The Purpose of Comments on Blogs (and How to Use them)




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The Purpose of Commenting on Blogs Comments play a big role in blogging. If everybody, I mean bloggers and readers, used the comment section optimally, its functionality would provide us all a wealth of value.

An optimal blog post would consist of a high quality article by the blogger followed by a discussion that goes deeper into the topic. We could also say that the original blog post should be a good discussion starter, as the post will never cover a topic to the whole. It always leaves room for interesting comments.

There are many things to think about before I dive into the purpose of comments and how to use them.

From the bloggers view:

  • Do I enable comments at all?
  • If comments are enabled, will the author/user link be in dofollow or nofollow?
  • Will the comments go live immediately or do I moderate them?
  • If I moderate them, which comments do I publish?
From the readers view:
  • Why do I comment?
Unfortunately, the comment function gets raped by many people. Here is a quick insight into how spammers try to destroy the comment section.

How the Comment Section gets Raped

People like to interact. Other people like to spam. They are just there to get their link on the page. This is especially true for blogs with dofollow links in comments. Many of these spammers are just interested in the link juice and traffic. The consequence is a 1-liner comment that says nothing at all.

Here a few examples of useless comments:
  • I like this article, good job!
  • This is a post I was looking for. Thanks a lot.
  • Very nice article! Make sure to also visit my blog www.url.com.
On SUYB I get a lot of these comments. It is absolutely ok to say you liked an article. But do you really have to write such a non-value comment? If you clicked on the Like button or shared the post on any social network, I will know you liked the article. If you filled out the email subscription form, I know you liked it and want to see more content. There is no need to write 1-liner compliments.

Other spammers go even further and add a link in the comment section. To make it easier for them, they create comments that would fit to any blog post. Here a few examples:
  • Excellent piece. Keep writing such kind of information on your site. I benefited from this page. My webpage 'anchor text with link'.
  • Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Many thanks, plz also visit my blog www.url.com.
I mean, wtf?! I dislike these comments. They waste my time, and they also waste their time because I will delete them or mark them as spam. Some people just try to be smart in getting links. So they create comment templates that can be used on all blogs. If you are this type of reader, I kindly ask you to leave my blog. I'm just honest.

Comments from the Bloggers view

There are two main reasons why comments can be beneficial to bloggers:

First of all, comments means free content for the blogger. Google likes quality content. Often the content from comments have a significant share in the success of a blog post. Because the post gets updated with each comment and the content gets richer, the web page may climb up in the SERP's.

Secondly, it increases the 'perceived authority' of the blog. When a new readers lands on your post, he will judge your content by its first impression. One factor is the number of comments. If there are no comments, the reader might be thinking that the content is not interesting enough to get readers comment. Of course, this doesn't mean you should publish spammy comments.

Enable or disable comments?

There is no right or false. It's rather personal preference. But there IS a right answer depending on how you reason it. If you made your decision, check if your reason is reasonable :) Here are some inputs:

Enabling comments is common practice and I recommend it too. If you deliver value in forms of content to your readers, you want to give them the opportunity to discuss about it. I feel that disabling comments is the same as giving a speech without any interaction at the end. Or a lecture by a professor without letting you ask questions. Strange? Don't you sometimes think that the discussion afterwards is the most interesting part? In my opinion, it is much more difficult to build a community/readership if you disable comments.

Another advantage of comments is that your post will be updated whenever someone leaves a comment. Google likes this. Of course this means that the comment you publish must be a valuable one. Do not publish trash ever.

If you enable comments, you have to expect spam - a lot of it. It's crazy. There are people out there that try everything to get their link on your blog. Even if it's just a nofollow link. Some even use softwares to create comments on autopilot. There are tools/plugins out there that help you in filtering spam comments. But then, you would still need to delete many of them manually.

However, there are situations when disabling comments could also make sense. Let's say your blog posts have a reasonable PageRank. As a matter of course, you want its PageRank to flow to your internal pages.

For example: one of your webpages has a PR2, contains 5 dofollow & 5 nofollow links - making a total of 10 links. 1/10 of the PR2 will be distributed evenly to these 5 dofollow links on the webpage whereas nofollow links get nothing.

So, the more links you have on your webpage, the less link juice you pass to each link target. We know that most of the times your comments include links. So the link juice decreases with every new comment left on your post - even if you nofollow your links in the comments.

For more information on this, please visit Matt Cutts PageRank Sculpting.

Link in comments: Dofollow or Nofollow?

Dofollow comment links attract many comments. But 'many' is not always good, and may know my answer. You get quantity, but often it is of little quality. You attract more spammers. On the other hand, it can trigger your readers to really leave good comments because they are aware of the benefits of a dofollow link. This can also be suboptimal. It's like rewarding your readers to comment. Obviously, the comment is better when someone volunteered to write something.

The main disadvantage is the fact that they are dofollow links :) You risk linking to bad neighborhood. Linking to junk sites hurts your domain authority. But for new bloggers, allowing dofollow comments can be a good idea to get their first comments.

Both have its advantages, but I think nofollowing all comment links is the better option. Nofollow links don't attract as much spam as dofollow links do. People are less likely to leave a comment just for the sake of doing it and you don't have to worry about linking to bad websites.

Moderating Comments: Should I do it?

Of course! If you didn't, everyone could mass post comments on your blog. Eventually they will rape your comments section. Have fun deleting them later when you realize you got penalized by Google. Please avoid this mistake and review your comments first. To give you a point of reference: I don't publish about 85% of comments I get. Maybe a bit more.

I just don't publish comments that include a link within the comment. Also, non-sense comments don't make it to live. If someone just says 'thanks, I enjoyed it', I will delete it. Not necessarily because it is spam, but rather because it doesn't add value to my blog. Neither does it start a discussion, nor does it provide any additional value to my readers. When users read an interesting article, they often want to hear other opinions as well. I care about my readers, so I want the best for them. I don't want them having to scroll down comments containing nothing but hot air.

Which Comments to Publish?

As I mentioned, most comments I receive will be deleted without a flinch. But what if you get a serious comment? How do you know if a comment is serious or even better, honest?

First of all, let's talk about how to recognize spam:
  • Comments including links are spam.
  • Anonymous commenters are also spammers.
  • Bad grammar is also a sign of suspiciousness.
  • A comment in another language? Delete it right away!
  • One-liner? In doubt, just delete it, even if it may insult the commenter. A one-liner rarely adds value.
  • People writing 'visit my blog' are often spammers, even if they used a perfectly written comment template.
  • A link in the name that lead to gambling sites, local websites or subpages are mostly spam.
You think I am strict? I may be, but after a while you will get lots of spam too. Do you want your beautiful blog posts to be surrounded by crappy comments? You just don't put ketchup on a delicious Italian pizza.

So, what comments do you really publish?

It's really up to you, as it is your blog. But here are my thoughts:

The posts I write are of high quality. Well, at least that's what I intend to do. You are the reader, so you better judge them. But if you read this far, chances are good that this post has quality.

My theory is this: The crappier your blog posts, the weaker your comments.

If you write mediocre content, you get so few reasonable comments that you start thinking about lowering your requirements for comments to be published. All this just to show your future readers 'hey I got comments, so my content is interesting'.

I personally don't care how many comments I published. I said this many times and I will say it again. Quality over quantity. If I get trash comments, I put them where they belong to. Don't get me wrong. I love getting feedback and I will publish your comment anytime. But I just notice when someone is trying to fake something. If you just comment for the sake of commenting to get your link below my post, I will notice. It's like people acting interested in a conversation they don't give a crap about.. Small talk is the keyword. Blogging has much more to offer than small talk. Good bloggers go for real talk.

It's really not difficult to get a comment published on SUYB. Just ask a question or express your opinion in a few sentences. I value any feedback I get. If you think what I'm saying here is crap, then tell me about it. I am open to constructive criticism. Anyway, I like criticism better than praise, because it makes me think of how I can improve.

Back to which comments to publish: You want to be proud of your blog and give a favourable impression on first time visitors. Remember that everything on your site can be controlled by you. You have 100% control over your blog posts including comments. You even have 100% control over what banner ads you want to show. Do you publish adult content ads for 10x the usual price? Think about it.

Let's think a bit differently about it:

The quality of your next potential comment is about the average quality of previously published comments.

Given that there is truth behind this, you should generally be stricter with the first comments you publish in order to avoid a avalanche of trash comments.

For blogs with less traffic that are screaming for comments, consider this: If really put effort in your content and don't get comments, it's usually not because your content is not good enough. The reason is your little traffic. I find the number of comments alone not to be a good KPI to measure the popularity of a post. The comments per 1k page views for example is in my opinion a better one. Even if you have no comments to show, it's no shame. What do you prefer, a good post with no comments or a good post with trash comments including dirty links? If you show inappropriate comments below your nice blog post, you will lose credibility. Readers get irritated.

In short: How the heck can a high quality post be spammed with low quality comments? Honestly, when I read a valuable article, I expect the comments to be as valuable.

Comments from a Readers view

Let's move to the reasons for readers to comment. There are a few:
  • To get a deeper understanding of the topic by asking questions.
  • Connecting with the blogger by showing you're really reading his posts.
  • Positioning yourself as an expert with giving good inputs.
  • To get a link back to your website.

Why do Readers comment?

This depends a lot on the type of reader:
  1. Classic reader
  2. Blogger-reader
  3. Spammer
There is the classic reader who is looking for information. His motive for commenting on your blog is asking for more information related to your post. A blog post will always leave room for questions as you can never cover a topic to the whole. This type of reader isn't just here for the backlink and usually leaves honest comments. As a blogger, you want to have a lot of these readers because they add value to your posts by asking follow up questions. Then make sure to answer his questions.

Then there is the blogger-reader type who is looking to connect with you. Similar to the classic reader looking for information, the blogger-reader generally leaves comments that have the potential to get a discussion started. He wants to connect with you and reads your blog. This means his blog is somehow related to yours. Because he is interested and likes to connect, he will ask smart questions only which will get the ball rolling. As a blogger, appreciate his comment and answer it. This type of reader is valuable because it is a potential website owner who may link to you in future. If you are being nice to him, your chances of a backlink increases.

Lastly, there is the spammer. You not what.. don't interact with him and delete his comments. He is just there to profit from your blog. All he wants is backlinks, exposure and traffic. Dealing with this type of reader is a waste of time. What if you turned away spammers and lost part of your visitors this way? Even if this means a decrease in traffic, I would make the trade-off. And it is a good one. Remember what I said? Quality over quantity here again, the same with readers :) Your one and only most valuable reader is worth more than 100 spammers. This is why numbers never say the whole truth.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post. If you think that people can benefit from this article, I would appreciate if you shared it with your most important people. Feel free to leave any comments below. I like constructive criticism.

Have a nice day
Stephan

AuthorAbout The Author - is the owner and main author of Spice Up Your Blog (since mid 2014). Stephan is a Cantonese Chinese living in Switzerland, has made his first experiences with SEO & Blogging in 2009. You can find him on Twitter.


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3 comments:

  1. You have given nice examples of different comment types. I just want to know if we can close comments for any particular post which is overloaded with comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Prerna.
      To close comments for one single post, go to your post in Blogger.
      -> on the sidebar click Options, then choose 'Don't allow, show existing'.

      Delete
  2. Hi Stephan,

    I agree to your theory:

    "My theory is this: The crappier your blog posts, the weaker your comments."
    This is so true :)

    ReplyDelete



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