7 Fail-Safe Ways to Get More Comments on Your Blog
When it comes to social proof and trust signals, one of the most effective ways to make your site appear more credible is to showcase a vibrant community. There are several ways to do this but the most effective way is through comments. A blog with a lot of comments is a blog with an active and engaged community.
You could make the case that this is superficial. There are plenty of great blogs that don’t get a ton of comments. There are plenty of terrible blogs that have a torrent of comments. You would be right on both counts and I’m not arguing that a lot of comments means that you have a great blog but that’s what people believe and it becomes a part of their instant assessment of your site. More comments means more readers which means you’re more popular. And popular is always good.
So, how do you get more comments?
Write Controversial Posts
If you want readers to comment, give them a reason to comment!
Write about a controversial subject that people are passionate about. Controversy simply means disagreement, just pick subjects that have disagreement and whose sides have passionate bases. In personal finance, you could get a good discussion anytime you talked politics or taxes. Here is a list of the most commented (non-giveaway) Your Take posts on Bargaineering:
- Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended Again? – 300 comments
- Does Unemployment Insurance Reward Laziness? – 190 comments
- Health Care Reform Bill – 187 comments
- Is Five Days of Mail Delivery OK? – 172 comments
- Bush Era Income Tax Cuts – 159 comments
See a pattern?
In your niche, there are always a few subject areas that get people fired up – tap of those every so often to get your blog energized with comments.
Ask for Comments
Always end your posts in a way that elicits comments. Engage the audience and ask them a question. At the end of this post, I’ll ask you if you have any of your own favorite tips for getting readers to leave a comment. When you ask the reader a question they are naturally inclined to answer.
They also have a starting point when thinking of something poignant to write. When you don’t ask, they have to make the leap themselves. They have to have a think of a comment so compelling that they initiate the comment. When a question is tee’d up for them, there’s far less inertia to overcome.
Every Friday, Microblogger has a Your Take post that is specifically there to start a discussion. I started it on Bargaineering and loved it, so I brought it here. The Your Take post is often something that’s debated and readers know that the value in the post is in the discussion – I just create a jumping off point.
Make It Simple to Comment
Do enough conversion testing and you’ll learn that any hurdle, no matter how inconsequential, will reduce your conversion rates. We removed Disqus because it was a tiny hurdle, but one that people complained about and comments have been flowing. I loved it because it stopped spam and it was beautiful. It also stopped a few commenters, so we removed it and made it easier to leave comments.
I read a lot of blogs and I’m always looking for ways to leave an insightful comment that entices those visitors to come check out my blog. My comment there is like a teaser for the awesomeness they’ll find on Microblogger. It’s never a “great post” type of garbage comment that is guaranteed to piss off the blogger and annoy anyone who reads it. The goal isn’t for that almost-useless-nofollow-link, the goal is to leave a great comment that forces a reader to click it because they want to find more awesomeness.
So how do you follow a lot of blogs and reminders to comment? I subscribe to their email lists. Almost everyone has an email list these days and it’s a nice reminder to visit and comment whenever a new post is published. You can sign up to ours in the sidebar and I’ll email you once a week about the week’s posts. I use it as an inbox reminder to comment and then delete the email once I’m done.
Ok, so this might get you a trickle of traffic, how does this increase comments on your blog? It’s step one and step two is to…
Make Commenting Agreements
I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Simple enough of a concept right? Make an agreement with your blogging friends to comment on each other’s blog posts. Subscribe to the RSS feed and when you see a new post, pop on over and leave a comment. This will give you a nice solid base of comments and, as long as your partners agree to the same standard of high quality comments. If you commented there already and can show that you’re engaged and capable of making smart comments, an agreement is almost automatic.
This also creates the possibility of de facto agreements. If you comment elsewhere, chances are they’ll comment on your site too. In fact, most of the time you don’t even need to come up with an agreement at all. It just happens (which is preferable).
A few years ago, I met Andy Liu of BuddyTV at Elite Retreat and he suggested that I think about creating a rewards system. BuddyTV was having success with their Buddy Tokens and he thought it might be something I could use on Bargaineering. A few weeks later, I instituted Bargaineering Bucks – our points system for Bargaineering and rewarded actions like leaving a comment.
As you can imagine, it worked. Total comments increased by 40-50% (we normalized it against non-search traffic) and replies increased by some unbelievable percentage, because we had very few replies before. Those figures stayed at that higher level until the rewards part of the equation was terminated.
Want a quick way to double the number of comments on your blog? Reply to everything (surprise tip huh?). It’s a good practice to be engaged with your readers but you also increase the comment count, which can entice others to weigh in. Replying also increases the probability that the conversation continues, especially if you use comment subscription plugins, and a good vibrant debate can really rack up the comments (and add value to your post).
If you search the web for “how to get more comment” types of post, you’ll eventually stumble on the monster posts that offer up suggestions that probably test your limits in terms of legitimacy. We’re talking things like “insult someone” or “write fake comments” or even “buy comments.” In the end, faking comments won’t ever hurt you (plenty of people do it) but… why? The goal is to build a valuable resource and support a strong community, why would you want to cheat yourself or your readers? And why would you insult someone just for comments? Just seems dumb and short-sighted.
As an aside, I feel that being critical of someone or something, like a business, is perfectly fine. It’s when you insult someone for the sole purpose of getting comments – that’s pretty weak. One of the most commented posts on Bargaineering was a rant about how I hated U-Haul after an especially horrid experience… it’s at 794 comments and counting.
So, we’ve now reached the end of the post and as I promised, here’s the question – what’s your favorite way to elicit comments?