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Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 at 8:02 am

How to Use Blog Comments for Persuasion: Dos & Donts

By Brendan Regan
January 20th, 2010

Today’s topic is all about using blog (or forum) comments to drive qualified traffic to your site, and how to begin the persuasion process.  It’s an interesting topic for me since I read nearly every comment that gets left on my GrokDotCom posts.

Note: before you read further, understand that this post is NOT about how to use blog comments as a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactic.  This post is about how to use blog comments to begin an online selling process.

For many, blog comments are an effective online marketing effort because, while they generally bring traffic to your site in small numbers, that traffic is often highly qualified and motivated.

Pete Kistler wrote an interesting post recently for the Personal Branding Blog about using blog comments to build one’s personal “brand,” and I’ll be borrowing some bits and pieces that are also relevant to online persuasion.  The part I’m most interested in paraphrasing is that blog comments demonstrate to readers that you’re active in your space/niche, you’re passionate about the subject matter, and that you add value to the topic that’s being discussed.  All are good points whether you’re talking about personal branding or online persuasion.

Another main point to keep in mind is that blog comments are only useful in starting an online persuasion scenario; they will never be effective at “closing the deal.” Think in terms of Early Stage vs. Late Stage buyers: blog comments are great for piquing interest and driving small amounts of useful traffic to your site, but don’t try and use them to actually do your converting (your website is better equipped to handle conversion experiences).  Another angle is to think about the AIDAS (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, Satisfaction) model that FutureNow has written about before.  Blog comments are useful for Attention and Interest, but your online presence (after the click) needs to handle the Desire, Action, and Satisfaction parts in this method.

So let me propose some Dos and Donts for how you can try to optimize your blog comments to get more out of them in terms of marketing and persuasion.  We’ll start by getting the Donts out of the way :)

Don’t

  • Embed links in the body of your comment. WordPress, for example, automatically adds a “rel=nofollow” attribute to the link, so you won’t get any real SEO value.  It will also add to the impression that you’re spammy or not credible.
  • Add a comment if you have nothing of value to add to the conversation. Saying “Good post, thanks!” is a waste of everyone’s time and while the sentiment is appreciated, it discredits you in terms of being “active,” “passionate,” and “valuable” to the community.
  • Leave a comment without knowing your grammar and checking your spelling!  You rarely get the chance to edit comments, so having poor grammar or typos hurts your credibility.
  • Leave disrespectful, inflammatory, or overly-emotional (i.e. not rational) comments.  While you may get points for being passionate, you won’t convey that you’re valuable, and you may get deleted and never get the exposure you’re looking for.
  • Leave comments on every single post, or on a consistent string of posts.  You may be viewed as “active,” but after a while, readers will tune you out, or moderators will start to delete you.
  • Leave comments just to build up your inbound links for SEO.  If you don’t add value, no one will ever click to your site, and you’ll never convert, and never make any money.  That’s the equivalent of pouring more water in a leaky bucket!

Once you’ve saved yourself the time and trouble of NOT doing the things listed above, you can refocus your marketing efforts and time on doing some or all of the following…

Do

  • Read all the comments before leaving yours.  If you’ve got nothing original to say, it’s best to say nothing at all.
  • Leave comments that are relevant and valuable to others beyond mere opinion. Look at the topic from a slightly different angle or provide an anecdote.
  • Do answer questions left by other commenters.  We at GrokDotCom try to answer all our readers’ questions, but they are often answered by other readers very quickly, which is great.
  • Use your comments to hint at your expertise. Here’s where subtle, skillful copywriting can start to persuade readers and entice them to click to your site.
  • Do leave a link to your site. You may even consider tagging your URL with an identifying parameter to see in your analytics what comments on what posts drove the most/best traffic to your site, e.g. mysite.com/landingpage.htm?ref=blogcomment.
  • Use target keywords in your “name” in your comments. While the main goal is persuasion, doing a little SEO on the side won’t hurt.

When thinking about blog comments as the driving points for a persuasive conversion experience (remember…they are only the beginning), it’s helpful to use the 3 Questions of Persuasion Architecture®:

1. Who is here?  Who am I targeting?

2. What action do I want them to take?

3. What do they need to feel comfortable and confident taking that action?

Answering question #1 one is pretty easy in the context of a blog post and corresponding comments.  Those you’re targeting are the readers who were interested in the original topic and interested enough to read comments.  These are highly engaged, often passionate, prospects who want to continue learning about the topic, or who are involved in the discussion themselves.

Answering question #2 is also pretty easy.  You want them to click the hyperlinked phrase attached to your comment and visit your site.  But does the content of your comment subtly convey that they’ll get something of value?  Have you proved your relevance to the topic?

Answering question #3 is easy provided you’ve purged your marketing approaches of all of our Donts, and provided at least a couple of the Dos from the list above.

Is anyone out there practicing blog commenting as a persuasive marketing tactic?  Did I miss any of the main Dos and Donts?  Let us know, and you can get a little practice ;)

Add Your Comments

Comments (66)

  1. great guide. but have a question. these tips are for a own blogscript oder for a “ready-made” blogsoftware?

  2. This is a good list of ways to be a good contributer and ways to look like an idiot.

    I hate it when people come and drop a very generic comment on my blog, that says “Great Post!”. If you’re going to take the time to leave a comment, why not contribute to the conversation. Those are the readers you want on your site, and those are the people that you want leaving comments.

    The spelling/grammar thing doesn’t really bother me too much, but when people leave lolz and other “web-speak” that gets under my skin.

  3. I think links in the body of comment are valid below the signature, gives a nice status impression about of the writer.

  4. This is a brilliant and helpful insight. Thank you for breaking this down and makes it easy to understand and implement

  5. This is a very informative post and really direct to the point. As for me, it is really advisable to check your comment first for typos or errors before pressing the button. I have posted some comments with typos in it and I really feel bad about it, so I am really careful right now.

  6. I comment on this post and I don’t put any link in the body of my comment. Hehe.. I love this post. I will apply the guide you give here so that i can be a professional blog commenter.

    Warm regards

  7. One of the issues with blogs is getting an accurate idea of the volume of traffic that blog generates – vital if the intention is for the comment to be seen, as opposed to SEO.

    Many blog posts are copies or reposts of an original (credited or not), so when you see a blog with zero comments, it may just be that no-one has read it!

    I’d be interested in any suggestions as to methods for selecting relevant blogs to write comments on.

  8. Unfortunately in our work as SEO for Blogs we must be always pending the comments, especially when working with dofollow Blogs.

    Spam bots go out kicking and constantly seek leave your sites link without more substance and relevance to the site itself.

    I must be clear that is a comment spam is essential for maintaining a clean of the Blog, however well managed the comments in a blog can create a good community around your content and that is very relevant if at Seo.

  9. Brendan,

    Great post! I appreciate the shout out, and I’m glad you could use some of the bits and pieces from my “How to Leave Effective Blog Comments” post on Personal Branding Blog.

    I especially liked your tip, “read every other blog comment before you leave yours.” It can be a turnoff when someone doesn’t take the time to read what other people said, then injects their opinion in a way that breaks the flow of the dialog.

    Keep up the great work.

    - Pete Kistler
    CEO, Brand-Yourself.com

  10. Nice guide.
    Its good to leave a comment in blogs and be a part of the community but there are many Spam comments also all over Internet. Especially if you are a blog owner its very very hard to manage comments.

  11. This is a great post for anyone that is looking to get in to commenting to up their PR. I am going to link to your post from my blog.

  12. Can anyone explain to me how to do this: tag your URL with an identifying parameter to see in your analytics what comments on what posts drove the most/best traffic to your site, e.g. mysite.com/landingpage.htm?ref=blogcomment.” Thank you.

  13. @Jerry Kinney

    This post isn’t really about sculpting a higher PageRank (PR). Its more about being helpful and getting a bit of a ‘community’. This is much more important then your PR. Because if you have good content and a community, PR will follow automatically.

  14. But sometimes leaving a link in the body becomes necessary when you want to refer to other relevant post what either agrees or disagrees with you,then you should leave a back link because that adds value to the whole conversation.

  15. Great post, Brendan :-)

    This grokdotcom blog seems to get lots of single-paragraph comments. Contrast with other blogs that get long, multi-paragraph comments with links to pieces of research that back up the commenters ideas or the original post – or research that contradicts the original post.

    This single-para style could be the people who come here or it could be just copy-catting – based on your “rule” of reading the other posts first. Or it could be the tiny comments box that makes writing long comments feel uncomfortable..

    For me, including links in the comment is good if they are to a specific page on a specific topic – especially on a 3rd party site. Bad if they are just to the commenter’s home page – that’s just spammy.

    If I see an interesting comment on a high-value blog then I very often click on the commenter’s name to see what else she is saying. This is how I find out about other interesting blogs.

    The commenter’s name makes a difference as well – I’m never going to click on someone called “discount TVs” – but a real name works well.

  16. well…. The topic is really good and make sense, you did a great job with the post and i am agree with Jonathan too. That really would be interesting.

  17. I dsagree with the comment above. I would click on a commenter named Discount TVs if the comment was interesting enough. I do sometimes click a link just out of interest because the commenter sounded like someone with something to say.
    Anything can spark an interest in anyone reading blog comments and if you just happen to be thinking about buying a new TV? Boom. A potential customer. It won’t work for everyone or in every case but sometimes Discount TVs will be better than John Appleseed as the commenters name. Against that it is a little cold and unfriendly as regards the other commenters and the blog community but that depends on whether it is a continuing conversation or a simple comment.

  18. This is a great list. I rely heavily on blog commenting since I dont get any organic traffic and these tips will surely help

  19. Unfortunately, I don’t believe a lot of the comments that are made on blogs in a direct effort for SEO are human made, but the result of bots and scripts spamming various sites. Our blog, like many, gets a plethora of comments as a result of bot-spam and Akismet for wordpress actually has been a great tool to let us weed those comments out while allowing normal users to post openly.

  20. “Leave disrespectful, inflammatory, or overly-emotional (i.e. not rational) comments.”

    Sometimes, it can help! If your point of view is radically different, you can engage into an intense debate with the owner of the blog, and even rally to your cause some of the readers :)

  21. The most important part of blog commenting is that you have a targeted audience for the theme so therefore a valuable comment may lead other blog readers to your site. However, that again makes it most feasible to post on high traffic blogs for your chosen theme.

  22. I cannot imagine what life would be like without Akismet to protect us from the spammers.
    If ever they figure out a way to get around it I think we will all just have to either close down commentating completely or spend all day sifting out the spam and that is a scary thought.

  23. Absolutely true. Most of the commenters dont look on the relevancy of the topic and thus got their comments spam.

  24. @ Ethical SEo,
    That was so alarming for blog owners, more on those invaded by comment spammers. Thumbs up for Akismet! Thanks for these tips.

  25. This is probably one of the best guides I have come across. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  26. Thanks for the guide. Comments are now flood with spam and it is good to use anti-spam measures within the system.

  27. this is a nice guide, thanks, however, backlinks for seo purposes are just as important as for driving traffic to your site, lets not forget that.

  28. This is the best guide. I hate spam. Thanks for the great tips.

  29. oh my, thats the reason i came to your site, thanks for the guide, it help me for newbie in bloging

  30. let me ask you this..if you want to be considered a leader in your niche, would you attach your name to a blog comment?

  31. @Budget Van: Certainly! I often click on the names of commenters who provide fresh, relevant, interesting insight.

  32. Good article and good post by Jonathan I believe I will share this information provided on my site. Thanks

  33. First of all thanks for guidelines. I am really struggling to do this. I was searching for this good info. It is really helpful.

  34. ok, blog commetns are essential not only for link building and also for sales and these tips can give you a way how to build good blog comments.

  35. I agree with Brendan. One of the best ways to find new blogs and new perspectives is to click in a blog commentator’s link. If you like what they say in the blog, you may love what they say in their blog.

  36. Stunning stuff..I was on the lookout for this for many days now. I especially like your tips regarding “Leave comments that are relevant and valuable to others beyond mere opinion.”

  37. I must disagree with the link matter. First link in the post not necessarily a spam although many spammers do it.

    Second nofollow link do matters people still clicking it right? I thought this about online selling not for SEO.

    Overall great tips though :)

  38. I can understand that WordPress would make all links in comment bodies ‘no follow’ but does this count for the URL entered for the comment itself? I’m guessing no?

    Thanks,
    Si

  39. Great post! Loving the idea of engaging a readership in relevant conversation as opposed to only SEO, the real reason I arrived here in the first place. Thanks for your many insights.

    Still a bit confused on the identifying parameters for analytics. Looking forward to a bit more on this.

    Thanks again.

  40. Good list although I think for most businesses this is s slow way to generate leads. @oxy inre “great post” – i think what you aren’t getting is that these types of commenters aren’t reading your blog. They are looking for links.

  41. Good intentions by those leaving comments have to be followed up the post author to generate real value. Often there is no discussion between the author and the readers..

  42. I always like to engage with my readers if they leave a comment which I see as genuine and useful. The majority of comments I get are just spam and go straight to the Askimet filter (god bless askimet). If your comment does not add any value to the discussion or is not relevent – it’s only your own time you’re wasting by putting it there.

  43. Its is noticeable that the quantity of spam are growing day by day but yes there are some genuine readers too so thanks for the do’s and dont’s.

  44. I think the comment is helpful to your blog, but not more traffic

  45. Your tips made me think on how should I put my comment here. It is very helpful indeed. In other words, leave a comment in a humane way. That’s how we differ from robots. ;)

  46. I don’t know how any of you bloggers do it. It must be very time consuming. Hat’s off to you for engaging an audience instead of just pushing ads.

  47. There is another “don’t” that I would like to see added to the list. It’s don’t agree with a blogger for the sake of being agreeable. Too many comments begin with the syrupy : great post!, nice guide, great guide, … brilliant and helpful insight, this is a great list …. These sickly words tell me that the person making the comments is: shallow, superficial and really has nothing nothing to say or add. There agenda is too transparent. They contribute no ideas and obviously don’t understand the impact on their brand.

  48. [...] full post on Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc Enjoyed this article?WebsiteWordpress [...]

  49. You post about comments for persuasion is useful. I think i need to comment obey your points.

  50. Your article is very useful to all readers.I am interested in doing blog commenting projects, is it possible for you to help me. Regards

  51. The majority of comments I get are just spam and go straight to the Askimet filter (god bless askimet). I’d be interested in any suggestions as to methods for selecting relevant blogs to write comments on.

  52. Apart from major points, there is thin line between DOs and DON’Ts.

    Even good comments get blocked many times.

  53. I really like this article. It frustrates the hell out of me when people send me stupid comments, it’s not like you can’t notice it straight away. The net would be a much happier place without spammers.

  54. Apart from major points, there is thin line between DOs and DON’Ts.

  55. Your article is very useful to all readers.I am interested in doing blog commenting projects, is it possible for you to help me. Regards

  56. Even good comments get blocked many times.

  57. Sometimes even you have read the whole post and share a great comments. Your comment is still filtered in the spam folder. What do you think is the problem on that.

  58. If ever they figure out a way to get around it I think we will all just have to either close down commentating completely or spend all day sifting out the spam and that is a scary thought.

  59. The fact that blog comment are just a way to increase SEO was precisely what i though before installing a chat in my website that could give me the live traffic on it. I could verify that the small amount of pertinent traffic driven by blog comment was worth the concept of niche and that even nofollow could be efficient, though, in a SEO level, less efficient.

  60. While you may get points for being passionate, you won’t convey that you’re valuable, and you may get deleted and never get the exposure you’re looking for.

  61. I agree! Commenting on a blog just to up your PR or get links is not the way to go. Engaging in the community and providing invaluable information is really what will benefit you in the long run. I always find it easy to spot spammers on my blog-they just do not have anything of value to contribute.

  62. I agree guys…I hate it when people leave a comment saying “great post” bla bla bla..Basically saying something nice about your website hoping that they will get approved.

    Remember that once they have been approved a few times the comment they make is most likely not moderated any longer…So after the 3 comments they could slip one in on you. This has happened to me.

    I will trash any comment that does not add value to my post and it is fair for other websites to do the same thing. Stand up for your website and get strict on spammers.

    I guess your post is all about showing some morals and respect for other people. I think we are all still in the learning stage when it comes to comment etiquette.

  63. Great post.

    There is one thing that I believe is missing in this post. It concerns to the owners of the blogs and not to the readers commenting on them. Actually, grokdotcom could benefit from the advice.

    I consider essential to implement the functionality that allows a reader to reply to specific blog comment instead of commenting on the entire article. In my experience, when there are a high number of comments in a certain post (such as this one), it becomes very hard to follow a conversational thread. By allowing individual replies for each comment, and assuming that readers make a good use of this functionality, the information becomes better organized and easier to assimilate. For an example, take a look at SEOmoz’s blog.

    Just something to think about.

    Cheers,

    Antonio

  64. Yuo this is a descent post, with my site I was totally surprised the favorable comment I was getting. So I change everything where one has to leave a email address & wow it had no affect… I thought it would piss folks off. I now include affiliate products & cpa offers that match the majority of comment I get. I also keep it real and write not in a article since but as if I was really speaking to a individual personally. Not sure why this is working but my conversions are picking up a bit…Thanks Guy’s I’ll definitely be back

  65. Comments are most prone to spamming as it is open for everyone. You need to be very conscious during moderation of comments as Honest people should not suffer.

  66. I hate seeing pingback style posts in a comments thread. As a blog owner it makes your comments look fake and unnatural. I hardly ever approve pingbacks. Akismet is my blogs saviour for spam comments. Luckily my traffic is light so I still browse my spam emails.

    As I’m not earning much online yet I treat my blog as a hobby to keep chipping away at. Sometimes it’s easy to spend too much time working on SEO and building traffic & links. Sometimes I don’t leave enough time to actually do some blogging!

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