One thing you cannot take away from blogging today is the fact that blog comments have become an inseparable part of blogging. People try to measure the quality of a blog by the number of comments such a blog generates. In as much as comments are an indication that a blog is interactive, we must also remember that there are other things that add up to its quality.
I have come across blogs with great contents but with few comments, and also those with contents that cannot be said to be great but they enjoy high responses from their readers. However, there are those with a balance of content and interactivity.
Recently I did a survey of some blogs and was shocked at what I discovered. On some blogs were what I would term several worthless comments. Some of those blog comments were in their hundreds. At a point I almost panicked because of what I felt was high blogger-readers interactivity until I took a closer look at some of those comments.
Would you like to know what I saw? I saw a lot of comments capable of destroying the reputation of such blogs. On some of those blogs, over 90% of the comments were actually spam – No gravatar images, contributions were tailored to fit into any post, and they perfectly fit into the characteristics of spam comments. Surprisingly, they were approved and even responded to by the owners of those sites. If you have not read my post titled How to detect a spam comment on your blog and unmask the person behind it, please try and read it. It would actually help to weed those useless spam from your blog.
How I group blog comments
After going through some of those websites and personally reading a lot of those comments, I decided to group comments into three major categories. There may be other categories, but these are the ones I feel sum up the various types of comments we see on blogs:
1. Spam comments:
If you read my previous post on spamming which I referred to above, the characteristics of these comments fit into this group. Usually, spammers come to your blog to get backlinks and care less about the health of your site or what Google could do to you. They are faceless, their contributions are done through bots, comments are tailored to fit into any content, no avatar/gravatar image, they don’t make any specific reference to the topic of discussions because they never read posts, in most cases they repeat what others have said, they use keywords in place of their names, etc. If such exist on your blog, then you need to weed them out before they ruin your reputation.
Check out this post on commenting by Adrienne Smith. It shows you what would make your comment on her blog to be unacceptable. And those points agree with what I have just said about spamming. The post is titled My New Commenting Rules. That post currently has 276 quality comments as at the time of writing this post. Most of those unacceptable practices are the hallmark of a spam commenter. It must be avoided like a leper.
2. Poor comments:
These are close to spam comments but slightly different. The commenter does not have the time to add comment of real quality but just wants to add his voice because others are contributing. He does not have the patience that others have; so he ends up leaving a line or two. His comment hardly adds value to the blog post. But the intention here is what differentiates him from the spammer. He is not contributing just to get backlinks, he wants to belong. Others have read the post and left a feedback, he too wants to leave a print for the blog owner to know he visited. If his contribution has no value, the blog owner should decide either to leave it or delete it.
3. Quality comments:
This is my opinion of what blog commenting should be. It adds quality to the post. Other people benefit from what the commenter is saying. In most cases, they complement the post; they add useful ideas that the writer might have forgotten to add. They answer questions that the blogger has not had time to answer. They make the community a place where you can get value for your time. They proffer solutions to questions asked by fellow readers. They have no desire to spam or visit you just to get backlinks. Even if they want to get backlinks, at least they contribute their quota to making your blog valuable and then get rewarded with a few backlinks.
Read this post by Harleena Singh and at least get an idea of what I mean by quality comments. The post has 113 comments as at the time of writing this post, and only 3 of those comments are without gravatar image. But they did not fall into the spam comment category because they were specific to the topic of discussion and their real names were used instead of keywords. The post is titled How to Take a Break From Blogging. You need to have a look at it.
We have seen three main categories of blog commenting; and they fall into the following:
How to improve your blog comments
It is not just enough to look for quality comments on your blog. There are no people specially assigned to do the job like professional mourners would always mourn for the dead. Commenting should be the work of every blogger. It should be complementary. If your blog is lacking in valuable comments, here are a few suggestions I have for you:
1. Be a commenter yourself:
There is this saying that ‘Kindness begets kindness’. This is true for most of life’s endeavours, including blogging. If you want to have quality comments on your blog, you need to step up your commenting pattern on other people’s sites. You tend to get back the same quality that you give. I observed that since I started toeing the steps of Adrienne Smith and Harleena Singh and started leaving quality, complementary comments on people’s posts, the same started coming to mine. It is natural that same thing you give migrates back to you through another direction. If you visit Adrienne Smith’s or Harleena Singh’s blogs you will see there are hardly spam comments or poor comments because every commenter is subconsciously forced to give the same thing that they receive from these persons.
You need to go the extra mile to help people with problems to get those problems solved. When you do that for your blog reader, be sure you have him coming back to your blog regularly. Now read this post by Barry Wells about Lisa Buben. The post currently has 72 quality comments. It is titled Blog Commenting and a Blogging Superstar.
2. Start the interaction:
If you want feedbacks from your readers, you must learn to kick the ball rolling by asking questions and persuading them to leave their opinions. Find out if your post was helpful, if they have issues they don’t understand or if they need special help in understanding the message you passed across. Asking questions would make people come out of their cocoons to share their minds with you.
3. Remove monotony:
Monotony kills interest, but variety is the spice of interest. Don’t keep giving your readers the same stuff all the time. At a point they get tired of same thing and stop leaving their comments. This is partly because they no longer read or enjoy your posts, and also because they don’t see any reason wasting their time to drop comments on posts that are hardly useful anymore.
This post by Lisa Buben is a typical way of removing monotony from a post and making it interesting. Apart from the content, is has an infographic that is visually appealing and provides the readers with something different from what they are used to daily. It is titled Blogging in 2014 to Blow Your readers Out of The Water. Make sure to read it and see the response from the readers too. The post has 90 comments as at the time of writing this. All commenters have gravatar image and you hardly see a comment of one or two lines.
Besides, monotony could come in the form of listening to only one person from season to season, with no variety added in form of guest posts or featured posts. Apart from not hearing from different authors, you should do your readers the favour of minimizing the act of talking to them instead of sharing with them. They get bored if you keep talking alone without giving them the opportunity to contribute. Make sure your posts are presented in such a way that your readers understand that some forms of feedback are needed from them.
4. Share people’s content:
There is love in sharing! Don’t try to be an island. Blogging is not a place of competition; it is a place of sharing in love. When you share other people’s content, they would naturally want to share yours too. This is one area I have not done too well these years and hope to improve seriously in the New Year. If we all improve in this area, our content would go viral at all times.
5. Provide quality content:
Nobody wants to share content that is useless. Everyone wants to be proud of sharing what he thinks would really benefit others. In the same vein, if you provide poor quality content, you will hardly get anyone to comment on it because nobody wants to associate with what has no value. The better your content the more feedbacks it would get.
6. Reward your readers:
Is there a way of telling your readers that their comments are worth it? Do you have a way of encouraging them to leave more comments? For example using Commentluv plugin provides you the opportunity of having the “Top Commenters” displayed on your sidebars. This has way of making the commenters displayed know that their comments are really valued. Moreover, it has a way of spurring the less active ones into action. It somehow creates some competition between commenters in order to maintain the top spot.
Furthermore, you can give awards to your top commenters to let them know you value the time they spend on your blog and for the comments they leave after reading each post. I do this here on this blog periodically because I value my readers and their comments.
Once again, to improve the comments on our blog, we need to do the following:
1.Be a commenter yourself
2.Start the interaction
4.Share other people’s content
5.Provide quality content
6.Reward your readers
Blog comments do not necessarily equate to blog quality. Only when comments have quality to add to a blog post should we see it as improving the quality of that blog. A thousand worthless comments would rather kill the reputation of a blog than improve it. But a hundred high quality comments would add more value to a blog and improve its integrity in the sight of readers and advertisers.
Blog commenting is not magic! Taking positive action on your part, and encouraging your readers in one way or the other would help improve the level of comments on your blog. Trying to do things in isolation would never help; rather it would make things worse. Help others the way you wish to be helped and your blog would start getting the feedback you desire.
Have I left out any important point? Did I speak your mind as a blogger or as a reader? I would like to hear from you. Share with us what you think should be done to improve comment quality on our blogs. Do you think blog comments reflect quality? Let us know if you agree or disagree with this topic.
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