The comments section of your blog is one of the most important tools for growing your readership, creating a healthy link environment, and getting more page hits. However, too many bloggers leave their comments sections unattended, full of missed opportunities, spam, and unedifying posts. A comments section will always be a little outside the control of the blogger, but there is still a lot you can do to manage yours properly. Here are several ways to making commenting more fun and more effective.
1. Stop Spam with Link and Word Management:
Comment sections, if ignored, tend to generate a lot of spam. The more commenters you collect, the more spambots will start appearing, until reading through or posting comments becomes so annoying that people will just give up. There are a number of innate tools that you can use to fight spam, and two of the most important are link and word control. Using your blog tools, you can limit the number of links in a single comment to one or two (or none, but this is generally a bad idea). You can also set up your blog to ban comments that use specific words associated with spam. Spend some time with these tools.
2. Use Content Management Solutions, but Sparingly:
There are lots of fire and forget content management software solutions for comments sections, but you should not use too many at the same time. A few plugins is good, but a lot can be confusing or unhelpful, especially when using broad-based spam stoppers or other tools. One or two management solutions, like the ever-popular Askimet, are a good idea, but resist the temptation to go overboard.
3. Respond Wisely:
Do not ignore your comments! Comment back, but comment wisely. Stay out of meaningless arguments, refuse to engage trolls, and in general follow the same rules for a good blog. Pay careful attention to your tone, and offer more information that illuminates a particular point or more fully explains your viewpoint. Follow the rules of popular debate if you want to disagree with someone -and if you fully agree with a commenter, do not be afraid to say so! You do not need to respond to every person, but pick the comments most likely to create interesting conversation.
4. Link Up to Your Own Content, and Encourage Similar Behavior:
When responding, it is a good idea to link to your other blog posts, particularly if they continue a certain point. This helps increase your page views. It is also a good idea to allow your commenters to link to their own blog posts. When done correctly, this creates a healthy comment cluster where the comments section grows into a community of post exchanges where everyone wins.
5. Allow Commenters to Express Themselves:
It can be tempting to keep tight control over commenters, but when possible you should give them freedom of expression. Allow them to create profiles or port over existing profiles so they have identities when commenting on your blog. Give them the aforementioned freedom to link to their own blog profiles and perhaps the ability to paste in photos as well. Set up controls so that you can give approval to such expressions and allow the comments section to be a more active place.
6. Add Notifications:
Since you cannot be on your blog 24/7, adding notifications to your comments section is very important. When someone comments or re-comments on your blog, you should receive an email about it. Consider creating a separate email account specifically to receive comment notifications if necessary.
7. Use Recent Comments and Similar Catalysts:
Recent comments plugins create a section on your blog that shows recent comments that people have made on various posts. This can encourage readers to visit more posts to see what the fuss is about, and will encourage more comments in general. Use such catalyst plugins to help increase your blog activity.
Jason Bayless is a professional blogger that gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. He writes for BestSEOCompanies.com, a nationally recognized comparison website of the best SEO companies in the United States.