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10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on your Blog

Below I’ll outline 10 ways you can increase the participation rate in the comments section on your blog.

Jakob Nielsen’s latest study finds that 90% of online community users are lurkers (read or observe without contributing) with only 9% of users contributing ‘a little’ and 1% actively contributing.

So 1% of your blog’s users are actively engaging with your blog and the rest are at best occasional contributers.

The study isn’t just on blogging so the actual numbers could be more or less than these and would no doubt vary from site to site anyway – but the principle is true. The vast majority of readers leave a blog without leaving a comment or contributing to it in any way (and some bloggers like it like this and switch comments off – read more on whether to have comments on or off here and the up and downsides of comments on blogs here).

To some extent this is just the way it is and we probably need to just get used to it – however when it comes to comments there are some ways to encourage more interactivity on your blog:

10 Ways to Increase Comment Numbers on Your Blog

1. Invite Comments – I notice that when I specifically invite comments that people leave them in higher numbers than when I don’t. To some degree this confuses me as most of my readers know that they can leave comments on any post – but I guess inviting a comment triggers a response to some extent. Also keep in mind that new readers that are unfamiliar with blogging don’t always know about comments or how to use them – invitations to participate in well laid out and easy to use comments systems are good for helping them participate.

2. Ask Questions – Including specific questions in posts definitely helps get higher numbers of comments. I find that when I include questions in my headings that it is a particularly effective way of getting a response from readers as you set a question in their mind from the first moments of your post.

3. Be Open Ended - If you say everything there is to say on a topic you’re less likely to get others adding their opinions because you’ll have covered what they might have added. While you don’t want to purposely leave too many things unsaid there is an art to writing open ended posts that leaves room for your readers to be experts also.

4. Interact with comments left - If you’re not willing to use your own comments section why would your readers? If someone leaves a comment interact with them. This gets harder as your blog grows but it’s particularly important in the early days of your blog as it shows your readers that their comments are valued, it creates a culture of interactivity and gives the impression to other readers that your comments section is an active place that you as the blogger value. As the activity in your comments section grows you may find you need to be slightly less active in it as readers will start to take over on answering questions and creating community – however don’t completely ignore your comment threads.

5. Set Boundaries - I noticed that shortly after I set the rules for my comments section (with a comments policy) that my comment numbers jumped up a little. I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence or whether readers responded to knowing what was and wasn’t acceptable. It’s just a theory but I think a well managed and moderated comments section that is free of spam and that deals with well with people stepping out of line is an attractive thing to readers. I personally don’t mind people expressing different opinions to one another in comments but when I sense things are getting a little out of hand and too personal I often step in to attempt to bring some order to the situation (I rarely delete non spam comments). I find that people have responded to this and that comment threads generally stay constructive as a result.

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Amazon launches Product Preview to Associates

The Amazon Associate Program emailed their publishers today to let them know that they are officially launching their ‘Product Previews’ service to all Amazon publishers.

This has previously only been a beta test with a select group of publishers.

The ‘Product Previews’ allow you to promote Amazon products and give your readers more information about the product that you’re linking to without them leaving your site through a small popup window that opens up when readers hover the cursor over Amazon text or image links. Here’s a screen cap of an example (click for full size).

Amazon-Product-Previews

To add Product Previews you need to a script to your page’s templates and it will automatically convert image and text links that you’ve already got on those pages.

I’m not really a fan of any type of ad that pops up over a page although these ones are not nearly as bad as some other pop up ads which the user has little or no control over. At least with these ads the reader can make them disappear after they open up.

I’ve included the information page on Product Previews that Amazon provides publishers below instead of regurgitating all of the information.

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Adbrite to Group Publishers in Channels

Adbrite publishers received an email today announcing (without details) a new system that will cluster ‘the best’ AdBrite sites together in channels. The email reads:

We’re testing a new system for advertisers that may result in many more ads for you to approve.

More details to come, but the gist of it is that we’ve taken the best AdBrite sites and put them into channels such as sports, gossip and cars.

Now advertisers can buy across channels rather than finding sites individually. This change makes it easier for them to advertise on high quality sites that would normally be too small for their radar.

You don’t need to do anything – just thought you’d like to know. :)

This is something that BlogAds did with their ‘hives’ and that other ad networks have been trying also – sounds like a good move for both publishers, advertisers and Adbrite as it’ll hopefully make ads easier to sell.

AdSense Sandbox Tool

If you run AdSense on your blog then the chances are you see the same old ads being run to it every day. If you’re anything like me you wonder what other AdSense ads people could be seeing.

A little tool that might be interesting to some to use is the AdSense Sandbox Tool from Digital Point where you can add your URL (or your competitors) and it’ll serve 20 sample ads for your blog.

You can also use it to test what ads would show up if you targeted specific keywords – useful if you’re in the process of setting up a new blog and are wondering if there are enough ads around for your topic.

It’s not the most amazing tool in the world but seeing as though I’ve been sharing a few AdSense tools lately I thought I’d share it in the hope that some of you might find it useful.

New Mac Ads Say it All

I think that the latest Mac/PC ads from Apple (counselor, better results and self pity) say it all don’t you? :-)

Mac-Movie 4

Transitioning from Full Time to Part Time Blogging

One of my fellow blog tips bloggers ZMAng from blogHelper has written a post about Transitioning from Full Time to Part Time Blogging.

It’s a post that caught my attention for a number of reasons – one of which is that over the last few years I’ve seen more bloggers writing about transitioning from part time to full time.

ZMAng writes about some of the changes that he’s noticed about the transition including:

  • Lack of Drive to Post
  • More Incentive to Blog Faster
  • Less Wories + Easily Satisfied
  • Increase in E-main Response Speed at the Expense of Comment Replies

ZMAng manages 15 blogs so it will be interesting to watch how his story unfolds and whether he’ll be able to keep maintaining readership on all of them or whether there will be a need to consolidate his blogging back to a few main blogs.

I’m not sure what ZMAng’s planning to do with his blogs but do know that keeping 15 of them running on a part time basis will be a challenge.

Speedlinking 10 October 2006

If you have an email newsletter you might like to read Stephan’s post where he asks ‘are you email response rates dropping?‘ and gives some tips on how to improve them.

Shel explains his blog comment policy – he calls it the Living Room policy. Do you have a comments policy for your blog? (here’s mine).

10 Ways to Improve Your Blogging through Practice

PracticeWhen I was 13 my life was fairly simple and largely revolved around one thing – Tennis.

I was fortunate enough to live next door to two tennis courts and so most evenings after school involved hitting balls with friends, family or even practising with myself hitting against the blue stone wall at the end of the court. I had coaching twice a week and practised a lot.

While I played tennis with quite a few friends there was one who was my nemesis – his name was John.

John played tennis (and most sports) really well. He was tall, athletic and had a good eye and reflexes. While he didn’t live next to a court, didn’t have coaching and only played once or twice a month the matches we had were always closely fought with him usually winning in tie breakers. John was a natural.

I on the other hand was also a good player but unlike John my ability wasn’t a natural one – it came from many many hours of practice. I can remember hitting balls against the wall until after the sun set on many evenings – working on my backhand and even getting up early in the morning to go jogging to work on my endurance.

In the end we ended up playing in the same team (in the highest grade in our competition) and had a very similar standard – but we got to the level we achieved through very different means – John just because he was a natural and me though a lot of work.

Regarding Blogging

For some people the writing of a blog comes fairly naturally – they have a good grasp of language and how to us it to communicate effectively – they find their voice reasonably quickly – they find ideas for posts come easily and readers just seem to respond to them.

For others – blogging is more difficult. It takes longer – finding a rhythm of posting is a struggle – ideas to post about are allusive and translating those ideas that come into words is takes a lot of effort.

Practice makes Perfect

The old saying of ‘practice makes perfect’ is true for many aspects of life – including blogging.

In the same way that hitting balls against a wall for many hours improved my tennis I’ve found that my blogging has improved the longer that I’ve blogged. Some of this has come as a result of time and some of it has been the result of intentional ‘practice’.

So how can one practice their blogging? Here are 10 intentional ways to ‘practice’ your blogging:

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Chickens Project Receipt

Just a quick note for those who participated in the ‘blogging for chickens‘ project to let you know that I have made the donation on your behalf today. The a screen shot of the web-receipt is posted below. The total donated via PayPal was $1030AU (a further 7 chickens were donated directly to Oxfam).

Thanks again for all who participated.

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