationships with bloggers and readers alike, to build credibility in the industry by sharing useful information. It's possible people who comment professionally may not be as big a waste of your precious time as you suspect. At least some of them. πŸ˜‰

      Best,

      Cole

  9. Hi Cole,

    Well, as you can see, comments work. I am here because you've commented on my blog, otherwise I would still not know you πŸ™‚

    I like the fact that you mentioned commenting first. I am a bit annoyed at times by bloggers who come and comment ONLY if I've done their blogs first. Even though I'm pretty darn busy I try not do that. I will comment on your blog whether you've commented on mine or not that week. Otherwise it kind of look funny to me.

    I love the blogging community and getting to know people who have the same mind set as mine. It's way either to find it in the blogsphere than in "physical" life so to speak.

    It's nice meeting you and hope we can get to know each other better.

    PS: Since I have 3 blogs I will link to different blogs depending on what day I come here. Just so you know πŸ™‚ it's still me.

    1. Hi Sylviane,

      I agree that it's certainly easier to make friends through blog commenting than in the physical. It's also more practical to maintain the relationships. My blogging friends don't mind if I comment at 2:00 or 6:00am. πŸ™‚

      I believe many bloggers miss the bigger picture. They'll stop commenting if there isn't a comment-for-comment exchange. I use Jetpack Stats and have discovered that even when I leave a comment, and the blogger does not return the favor, I will frequently still benefit with traffic from visitors from their blog checking out the last post I wrote, thanks to CommentLuv.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I look forward to exchanging more comments,

      Cole

  10. You are so right Cole! As bloggers we can't assume the role of lecturer and expect our blog to grow. Granted, there are those as you mentioned that have a status level that will automatically supply a multitude of comments and consistent subscribers eager to join the conversation.

    For the rest of us, we must put the time in to reap the rewards. And there are plenty when it comes to taking the time to comment on other blogs!

    1. Hi Rebekah,

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. There are indeed a multitude of rewards that come from commenting. The two that come immediately to mind are usually gaining a backlink and hopefully a reciprocal comment. With many bloggers now adding nofollow attributes to links, commenting for backlinks seems on the way out. But in addition to return comments, analytics always show an increase in visitors that come from the blogs I've commented on recently. Putting in the work, as you've discussed in your last post (http://rebekahradice.com/ways-to-promote-your-latest-blog-post/), would be a lonely process, with hours in front of the screen, were it not for the other bloggers engaged in promoting their content that we are able to befriend and chat with, while increasing our visibility with Google and bumping up our Klout score.

      Looking forward to chatting with you more in comments,

      Cole

  11. Hi Cole,

    Thanks for recommending my blog, I really appreciate it.

    You are so right, I started commenting on blogs about a month and a half ago thanks to reading a blog post from Adrienne Smith.

    At first I started commenting in hopes of getting traffic, it felt kind of like a chore. Now I look forward to doing this task every single day.

    I have learned so much from taking the time to read what people post on their blogs. Not to mention I have met some really nice people in the process.

    I use CommentLuv on my blog and I absolutely love it. Once again thanks for the shout out and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  12. Look at all your comments Cole! People love this topic, at least those of us who do love a great topic and one we can add our two cents to as well.

    You know I love commenting too but when I started this journey I was just told to use it to get backlinks to my blog. I was doing it for that reason but I sure was enjoying reading other people's posts and learning from them. I was in awe at all the information these bloggers were sharing for free and it was mostly what they'd learned which was even better.

    How can you not want to join in the conversation right! I mean most people have an opinion to share, even you. I'm glad though that you're open to the fact that although this was a little uncomfortable in the beginning that it's something that you're enjoying now.

    I love commenting and voicing my opinion. I mostly love learning from other bloggers and meeting new faces along the way. To me that's an added bonus so love live commenting.

    Do it because you enjoyed the post and you'll get a lot more in return.

    Have a fabulous new week now and see you again soon.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, that post was surprisingly popular with bloggers.

      As I work on my next post, I ask myself if I should write more for the people who do comment and become part of the conversation, or our prospective clients, that need us precisely because online engagement is completely foreign to them.

      - Cole

  13. See how that worked? You left a comment for me and here I am! If there was one "magic" trick at blogging, I would have to say this is the one. It's amazing how all of my blogs increased in comments AND traffic when I started doing just this a couple of years ago.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Many people believe that the value of commenting has diminished because of nofollow links, but I believe they fail to take the value of real live visitors to their site into account.

  14. Hi Cole,

    This is my first time here. I was very curious to come at this site and see what is all about.

    I like the fact this is a nice, clean and easy to navigate site. Also, the engagement factor is high. Great.

    About the content. I was struck by the following phrase: "There’s nothing wrong with providing information in a well-researched, structured format." Well, this is one of my problems. I like to do a lot of research for my posts and synthesize everything in a structured format.

    The result is that most of my visitors are people with high training, high education. The rests seem to dislike this type of materials. Probably they consider it boring. This way I lose what is called "the masses".

    This is kind of strange. It seems that if I want to gain more readers, I must "lower" the level somehow, to make shorter, simpler posts (I hate this). It is like I need to write worse not better in order to gain readers.

    Also people seem to dislike content that is dense in information and problem-solving oriented. They like more the so called generic content with simple tips like: make stellar content, write magnetic headlines, write well-thought comments, everything peppered with nice looking pictures that usually have no relevance but are cool.

    Should I write miserable generic content, with magnetic headlines and cool pictures or should I keep the level higher and accept I will get fewer readers?
    What do you think of that? Could you suggest a solution for this problem?

    Have a wonderful day

    1. Hi Silviu,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Yours is a dilemma I have wrestled with for some time. If visitors find us on Google, searching for keywords like "Vancouver SEO professional", qualified prospective clients are more likely to value a well-researched, carefully structured and informative article. However, very few people will ever comment on articles like that. That's not necessarily a bad thing. As I'm sure you're aware, Nick Stamoulis is a very regular contributor in his extremely popular Brick Marketing Blog, but has decided not to include comments at all. He isn't trying to solicit comments and it gives him the luxury of avoiding the more controversial link bait titles and content, going with a more conversational style or dropping teasers to get visitors to leave comments. His approach certainly has gained him a lot of credibility in the SEO industry. Sounds like you're on the same page and that your approach is spot on for the visitors you hope to attact.

      Cheers,

      Cole

  15. Commenting is becoming my favorite form of relationship building, learning, and backlink building. I'm still fairly new to the whole game, but I can't think of anything else as powerful all around is commenting is.

    If someone is doing it the right way like you and many others have recommended they should be learning from the posts, creating value and relationships, and learning a great deal from actually reading the posts.

    At the end of the process a backlink is a very small thing compared to everything else you should have gained.

    Al Green

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