No Blog Comments? It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Photo by DavidDMuirNo Blog Comments? It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Guest post by SBA, co-founder of BloggingWithSuccess.net. Her background is in web design and information technology management.

Photo by DavidDMuir

timethief has a post about generating blog ideas, which I used to find a topic for this post. One of her suggestions was “Canvassing comments my readers have left on earlier posts.” This led me to read “Encouraging Blog Readers To Comment“to see just what as on her reader’s minds. But as happens with ‘inspiration’, I chose instead to read the reference to Chris Brogan’s post about ‘no comments.” So my topic became how to put comment numbers into perspective and get on with blogging.

Commenting is very close to all bloggers’ hearts. Many find comments not only a measure of success but a primary reason to blog. Even in this virtual world, we want to connection with others on a human level. The very thought of getting no comments can strike terror in our minds and feed self-doubt. But do readers attach that same importance to the number of comments on a single post? Are the embarrassed for you? Do they hesitate to subscribe? The quick answer is no. Rarely are they on your blog for the comments unless they are friends, fans or promoters.

How readers view comments

Most visitors notice the comment number, and scan the dialog for interesting comments, avatars or blog names. It’s sort of like circulating at a party or conference gathering. They may leave a business card (comments) to network with the blog owner or visit a couple of other commentators. Many who comment don’t expect a response and go their merry way, never signing up for the comment feed.

Many comments on larger blogs with high page rank are self-promoting. Some even have a game plan to be on the first comment results page! Blogging gurus tell us to use comments for marketing — it’s a good way to open doors. So don’t be surprised you’re not getting that kind of commenting on your lower page rank blog. Also that probably not the type of interaction you’re looking for to build a community.

Readers are too busy to do your job

I learned this when publishing several posts asking what they want to read about on my team blog.  Only one or two people gave feedback. On another post we asked them to tell us their short-term goals so we can use that to tailor the content. Again only one person responded because they really connected with the introspection the question demanded. So you just have to do what you feel is best for your target audience and keep them coming back or referring your work to friends or social media.

Expert advice about commenting

Let’s take a look at what Chris said about having no comments and examine why you don’t believe a word he or other pro-bloggers say on that touchy subject! At least you don’t act like you do.

“It’s hard to keep writing when you feel like no one’s watching or that they’re not engaged. … Keep trying. Persist. Try new things. Experiment. Comment elsewhere to build relationships. And don’t give up. Blogging is more fun when there are comments, but your ideas are still just as valuable just being out there.” – Chris Brogan

Okay, sound advice, but there were exactly 153 words in that post, including the photo credit. He got 136 comments over a very short time span. Compare that to your blood, sweat and tears 900-word post which got zip in comments!  To add insult to injury, there were 9 track backs from blogs that wrote about this153 word article.

One track back post by the FearLessBlogger added useful information. In a follow-up tweet, Chris had suggested that readers “choose three people who commented on that post, visit their blogs, and leave a comment.”  Okay another tip to add to our list of bookmarked (ignored) advice.

So what if Chris and other big guys had no comments 3 years ago? They made it, but will you? You already know your posts are valuable and will only get better, but you need some validation. So you look for more posts about why you should not be discouraged. What’s wrong with this picture?

Perspective

Chris has 30,000 readers, so 136 comments is rather small — only  0.5% or one half of one percent of his readers. So when we have 200 readers and get 1 comment it’s not so bad! Right?  Remember those who comment are the ‘vocal majority’ and not necessarily the best sample of your audience.  In my case, I can tell lots of people implement my tutorials and never leave a comment.

Yet I continue to write for the mostly invisible readers. They are the ones reflected in the RSS feed count rather than in the typical comment. You acknowledge that only a few are truly engaged in conversation, while others may leave the same comment “great, I’m going to try this…” and never do. Which is a bigger disappointment? Well that depends on why you’re blogging.

Who do you blog for?

By visiting the FearLessBlogger track back, I found his post on the question of “who do I blog for, you or me?”  He concludes ‘both’ but says that “comments are nourishment allowing meaningful exchanges, like a neighbor sitting down to talk.”  My contention is you can get that from a handful of blog ‘friends.’ Then concentrate on expanding your reach and finding more who use (cherish) your content and you. They don’t call it ‘comment luv’ for nothing!

If you need nourishment and have no comments, look off-blog. I’ve found great unsolicited testimonials on forums, and strange sites like TagFoot where someone bookmarked my blog. There were 22 views and 5 comments; one stated they had subscribed.  Similarly people write glowing reports on StumbleUpon and you may not even know about it. Try a search for SU reviews by keying http:// http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/…; your url. Be adventurous and follow the trail. You may find a new neighbor. If you want to brag, start a testimonial page until your comment counts go up.

There are no magic potions to gain reader conversation

By now you’re read so many tips on what to do, so just take some action. Pick one. Any one and experiment with it. Tell your readers you’re looking for engagement. Show them you’re serious by responding to their comments. Many bloggers end each post by saying something like “It’s your turn”, “what have I left out?”, “Share your experience”, etc.  Be creative.

Now it’s your turn to Engage!

Related posts found in this blog:
Encouraging blog readers to comment
How to handle negative comments
Synergy: The human side of blogging

57 thoughts on “No Blog Comments? It’s All a Matter of Perspective

  1. Timethief thanks for the link to this article in response to a question I posted on the wordpress forums.

    I guess the thing is to have faith and carry on. Over time, (how much my negative sides shouts?) the comments will grow. I know my stuff is well received as I do get emails and other comments from people I know or business contacts. They just don’t say it on the articles much!

    Although that being said I’ve had three in the last three weeks since I changed the format of the blog which is for me a big increase.

    • Every post must be individually promoted throughout numerous social networks and through Twitter. The most effective way of increasing comments is to spend a considerable portion of your time commenting on related blogs in the same niche.

      raincoaster’s information in the forum thread is solid information. She teaches blogging and social networking and derives her income from doing so and from blogging. One comment for every 700 – 800 page views is what’s happening for most of us.

  2. TT

    I learned from a blogging friend comments are more important than traffic. I enjoy getting comments, as they validate me as a new blogger. I find myself wanting to contribute commentary that has authority on other blogs, and in reply to commentary on my own blog. But sometimes struggle to know what has value, and what doesn’t. I have also learned from a blogging friend not to get in the way of commenting on my own blog to allow my guests to “mingle.” What’s considered best practice when it comes to adding commentary of value, and replying to comments. I found this article to be stimulating, well written, concise, and very informative. Thanks!

  3. I should also add, i visit a blog in particular who is a very popular guest speaker across North America. His blog gets comments, but not all posts.

    The audience that he writes for…are busy folks ..with their own blogs and full-time jobs also.

  4. I visit 3-5 blogs regularily per week. These blogs are written by well-connected people who have a strong public profile in the Northwest coast region.

    And their blogs don’t get alot of comments. But when these same folks get published in real journals and are panel speakers…they get hundreds of folks keen to read meatier stuff from same folks and to attend their in-person public sessions.

    Still it is nice to get a comment here and there more often.

    • Agreed we all love to get comments and when we are new to blogging our expectations re:the number we ought to be receiving are usually out of sync with reality. . :)

  5. I really enjoy reading your post :)

    I agree that it’s all a matter of perspective…I do feel a bit sad when I see my stat and certain post got high veiwer but no comment at all.

    Kinda wondering do they really read my post or just looking at the pictures?

    But even so…I still write many posts in my blog…because I really do like writing :) no matter how few the comments are.

    …tho I always feel happier everytime I see someone’s comment :)

  6. Yes, that’s how no-follow links work. All wordpress blogs are set up this way and it’s only if the blogger chooses to that links can be changed to do-follow.

  7. If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like “Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.” This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.

  8. The percentage of readers point was really important. I had been blogging for YEARS with only a few comments here and there, and then I realized that I had about 2-5% comments for my audience, and when I did the math on guys like problogger and copyblogger (all who started after me, but had much larger followings), they had closer to .5 – 1%.

    I’m glad you brought that part up. Makes a better comparison for folks.

    Great post, too.

    • For half a second before I hit the ‘send’ button for TimeThief to publish this post, I thought hmm… how will Chris take this; then I asked ‘are we even on his radar?’ You answered that question!

      Thanks for taking time to join the discussion and leaving such positive feedback — it’s encouraging.

    • Thanks for sharing this ‘odd balance’ by commenting here! But it’s really not odd.

      Many people enjoy reading informative comments since they extend the value of the original article. It’s like circulating at a gathering and hearing the conversations. You step in only if you feel comfortable. You don’t want your comment lost in a sea of 200 especially if the author doesn’t respond or put the conversations into perspective. Basically you need to be compelled to comment — that happens when the content or conversation draws you out. You may need to keep looking for the right blogs to comment, but continue enjoying the dialog.

  9. @SBA
    It’s a hospital day for me but I want to leave a comment to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness write this terrific guest post for my blog. My recovery is far from complete. I still have a long way to go but I treasure my friends for as they say: “We all get by with a little help from friends”.
    Thank you so much. {{{HUG}}}

  10. SBA, this is a really solid post, insightful and clearly put.

    I usually only comment when I have something to add to the post or if I simply want to say ‘thanks’ to the writer. I agree comments do blow a little life into a blog but they are by no means the measure of success, in fact some of the best blogs out there have comments switched off!

    I guess it all depends on what your goals are and what your hoping to get from your blood sweat and tears. Either way excellent post, I’d love to have you as a guest author at SEOwizz :)

    • Tim,
      It’s nice to get your generous feedback — I’m always anxious about guest posting on such a great blog as TT’s! Actually, hers is the only one where I’ve guest blogged.

      Glad you agree about measuring success — not just numbers. I confess I’ve not come across a blog with comments switched off… on purpose.

      About guesting on SEOwizz — sounds good. How many readers are you willing to risk? I like a challenge!

      • LOL,

        If your posts are as good as this I am sure the blog will gain more readers not lose any. Seriously though if you ever wanted to just pop in and drop me a line, as long as the post is related to SEO/Internet Marketing/Social Media , it’s all good :)

  11. I view comments about the same way as I see a handshake and/or a smile. It makes me feel good, but in this fast-paced society with too much to do most of the time, I can well understand why most people are pressed to leave comments. So, I hope to get a few comments from my friends and followers and I am quite satisfied with that. At my age, I’m just happy to be sharing the planet with you. My best Count Sneaky

    • Comments can bring a smile and make you ‘happy to meet’ new bloggers. I had a small adventure finding your blog and realized you moved it to a new (old Victorian) format — nice, easy to read. Thanks for visiting and sharing the planet with us! I hereby give you the additional title, ‘knowledge keeper.’ We can learn a lot from someone who’s been married over 50 years and took another plunge into blogging. Good for you!

  12. Is it worth it to have several blogs and should they vary in name from the site that you are trying to drive traffic to or is it better just to comment on other peoples blogs. I have noticed that other bloggers in the same industry have attempted to submit links to main blog and should I allow this?

    • The two ‘methods’ have different goals (maybe Tim can explain better). I see the blogs that link to a main blog as a means to increase page rank. Usually single page blogs/ads with some sort of fantastic offer pointing to the main blog. The second method, commenting on other people’s blogs tends to be aimed at attracting readers who will subscribe and maybe click on relevant ads. Most comments don’t give you page rank juice (unless they are ‘follow’). It all depends on what you want to accomplish, using comments as a promotion tool.

      You also asked- “I have noticed that other bloggers in the same industry have attempted to submit links to main blog and should I allow this?” — If the comments are not pure spam and do add value to your post, then does it really matter? The link needs to be representative of the commentator. If my post is about installing a blogger widget, why link your comment to a one page ad about debt management? That I would delete or if the comment is relevant to the other readers, I’d unlink the url.

  13. Sebastyne,

    We have a little history so I know you’re not only a writer but an honest communicator — you can’t help but engage when you feel you ‘have to.’ So why resist? Especially since most bloggers bend over backwards to hear your thoughts.

    On discussion boards, as with blog comments, people are reluctant to give just a “I agree” — it takes time, honesty and drive to add your thoughts and share experiences. The topic has to be ‘irresistible’ or ‘hit a nerve.’

    Interesting point about how to read ’0 comments’ as ‘perfect post/argument.’ Many bloggers work hard to cover all bases, but lately some advocate leaving a few holes so readers can interact. Not sure I agree. LOL But I do like asking for comments in the form of sharing or telling another viewpoint or tactic. So challenge your readers in a post to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and argue another side! You may be surprised at their reaction and what it might reveal.

    As for not ‘caring about other comments’ I argue that you are missing out on opportunities to find even more treasures out there! And I know you tell blog owners via blog reviews or private shoutouts that you like what they are producing. This can be helpful validation.

    Long comments rock! I know other readers will also appreciate the thoughts and information you’ve shared here!

    (this reply is too long, so I’ll let someone else jump in to address your other statements — give it your best shot!)

    • You are right, I do think that I may be missing out not reading other comments, so sometimes I force myself to do that. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, really. It is hard to find a good blogger, and it is even harder to find a good commentator. However, the biggest reason for not reading the other comments for me is that I’m too impatient to get to commenting myself. :D You know, me me me… :p

      As for “I agree” and “great post” -comments, when ever I get them on my blog, I delete them for the mere reason that I consider them spam that are put in there just to get a back link. I often get comments like “great information” or worse yet “lovely information” and I know the comments are not real, but spam comments. (I don’t do information, I write opinions.) So even if I was a little desperate for comments, I am not desperate enough to allow my blog to be spammed. :p

      • But we are always on the ‘look out’ for good bloggers and commentators — if only to refer to friends. Commentators need time to develop those ‘skills’, so I do give first time visitors some slack when they leave the quick and easy ‘great post.’
        I try to draw them out with another question or comment. If they have one of those keyword names, no blog and no gravatar then I nix them.

  14. Wow, there is no more truth than this post. I am sure that we have all felt this way at times when working on our blogs/sites… but it is really all about perspective. If you enjoy blogging, and you pursue to blog better, then eventually it will pay off. Do not get despressed with Get-rich-quick schemes nor other already successful bloggers. There are opportunities out there for everyone. Just keep working toward goals and expand your relationships with other bloggers on the net.

    Great article. Hope filling and insightful.
    Eric

    • Eric, Thank you for putting your spin on the thoughts in the article. And for your feedback! “Successful” bloggers have earned their status and we can only learn from them, not necessarily do everything they do, the way they do it. We are unique and so is our blogging when you mix in the audience, topic and our blog’s stage of development.

  15. The thing that stings me the most as a writer is that when I read an interesting post like this, I find it VERY HARD not to respond. Even if I had nothing more to add than to pat the writer on the back for a blog well written, I feel an intense need to do so. Therefore it is very difficult for me to understand people who are simply happy to read, but just looking at one of my discussion board stats tell me that MOST people are happy just reading – even a discussion board, which in the very name of the medium is defined as a communication method.

    However, I also know something about myself. If the blog post is SO GOOD that I feel I have nothing of value to add, and the blogger seems so knowledgeable and confident, that they really don’t need my help or my validation, I don’t comment. So sometimes I try to read my “0 comments” after my post as “no arguments, everyone agrees”. It makes me feel a little better, but to tell you the truth, I would prefer the arguments. :D

    As for other commenters, I really don’t care what you people say, sorry. :D So when I comment, I always comment to the blogger, not the other readers, apart from this very occasion. I mention this in case you are a blogger who is afraid that since there’s no discussion on your blog, people won’t take your blog seriously. I personally couldn’t care how many comments you got, if I like your post, I will comment, and subscribe or refer back to it, and feel like I found a treasure that nobody else had had the good sense to find yet! Why would I get excited about reading a good blog by a well known blogger, everyone knows them already, everyone reads the same stuff and everyone refers back to it. There’s no novelty value with them, and nobody is going to read through the 150 comments their post has. Besides, most of the commenters are just tapping into their success and what their piece of the visitor pie anyway – nothing to be jealous of, in terms of comments.

  16. I was struggling with the lack of comments on our Spanish blog until I started analysing our stats on that blog, which have been increasing steadily over the past six months. We get more readers but few commenters and I started to figure out our readers’ behavior. So I’ve quit worrying about feedback for the time being since Spanish readers have different motives for leaving comments on our site than our English language readers. Also, the Spanish language readers are really just beginning to learn to get around on the blogosphere.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Glad you found something useful in the article. Tracking and comparing visitor stats over an extended time is the right thing to do. I suspect most of your traffic comes from Search Engines and that will continue to grow. You might want to offer some ‘off-topic’ posts about English as a Second Language as it relates to blogs and encourage some guest posting, maybe.

      • SBA,

        “‘off-topic’ posts about English as a Second Language as it relates to blogs and encourage some guest posting, maybe.”

        Good suggestion and I have been contemplating doing something along these lines. Thanks so much for giving me the added incentive to do this.

        Lydia

  17. I think I am not a fan of how “placing comments” is an indicator of how a blog is famous from the point that you may have 20 comments per post but only 1/2 of them are ‘author replies’ so you actualy have 10. On the other hand, you may have many ‘useless’ comments that add nothing to the post.

    I myself have stopped worrying about comments and rather focusing about what I present. It’s up to everybody wether to leave a comment or not. Maybe this is not common in blogs but I think it’s OK with my ‘personal blog’ :D

    • True, half of the comment number should be from the author or others who reply to the original comment. It’s only a rough gauge of the interaction. The true test lies in the quality of the dialog as you pointed out. Author comments should extend the post and fuel the discussion. As in your blog, I learned quite a bit just from your replies to the Egyptian sidewalks post.

  18. I found this post about comments to one’s blog interesting. I know at times I feel like I’m writing to a invisible audience myself when I don’t get comments. But then I see the number of visitors and pageviews that my blog has gotten and I’m encouraged. I do think it’s important not to worry so much about the number of comments and just keep at the job of blogging.

    • It’s a small blogosphere — I’ve left a comment or two on your blog some time ago. You’re right, there is comfort in look at analytics as long as we don’t become too obsessed [I've been know to go there... lol]. Thanks for your comment.

  19. For those of us who garner few comments even though we think we’re generating quality copy, I think it’s important to realize that it takes time to develop readership. My favorite blog is http://thepioneerwoman.com, which I’ve been following for several years. Ree didn’t always have thousands of readers ready to comment at the drop of some great photos and interesting text; she built her readership over time with quality posts and other bloggers’ word-of-mouth (blog) promoting.

    We can do that, too! But it takes consistency and quality. The key is to enjoy what you’re doing. I don’t blog for anyone but myself; however, I am glad when others take the time to read what I’ve written and even comment. I like making connections through my blog and blogs I read.

    As you so accurately say, there are no magic potions to gain reader conversation. Just keep plugging away! That’s what I plan to do as long as I think I have something to say in my little quarter-acre of the vast blogosphere.

    • I’m glad you’ve staked out your ‘quarter-acre.’ You certainly are consistent with your musings and photos! I can see you enjoy what you do and why others take the time to read your blog. Ree was lucky to have readers/supporters like you to connect with.
      Thanks for letting us know what works…

    • True about the main reason. Comments are but icing on the cake to some and nourishment for others, urging them to ‘cantar’ even more — and boy was I glad to get one! Thanks. Imagine a post about no comments with no comments, umm. I love your avatar!

  20. And I may add…The problem with comments is that one has to type a lot of stuff before actually arriving to the part where you start saying your mind. There were so many instances where I attempted to leave comments three times and then gave up because it was so difficult.

    • Such a shame when you can’t leave a comment — that could be the one that starts a real dialog with you, the blog owner or another reader. Remember posts have a long shelf-life and you can come back. Pretend you’re tweeting and just jot down the essence in part one of the comment. Others can ask questions/respond and then you give them more… Personally, I appreciate long comments. You can even use your reply on your blog as an off-topic thing if you really want to speak your mind. I’ve been known to leave one or two long comments and replies. Now with the threaded discussions plugins your type of comment should engage the reader community even more!

      By the way, where’s your celtic gravatar — like the green tone.

  21. Great guest post SBA, really good read!

    I was trying to enhance my blog comments recently and I got a very good results, and this helped me lots to find ideas for my posts!

    I am using a technique that depends on series posting, and create content from my Tweets!

    • Hisham
      Thank you for the compliment. It’s good to see bloggers focus on a small goal and get results. The side benefits are good (finding ideas). I’ll have to look at the content from Tweets technique — sounds different!

    • Solange,
      It’s all about sharing, one way or another. As you do with your photography. Your blog’s sub-tag should be “simply love and light!”

  22. I am beginning to feel very glad I found Blog Catalog, I have tried a lot of different mediums where I have dabbled for a while but not really enjoyed the experience, Tagfoot was one.

    I think what I like about Blog Catalog is that there is some real quality writing and blogs in the content and there seem to be a lot more people who really know how things work when you look a little deeper.

    We are all very busy and I think that what anyone needs to do is focus on finding a medium that suits them and then use it, rather than trying to be all things to all people. I am going to cull a few of the mediums I don’t enjoy and focus on 1, 2 or 3 maximum that I do like so that I can engage properly.

    • Blog Catalog is one of the best for many reasons. I enjoy the discussions and the way people help each other (as well as self-promote). I discover new blogs, learn a lot there and try to give back — like TT who is a master at these things! Also culled other sites like MyBlogLog where you don’t really interact. Your approach is good, there’s so little time and we have to prioritize and set limits.

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