Do you have a strategy for commenting on blogs? If you’re new to blogging, you may not have one yet. You may simply want comments (any comments). We’ve all been there. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you undoubtedly have a plan. You’ve developed relationships with other bloggers and frequent their blogs. You’ve identified key “influencers” in you r niche and follow them. You know who your target reader is and you know where your referral traffic is coming from. You also have heard enough about Google penalties for “unnatural” links that you’re very aware of what sites you’re linking to (and what sites are linking to you). So, today, let’s take a look at some ways in which commenting could potentially hurt you and a couple of suggestions on how to engage your readers by featuring their comments and sharing them through social media.
Do You Have a Commenting Strategy?
Commenting on blogs has long been seen as a way to engage with your readers and build relationships. It is one of the best ways to build mutually beneficial relationships. I’ve often talked about the 3 strategic stages that most of us go through when it comes to commenting:
- Building Awareness: (This is when we are first getting started and want comments . . . any comments. It can also be a time when we’re prone to accept comments from spammers.)
- Building Your Online Presence: (In this stage, bloggers recognize that targeted traffic is necessary if we hope to convert readers to clients/customers. This is usually the time when we start building recognition and authority by commenting on blogs where our target readers are.)
- Focusing Strategically on Commenting: (Many bloggers still believe in comment “reciprocation” where the logic is that if you leave a comment for me, I’ll leave one for you. This strategy can be very effective when you’re first getting started blogging. However, many bloggers find that strategy can be extremely time consuming and that it make more sense to focus on building awareness on blogs where your target readers are.)
Can Comments on Do-Follow Enabled CommentLuv Websites Hurt you?
For those of us who comment on do-follow enabled CommentLuv blogs, it can also be a way to build backlinks. Now, whenever I talk about backlinks, I feel that I need to mention the inherent risk of backlinks (both to the blogger leaving the comment and the owner of the blog). After all, you’d practically have to be living under a rock to not have heard of all of the sites that were recently penalized by the Google webspam team for having unnatural links.
So, can do-follow backlinks hurt you? Absolutely. That’s why it’s so important to monitor links that are left on our sites and to be leery of what sites we leave links on. We all know that we don’t want to allow spam on our sites but what about links that were left ages ago and no longer point to legitimate blogs? Those can hurt us too.
It’s been over a year since I lost over 50% of my organic search traffic. At the time, I had grown lax about cleaning up old CommentLuv links. (Once you hit over 10k comments, it can be a mind-numbing task to go through each comment manually to verify the link is not broken and doesn’t point to a site that you don’t want to be associated with.) The good news is that although I have yet to recover from that algorithm update, I did manage to avoid being penalized and de-indexed in the latest round of actions this year.
How Do You Clean Up Old CommentLuv Links?
Well, first of all, let me tell you that just because a link is tagged with the no-follow attribute, that is no guarantee that the search engines won’t indeed follow it. So, broken links and links to spammy sites do need to be removed. There are several plugins and tools that attempt to identify broken links (including Andy Bailey’s CommentLuv Link Cleaner). I have found that the most reliable method is to check your site on BrokenLinkCheck.com. What I usually do is:
- Open a browser window with my blog comment screen visible.
- Open a new browser tab and go to BrokenLinkCheck.com.
- Identify the URL of a site that has been identified as broken.
- Go back to the window (in WordPress) and search your comments for that domain.
- I check all comments on that domain to make sure that they aren’t broken (or possibly an issue with the site) For example, you are likely to find domain names that are parked with registrars such as GoDaddy (and most likely riddled with AdSense ads a.k.a “unnatural” links).
- Clean up unwanted links by:
- Remove the “do-follow” tag (if there is one).
- Remove the “luv” link (if they’ve left a CommentLuv link).
- Remove the URL to their website. (This is the URL that is part of the core WordPress commenting system.)
To make the process a little easier, I now install the “Ajax Edit Comments” plugin by Ronald Huereca when I clean up comments. This simple plugin adds the ability to click on a “More Options” button that will easily enable you to “de-link” the URL. (Special thanks to Adrienne Smith for sharing that tip in her post How To Easily Remove Broken Comment Links.)
How Can You Feature and Share Comments?
If you haven’t had a chance to read the article Feature and Share Comments To Build Brand Community by Mike Alton on TheSocialMediaHat.com, I highly recommend it. Mike uses the Disqus commenting system on his blog and that has the ability of featuring a post. (He has a screenshot in his article that illustrates this and it’s really cool!)
For those of us who don’t use Disqus, Mike suggests copying and pasting comments to accomplish the same thing. To illustrate, I just used the “Snipping Tool” in Windows to feature the comment below:
After snipping the comment, I used my photo editor software to add the text “featured” and optimized it for the web. I can see potential use for this when a comment from a previous post is relevant in a new follow-up post. Another idea would be to edit this post (after it’s been commented on) and feature a comment that you could also find below.
Mike also talks about sharing a quote from a reader to social media. Again, while this is a feature of Disqus, it is something that we could easily do manually. (Maybe if there’s enough interest in these two features, we could ask Andy Bailey if he would consider incorporating them into the premium version of CommentLuv.)
Over To You:
What are your thoughts? Do you have a strategy for commenting on blogs? Do you have the CommentLuv plugin installed on your blog? (There’s a free version in the WordPress plugin repository for those of you who want to give it a try but if there’s still time I recommend investing in the premium version.) What are your thoughts on featuring comments and sharing them on social media sites? We’d love to hear from you.