This guest post is by Slavko Desik of LifestyleUpdated.
Trying to understand the ways to get more traffic to your site, or even get some backlinks, you’ve probably stumbled across comment marketing.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but the first thing you probably hoped to get out of it was some links (even though most of them “nofollow”, hoping that it will still somehow boost your ranking), and also maybe get some traffic while making the blogger notice you.
Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but this is the wrong way to go.
So what are the basic benefits of comment marketing, and what should you aim to get out of it on the long term?
The benefits of comment marketing
Once you have a deep understanding of the benefits you can get from leaving comments on other blogs, you can learn the right approach to doing so. Let’s look at each of the benefits now.
Make yourself an authority in the field
The first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about how you can present yourself as someone who knows your niche, is to leave comments on other blogs that serve that same niche. The only way to make this happen is to leave good, structured comments that add value to the discussion.
Forget about writing “Great post”, or “I completely agree”. You are putting your name out there, so you’ll want to make every comment count. That way, you will grab the attention of those who are really interested in whatever goes in your niche. And those people are usually the key players now, or will be so in the future.
Grab the attention of the blogger
That’s probably one of your main goals here, right? I mean, you probably wouldn’t be leaving your opinion on another blog post if it wasn’t at all important to you. And leaving a comment that adds value to the discussion is the right way to do it.
You can either agree with what the blogger’s is saying, and offer some of your own similar views on the matter, or you can take a different side (something that is highly recommended if you want to grab the attention) with arguments that support your claims.
The word “arguments” is very important here. You can also grab the blogger’s attention by being offensive, or offering some highly subjective opinion—sure. But you probably won’t achieve any of the other benefits listed here if you take that approach. If you disagree with the points made in the post you’re commenting on, make sure to say that in a dignified, respectful way by offering strong objective facts that support your view on the matter.
In any case, if your comment’s strong, you will probably eventually spark a conversation between yourself and the blogger, so be sure to check back on the post after you submit a comment. Most of the comment systems nowadays have optional subscription for replies, but even if the blog doesn’t, you’ll want to return to the post to check out the replies and other new comments.
It’s really a no-brainer when you understand the points above, but making those connections with the blogger, as well as the other readers, is so important that it must be mentioned separately.
Connect not only with the influential people in blogs’ comment sections, but also give your attention to those who are new, and not that experienced in the niche. Because note this: Your blogging peers now may one day grow to become A-list players in your niche.
Also, the “natural link building” which is so many times mentioned as the ideal way to gain backlinks, is not so “natural.” If you check the link profiles of some of the most authoritative sites in your niche, you will surely find that a large amount of links come from sites that are very well connected with the sites that they link to. By making connections with other bloggers, you’re passively attracting future links from them.
Just ask yourself who you would rather link to: a person you know pretty well, a person whose blog you love responding to and leaving comments at, or a person you don’t know anything about? The answer is pretty obvious!
Gain some search rank juice
This takes is such a small consideration in light of all the reasons why you should leave comments on sites, that I’m not sure if it’s worth mentioning. But here it is anyway.
If you’re thinking about boosting your site’s backlink count—and thereby search rank—by leaving comments on blogs, you’re probably hoping to find those blogs that allow “dofollow” links back to your site. So you go over there, write a sentence—or maybe two if you are in the mood, pack your name rich with keywords that you are hoping to rank for, and hope for the best.
Sound familiar? It’s all right—many, if not all, bloggers go through this stage at one point or another. However, the link value that’s passed even through those “dofollow” links is almost not worth mentioning at all compared to other methods of link building (and of course there’s none available through “nofollow” links).
On the other hand, if you leave blog comments under a name that’s rich with keywords, chances are that search algorithm updates like Penguin will make sure to greet you appropriately—that is, by penalizing your blog to some extent.
I should probably mention that there are still some sites in some niches that rank or ranked pretty well using this gray-hat SEO strategy in the short term, but it’s just not a viable long-term solution for your brand or your blog. Also by doing that, you’re just begging to be outed by someone out there.
Familiarize people with your brand and yourself
This point is similar to the first, except that this one deals with making a positive impression whenever someone sees you and recognizes your brand anywhere online. That’s why I strongly recommend having only one name, and one avatar associated with all comments you leave. Choose whether this will be your own name, some nickname you go by, your secret ‘net alias—whatever, as long as it’s something you feel comfortable with.
It’s widely accepted that the best option is to use your real name and your headshot, but you should probably decide for yourself. The thing is that this is how people will recognize you, so once you decide, it’s better to stick with the name and image you’ve chosen than to change these details.
For that reason, be sure to choose the picture carefully. You will be surprised how important this is—even at such a low resolution. Choose a professional-looking picture, and try to make a positive impression by smiling. Using Gravatar is a great way to make sure your picture is the same all over the web. This can go long way to build that trust and connection with people.
Get traffic from the other blogs, and expose yourself to a broader audience
Each time you leave a comment, make sure you include a working link back to your site. Remember, the better you fulfil the ideas we spoke about above, the greater the chance someone will click your name, and visit your blog.
I’ve heard that the commenters that get most clicks are those who leave the first few comments. You can also achieve higher CTR by leaving responses in which you (respectfully) disagree with the author—this will surely attract some attention, but you’ll have to make sure that the facts are on your side.
Guest posting opportunities
In some ways, this benefit is closely connected with the second one: grabbing the blogger’s attention. But the thing here is to consistently add value to the discussion over a longer period of time. That way, you’re sure that the connection you are building with the blogger is going in the right direction, and the chances of having a guest post offer accepted are bigger, and more real.
Using the same name and picture each time you comment should help here, because it increases your chances to be noticed by the author. That said, do should consider the number of comments on the page and the response rate of the author. If you’re commenting on a site that has a few hundred comments on every post, it’ll take eternity to get yourself noticed. By the same logic, a site on which there are a smaller number of comments, but where the author is not even willing to spend time responding to them is also a site in which you would have a hard time making yourself stand out from the crowd.
Comment marketing in practice
Building a brand and developing your persona as an expert in your field takes a lot of time, but knowing how to make the most out of the commenting opportunities on other blogs is going to help you a lot.
What are your practices when it comes to leaving comments, or better yet, have you had some experience from the other side of the fence, in the comment section of your own blog? Maybe you have some tips you want to share too. Be our guest, the comment section is right below!
Slavko Desik is writer and editor at LifestyleUpdated where he tries to blend together his passion for living full time with his knowledge and passion for blogging. Find Slavko on Google+ or the official Facebook Page.