Commentary is a part of life. Everyone seems to have their two cents to offer. Since the day your mother placed an oversized parka on your shoulders you have been the subject of others commentary, good or bad. But did you know commentary could help you land a partnership, create buzz, or interact with prominent people in your field?
Comments are the lifeblood of a good, well trafficked blog. A blog is only as good as the amount of people it engages. If there are no comments, one cannot be sure if anyone has read their blog.
If you step inside a restaurant and it’s packed to the rafters you feel excited, and say to yourself, “this place must be good, there’s a full house!” On the flip side, if you don’t see anyone in the dining room you may be inclined to think something else.
As humans, we tend to seek out social proof. We are drawn to things that seem popular, so if a blog has many comments the reader will assume it must be important and worth his or her time. Comments help establish this social authority. A blog does not go viral if no one shares it, just like a restaurant won’t be successful if the people who eat there don’t tell their friends and family about it. In the world of blogging, word of mouth is google, and you want to get to the top of their search index. Google measure’s whether content is valuable or not based on how much activity takes place on the page. Comments are the bread and butter that make your blog appear active, and increase your page authority. They communicate that you’ve got a full house, and in turn attract others.
Let’s say you’re walking into that restaurant again, but this time it is full of con men, criminals, and hustlers. You may not feel as comfortable in spite of the full house. Or maybe you’re a craft beer nut and you walk into a saloon more akin to the college sport crowd. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the establishment, you aren’t as interested. Bloggers want to see good comments, specifically comments that contribute to their content’s value. You may be thinking, “but I thought comments contribute value by increasing activity to your blog’s page?” i.e. through Google’s search index. This is true, but not all activity is seen as valuable to Google.
In fact, some activity can hurt a blogs chances at establishing page authority. Just like a restaurant full of roughnecks deter the prospective customer, comment spammers deter Google from establishing a blog as an authority, and increasing its search index. Commenting should be a reciprocal relationship, where both parties gain. Spammers leave backlinks to their own content hoping to increase its activity by leeching off of yours. This self promotion benefits them and hurts you, the blogger. Not all bad comments are spam, though. Sometimes you will just get comments that don’t contribute value to your post. Certainly a restaurant wouldn’t be a good place to read an honors thesis, and neither is your blog posts comment section (unless that’s its subject).
You want relevant, insightful comments whether you post or receive them. Valuable comments add to the content of the blog they are posted on. They have something to say that advances the issue or narrative past the author’s original scope. As a potential commenter, ask yourself, “what can I bring to the table about this topic?” Chances are that if you can offer something that builds upon and advances the conversation you will increase the blog’s profile, as well as your own. So, what exactly does this look like?
Imagine you are meeting with someone for an interview. When you sit down at his or her desk do you immediately begin talking about why you are qualified for the job? No! You say hello, ask your interviewer their name and most likely how they are. This may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many comments begin without acknowledging the author. Your end hope as a commenter should be to make a connection with the author. You cannot do this without a conversational tone. To help build this connection, mention something about the blog you liked. This isn’t flattery as long as it’s genuine. You should do your best to mention the blog’s content. If you don’t, it seems like you didn’t read their blog and are just fishing for backlinks.
You want your comment to be insightful, and build upon the content of the blogpost. So you should seek to expand upon whatever that content is. One way is to relate a personal experience or anecdote to the content of the blog. This signals that you are a real person, and it contributes value to the content because another reader may share that perspective and have similar feelings. Imagine when you’re writing your comment that everyone will read it. Your goal is to stand out so write to do so. If a point hasn’t been stated, state it. Write with personality and genuinely care about what you are saying. Good comments can make a blog evergreen. If the new perspective, point, or example you offer is important, the author will update his blog to include the answers to your questions. Good comments should lead to updates, or author responses, and in the best case scenario, future partnerships.
After you contribute value, end your comment with a relevant parting promise to do a little something for the author. This is always met with appreciation. Imagine you have just finished eating a delicious meal at a beautiful restaurant. Not only would you post on social media that you ate there, but you would recommend eating there to others. Promising to share a blog post is a recommendation, the action you take in the hopes of mutual benefit. You scratch the author’s back and down the road he or she may scratch yours.
We all make mistakes, it’s a part of life. However, now that you know just how important commenting is you should take the time to avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Having a weird or underdeveloped profile
Gravatar is a service that creates a profile for blog commenting with an accompanying image of yourself. You don’t want to have a funny username or picture in your profile, this needs to be professional. No one wants to network with someone who still can’t lose their nickname from high school.
To avoid: Upload a professional looking photo of your face and select a username that gets as close to your regular name as possible. This will help readers take your comments seriously.
2. Irrelevant links
The worst look is when it seems you’re trying to take advantage of a blog in order to promote yourself. There is no mutual exchange, especially when the links have nothing to do with the blog’s content or what you’re saying about it.
To avoid: Try to only include links relevant to the insight you’re providing or the question you are asking. At the very end of your comment you can include a link to your own blog, but only at the end and following your parting promise (to share).
3. Not fully reading the content before commenting
You read a sentence and have an insight, so you skim the rest and jump down to the comment section because your insight is burning in your mind. The problem is you have missed something, and your comment may not be very insightful if that’s the case.
To Avoid: When you start feeling like skimming stop yourself, go back to the top of the article, and read it in full.
4. Making your comment too long
Comments can’t have too much insight, but they can have too much words. Past a point your comments become one-sided, and take on a life of their own outside the context of the blog post. This is when you know you are being too long winded.
To avoid: Try your best to keep your comments short and to the point. If you have to be more lengthy, make sure it is needed.
5. Repeating what the blog said
Active listening is when a therapist listens to their client and then relays what the client just said back to them, but in different words. This concept is exactly what you want to avoid when commenting on a blog post. You want to avoid rehashing what the author already said. Your goal should be to add to the content.
To avoid: find something to say about the content and say it. It should be something that is evident from the blog but not stated or not fully fleshed out.
Comments are extremely valuable in the world of blogging, and bloggers take them seriously. So you should too as a commenter. If you don’t, your comment may be deleted by a moderator before it has a chance to make an impact. There is no hard set of rules to commenting, except you must contribute value to the original post. How you do so depends on the context and content. Before you get out there and write your first comment, take the steps to review some of the dos and don’ts that follow. Most importantly, be yourself. Good blog comments have personality and an air of confidence and conviction. If you’re self assured, your readers can be sure you care about what you’re saying.
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