Encourage Reader Interaction On Your Blog & Reap Numerous Benefits

by Emma-Julie Fox on December 4, 2012

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The interaction between webmasters and visitors or readers in a website is often used as a gauge for the quality of a website and its writers or content contributors. The most telling indication of interactivity is the number of comments a website gets for its articles.

It becomes exciting when a discussion begins on the comment stream, not to mention enlightening since more ideas are being put forth for everyone’s benefit. Plus, there are so many benefits to gaining comments for your articles, such as:

  • Increases your freshness score.
  • Gives you more random and long-tail keywords to rank for (since search engines recognize comments as part of the page’s content, they also crawl and index them. If there are exact-match keyword inquiries, those can help your website appear in the SERPs).
  • Increases your chance of getting out of the sandbox and landing in the first SERPs.
  • Exposes your website to a wider community, since regular commenters are bound to share their knowledge of your site to their other contacts.

There are many ways to encourage interaction, but not all of them are suitable for a content-centric website or blog. The one strategy that always works though is putting yourself in the readers’ shoes. Take these tips, for example:

1.  Make commenting as easy as a one-click task.

It can be frustrating when a website asks you to sign up for multiple things before you can even post your one-line comment. Worse still are those sites that will redirect you to another window or page.

If you want to make your readers want to leave you a comment, make it easy for them to do so. Make it a one-click task as much as possible.

2. Use social media for log-in requirements if absolutely necessary

Sometimes webmasters install a roadblock for commenting to make sure there are no spammy messages flooding his comments stream (or at least limit the number of spammy comments that get past it). You can do the same since spam content is a major red flag for the Penguin update. However, don’t go putting in very stringent security because that can discourage commenters.

Another good idea is to let your readers register and comment on your articles using their social media accounts.

3. Use calls to action and place the comment box strategically.

You can use the standard call-to-action for this. A simple “Comment here” right above the comment box will direct readers where to type in their feedback. You can be creative about it though and include your calls-to-action in the article itself.

Another important thing: if you’re going to use standard calls-to-action, make sure they are placed near the comment box so that you can trigger an automatic response. Keep in mind that strategic placement of calls-to-action matters.

 4. Reply.

While not all sites reply to the people commenting on their articles (take news websites and gossip sites, for example), replying is a wise thing to do for websites and blogs that wish to develop a community with its visitors.  It doesn’t mean you should reply to each one, but do it if you have an important response to a comment.

Regarding Content

Tips to Encourage your Blog Readers to CommentThese tips can only go so far in encouraging readers and visitors to leave behind a comment or two. Ultimately, the primary push would be the content of the article they’re reading. You need to give them very good reasons to comment on your article.

It is generally a bad idea to go overboard with jargon (especially if your niche has plenty of those), but you have to anticipate that majority of today’s Internet users are smart readers. They know a sub-par article when they see one.

Of course, there are several writing styles that you can employ. For instance, blog-type articles usually get more comments than those that are written in academic style because they are inviting and people won’t be scared to use casual talk.

Using first-person pronouns makes readers feel that they are reading something genuinely written by a person who’s inviting comments and suggestions. Inserting modern expressions or referring to famous celebrities and famous personalities will also give them additional things to relate to.

Here is a really good article that cites a three-part formula on how to encourage people to comment on website articles and blog posts.

Lastly, your articles should be written honestly. If the writer is discussing a topic that’s not his forte, he should own up to his limited knowledge or at least not assume that his word is law—especially if he cannot provide reliable and accurate data to support his claims.

Keep these reminders at heart. They won’t only help encourage readers to comment and interact with you and everyone else, but they will also give your website additional points for page rank.

 

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Keral Patel
Twitter:
May 4, 2013 at 1:41 am

After reading this post I really feel sad that I had to close down the comments on my blog. It was a nice little community and I was really having fun and learning new things when I had proper conversations going on. Sadly I was getting hit by lots of spammers and in end I had to close it down for time being until I am not able to sort that issue out.
Keral Patel recently posted..10 Tips for WebmastersMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
May 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Keral, do you have Akismet in place? Also, you can setup WordPress to stop allowing comments after a certain number of days.
Emma recently posted..Is It a Good Idea to Use Pure Broad Match Keywords for PPCMy Profile

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Fred D March 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

@Emma: You have nicely put together a to-do list. Good job!

As far as dealing with spam is concerned, i would leave that for Akismet. The last time i have checked, it was free for personal use, so that’s another good thing about them. BTW, social media login is getting deployed like a new revolution… I believe, soon it will replace regular register function on blogs / forums / web etc…

Another thing to add; users would appreciate getting credit for their comment(s), so replying and appreciating goes long way. As we know, commenluv is just another way to appreciate readers efforts, and a good way to pay back.

Overall, a nice read. Cheers.

Reply

Emma
Twitter:
March 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Fred, thanks for commenting on my article. Akismet it amazing; it stopped almost 500k spam comments on our blog in the last 5-6 years. Without it, I would probably have to sift through spam for hours each day.
Emma recently posted..7 Sure Ways to Flub Your SEO ResultsMy Profile

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Fred @ TechieSay April 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

@ Emma: 500k Aww!!! that’s a huge no#. I believe you have a high traffic blog. Is this about pitstopmedia? Anyways, kudos to Akismet :) and thanks for replying.

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Emma
Twitter:
April 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

@Fred: our site gets a decent amount of traffic, but I guess it is also more prone to comment spamming due to our niche (Internet marketing) and the article we writes (especially those who mention “nofollow” in the body). Probably spammers search for footprints and get out blog in their lists, thinking that our sites is going to give them a dofollow comment…
Emma recently posted..What is Inbound Marketing and How Can it Help Your BusinessMy Profile

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Clarice Melendez February 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I think I can count myself in the same camp as you when it comes to SEO. I always write for the readers of any blog and if I can SEO it up a bit then that’s a bonus. Content should never be sacrificed for the importance of SEO; there is no point forcing square pegs into round holes.

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Sherryl Perry March 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Clarice,
Thanks for letting us know that you agree with Emma’s views on SEO. It’s always good to hear from other readers. (BTW – I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. Somehow, it slipped by me.)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 6 SEO and Social Media How-To Posts of 2012My Profile

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Jeri
Twitter:
January 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I’m trying to find a happy medium. I definitely want my critical book reviews to contain technical jargon since I want them to show I can deconstruct a story’s strengths and weaknesses. As such, the reviews act as my calling card as a potential editor. On the other hand, it’s hard to have lots of interaction when readers haven’t read the books I’ve reviewed. I definitely agree with making it easy to find the comments box.
Jeri recently posted..Book Review: The Persecution of Mildren Dunlap by Paulette MahurinMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
January 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

That’s a nice insight. Other than making it easy, asking questions in your comments and the post itself also helps.

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Emma
Twitter:
January 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

It’s commenting and conversations that make blogging so fulfilling for most writers! I agree with you Sheryl, replying is important:) Susan, it\’s an interesting way of looking at commenting. I guess, if you write on a subject that people want to hear about and can relate to, it becomes easier to generate comments.

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emma
Twitter:
January 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I guess that with captcha is all bout the volume of spam one receives. If you get 10 comments a day, CAPTCHA is probably not a good idea, but if you get 100, you better have one :) BTW Sherryl, sometimes your spam filters are not allowing me to post comments because “I did not spent enough time on the page…”

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Adam Connell
Twitter:
January 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

Emma, a great read here thank you.One that\’s important to me is making it easy to comment.I HATE Captcha’s, but I understand in certain situations they just need to be there, but there are better solutions for commenting.We should constantly be looking to reduce the friction between our blogs and our readers making things easy for them. Making it easy to comment is a great way to reduce friction.
Adam Connell recently posted..The Blogging Wizard Weekly Roundup – 13th January 2013My Profile

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Sherryl Perry January 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Hi Adam,
Thanks for letting us know that you liked Emma’s post. I believe commenting on blogs can play such an important part in promoting our blogs. To me, content and community building are very important things that bloggers need to keep in mind.

I agree with you too that Captcha’s can be a roadblock to commenting. I think simply checking off a box to confirm that you’re human is all that’s necessary.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Commenting On Blogs – What Strategy Works for You?My Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Pretty soon I won’t sleep too :) There are quite few guest articles I have to reply to. And I also have to deliver on projects, to be with the family and to maintain a social life meanwhile :).

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Wayne Melton
Twitter:
December 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

The more comments you get the easier it is to keep getting more comments. Starting a blog is difficult and most will not get many early comments. It takes time. Keep at it and keep writing great content and the comments will come.

Just my two cents.
First time visitor to your blog.

Wayne Melton
Wayne Melton recently posted..Loss Prevention Tips for Small Business SurvivalMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Sometimes writing good content will not necessarily lead to good comments. For example, you may write a brief, but useful article on how to achieve a simple task (i.e. how to mix cocoa with milk :). Readers will appreciate the info, but not many will be enticed to comment. So, make sure you ask for comments or ideas.

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Bob Firestone December 7, 2012 at 3:08 am

Great piece. Some good thoughts in there. I’m looking at the submit button on my blog as an element that should be split test and optimized. Interesting that writing style can act as an incentive or a disincentive to comment.

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Hi Bob,
Testing your submit button is always a good idea. Good luck with that! I agree with Emma that a blogger’s writing style can definitely influence the amount of reader interaction that they can get. I believe if you feel comfortable reading an article, it becomes easier to engage with the writer. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..5 Essential Apps for EntrepreneursMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Bob, I think that testing the submit button is a bit tricky. The reason being each article will have its own power to influence the commenting decision. So, you’re testing on a single article you may get conclusive results, but if you’re testing blog-wide then the data will be a bit skewed. Let me know how if you have some interesting findings.

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Carolyn
Twitter:
December 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hi Emma, Great points. You’re right, getting readers to engage via comments makes a blog much more lively and inviting. I like the idea you had about letting readers log in with their social media accounts. Is there a plugin you recommend to allow that?

I agree with you that it’s important to respond to comments. If someone takes the time to leave a comment, the least you can do is respond to them.

Also, what are your thoughts on having the comment box above or below the comments? You suggest that the comment box be close to the call to action. If you have more than a few comments, then having the comment box follow the comments may make it more difficult for people to comment.
Carolyn recently posted..SAM VIBE – Your Own Internet Radio StationMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Regarding the social commenting plugins, I know that disqus.com have a popular one, but I’ve never used it. I am not sure who is the owner of the comments (in case you want to move the blog for example, will you still have access to the comments).

I am against all plugins which allow commenting only if you have a social network account, without giving you the option to comment with a simple email.

About the comment box placement, that’s tricky. If you put it above the comments people may miss the conversation. If you put it below, they may not scroll to the point where they can see it :). That’s worth testing maybe.

However, I think that those who want to comment will find it wherever is placed, given that the call to action is visible enough.

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Ray December 6, 2012 at 4:04 am

I get a little tired of having to signup or join a site just to see or post something simple. So much that I rarely bother doing so anymore. I understand some sites probably use this to nudge you into joining their site, but I really don’t need to signup for a one time visit to a site. Some forums I visit sort of do this too. I can’t see a screen shot image or piece of code unless I join. I hate that when that happens. Anyway I agree with you. Make it easy and keep it simple.
Ray recently posted..How to Delete a File that Won’t Delete in WindowsMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Hi Ray,
Thanks for dropping by! I totally agree with you about having to join or sign up to leave a comment. It honestly doesn’t make sense to me. I think sometimes people lose sight of the fact that they should be designing their website for their visitors not for themselves. It goes back to the advice that I received years ago (from a marketing consultant) about tuning my website into the radio station “WIFM”. Our visitors are asking “What’s in it for me?”. :)

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Emma
Twitter:
December 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Sherryl, would you be willing to share with us how you manage to find time to respond to so many comments? :)

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Sherryl Perry December 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I don’t sleep. :) Seriously, I find replying to comments is like chatting with friends or helping a stranger (who could someday be a friend). Sometimes, I’ll grab my laptop (and possibly a glass of wine) and curl up in front of the TV with a mindless show and catch up. I’ve never looked at commenting as something that I have to do. To me, it’s a conversation that I want to continue.

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Lexi
Twitter:
December 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Totally agree with making it easy for users to leave comments. It just helps fire up the conversations even more, right? I live by that as well!

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Emma
Twitter:
December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

This reminds me of some blogs where I wanted to leave comments, but couldn’t, because their commenting plugin was purely based on a Facebook login. FB being such privacy stalkers, I don’t have a personal account with them. Therefore, I chose not to comment on those websites.

So, please don’t use commenting systems that force people to have an account with FB, Disqus in order to be able to contribute with comments. You need to give them the option

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Hi Lexi,
I agree with both you and Emma that commenting should be easy. As a member of the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group on LinkedIn, I find that one of the most frustrating problems that members have is trying to leave a comment and not being able to.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

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Rajkumar Jonnala
Twitter:
December 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

Nice article. I do agree with your point of maintaing interactions with readers. Thanks for sharing it.

Reply

Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Hi Rajkumar,
Thanks for taking the time to let us know that you enjoyed Emma’s guest post.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Need More Eyes on Your Website? Comment on Blogs.My Profile

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Heather Stone December 5, 2012 at 12:55 am

Hi Emma,
Replying is a great way to encourage more engagement, and replying something more than “thanks for the comment” is best. After all, if conversation is what you are trying to encourage, it’s a good idea to say something in your reply that in itself will inspire more conversation. Ask a question. Take a position. Build upon the point made in the comment and you can take things to the next level. A strong conversation bringing out new ideas not discussed in your original post may be inspiration for a follow-up, so watch for these opportunities. Thanks, Sherryl, for sharing this post with the BizSugar community!
Heather Stone recently posted..4 Ways to Integrate Social Media Into Your Holiday Marketing StrategyMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Heather, that’s a great point. Replying to comments can ignite article ideas for commenters too. I just recently read a guest blog which started by explaining the article was in response to a comment made by someone on a third party blog. And the article where the comment was initially made on was linked too. So, comments can provide exposure too. That’s nice.

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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
December 5, 2012 at 12:43 am

Good tips Emma. I agree with Jeannette about keeping your readers in mind. I also think always keep it simple and one way is to ask a question at the end as this can provide a whole new level of discussion. It also can showcase your reader’s expertise that your readers can learn from.
Susan Oakes recently posted..Context Is A Key For Marketing Simplicity SuccessMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Hi Susan. You can also ask a question in the opening paragraph ;)

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hi Susan,
Ending my articles with a question is a favorite tip of mine. I think often people really want to engage in conversation and a question can be engaging. It also fosters some great discussions!

Reply

Heather
Twitter:
December 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I love comments, and its interesting to learn that they help with SEO! I had no idea. It’s not always easy to get them though. I find that being part of a community of bloggers who support each other with comments is the best strategy for me.
Heather recently posted..How to Wear a Tulle SkirtMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Hi Heather,
One of the benefits of being part of a community of bloggers is that many of them offer support in many ways including commenting, sharing our posts and being a resource as well. I’ve grown to know and be online friends with a diverse group of bloggers (like yourself). I actually find myself smiling as I reply to many of the comments left here because I truly believe that I’ve got to “know” many of my readers.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Create an Online Presence – Be Seen Out ThereMy Profile

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Heather
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I saw your comment on my latest post! You’re so sweet to come by and say hi. Personally I love your blog and get a lot of good information from it, so I like to support you with comments as well.
Heather recently posted..Red Glitter Nail PolishMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry December 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I certainly appreciate them Heather!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author TagMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Comments are UGC (user generated content) and search engines love content. On blogs, comments are similar to user reviews on ecommerce sites. And I would not be surprise to find out that search engines figured out to give more weight to pages that have more (pertinent) comments and user reviews. Actually, Google uses a “sentiment” review algorithm to understand the “feeling” behind user reviews (good or bad reviews)

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Heather
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Interesting! Most fashion bloggers just like receiving comments because we feel our work is being noticed, and it’s nice to be noticed, but now that I know that it improves SEO as well I can see that comments are important for other reasons as well.
Heather recently posted..Red Glitter Nail PolishMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Thanks to everyone for such nice comments. I appreciate it.

Comments are indeed a measure of blog engagement. Actually, this article (link:http://www.pitstopmedia.com/sem/find-your-competitors-blog-engagement-rate), explains how to do a quick analysis on the # of comments on your competitors.

Other good way of generating comments is to start the article with an open question and directly invite readers to comment.

And of course, writing a controversial article.

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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
December 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

All good points. I think it’s much harder to comment on posts that ramble without stating clear points of view that someone can comment on — either agreeing or disagreeing. So be sure you’re writing with the reader in mind. I always say that readers are in trouble most of the time. So help them out with content that grabs them and is organized in such as way that readers can pick out a nugget and comment on it.
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Death by Planning Too MuchMy Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
December 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Jeannette, nice to see you commenting on my article :) I agree with you, but it is not always easy to give straight advice or write “how to” articles.

Something funny now. I listened to a radio interview few days back. The spokesman for the Canadian foreign affairs ministry was asked about the issue of Israel and Palestine and the guy failed to respond to questions so miserably. He kept saying the same thing over and over and nothing made sense.

But the reaction (emails and phone calls to the radio station) was huge. People were commenting how bad the interview was.

So, even bad interview/article might generate comments :)

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Jeannette,
I actually get a little frustrated if I’m visiting a blog and I would like to leave a comment for the blogger but I find myself speechless. (Not that that happens often to me. :) I find that if a blogger is sharing something (such as their opinion, knowledge or an experience), I usually can find something to say.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
December 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

When I first started blogging I was frustrated that people didn’t leave comments. Then I learned how people bring different levels of comfort to the Internet, to commenting, to creating a presence on-line. For some people, leaving even a short comment felt scary. Over time, many became willing to leave comments. Maybe this was just my slightly older demographic, but I learned patience. Of course, I also worked to cultivate other readers who were comfortable commenting! In the meantime, I also worked to be a good commenter myself.

Judy Stone-Goldman
Where the Personal and Professional Meet
http://JudyStoneGoldman.com

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Hi Judy,
You do cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable to comment on your blog. Personally, I find that ending my articles with a question usually encourages conversation. Many people do want to comment and some find it easy if I’ve left them with a question. Actually, this is similar to how you end your posts with “Writing Prompts”. :)

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Tanya
Twitter:
December 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I think getting them to leave a comment is very challenging. When and If they do leave that comment though it is so important to interact with them by at least giving them a reply. That way it will encourage them to leave more comments on future posts.
Tanya recently posted..Suffusion theme, CommentLuv Premium, live chat, oh my.My Profile

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Sherryl Perry December 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I agree with you Tanya about replying to comments. I always think of the comment section on my blog as an opportunity to engage in a conversation. I’m extremely grateful for the wonderful community here and the comments left here truly make this a better blog! Thanks so much for taking the time to join the conversation.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Social Networking Really that Different from Face-to-Face?My Profile

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Emma
Twitter:
February 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I agree with you Tanya. After you get the first few comments, engaging your readers becomes easier if you reply to them and when appropriate give them something more to think and talk about.

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Susan Cooper December 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

This is great advice. I can relate to what you had to say. Getting someone to leave a comment on something you’ve written is a gift. It says to you and your other readers that the article had value and is worth reading. I hardily agree that making it easy to make comments is important along with a call to action of some form. :)

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Sherryl Perry December 5, 2012 at 9:42 am

I had never thought of leaving a comment as a gift before but that’s a nice way to look at it. I do leave comments sometimes simply because I like the person. :) In that same line of thinking, I believe it’s important to reply to each comment that is left if possible.

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