It seems to me that everybody has an insatiable thirst towards an increase in blog traffic. For some it is the be-all-and-end-all of having a blog. I have written before about the kinds of traffic people expect, and whether all is as it seems.
The majority of people who work in the digital world are obsessed with gaining massive results. But is this increase in blog traffic really worth all the hassle? Is having 10,000 visits a month as good as it sounds compared to getting, say, 100 comments?
The latter really shows your blog is working. Receiving this amount of engagement proves what you are writing is what your readers want to read. Relying on a load of empty stats as a guide to success doesn't justify any gain, unless it is revealed as comments, aka social chatting.
What has social chat got to do with SEO?
Sorry, I'm digressing, as usual. You were probably alerted by the phrases 'SEO' and 'increase in blog traffic'. And I am blathering on about commenting and social chatting. The purpose of this post is to explain their connection.
Optimising your blog posts for the search engines is one way of gaining traffic, but there is another, more outreach, and cheaper, method of stimulating SEO. This requires leaving the quiet, comfortable realm of your blog and venturing outside.
Yes, I mean reading and commenting on other blogs. Why should you do this? Because this gives you a chance to expand your reach for your expertise, writing prowess, making connections, ability to help others, and impressing people enough to want to visit your blog.
Isn't this what you want – people visiting your blog? And yes, there is a process for this (shown in the Infographic below). This isn't a jolly to go out and write a few comments, and expect a large increase in blog traffic to roll in. There is an art to this:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Increase your visibility
We all know about brand awareness. There are many ways to attempt to increase this, and one method is commenting. The blog's author has invited you to leave a comment, and this is an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise, or how your brand could help others.
However, some words of warning. Commenting is not a vehicle for promotion, self or otherwise. You do not take advantage of this carte blanche situation to advertise your company, services, products or whatever. Commenting is about communication, not blatant spamming.
Using commenting to publicise a link back to your homepage is spamming. Most blogging platforms make links in comments automatically no-follow, so you are not going to get SEO'd backlinks in your favour. And neither will the blog's readers, who don't know who the hell you are, have any desire to click on them!
Show the real you
Part of creating a good impression is to be as transparent and authentic as possible. People like to know who they are dealing with, and commenters are no exception. There is nothing more disconcerting than not knowing whom it is who wrote that comment because they choose not to reveal themselves.
Come out of your shell and provide your real name, a recognisable gravatar and a valid email address when you submit your comment. Neither should you hide behind your company's logo. It is you who is commenting, not a faceless corporation. People are interested in what you have to say, not what your boss thinks you should.
Another reason for this is, if you write exceptional comments which stand out above the rest, people want to be able to recognise who provided them. This is all about increasing your reputation, becoming a go-to expert in your niche or industry, and a minor celebrity in the commenting world.Be transparent when commenting! Use your real name, not your company's. Have a recognisable gravatar showing your face, not your company logo. Submit a valid email address, so people can communicate with you.Click To Tweet
Make your comments readable
A good comment is a conversational one. Imagine yourself talking to your readers in a coffee shop, with a cappuccino and a large slice of chocolate cake. Your attitude should be relaxed, convivial and super focused on the other person. They are more important than you at this stage.
Highlight your personality by sharing some personal insights into the topic of the blog post. If you write well, people will want to read what you have to say. Continue the conversation and encourage others to participate in it as well. Popularity is a tool which also stimulates search engine interest.
Write comments which attract not only the blog's author, but inspire other comments as well. Remember to concentrate on the subject of the blog post, and avoid going off at a tangent. The author will totally approve of your social relevance within their commenting space.
Strike up a connection
What you are trying to do is to get noticed for the right reasons, and gain the respect and trust from the blog's author and readers. Your ultimate aim is to gain recognition for your expertise, what you stand for, and get seen as a valuable resource within your niche or industry. Once successful, you will be welcomed whenever you comment, and your contributions readily accepted.
Now, having gained this lofty position, you are now able to work on creating connections with the author and other readers. This is all part of them getting to know, like and trust you. Say the right things, add value to your comments, and become a reliable constant within the blog's comments.
If you can make your readers feel comfortable with you and what you say, they may want to find out more about you. Because you haven't littered your comment with spammy links, they will have to click on your name. This is where you will have submitted the URL back to a relevant post on your blog, resulting in a traceable increase in blog traffic.Don't litter your comments with links back to your website, that's spamming. Provide a URL to a relevant post in your blog when you submit your comment and include a call to action to encourage people to click on you name.Click To Tweet
Glean SEO from the post
Now this is for real SEO buffs! If you are clever enough, work out what the main keyword or phrase is in the post you are commenting on, and try to insert this into your comment. If you're not sure, focus on being as close as possible, as every little attempt helps.
This will continue the strength of the keyword for the original post, which the blog's author will thank you for. And if your comment is noticeable, valuable and relevant, the search engine spiders may well decide to index your comment as well, or even instead, of the post.
This is another reason for you to write a substantial comment, rather than a few appreciative words. Writing at least three sentences, with a proper beginning, middle and end, and not forgetting to greet the author by name, will give you ample resources to include an appropriate keyword.
Provide actionable help
Moving on a bit further from inserting keywords, is to include added value to your comments. Why? This will help make your comment stand out, and more likely to be read, because you are offering something tangible, usable and worthy within your contribution.
This is all part of the know, like and trust aspect of commenting. Provide meaty, relevant and actionable content, which people can really get their teeth into, and this will compel them to not only read it, but maybe add their own responses to enhance it from their opinions.
Many people fail to consider using commenting for altruistic reasons. Take advantage of the 80/20 rule, when you share 80% of your knowledge to attract readers, followers, customers or whatever, and retain that special 20% from which you can make money.Gain SEO from commenting by sussing the keywords or phrases used within the original post, and incorporating them into your response. This not only enhances the post, but your comment could even get indexed as well.Click To Tweet
Ask an irresistible question
There are few people who can resist a question, especially if they think they know the answer. We have this innermost desire to share our knowledge, as we think this makes us look bigger, more important and helps to gain the attention we all crave.
Another by-product of this are the responses. Frame your question correctly, with the sole purpose to gain answering replies. Then you carefully channel these into a lively and valuable discussion. Why? This makes the commenting section instantly more attractive to both other readers and commenters, and ultimately the search engines.
Popularity is another string to your bow when it comes to SEO. Blogs which have many comments, especially from regularly returning readers, give the impression of being popular. This triggers the search engines, and other algorithms, into thinking these posts (and even the comments) must contain suitable content worthy of indexing.
By choosy where you comment
Relevance is another important factor for gaining an increase in blog traffic. And this can start by being selective with where you write your comments. This applies not only to blogs, but on social media as well.
It may be pleasant to happily comment away in places where you feel comfortable, but if you aren't engaging with the right people, your efforts could be a waste of time. Avoid your comments falling on stony ground by researching into relevant venues. These could either contain more suitable content to comment on, or where you are more likely to receive relevant replies.
You could opt into finding blogs within your own niche, if you wish to enhance your reputation. Or you could focus on places where your ideal readers, followers, customers or whatever congregate. This may make things more difficult for you, but we all benefit from a challenge.Popularity is another trigger for SEO. Creating lively discussions within the commenting section could stimulate the spiders into thinking this blog post contains content which is worth indexing.Click To Tweet
Try to be the first to comment
This commenting activity works best if you keep at it. You won't succeed much after a quick flurry of well-intentioned comments, only to stop visiting blogs again for a long while. Consistency is better than frequency, so scheduling five comments a day on relevant blogs will pay dividends.
The best way to do this is to subscribe to the blog's RSS feed, or find them on a feedreader website like feedly.com. Do this for each one on your selected list of relevant blogs. Now you will be alerted whenever there is a new post to comment on, so you can be one of the first to comment.
Commenting before anyone else gives you carte blanche when it comes to setting the scene. Your comment could be a guideline for any which come after yours, and may even stimulate others to contribute. Also being first makes your comment more obvious as well.
Compel others to find out more about you
This post is about using commenting to gain an increase in blog traffic. There is also the added benefit of boosting the SEO of the post you are commenting on. But your main purpose is to get others to notice you from the content submitted within your contribution.
What you write needs to be so wonderful, relevant and useful, people will be compelled to find out more about you. You need to entice them back to your blog, but this shouldn't be by leaving a link within your comment. This is not tolerated by some moderators, as it is considered spammy.
So the answer is to include a call to action hint there will be more to read if people click on your name. This is a link back to the URL you submitted with your comment. This needs to go to a relevant blog post on the subject, not your homepage. People want to access the information directly, without having to navigate from elsewhere. And lo! – the result is traffic back to your blog.Commenting works if what you write compels people to find out more about you. Tell them to click on your name, which links to the URL of a relevant post which you submitted with your comment. The result is more traffic back to your blog. Click To Tweet
So how can you optimise your blog to encourage an increase in blog traffic using commenting?
There is another side to the coin. It's all very well increasing the SEO on other people's blogs, even if this results in an increase in blog traffic back to yours. How about getting others to comment on your blog, so you can also benefit?
You have done all the hard work in getting readers of your comments to visit your blog, so now you need them to comment on your posts. The circle of engagement and interaction needs to keep turning.
Check out the Infographic below to give you an idea of what I mean:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Eliminate any barriers
How easy is it for people to comment on your blog? Or are they actually able to comment? A lot of people have chosen to turn comments off, because they were either plagued by spam, or they became annoyed at the quality, quantity and frequency of engagement.
Of course you should allow comments! Set up a good moderating service to weed out the wheat from the chaff. If you are too busy writing posts and commenting elsewhere, hire someone to moderate for you. You need this increased interaction for the success of your blog!
Some commenting systems hinder people from contributing by asking them to connect to social media or the moderation system. You need to relinquish this, reposition your commenting box where it can be easily seen, and enjoy the goodies which pour in.
Be ruthless in moderating
Every blog needs to activate their spam moderators. You can do this via the Settings > Discussion area (or the equivalent if you're not using WordPress). There are also various plugins which can help you greatly, such as Akismet, which usually arrives with a WordPress blog as standard.
But relying on algorithms may not always be effective. Spam can still squirm its way through, and valid comments can be dumped into the spam folder. Using humans is the best policy, who can easily check for wayward contributions, and rescue others from persecution.
It's a good idea to check your comments every day. Usually the blog will notify you if you receive a comment, but if you become popular, this can be a nuisance. However, you don't want to miss the best comment you've ever got. Much can be achieved from an excellent comment.How easy is it to comment on your blog? Not allowing comments means how else will you get feedback or know how many people appreciate what you write about? Not to mention the ability to communicate with them through your replies.Click To Tweet
Be wary of anonymous commenters
Spammers are notorious for not showing who they really are. Also this may be because they aren't real people, but are commenting bots instead. If you are subjected to a load of inappropriate, irrelevant and useless comments, this is usually the answer.
However, some people may not want to be transparent (let's hope they aren't trolls!). Or they haven't got round to creating a gravatar yet. Or they think that using their company's logo and name is good for SEO (which it isn't).
You need to be encouraging your readership to comment. It doesn't look good to have a sea of blank gravatars or strange incomprehensible names littering your comment sections. You need to gather recognisable people, and the best way is to do outreach commenting yourself.
Anything below par is binned
Be ruthless with spammy comments. If it doesn't say anything of value, only praises the blog without any recognition of the post's subject, goes off at a tangent by avoiding the subject and talking about what they want to say, or avidly includes a series of irrelevant links back to their website, then treat this as spam.
OK, there will be some people whose English isn't their first language, or have hurriedly thumbed a comment from their phones on the fly. This will result in submitting a comment which really isn't up to scratch. But there is an editing system to make these look better before you publish them.
I do not publish every comment I receive, because many are, frankly, rubbish. What is the point of publishing "Nice post" or "Thank you for this information"? They do not add to the conversation, or contribute any value to my post. These go into the bin folder, thus saved from being termed as spam.If you aren't happy with the quality of comments you are receiving, why not go out commenting yourself to show them how it's done? Good commenting will stimulate better replies, and encourage worthy readers back to your blog to continue the conversation.Click To Tweet
Praise worthy examples
If you want good comments, you have to set an example. This is the same with other stuff you publish on your blog. Good content deserves good comments, so don't put up with anything less. You have standards to maintain, and your readers should respect this.
Only publishing quality, both posts and comments, determines the status of your blog. Seeing a load of anonymous, bitty, inferior comments doesn't give a good impression of your readership. However, when you do get a good comment, it's worth highlighting them (I place my most excellent examples on my sidebar).
If you feel you are lacking in decent engagement, why not ask your friends to help. Comment on their blogs and then ask them to reciprocate. If you have been generous with your time, providing value, appreciation and assistance, they should be more compelled to do the same for you.
Remember to reply
Replying to comments has many benefits. First, it immediately doubles the number of comments you have. Also this interaction looks much better to an outsider looking in. If they see you are willing to make the effort to respond to each comment, this may encourage them to have a go.
Writing a reply shows you appreciate the effort they have made to leave a comment. You can continue the conversation they have started, and if you have responded quickly enough, they may return for more. Stretching this into a discussion can raise the popularity stakes of your blog.
It is important to reply when you publish your comments. Even if you just say "thank you" with the commenter's name, this is better than nothing. You could ask them a question to get more clarification of why they commented, in the hope they will respond again.How do you show your appreciation to people who comment on your blog? Are you replying immediately? Could you offer an incentive like a certificate whenever they comment? Do you pop over to their blog and comment in return?Click To Tweet
Encourage more commenting
There are some commenting plugins (for WordPress blogs) which offer incentives for regular readers whenever they comment. This not only shows your appreciation for their effort, but suggests a good reason for them to return and comment again.
It is worth explaining why you want comments in your blog posts. Provide some call to actions in your final paragraph to stimulate a reply. Sometimes people won't bother unless you have provided them with the excuse, or even a prompt for what they can say.
Think about the nature of your blog posts. Are they preventing people from commenting? Sometimes offering a list and leaving the last one blank could entice someone to fill the gap. Perhaps being controversial with an opinion may encourage someone to counteract it. Disagreement is fine as long as courtesy is involved.
Work with regular returners
The best environment to receive comments is from within a community. Try to give your readers a perception of being valued, appreciated and welcomed, in the hope this encourages them to return. The sense of feeling included, needed and wanted is a good incentive for participation.
Being part of a close group should result in more commenting, leading to exciting conversations and inspiring discussions. This constantly evolving synergy, or user generated content, between readers increases the popularity of the blog, which makes it attractive to both other readers and the search engines.
Search engine spiders are programmed to search out a lot of engagement and interaction. This is because they deem this can only arise from content which is highly interesting to others, and therefore worth indexing. Let's hope the points raised in the discussions justify this!
How does your blog accommodate SEO and social chat for an increase in blog traffic?
How many comments do you receive, and are they all valid? Also, do you value comments more than empty visitor stats? I can't understand why bloggers get all excited about how many 'hits' they've had, when nobody has bothered to make contact via the commenting box.
A thriving blog is one which can satisfy its readers by giving them what they want. If successful, these readers will let the author know with appreciation, feedback and suggestions for more post material. Commenting on other blogs which contain you ideal readers should focus on capturing their attention and encouraging them to visit your blog.
SEO is stimulated by commenting induced popularity and matching appropriate keywords. Blog traffic arises from curious readers visiting to find out more. Combine these together and you will have a powerful mix which could easily result in an increase in blog traffic.
Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on this post. Have you any tips and tricks you could share about commenting to get more blog traffic? Any stories related to this subject will also be appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.