Encouraging blog readers to comment

Updated May 16, 2010

Create a welcoming space. Choose a blog design and color scheme that creates a relaxing environment so readers will be inclined to read your posts and consider the contents.   Be sure the design you choose  has a clearly-identifiable spot for comments, and make any instructions easy to understand and follow.  Do not use CAPCHTAs as they are a supreme turn-off when it comes to visually challenged and/or cognitively challenged readers leaving comments. Post  a commenting policy.

1.   Blog design and sidebars

Choosing a good blog design that frames your content is important. Evaluate blog theme features, blog  structure, and color schemes from a reader’s perspective.

Do not clutter your sidebars with an excess of widgets and gadgets. They slow page loading time  and distract readers’ vision and focus away from the content.

2.   Inviting writing

Keep readers interested  by writing fresh content.  The more frequently and regularly you post the more it will be indexed by search spiders and the possibility of a larger readership increases.

Start  conversations by writing compelling blog posts that invite conversation. Inviting and engaging writing sparks discussion. Controversy does too. Tutorials and how to posts prompt questions from readers.

Post on controversial topics in a balanced manner presenting both or all sides of an issue and don’t take a stand, instead ask what your reader’s think about this perplexing issue.

Ask an open ended question at the end of your posts and humbly and graciously request feedback.  For example: Ask your readers if they have anything they would like to add; any experiences they would care to share; or any differences of opinion they would like to express. And structure your post in a manner that includes invitations for reader feedback in the text. If you sound over confident people are less likely to want to comment.

Titles  and subtitles can invite reader feedback and participation in discussion. This can be followed by by asking discussion questions ate the end of your post . Only 3 – 4 are recommended and 1 – 2 are often enough to spark comments.

When your readers do comment  respond promptly and in a welcoming manner so they  feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions.

3.  Basic SEO

When you write your blog posts and pages, remember to optimize them and your images too.  Categories and Tags (like links) are easily indexed by search engines and then assist readers to find your blog when they perform searches.

If the site or any pages on it are inaccessible because of broken links, 404 errors, password-protected areas and other reasons, then the site can’t be indexed. See: WordPress: How to Maintain and Track Links

4.  Keep your resources and links updated

Links you display direct readers to high quality sources of relevant information found in authoritative blogs in the same niche. What readers find at those links can spark conversation on your blog.

5.  Reciprocity

To receive comments on your posts you must comment frequently and widely on other blogs and forums, particularly those related to your niche.

Keep in touch with your readers and make new friends via social media and social networking.  Cultivate relationships.

6. Backlinks and trackbacks

Links to your sources are important for at least four reasons: verifiability, acknowledgment, examples, context. Linking to posts in other blogs means the bloggers are likely to visit and that may bring in new readers from their blogs too. Also trackbacks include a link back to your blog in the comments section of the post that you originally linked to and readers do click on trackback links. Select which blogs you link to in your posts and Blogroll with care and learn how to spot Trackback and Pingback Spam.

7.  RSS Feed and giveaways

Consider that offering full posts by RSS feed removes the incentive to click into the blog, read the full post and comment. When I reduced my RSS feed to summaries to deter blog content thieves I received more comments. I also put myself under great pressure to insure there was a hook in the excerpt.

Offer email subscriptions, free newsletters, ebooks, PDFs containing valuable content to subscribers.

8.  Be creative

Conduct polls and surveys, sponsor blog carnivals, encourage readers to become guest authors.

Invent a meme, create team blogging project, give away prizes and awards,  hold competitions.

9.  Other commenting encouragements

  • Use a Recent Comments widget.
  • Register a forum and link to it from your blog.

For those with wordpress.org software

Be a fashion follower and not a trend setter. These days the trend is to have widgets in sidebars featuring the names of frequent commenters, and to reward reader who comments by changing your “no-follow” links to “do-follow” links. Rewards and bribes to get people to comment are IMO projections of desperation but other bloggers so not necessarily agree with my point of view.

  • Use a Frequent Commenters widget to showcase those who leave the  most comments.
  • Change your “no-follow” links in comments to do follow.
  • Install plugins like commentluv that reward those who leave comment by displaying the URL for their most recent post.
  • Add a forum to your blog.

Although we all want to create a blog centered community of faithful readers, treating those who comment frequently specially can make a newcomer choose not to comment. I have dropped some blogs simply because I didn’t like the “old boys and old girls” clubs feeling I had about the way the blogger responded to frequent commenters.

Proportionally speaking the more readers you attract the more comments you will receive, however, do be aware that the pros say you can expect to  receive only 1 comment for every 100 -150 readers. This is important to know so you keep from beating yourself up for not getting as many comments as you would like to get.

References:
7 Reasons People Don’t Comment on Your Blog
How I Went From 4 Comments to Almost 4,000 In 2 Years
No Comment

Related posts found in this blog

WordPress.com Comments and Discussion Settings
Anonymous commenting on a WordPress.com blog
Why blog comment moderation is a good thing
Crazymaking Blogger Comment Settings
Blogging: Comment Baiting
A Comment Policy for your Blog
Crafting Quality Blog Comments

How to form blog centered relationships
Synergy: The human side of blogging

25 thoughts on “Encouraging blog readers to comment

  1. Pingback: Crafting Quality Blog Comments | one cool site

  2. Pingback: The 10 point case against CAPTCHA use « onecoolsitebloggingtips

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  4. Hey thanks for this post, I am trying lots of new methods to encourage comments, such as comluv plugin and dofollow, to reward comments a little more, it does seem to be working, but there are a few you covered that I am not using, so I should get even more after following your top tips, thanks again Sally :)

  5. Timethief

    Yet another authoritative article, and valuable insight into an important aspect of blogging. As a novice in blogging I’ve managed to implement some of the methods you outlined, and after reading this article I’ve more to apply. I encourage commentary to give voice to my readers, and often their voice lends value to the related post, and see their insight as a compliment to it.

    I am in the habit of reciprocating the commentary left to encourage community and relationship building. I’m so new to blogging that I’m often confused about what lends to the success or failure of a blog.

    I try to post often so I can offer fresh content in hopes of building readership. I try to post quality content that my readers find interesting and helpful. Their commentary gives me an idea of their needs, and their satisfaction with what I have posted. Commentary allows interaction for me with my readers, and me to my readers. There is so much value in commentary, it’s hard for me to point to where the excess of that value lies. I don’t know, this is just the commentary of a novice….for what it’s worth.

    Thank you TT……Continued success in all your endeavors! Wishing you happiness!

  6. Hi!
    Let me tell that from my perspective, people really leaves sincere e genuine comments to posts in your blog, only if you write, speak, tell a story or a topic that involve them and that cause strong emotion and strong association with the problem, the story, the topic, the feeling narrated.

    I have personally saw all this in the most important and discussed blogs, and I see the same results in other small blogs that use the same approach, determining the same involvement.

    And I’m using this strategy in my blog, test it, and compare results. In my blog I write about true life stories cases, strong problems, topics of common interest.

    What do you think about?

    Thanks for reading my words that I honestly feel to tell you.

    My hand on my heart,
    Alberto

  7. I tried writing regularly and all the above methods, but it didn’t work. I would really like to increase traffic on my site. However, I wanted to know if my site is interesting to readers or are there any improvements to be made.

  8. Pingback: Creating a new blog « one cool site: blogging tips

  9. Commenting on other blogs when you have something of value to say (and not just because you want comments back) is a great way to let people know about you and encourage comments back.

    As I am running very different blogs I can say there is both an art and science to comments The 1/100 comments is very true.

    I look at the increasing number of visitors to my blog and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t even know anyone was visiting ;) Joking… I can tell from the posts they spend time reading that I have very regular readers. So now I don’t worry about comments although they are always welcome. What’s really intriguing is that most of my articles get retweeted, with people telling me they love my blog… I think with Twitter people simply retweet posts and add a few words of their own. The important thing is not to get too hung up about comments. I also only have a certain amount of time I can devote to all my online endeavours so I have to be practical and do what I can. My goal is exposure and I’d stay I’m achieving that…One step at a time.

    The other thing I would say is that the narrower your niche the more successful (over time) you will be. It’s been easier for me to build my childfree blog community – even though I never really set out to build a community… I just put my thoughts out there on my blog. I’ve been writing once a week (sometimes 2) for over a year and it’s marvellous… the comments are often better than my posts ;) And I barely get time to comment on other childfree blogs. Bear in mind though, I’ve been blogging on my other blog for 3 years and my social media one for 8 months. Not years ;) No comparison.

    TT is a commentator on my other blog so she knows what I mean. There are now so many blogs on Social Media, marketing, business, blogging and related topics so it’s a lot harder to stand out. You need to have a certain edge, a view or a style that is different from everyone (and/or a lot of influence and clout) else or it’s easy to seem just one of many. I believe you also have to be very strategic about your blog…even as you let it evolve.
    Anyway, that’s my comment. I still have to go and post on Like It Is.
    Cheers TT, I came here following a link from nickyjameson.com so thanks for linking to me.

  10. @mattmahowald
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that we have entered an interactive age where many, if not all, readers want bloggers to enable and encourage them to engage in conversation.

  11. Great tips here. I especially like the advice you give about inviting your readers to add their ideas and questions. Interactive journalism is the new buzzword; we see it on CNN with their engagement in twitter and Facebook, and people are starting to get used to adding their voice to the news. People don’t want to be talked at anymore, they want to engage in transactional conversation, so if you give them the chance, they will participate.

  12. @powerkor
    The short story can be found here What happened to timethief I’m now 6 months into the healing process which is expected to take 18 months.

    Thanks for your support. My participation is about to take a nosedive. If I stop answering blogging questions on that forum then those who play all day and who threadjack so they can flirt and socialize while I’m trying to help a member may choose to grow up and become helpful.

  13. No apology needed. I hope your eye makes a full recovery. I didn’t hear the story behind it, but I value your opinion soo much, I’d hate to have you on BC less. You are seriously one of the very very few reasons why I still participate there at all.

    So, again, get well. :)

  14. Gentlemen
    Please accept my apology for replying to these comments out of order. I moderated them from the bottom to top instead of the other way around. I really appreciate the fact that you went to the trouble to give me some feedback.

    Thank you all. :)

  15. @Mr I
    Professional bloggers tell me they get only 1 comment from every 100 – 150 visitors so that puts things into perspective.

    You’re also right about needing a critical mass to have a successful forum. I’ve seen many go down the tubes just because the bloggers didn’t accept that reality.

    I broke up that drug word with hyphens that you referred to so that I wouldn’t get spammed in comments as well.

    Best wishes

  16. @JP
    Thanks for commenting. I know what you mean by the if I build it they will come mentality. Like I once said to someone I was helping, you can purchase all the stuff and set up for a party but if you don’t invite people you will end up alone.
    P.S. I hope you got my second shout & understood that I was teasing you in the first one. ;-)

  17. @roguedeals
    I agree that making comments is the best way to get them on your own blog.Sadly since my accident I’ve been so messed up with this head injury & damaged optic nerve that I’m having a hard time reading let alone commenting. I expect to make a full recovery but that’s expected to take 12 more months — oy vey!

  18. I have found the best way to invite comments is to comment on other blogs. It’s alittle work, but I have managed to make some ‘real’ relationships wit hsome of these people. Every once in a while you find someone that is really worth considering an asset… and that’s when it really makes your efforts seem worth while. Without posting on other sites, you’ll never show other web site owners that you care about them too.

    Good post.

  19. Sometimes just asking for comments is enough. A lot of people don’t do the work required to have a successful blog, they adpot the attitude “if I build it, they will come” and then complain that nobody visits their blog, clicks on their ads, comments on their posts, etc.

  20. Adding a forum to my blog? I am wordking on it right now but will make it public once I reach 500 subscribers (I need crowd to keep forum going on!)

    Trackbacks are good method. I regularly comment on blogs who I see in Incoming links section of my Dashboard.

    As you said, comments are left by a small number of people only. So, encouraging is essential.

    One thing being SEO friendly brings is Spam. I have got 2x spam comments than useful ones. Akismet always handles them but I still don’t realize why people leave V-i-a-g-r-a related comments.

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