Your Blog Commenting Strategy can backfire!

‘Comment like crazy!’ is one of the first lessons that most budding bloggers are taught by the pros in the business. Needless to say bad-blog-commentstheir protegees religiously follow this advice only to see that the commenting strategy is not really dramatically improving their blogosphere presence nor does it increase inbound traffic in most cases.

Blog commenting is basically a good (1) networking, (2) Search Engine Optimization and (3) traffic increasing strategy for both short term and long term. However, there are associated risks about the same and if not done carefully, sensibly and ethically this can backfire on you. The following are the points one needs to keep in mind before writing a comment on a blog post.

Beware of the context and relevancy

One of the tips that the Pros keep mentioning is about the context. This definitely has a big role to play in the overall relevancy of the blog post content (with respect to the comment) as well as the target URL the commenter uses. A bad and irrelevant comment can reduce the effectiveness of a good blog post as in the eyes of the Search Engines it’s only an HTML page with lots of text and hyper links. Basically, the links (neighbourhood) and the context (content) quality may be at risk when bad comments appear on a blog post.

Two lessons here:
(1) Link to a blog that deals with a similar niche
(2) The comment text itself should be in relation to the post topic

Anchor texts and SEO

Some of you must have read my blog post on the Link Diagnosis tool. One of the things that it shows in the backlinks list is the anchor text used in link building (e.g. comments). You will be surprised to see how badly some of your backlinks are built in terms of anchor text and the URL it is pointing to. If you use the wrong keywords to link to your homepage, your commenting based link building strategy may not have any impact at all. A good alternative could be to link to your about page using your name itself (Or link individual posts using relevant keywords in comments on relevant posts)

The lesson here: Use your name as much as possible and link to the about page (May be tricky when you have multiple blogs)

Care about the Link Strength

I read somewhere that link strength of a source page refers to a ratio of its page rank and the number of outbound links. If this is the case, when you comment on a blog post that already has several hundred outbound links (organic links as well as comment links), basically you are not gaining much in terms of link strength. You may instead pick on good relevant blog posts on mid-size blogs to comment on.

The lesson: Pick relevant posts to comment on instead of picking the popular blogger or blog post.

Comment pagination

In continuation with the point above, some bloggers paginate their comments and hence commenting on posts that may receive several hundred comments may not help. Many times, you will realize that your comment is sitting on the second or third page only after the comment moderation takes place.

Lesson: Be among the first few to comment or pick stabilized older posts to make relevant comments.

The ‘DoFollow’ mania

Though the ‘nofollow’ relation property of a link is so much a Google thing, I personally believe that in the long term view of things one should give more importance to relevant comments than comments that allow no-nofollow outbound links. Of course, for the time being, rel=nofollow has a BIG say!

Lesson: Think long term and don’t be too dependent on Google alone.

Do not spam

Irrelevant comments, over-usage of keywords and offensive language can attract ban. It is not a great thing that a blogger/commenter – in his/her infancy – gets banned by a bunch of well established bloggers. Firstly it will affect the short term commenting strategy and in the long term you never know how these spam databases (e.g. akismet) will be used in the future for any ranking or verification purposes. What if they decide to share it with search engines such as Google and blog directory/aggregation services such as Technorati?

Lesson: Slow and steady wins the race (well, almost all the time)

Networking needs

Continuing from the last point, in Blogosphere, commenting also means networking where you establish a relationship with a group of people (not just the blogger) who have interest in similar topics. Hence your comments should reflect the sense of being part of the community and not go wayward. Also, since even comments are being aggregated these days (by tools such as Backtype), what you say on the blogosphere are more visible and heard than ever before!

Lesson: Watch your mouth!

Quality v/s Quantity

More than the quantity of comments, one needs to pay attention to the quality, relevancy (and on a selfish note link relevancy, keywords and strength). Blabbering around in a network of 100s of blogs doesn’t necessarily get you what you want.

Lesson: Don’t oversell

Risk v/s Reward

Finally, those who comment like crazy purely for the SEO purpose should also understand the risks involved (some of the things mentioned above) and the benefits that it brings in. One of the facts about link building (comment based or otherwise) is that you cannot immediately measure the effectiveness of your link building campaign – of course, short term visits from those links can be measured but ‘how much of it contributes to your traffic’ is not something that can be deduced easily. So it pays to lead a low-risk commenting/link building campaign than an aggressive one.

Lesson: Beware of the unknown

…and finally…

Comments are still comments

In the not-so-distant past, blog comments used to have 100% relevancy and bloggers had a well-knit community around them. While communities still exist (on blog as well as off blog, socially networked or otherwise), the relevancy of comments is reducing day by day – thanks to the SEO hype. Before you comment on a blog post next time, just ask yourself whether you are adding any value to the discussion or not. At the end, comments are still comments about the topic under discussion and the other derivatives such as SEO may be just a short-term phenomena.

Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. Ajith,

    Don’t we encourage out of context commenting by giving incentives like commentluv, top commentator, commentator of the month etc?

  2. Wow Ajith this is really a very good post…
    What’s the time taken to write the article…Do you write them at one stretch or in multiple days… I love to read ur articles.. :)

    [I see that the links on posts for internal link building have the default WP URL structure “/?p=xxx”. Is there any reason for using that??]

    • Forgot to reply to your post link query. In fact, I thought ?p=xxx way of linking is permanent (even when I change the permalink structure) and hence used it internally. On sidebar widgets (where I keep changing the popular posts) I am using permalinks.

      But does it have any impact? I thought, if I use the right keywords, I can use anything on the URL :) What’s your experience?

      • I feel that using multiple links referencing same page will diversify your page strength. Though it might look like adding more strength to your main domain.. I guess this method doesn’t work better..

  3. A comment is a comment is a comment, and i respect it in all form. Great article. deep analysis.

  4. Nice Tips Ajith. Leaving Meaningful Comments that adds value to the content are quite essential if you want to get noticed by the authors of the other blog. I also feel that if you are commenting on some big blogs which gets a lot of comments per post, then the timing of your comments can also matter sometimes.

    But as Binaryday mentions, these commentluv and top commentators plugins encourage a lot of useless comments just for SEO. Ever since i started using Top Commentator plugin, i have been getting a lot of meaningless comments.

    • Madhur, the plugin actually motivates other bloggers to comment. But you should also screen each comment before approving. Normally on my blog I often gets comments from those companies just trying to promote their stuff by sayin fake praises.

      It’s simple. If you think some one is just like “USING” your blog and commenting without really adding any value, you can always not approve it.

  5. I think the best whether for a beginner or an established blogger, the best is to comment only when we have something to add to the discussion. For example if i visit my favorite blog and its talking about Volleyball on that particular post. As I don’t know anything about that, I will simply just read and don’t comment.

    The principle as you said comment to add to the discussion rather than just for “what we get back”.

  6. Raju :

    Wonderful write-up and for once I agree with you completely 😉 Some people do not realize that they will lose the respect and authority over a period of time due to their excessive and irrelevant comments.

  7. @Sita (BinaryDay),
    Yes, it’s true that commentluv, top commentator plugin and other do follow mechanisms do encourage people to quickly drop a word (significant or otherwise) to get backlinks. I have taken out commentluv for now, though it was due to some bugs 😆 Next in the line is the top commentator plugin…

    @Samrat, thanks for the compliments. Hope techhail is doing great, I keep visiting it…

    As for this post, it took about an hour to write once I had the bullet points and probably 15 minutes to proof read, quickly create an image and post. I have a big problem with lack of patience…sometimes, even though I have more points, I tend to stop abruptly 😆

    @Shanker, thanks a lot for the appreciation

    @Madhur, that’s true… In fact, I keep removing one in every four five comments which are like one-liners… I keep them only if it’s from a well wisher and long time reader of the blog. And as Kurt mentioned, we should still ‘moderate’ them.

    @Kurt, that’s right buddy. Earlier I used to make comments to keep the relationships alive. But when the other party understands that I still read his blog but makes comments whenever there’s something to add, it’s not an issue. But at the same time, some people do expect comments to comment back :)

    @Raju, thanks buddy. Yep, wrong and totally out of context comments will make the posts loose authority.

  8. I agree with you saying 100% :) If blog commenting is done in Planned way it can make HUGE difference for the success of your blog.

  9. These are very true and nice tips Ajith. We do really need the correct blog commenting strategies to improve our blog traffic and brand building. I’ve been doing so for quite some times and I can see the result, it’s working. :)

    Regards,
    Lee

  10. Brad :

    Your points couldn’t be more right! I started running the keywordluv plugin on one of my blogs and the spam just started pouring in (the blog had some decent PR). I had a deluge of “nice comment”, “good post”, “excellent post” etc. While plugins of this type are designed to reward active commenting, the content still needs to be on target to the post or niche.

  11. Nihar :

    Great post Ajith. You took only 1 hour, but i guess you had given more hours of thought to get this kind of post out. Is it?

    I have a doubt regarding Comment Pagination that you mentioned. Does the blog owner has to remove comment pagination so, that reader can view all the comments in single page?

  12. @Chris, thanks for your visit and comment. Yes, the key is not to overdo comments…

    @Lee, I can see that your link building efforts are well organized and ethically done. You should be seeing great results!

    @Brad, thanks for your comment. I never used keywordluv, in fact I took out commentluv as well. As for the spam, well, I know what you are talking about :)

    @Nihar, one hour for this kind of post is all that it takes once you have points. But I should also admit that I never complete all my points :( or proof read well…

    Comment pagination is not a bad idea on big blogs where every other post gets 50 or more comments. As for me, I have only three or four such posts :)

  13. blog commenting :

    I would like to say that commenting strategy will increase their interest in this field and they are also ready to share their ideas.

  14. Dan :

    On the section about Risk v/s Reward, what do you mean with “how much of it contributes to your traffic” (for long term traffic profile I guess)? Please give more explanation.

    Thanks

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