Why Comments and How to Receive Them
The internet is an environment of multi-sided interaction, and this ability to communicate and discuss with others is what attracts the millions of users world-wide. But comments, by you or about you, have a much more profound effect on site popularity and standing with Search Engines. Therefore, in order to attract, and benefit from, new comments, you need to understand the very nature of commenting. This is where our knowledge comes in, offering tips on SEO and how to grab a reader’s attention with a well-designed site.
First of all, comments on other blogs help build mutually beneficial blogger relationships1. When the main purpose of commenting is to express a well-structured opinion and add value for users, comments can build valuable backlinks. When you comment with your name as the keyword, this boosts your authority and ranking with search engines. These can even turn into organic links and improve your SEO. Furthermore, informative comments are likely to attract attention to your website and perhaps an honorable mention in future blogs.
Enabling comments on your blog has similar powerful advantages2. Mainly, commenting improves the user experience. It allows for readers to express opinions and engage in discussion, making your content more interactive. These discussions can result in new ideas, recent information and viewpoints, which all add value to the blog post. Heavily commented posts usually spark curiosity in readers and attract more traffic. Finally, the productive discussion in the comments can be used as reference when writing future articles – for example, defending or elaborating on an interesting argument, or going into more depth about a niche.
It makes perfect sense to walk the extra mile to encourage comments. The starting point should be to add something which encourages discussion3 – asking for readers’ opinions, arguments and ideas. An additional incentive to comment is to promise to feature insightful comments in future blogs or other privileges. This call to action can be made a bit more subtle by spreading it within the text, for example, through controversial or marginal arguments. Projecting a positive attitude towards commenting by replying individually is sure to attract quality content. Furthermore, consider taking this communication to a new level – by starting a poll, writing an article or sending a mail.
Then, the comment form/interface must be streamlined to facilitate commenting. Decrease the number of required fields to a minimum as this information is not vital and will not affect the amount of spam on the website. Furthermore, consider reducing the difficulty and utilizing re-CAPTCHA4, as this is a worthy cause. The best way to evaluate a comment form is to try it yourself and rate it as either inviting or daunting. Registration should not be mandatory, as login options exist using Facebook or Twitter.
Comment placement and design are of course vital and may profoundly influence commenting rates (the percentage of readers who comment). Unfortunately, a lot of content has to be displayed in a limited space – related articles, author information, sharing, etc, which often leaves the comment button down at the bottom of a page. Furthermore, the color and shape of the button or of the comment bubbles has a strong effect on whether they are hospitable or inhospitable. A possible solution is to feature the top comments and relegate the others far below.
Unfortunately, after contributing many users fail to return and respond to a counter-opinion. Therefore, to increase the quality of the discussion a follow-up e-mail with a brief summary of the discussion or a notification of a reply to a comment can help keep users up to date.
Finally, users love games so turning commenting into a game with levels and experience points can give them the courage to express themselves. HubPages’5 comment system is a good example of this.