Care to Comment? Building Blog Community Through Your Comments

build blog community with commentsIf you want to build a blog community, you’re going to have to do some work both on and off your blog. Today’s tip combines a little of both.

We’ve already talked about providing quality content. When I’m reading a blog, I’ll sometimes have this moment of “wow, this person knows stuff I want to know!” Those moments are what push me to comment, sign up to their newsletter, share or follow them on social media – all those things we want our readers to do.

I probably don’t have to say that I don’t have those moments when I read a post that doesn’t really say anything or is just flat wrong. High quality information is what grabs my attention.

But getting my attention is just the first step. There are several blogs that I read and don’t interact with. If the goal is interaction, engagement and ultimately community, we’re going to have to go above and beyond quality content.

Welcome Commenters

One way to do this is to make your blog welcoming to commenters. I talked some about that in my Open Letter to New Bloggers. The short version: make it easy to find the comment link, don’t force people to do complicated sign-ins to leave a comment, and set down the Captcha and back away slowly.

On a side note, I can’t recommend the CommentLuv plugin highly enough. There’s both a free version (see the link above) and a paid version. The free version is more than enough to get you up and running. It makes your comment area stand out, and it encourages people to comment because they can leave a backlink to a post from their own site.

Reply to Comments

When you say something to someone, you like to know that you’ve been heard, right? If you feel ignored, especially when the person you’re talking to isn’t someone you know well, you’re likely to just stop talking and go away.

It’s the same thing with your commenters. If you don’t respond, they’re going to feel like they’re being ignored. The truth is, you probably read every comment that readers make. But if you don’t acknowledge the comment, how does your reader know that you heard?

Your commenters will feel much more welcome – and more willing to comment again – if you respond to their comment. Just saying “Thanks, I’m glad you dropped by!” works in a pinch. Of course, saying something directly related to their comment is better. If you can, ask a question and get a conversation going. (I learned that tip from Bonnie over at BonnieGean.com. Check out her blog for great examples of community building.)

Let Commenters Know There’s a Reply

To make sure your commenter knows that you’ve replied, you can use the Jetpack plugin to let them choose to receive an email if there’s a reply to their comment. (If anyone knows of a stand-alone plugin that does something similar, I’d love to hear about it. Jetpack is great, but I’m always interested in other options.)

Controlling Comment Spam

If you’re worried about comment spam, check out Akismet, another plugin that is also free for personal use and very inexpensive for business use.

You can also set your comments to be moderated in the Discussion area of your Admin Panel.

build blog community

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on whether to moderate all comments or just the first comment someone leaves. Moderating all of them helps me remember to reply, which I’ll be discussing below. On the other hand, it means that all comments have to wait on me to be able to moderate them, and I don’t sit at the computer 24-7. A long wait for a comment to be approved can really kill a conversation.

What are your thoughts? Do you reply to comments? Do you moderate them? Have you changed how you handle comments since you started blogging? Let’s talk in the comments.

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13 thoughts on “Care to Comment? Building Blog Community Through Your Comments

  1. As part of the UBC, I have learned so much about blogging this month. I have also come to realize that I am missing out on a lot having my blog as part of my website hosted at a site that is ‘non-WordPress’. I apparently have no control over Captcha and can’t turn it off. I can’t comment on comments and have to leave a whole new comment (having to wade through the Captcha crap myself) to leave someone a comment after they comment. I can’t put the plug-ins into my site there. This whole experience has started my wheels turning about a website/blog makeover since I really do want to make it easy to create community and dialogue on my blog page. Thank you so much for all the helpful information here.

    • You’re welcome, Melissa. One of the great things about WordPress is that it’s so well-used that people are always developing new plugins for it. You have a lot of room to set it up the way that you want it to be.

  2. I agree. I absolutely cannot STAND captcha! Honestly one of the most annoying things out there.
    Ellen Christian recently posted…Ways To Eat Healthy On A BudgetMy Profile

  3. You’ve made many good points. I too, hate that CAPCHA- sometimes I give up. But whenever someone comes to my site and comments, I think it’s common courtesy to respond and thank them!
    I too, love CommentLuv- and I get a TON of comments whenever I put up an article there. In fact, I’m putting my things on ezine, CommentLuv, and self-growth.com before my blog, because they get so much more traffic than me.
    What do you think of doing that?
    Do you have a suggestion for just automatically blocking spam trackbacks? Maybe you could write a blog on that!
    Thanks,
    Lianda
    Lianda recently posted…Did Dieting Make You Temporarily Crazy & Permanently Overweight?My Profile

    • Lianda, I would really consider posting your content on your blog *first*. Wait a few days until Google indexes it. (A simple way to tell if it’s indexed: copy a sentence from the article, put it in the Google search box, and see if your article comes up in the search results.) Only then should you post your content to other sites.

      Why? Because that gives you and your site authorship of your content in Google’s eyes. Everywhere else it shows up will just be considered syndication. Google doesn’t care if you syndicate your content, but they do give priority in their search results to the site that they consider to be the original.

      Look at it this way – I publish an article called “How to Make Widgets”. I put it on my site, ezinearticles, and a few other sites. Google will index every instance of that article. A lot of factors go into which version is displayed higher in the search engine rankings where more people tend to click, but a major factor is “which version is the original?”

      If Google thinks the version on my site is the original because it was indexed first, it will most likely display that version higher in the results than the other versions of the article. When people search for *how to make widgets*, they’ll see the article on my site first and (hopefully) click on it, going directly to my site.

      Only some of the people who find the article on other sites will click through. I get a little traffic benefit from those versions of the article, but not as much as from the article directly on my site.

      I’m not saying don’t syndicate your content. You get the benefit of backlinks and exposure to people who might otherwise not know you existed. Just don’t syndicate *first* and post to your own site second. You’ll end up competing with your own article in the search engine rankings.

      Thanks for the suggestion about spam trackbacks. I’ll check into that and see if I can do a post on it!

      • Katie, I thought that article directories make you certify that your content that is submitted to them has not been published before anywhere. Is that not true? So you can publish it on your blog first and then a month (or whenever) later submit to ezinearticles.com? That would be great if that’s the case. Please let me know!

        • I just checked the EzineArticles Author Guidelines. Basically, if you publish something elsewhere on the web and then publish it on EA, you need to be using the same author name in both places.

          Here’s a direct quote:
          “All content that is published on EzineArticles must be 100% exclusively owned by you. The content that is submitted CAN be published elsewhere, but must share the same author name everywhere it is published. If you published your article elsewhere and did not include your name, we will not publish your article on our platform. It is important that you own your content no matter where you publish it.” http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines/all/

          Also, there’s a longer explanation here if you scroll down past the PLR stuff:
          http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines/guideline/1b
          Katie recently posted…Care to Comment? Building Blog Community Through Your CommentsMy Profile

          • That’s awesome, Katie! Thank you for answering that so quickly! I definitely misinterpreted the guidelines and I love your explanation about publishing articles on my blog first and then submitting them to the article directories. You are the best!! Thanks.

  4. You are so knowledgeable, Katie, and I have learned so much from your posts–and this time, I think I may have learned just as much from your answers to comments above. Thanks for being so helpful and generous with your knowledge. I’m a tech dummy, so I appreciate your putting it all in terms that “even” I can understand. I love CommentLuv (I have the free version)and I’m going to check out Jetpack. As for answering comments, I really, really WANT to answer every single comment, but some days are so packed (and some days I get a lot of comments) so I have to choose between writing my blog post or answering comments (or making supper, honestly!). Thanks again!
    Amy recently posted…A student’s Big Question: “How can I prepare for an audition?”My Profile

  5. Encouraging visitors to leave comments is hard enough, without then ignoring the comments you get and not replying to them!

    I like the visitor to get a reply to their comments, my website is differently set up with a hosting service than the rest of you and it is a bit trickier for me, as it uses an internal system and can’t use the trendy CommentLuv for commenting, so I reply to the comment within the message.

    But, as you say, acknowledge the comments that people leave, its just good manners really.
    Helene Malmsio recently posted…Apr 23, How to do Content Curation MarketingMy Profile

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