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What Name Do You Leave Comments on Blogs Under?

Here’s a question for discussion this weekend:

Do you use your real name when leaving comments on a blog or do you use ‘keywords’?

I was moderating comments last night here on ProBlogger and noticed almost a 60/40 split between these approaches (with 60% using ‘real’ names).

My personal preference is to leave my real name – that’s partly because I feel it is more personal and also because I guess inadvertently over the years my name has become a brand of sorts – so it makes sense.

My personal preference for people leaving comments on my blog is also for ‘real names’ – although I’ve not moderated comments based upon people using keywords.

A Spectrum of Approaches

There is a spectrum of approaches that I see people using when it comes to what ‘name’ they leave on comments:

1. Key Words Only – For example some people are obviously just using words that they are attempting to rank for in Google. In my mind when you leave a comment under the name of something like ‘Bad Credit‘ or ‘Interior and Exterior Painting‘ or ‘Steel garages sheds‘ or ‘revenue‘ (all names used here on ProBlogger in the last 48 hours) you’re coming close to looking like you are spamming and doing it purely for SEO, even when your comments are on topic and genuine. I don’t honestly see the point in doing this. Most blogs (including ProBlogger) have nofollow tags in their comments so your links and the words you use have no SEO benefits what so ever. I doubt you’d get many people clicking on words like those either.

2. Brands/Site Names – Also on the spectrum but more acceptable in my mind are people who use keywords in more subtle and in ways that help brand themselves or their blogs. For example ‘Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy‘ who is a commenter on ProBlogger. I don’t mind this type of approach because it is more personal and is tied to his brand (rather than just being an attempt to rank well for certain keywords).

3. Brands and Personal Names – The next step along the spectrum is people who use their name AND a keyword of blog name. Examples including ‘Vered – MomGrind‘ and ‘John Hoff – eVentureBiz‘ and ‘Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)‘. To me this works reasonably well as it gives a personal touch as well as some branding benefits.

4. Personal Names - The lastly there are those who leave just their name. This is my personal favorite and I find myself much more drawn to reading and interacting with these comments. I can understand that some don’t like to use their name as they want some level of anonymity – but for me a name actually makes me feel like I’m interacting with a human being.

Of course there are other approaches. Some use pseudonyms or nick names – I’m sure others will tell us about other options that they use too.

The above spectrum and ordering are based upon my own personal preferences and approaches – but I don’t have a monopoly on the truth and am interested in your personal approach.

What name do you leave comments by and why?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Boss says:

    I generally use my nickname, Boss, and it’s what I will put on everything I sign up for. Sometimes someone already has Boss and I have to add “1345″ which is my initiation number for my fraternity.

    Using keywords in the “name” box seems a little disrespectful, as I have seen a few people say on these comments.

    Leaving your name and then the name of your blog wouldn’t matter to me as long as they leave a decent comment. I would leave the name of my site too but it’s long and I don’t want to always type that whole thing.

  2. Lindsay says:

    I just use my first name.

    When people leave comments on my blog and use keywords or their company name, I usually just delete the comment, since it’s clear they’re only there to promote their own stuff (and I think those types of comments look spammy when other non-internet-marketing types see them). Sure, we’re all looking to be noticed when we leave comments, but there’s something to be said for being subtle and at least *pretending* you’re there for the conversation.

  3. CHVNX says:

    The name I use is an alteration of my nickname in the non-digital world (which serves as a mononame name, like ”) and also serves as my domain name for my Tumble Log (wikipedia-link).

    However, I do not use this persona to make money online so I don’t consider it spamming. I don’t usually comment on the blogs, I read and I guess that hurts my reader numbers.

    While my blog is nearly a year old, I did not have comments installed. I now have Disqus’ commenting system installed and I have been receiving a few comments a week. Since I do not track my website’s Google Analytics data as often as I should, I basically have no idea who is coming to my blog. With the ability to leave comments on my blog also came the ability to know who was reading it.

  4. Sandwiched says:

    I use a pseudonym, also my Twitter handle: Sandwiched. It’s also the name of my blog (hence, “branding”). I chose to remain anonymous for a couple of reasons: the first being security for my family when I blog about them, and the second being that since I occasionally use my blog to rant, I (hopefully) protect the innocent.

    That being said, I do like the use of real names, although after frequenting certain blogs and social media like Twitter, it IS possible to make your pseudonym just as welcoming and friendly as a “real name” (cases in point: Dooce, Fussypants, RocksinmyDryer, etc.).

  5. I often leave both my name and the site that I’m from. I want people to know who I am and what I represent. My Friend and I run a design/illustration blog and we could use the traffic, but in the end I don’t want to deceive anyone. I don’t think you get good traffic from being a jerk or trying to trick people into clicking over to your site anyway.

  6. Jon Sollie says:

    My preference at this point would be to use my real name. I can understand why some would prefer to go the anonymous route for security, and even legal liability purposes!

    Branding has to be a long drawn out affair, so why not use
    every available means?

    All the best,

    Jon

  7. I comment under this pseudonym, Voyagerfan5761. It’s become my online identity over the last several years.

  8. Of course I will use Planet Malaysia – http://www.planetmy.com to promote Malaysian Blogger. Read Malaysian Blog, Read Planet Malaysia.

  9. Thejesh GN says:

    I use my real name ( use my OpenId if it is supported).

  10. I always use my own name – both in my blogs, when commenting in other people’s blogs, in forums, when microblogging and in all kinds of social media sites.

    I find it increasingly difficult to have an intelligent argument with someone calling themselves Planet Malaysya or Sandwiched and it always turns out that these people, when interacting on a more personal level, need at least one or two emails to establish the name they suddenly start using.

    I also use my own face in avatars and gravatars and try to keep it updated as times go by.

  11. uncle wilco says:

    Online, I use my online persona, as that’s what everyone knows me as.

    of course this was broken last year when the Press Association interviewed me and printed my real name.. and was pick up offline…. but at least my mother was happy

  12. Steve says:

    I always use my real name – it just feels too spammy to use a keyword. I wouldn’t want keyword-named comments on my blog and I guess other people wouldn’t want them on their blog so I don’t do it.

    Having said that, I can see why people do it – especially on blogs that don’t have no-follow on the links. I have found it hard to get links using my target keywords and putting it in blog comments is an easy option.

    From looking at Google Webmaster tools I can see that Google has picked up a lot of the comments I have left on other blogs and used the keyword of “Steve” from the link – so Google is thinking that my blog has some info about “Steve” which isn’t really true and if somesone searches for Steve and lands on my blog they will be dissapointed.

    So, using real names looks better. Using keywords looks spammy. But from the search engine point of view the keyword is probably the better option.

  13. The conclusion I’ve come to is it doesn’t matter what name you use. I’ve used ‘David’ and ‘Teach My Children Well’. (David brought two clicks and TMCW brought none.)

    If your comment is lost in amongst 210 others you can write an essay and nobody will click through because nobody sees it.

    Seriously, Darren – Can I ask what value you get from a post like this one, because honestly, I feel like I’m talking to myself.

    I’m stiil noy having a go, I’m just asking. :)

    Cheers

    Dave

  14. Mary says:

    I use my first name, Mary, which is common enough to still lend a sense of anonymity. I’ve never thought about SEO on my comments. Rather, I focus on being part of a conversation. I would prefer the sense of community and friendship to any furthering of my website(s). If I get hits from this comment, great. If not, I still feel I learned something and contributed in some way.

  15. Shanita says:

    I mostly leave my personal name always as a trademark!! Sometimes I tend to leave my fancy name depending on the topic I post & content I post . Real Name or handle as long as the message is conveyed I guess that would be it!I

  16. That’s my real name. I’m trying to build upon the brand of me so it doesn’t do me any good to go with a pseudonym. And I have pride in what I write.

    I also am afraid that someone will infer nefarious motives to my pseudonym. Maybe I’m trying to make it look like someone agrees with my opinions by spreading comments around blogs.

    I believe in transparency and encourage others to use their names. But everyone has their reasons and I don’t reject pseudonyms. They can make that choice. This is mine.

  17. Oh crap, I almost forgot I do have a professional pseudonym – Duke of URL. I couldn’t resist using it since my boss wouldn’t let me make it my job title. But I make sure I either use my photo and/or real name with it. I’m not trying to hide anything. I’m just trying to be clever.

    How well I succeed is up to you.

  18. KimC says:

    I alternate between using just my name, and using my name and blog title, depending upon the circumstances.
    I tend to attach my blog title when commenting on a blog where I might not be immediately recognized by name but my blog might be familiar – e.g. other mommy blogs.
    If I’m somewhere that nobody is likely to recognize the title of my blog (like here on Problogger), I generally use just my own name – though I might add my blog title just because I’ve been told that it’s a very good and unusual title.

  19. CoolProducts says:

    I think that as long as you are an actual person, with your own informed and useful opinions, then it automatically distinguishes yourself from your run-of-the-mill spammer. I use my companies name, but I am commenting on this blog as myself.

  20. CoolProducts says:

    “My name (Vincent) is public on my blog, but not my surname, for privacy reasons. Leaving comments as “Vincent” would be much less noticeable than as “PlasticPilot”. A variant like “Vincent @ PlasticPilot” is also meaningless, as I’m the sole author.”

    This is exactly the reason why I go about using CoolProducts as my tag. I completely understand where you’re coming from Darren, and on my blog (much smaller blog) I prefer for people to leave comments using their “names”. Here’s the thing though.. look @ it with the example of the yellow pages (a big yellow book of company advertisements in alphabetical order). It’s full of different advertisements, etc and like the ProBlogger comment section, there is never a lacking in content. Now, you may have the best quality comment on the post, but as people are scanning through the comment section, they see names.. and all the “personal” names tend to blur together until you hit a name that stands out. So basically you could say I am using a tactic to help draw eyes.

  21. Genlisae says:

    Your post has really got me thinking.

    I use Genlisae 100% of the time and it never occured to me to use my real name. Sometimes I will sign my name (Kate) to a forum post, sometimes I will sign an abbreviated Gen. The thing for me though is I have been “Genlisae” for so long that about half of the people that I talk to on a daily basis in person call me Gen. I am not sure some of them even know I have a different name.

    This brings up an interesting question: Is my nickname, which has become as much a part of my identity as my given name, any less personal? I don’t believe it is, esspecially since the given name that I am identified with is actually an abbreviated nickname of what my birth certificate says.

    Then again, Genlisae is a brand of sorts, it is how all of my artwork is signed making it my personal brand. It would seem that I have, in a sense (though definately not a negative sense), been taken over by my branding. While this was not intended, I can’t say I don’t welcome it and embrace it.

    Kate is a very common name, Genlisae is distinctive. Genlisae will not get mixed up with someone else. It is unlikely I will ever hear “I’m sorry I seem to have contacted the wrong Genlisae.” and in my case, Genlisae is very personal, which brings me right back to the point of your post.

    For the most part, I agree, I preffer a name rather than keywords or branding in my comments and I leave a highly personal name whenever I comment. Where I differ slightly in distinction is between most nicknames and real names. Some nicknames, like those with lots of numbers, will of course never be personal and you will never feel you are connecting with a human being. On occasion though, a nickname can be as personal as a real name, even more so. In instances like that, perhaps the nickname can provide more of a connection than using thier real name could have.

  22. timmy says:

    I use either my name or my blog name. Since my blog name contains my name, my real name is sort of a brand anyhow. I do prefer using “timmy” as opposed to “tim” because that’s the form used in my blog name.

  23. I use my name because it’s the easiest to remember:) Seriously, I’m the one leaving the comment and whether anyone else visits my blog or not is on them. Besides, I might meet you in person at an event and I really don’t think I’d want to introduce myself as ‘Bubble head didn’t have a clue online dot com’:)

  24. Apparently this post is causing a little controversy! 222 responses…

    I like to use my blog name or username because that is my pen name so to speak, BloggerNewbie is listed as the author of all my posts as well. But I am not trying to hide, my name is Dee Langdon, THE Dee Langdon. :)

  25. I use my name @ Blog name or keywords, this is good for the personal touch as well as the use of my keywords, I usually sign my first name after comment as well.

    If blog comments are in part used for link building, which is almost always the case then it is stupid to use just a real name, no one will ever search for your real name when looking for a product or blog subject, so why would you want to rank for your first name?

  26. Stacy says:

    I like to use my trade name Stacyknows . i nthink it is good for branding.
    226 comments. totally impressive.

  27. Real name, coz I’d like to think that it makes the other person feels he/she is talking to a real person.

  28. You know, I feel like I’ve wasted my time here. I mean completely wasted it.

  29. I try and vary what name I leave a comment under, but you have made me think about just using key words. It does look rather spammy.

  30. Wintermute says:

    If I’m commenting somewhere that my real name will be recognized before my handle, I’ll use it. But I’ve been using my handle for so long (since the BBS days) that it’s part of who I am.

  31. At first I left comments under the name “Jonathan Drain’s D20 Source”, the title of my blog, then “Jonathan Drain’s D&D Blog” when I realised I needed higher rankings on the “D&D” keyword.

    I realised though that people don’t all appreciate keyword stuffing, so I took the more appropriate measure of signing posts under my name rather than my website’s name, which made little sense. Anywhere my blog title is relevant, I sign as “Jonathan Drain, Dungeons & Dragons Blogger”.

  32. letalouise says:

    I use a pen name – like what Wintermute calls a “handle” – for all my online activities (like how Elton John is really Reg something). :-) ea/

  33. Hey Darren, I’ve always used my real name. To me blogging is about forming relationships and building communities, not keyword spamming on other people’s hard work. You do a great job here, I always assume that if you read my comments you’re likely to see my work and if that results in you RSS’ing me then great, I’m lucky to have you as a reader.

  34. Interesting topic Darren. I like to use my real name. I am working on making my name my brand is the reason.

    Even before I was branding myself, I would just use my first name because I always thought of blogs as being personal.

  35. Takumi86 says:

    haha i never leave any brand name or something like that, just my Nickname thats all. But i think its quite helpful if you leave your name like, “Earn $100/month by this site” because thats the only thing to drag ppl attention.

  36. jennine says:

    this is good timing, because for the longest time i’ve been using an alias because i thought people would think of my blog when they saw the alias…. lady coveted from the coveted…

    but… now i have two blogs, which overlap, but not always… and i’ve been finding that lady coveted sounds a bit… well, cheesy. so now i’m going to my original name, a name not many people have.

    and no one in the whole world, or to googles knowledge has my full name… so that’s a brandable name.

  37. Serge says:

    I’m leaving my real name and website when commenting. Because I’m a freelance photographer, you never know that clients will follow the link and become interested in working with me.

  38. I just use my name because I’m trying to build my personal name up as a brand. This is because ChrisGuthrie.net is my blog and as such it makes sense to just post in this manner.

    That and I’m shooting for name recognition. So that when people read a comment from me they see that it’s from Chris Guthrie and may think to themselves “He made a decent point there. I think I remember seeing his blog a while ago, let me check it out again”

    Sort of like how you use Darren Rowse because it’s sort of grown into a brand (but to a much lesser extent obviously as I’m still building my blog up).

  39. I don’t think Keywords are very ideal. Most comments are nofollow anyway, so it’s not helping for search engines.

    Using your own name, or the name of your blog persona is probably more personable.

    I’ve also seen people leave comments with their gravatar as something beside themselves. (i.e. a sexy woman wearing a bikini).

    This may work for people clicking through to your blog, but it may not be so great in the long run.

    I’ve written a post about this on my own blog.

    If you’re interested in reading it, visit my blog and search for “sexy girl with big boobs”.

  40. Byron Steele says:

    I use my real name, its more personable and just plain easier than trying to think of something funny. Can’t stand it when people use trading names as handles. I usually use the same avatar when too when the forum allows it. Feel free to post thoughts on my blog:

    http://webaesthetic.wordpress.com/

  41. paranoid says:

    i prefer putting my name which i use as alias.!!!
    and i keep it common everywhere with the same image..!!!!
    coz it gives my consistency

    i understand using yor blog name or brand name…helps you to boost your traffic..!!!

    But i believe giving personal touch to your comments are btr then promoting your blog or brand!!!

  42. Karen Leaves says:

    All the information that I found in this place is great!! Keel going ahead.

    Karen Leaves
    http://www.timeofplay.com

  43. Joe M. says:

    Here I’m using my first name, last initial. I’d like to leave my full name, but I have been noticing that things like that get indexed in Google. I basically write blogs as a hobby, but have been struggling using my name in my posts and comments on other sites because of my full time job. Anyone can be looked up on Google these days, but if you put your full name in forums, blog posts or comments, you may hear from your boss one day, “I looked you up on Google and noticed you’ve been quite busy writing about this and commenting about that”. I don’t want to slip up online and jeopardize my job in anyway. Maybe I’m being paranoid.

  44. this is good timing, because for the longest time i’ve been using an alias because i thought people would think of my blog when they saw the alias….

  45. I use different names for different sites, but usually post as anonymous when I’m telling someone off :P

  46. Nice post added you to my FeedReader and looking forward to more interesting posts.

  47. Very well written. This is the kind of information that is useful to those want to increase their SERP’s. Keep up the good work.

  48. Putting a personal touch to anything one does, including blogging and Internet Marketing, is always preferable. But there is such a thing as over-doing it and it can, therefore, potentially cause a few problems. I vote for the right balance between the personal and the protected alias.

  49. This information will definitely help people rank higher. You might consider adding the keyword luv plugin to your blog so that people can be personal as well as promote their blog!

  50. I’ve been using my own name with an added twist as follows:
    “Name @ Site Name”. This way readers know my personal name but they also know my site’s name which is a good identifier.