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The Ultimate Guide to Leaving Comments On Blogs

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If you’ve ever read a post, book or eBook, or listened to a webinar or conference session on the topic of ‘finding readers for your blog’ you’ll have heard the advice:

Leave comments on other blogs

It was the first piece of advice I remember reading about building readership (from memory a 2002 book by Rebecca Blood was the first blog tips that I ever read) and it’s advice I’ve heard (and given) hundreds of times, since.

In fact this advice is Day 20 in our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook.

7 Benefits of Leaving Comments on Other People’s Blogs

1. Building your own profile – leaving a comment gets you seen. Leaving a good comment can make people pay attention.

2. Showcasing your expertise – sharing what you know or the experiences that you have can help build your credibility.

3. Getting to know other bloggers – leaving a comment can often be a great way to get on the radar of another blogger.

4. Driving traffic to your blog – as a result of your engagement, you will often get people checking out your blog.

5. Idea generation – often, when you engage in conversation in other blogs comments, you get ideas for your own blog posts.

6. Staying sharp - I find that reading and commenting on other blogs  is a good daily discipline to help me keep abreast of what is happening in my industry and keep my brain engaged on the topics I write about. It’s also great writing practice!

7. Opportunities May Follow – just last week someone left a comment on my photography blog that I thought was so insightful that I asked them to write a guest post. In fact, now I think of it, one of our most successful eBook authors on dPS first made himself known to me through a great comment on the blog. You never know where a great comment might lead!

1 Problem with Leaving Comments on Other People’s Blogs

The problem with leaving comments on other blogs, as a technique to grow traffic, is that while it can have many benefits it can also end up hurting your blog’s brand and reputation – if you don’t do it the right way.

This post is an attempt to give you some advice on how to leave comments effectively and what to avoid.

4 Types of Commenters

Over the last 10 years I’ve seen a real spectrum of approaches to leaving comments on blogs. I suspect that most of us sit somewhere along this spectrum.

1. At one end of the spectrum we have the spammers

We’ve all see them – they leave comments on your post that are completely irrelevant and stuffed full of keyword rich links in an attempt to rank for those words in Google. Many times these are auto-generated spam systems that simply get caught in your spam filters and never work anyway.

There’s no real debate around the legitimacy of these comments – they are spam and any blogger in their right mind mark them as such.

2. Next we have the spammy self promoter

A little further along the spectrum we see commenters who usually at least go to the effort of manually leaving their comments and who sometimes even go to the effort of keeping comments slightly on topic…. (sometimes).

However, their comments are pretty obviously only about trying to get a link to help their search rankings or to get a few clicks back to their site.

This group use a variety of tell tale strategies that show what they’re really on about.

For one, they usually don’t leave comments with a personal name but their name is something like ‘Best Dog Biscuits’ or ‘Hawaii Accommodation’.

They also rarely say anything that builds on the conversation but leave empty ‘great post’ comments. Alternatively, sometimes this group will do something controversial to try to get some attention (attacking the writer or other comments) in the hope of people wanting to check them out.

They also will often leave links in their comments that have no relevance to the post.

In short – this group are impersonal, irrelevant, add no value and self promotional.

Sometimes these comments get through spam filters but most bloggers will delete them if they are spotted. It’s doubtful that the comments have any real benefit to the commenter as most blogs have nofollow links in comments which kill any search ranking benefits and nobody in their right mind will click their links as they’re so obviously spammy.

3. Next is Commenter who Builds their Profile by Delivering Value

Next on the spectrum for me is a commenter who is doing it right.

They have obviously read the post and have something of value to contribute. Their comments may not always be long or in-depth but they add to the conversation with something that is thoughtful and relevant.

This group might share a story, give an example, put another point of view, answer a question or do something else that provides value to the blogger and their readership.

This commenter is all about delivering value but in doing so builds their profile and credibility. They are after a win/win exchange where the blogger/readers get value from their comment but they also might get some traffic and kudos from the exchange.

The best of these commenters in my experience tend to use a personal name (and where possible use a personal avatar). They tend to leave less comments than the above groups but the comments are more effective.

Note: on avatars, it can be worth registering for a Gravatar account as this is often used for avatars on many blogs.

4. Lastly is the Value Provider Who Gets No Value Back

At the other end of the spectrum are a rare bunch of commenters who are all about delivering value but for one reason or another don’t promote themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with this – but I have come across a few bloggers of late who are either so shy or so scared of being seen as a spammer that they don’t ever leave a link back to their own blog.

I do partly understand the ‘shy’ thing but my advice to this group would be to know that if you deliver value that most bloggers wouldn’t mind you leaving a link back to your blog – or they wouldn’t have a field in their comments section for you to share a link.

One blogger who I came across lately said that he never leaves links because he heard it can get him in trouble with Google.

I do know that Google look for unnatural links (so those in the first two spammers categories above should watch out) but that they don’t have a problem with genuine comments. In fact, Matt Cutts (from Google) made this video on that topic last week.

How to Effectively Leave Comments on Other Blogs

Several years ago here on ProBlogger I suggested 11 tips for getting the comments that you leave on other blogs to stand out.

I think most of the tips I gave are still relevant today:

  • Be the Early Bird – earlier commenters will have their comments seen more than later commenters. However, being first on every single post can be a bit annoying.
  • Share an Example – built upon the blog post with an example that illustrates what the blogger is saying.
  • Add a Point – if there’s a point the blogger has missed, politely suggest it.
  • Disagree – you may not want to do this on every comment you leave but courteously disagreeing and then adding constructive reasons why can make a good impression.
  • Write with conviction, passion and personality – these things stand out and show you care about your comment.
  • Use Humour – this can grab attention of those scanning through comments.
  • Ask a Question – I’ve long noticed that those who ask good questions often become the centre of conversations in comments.
  • Formatting Comments – be careful with this. Some commenting systems allow you to bold or italicise comments. But don’t go over the top here as it could looks spammy. Comments systems like Disqus allow you to add images – this can also work to draw attention to your comment.
  • Helpful Links – if you’re going to add a link make sure it is of high relevancy and value
  • Comment Length – Are all the comments on a post long? Leave a short one – it’ll stand out. Are all the other comments short? Leave a long one – again, it’ll stand out.
  • Lists/Break it down – think carefully about how your comment will look. Will it be just one big block of text? If so – consider breaking it into shorter paragraphs or even a list type format

One additional tip that I’ve used a number of times: when you leave a comment that you think adds a lot of value to a blog post – share a link to that post with your own social networks.

This shows the blogger that you’re not only willing to engage but promote their blog (which creates a great impression). It also has the side benefit of providing your followers with something useful to read (both the blog post and your comment) and shows them that you’re engaging beyond your blog which can only enhance your brand.

You can also take this a step further by blogging about the post you commented on. I’ve only done this on a few occasions and only when I think the blog post and the comment thread are of high value – but it can have a big impact.

Oh – and one more tip, regular commenting on the same blog can be worthwhile. A one great one off comment can have an impact – but this impact grows exponentially over time. Just don’t become an over contributor and dominate the blog (see below).

What to Avoid When Leaving Comments on Other Blogs

Also written several years ago is a post I wrote about how you can actually hurt your brand by commenting on other blogs. In it I listed 10 things to avoid (this did cause a little debate on a couple of them so there are different opinions):

  • Excessive use of Signatures – this practice was more common several years ago but it involves leaving a link to your blog IN your comment in addition to in the link field that bloggers allow you to link to your blog in.
  • Excessive Self Linking – only leave links that are relevant and not in every post you write.
  • One or Two word Comments – it’s ok to show some appreciation and say ‘great post’ – but more useful to the blogger is for you to tell them WHY you think it’s a great post. Add some value.
  • Not Reading Posts Before Commenting – this is pretty self explanatory. I would also advise reading through other comments already left!
  • Flaming and Personal Attack – not good form. If you disagree, be constructive.
  • ’Anonymous’ Flaming – if you have something to say, put your name to it.
  • Always Being First To Comment – I’ve seen a few people do this over the years and they’ve ended up annoying the blogger and other commenters. It’s not good manners to always be the one to say something… conversation is also about giving others room to speak.
  • Dominating Comment Threads – similar to #7, listen, allow others to contribute and let your comments bounce off them a little.
  • Keyword Stuffed Names – I know this one causes some debate but my personal preference is to know the name of a person that I’m speaking to rather than refer to them as their Business Name.
  • Not adding value to the Comments – Ultimately this one is what it is all about. If you’re adding value, you’ll get value back. If you add no value, you could be hurting your brand.

One last thing to avoid – don’t comment just for the sake of commenting.

While leaving comments does have many benefits I think that most people get into trouble with commenting when they are just going through the motions of leaving comments as a ‘strategy’ rather than leaving comments because they genuinely want to engage.

What Did I Miss? (your chance to practice)

I’d love to get your input on this topic.

What commenting practices have you used or seen others use that either are effective or annoying?

I’m looking forward to some good comments on this post!

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. I was one of the “shy” commenters. As our FB page became more used as we became more focussed on actually moving into our earthship, I became intuitively very good at responding to comments there and on other FB pages about earthships (a sustainable home made of used tires and pop cans). As someone who does not suffer from self-modesty, I can honesty say that in the Canadian Earthship movement I am seen as the go-to person for information, from our own project, and as a person who can direct people to other so-called “experts”. This has evolved fairly naturally in our attempt to share our knowledge and make the process easier for others. I think when one naturally has this goal, commenting becomes a lot easier. Our blog is not monetized except for a small e-book we sell. As we move into post-earthship move-in and look at re-designing the blog (and re-energizing ourselves to build it up again) , I need to reach further into commenting and becoming re-aquainted with the blogosphere, and not just FB. Great topic; it definitely resonated with me.

  2. Mitul says:

    First of all thnx Great Guide, Actually when I started my blog I search everywhere to how get Quality Traffic not fake then all are point comment and Guest Post..But whenever I through some site I just thinking commenting Greet post or thnx for article, But after seeing your strategy I will be try to make good comments..

  3. If you comment and someone else makes a specific comment to your comment, it may be appropriate to respond with another comment.

    Also I like to use numbers, bullets and space between paragraphs in comments to make them easier to read and skim. (like this one)

  4. Wow! Thank you! I didn’t even know what a blog was a few months ago. Now my site is up and running and I’m practicing letting go of perfection and learning as I go with not only my site but EVERYTHING! I would have procrastinated for ever so I just went for it.

    I’ve done lots of research on blogging and your suggestions are amazing, clear, simple and thorough.

    I’ve noticed on my blog the camaraderie and support of other bloggers has been really nice and polite. However on my Facebook page the manners are lowered.

    I’m a people pleaser and big on doing the right thing so again, thanks on the GREAT tips!

    Clairey

  5. Jimmy says:

    Darren, thank you so much for such a informative and very helpful post. I am new in blogging arena. This post really helped me to learn so much thing about blog commenting.

    Jimmy

  6. Rutger says:

    Thanks for this post! And the others on your site :)

    Starting to write an ebook for my site very soon, so looking forward to read more articles about writing.

    Am I a category 3 commenter now?

  7. Rhonda Albom says:

    I think I am about to violate just about all your rules, as I have very little to add, but did want to thank you. To me the worst comments, excluding what gets caught by my spam filter, are the ones that only talk about the commenter, “Thanks, now please visit my blog at xxx.com”

  8. Anna Marie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this blog Darren. The most annoying commenting practices I have seen others use, which is totally annoying, is shouting in ALL CAPS. It makes my head wobbly.

    I do appreciate when comments are direct and to the point, especially if the blog is of a business matter; because sometimes the comments are the meat and potatoes that can make one think a little deeper; and sifting through paragraph after paragraph, after reading a blog can get tiresome.

    Thanks for the enlightenment! Waiting desperately for your next word.

  9. I left a comment on a couple of blog posts for a popular site a few years ago and it resulted in a promotional partnership that has built half of my email list. So I know commenting works. I also have to admit I haven’t been doing much of it lately. This post is a great reminder. Thanks!

    • Arthur Burlo says:

      I am following what the guide says (more or less). But I never got that lucky. I must be missing something, or it’s all a matter of luck. More likely, I need inspiration to say something remarkable.

      • Hey Arthur, As Zig Ziglar once said: Help enough people get what they want and you’ll get what you want. I think that’s a good philosophy for comments too.

  10. Darren, can I say this is a great post without it being considered spammy? Just kidding, but very well done. Of all the good points, the one I am realizing is about reaching out so people know you are real and that of building relationships on line is of critical import.
    Its funny, but I will tell you I am never the first to comment. Man, I am always late.
    One final thought is that when I comment about legal stuff and I have a blog or website article that is relevant I am always afraid of it being spam when I put in the link. I am very careful to be sure my tax or estates article is relevant.

  11. Prasad Gurav says:

    Hi Author,
    Thanks for the valuable video for the blog commenting tips. Basically whatever in our mind we put into the comment. But from this article we get the knowledge about what will be the right way for the blog commenting.

  12. Another great and useful article that I thought I already knew about. I don’t ever leave spammy comments, but my comments are often short and add little value. I mainly comment to praise the author of a good post. Of course I have the motive of getting people to look back at my site, and I thought this was a good way to do it.

    I now realize there’s a lot more to commenting than I thought and will try to add value when I can. I never realized that it’s a good way to open the door to potential guest posts or other opportunities. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. harga hp says:

    Thanks for the valuable video for the blog commenting tips

  14. karimun jawa says:

    This post is a great reminder. Thanks!

  15. I think one more thing to be added to the list of good commenting features is choosing posts to comment that are relevant to the blog you are promoting. No need to comment a post about cooking if there is a link about engineering in your signature.

    Thanks for a heplful post, Darren!

  16. Matthew says:

    Darren – Great tips! At one time, I was a commenter who would provide value but not get any back with links because I had read so much conflicting advice on SEO about Google “punishing” too many backlinks so I decided not to include my link. However, I recently started adding my links and posting relevant value added comments and it helped my site ranking a lot.

  17. Hey Darren, I’m sure everyone here would agree, you have done an outstanding job of writing “The Ultimate Guide to Leaving Comments on Blogs” article. Just wanted to say, thank you for writing and sharing it with everyone.
    After checking out other people’s comments and talking about their experiences, I was able to find some great value there as well. It sure feels good to have the confidence now to be able to properly comment on someone’s blog and not stress about it. I’m sure there is a lot more where this came from so I signed up to your newsletter. My apologies for not adding anything of value but on the other hand, you do have another loyal subscriber.:D

  18. Elise says:

    Hi Darren
    Thanks for the tips. I’ve been one of those shy bloggers who never leave their link. I now understand how commenting can create value and show other bloggers my blog at the same time. Thanks again.
    Elise

  19. Great resource – well described and good tips – def worth sharing… but where’s a handy G+ share button? ;) I’ve got a squirmy newborn in my other arm at the moment, but I’ll attempt a copy n paste :)

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I know! We’re so sorry. it’s coming! Congratulations :)

  20. Well, I’m definitely quite late commenting this, that’s for sure, but I just bumped into this article Darren and I wanted to ask your opinion (and the rest of the commenters’) on something that’s not been mentioned and I’m quite concerned about: not commenting regularly.

    As much as I would love to read and comment hundreds of blogs a day, more often than not I’d go days if not weeks without commenting a single thing, and I’ve gotten the feeling that if you just visit (and comment) a website let’s say every two months, they way the author and the rest of the commenters look at you could not be great.

    So, if you cannot do it regularly, should you still try to post as many (obviously valuable) comments as you can? Or will it be seen as just sporadical spam regardless of the quality of the comment?

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      You should leave valuable comments whenever you can. They are always appreciated!

    • Anna Marie says:

      Great question Víctor M. Martinez Valero! I understand your query and have wondered this myself, time and again. One of the things I’ve learned is that so long as you keep yourself connected to the post you commented on; sporadic posts should not hinder your efforts. However you should never overlook or delay a response to your comment on the post, or that may in fact look as though you hit and run, only to leave your tag line.

  21. Janelle says:

    This is an excellent resource. I will definitely take all of your tips into careful consideration once I start to network my new blog.This will help me a lot with connecting to bloggers in my niche.

  22. Holland says:

    I really appreciate that part of being a good blogger is connecting with other blogs around you, with both similar and dissimilar topics as your own blog. I think that it is essential when building a blogging community to appreciate what others have to say, or to disagree respectfully. I think in this way, comments and blogs can expand everyone’s worldview. I plan to comment on other peoples blogs as much as I can as a blogger, to make sure I am able to experience other peoples knowledge.

  23. Shailesh says:

    Hi Darren,

    Nice Article written over here. Mainly, I liked your “7 Benefits of Leaving Comments on Other People’s Blogs” points. You have mentioned all the things in the one points. I will definitely take all of your tips into careful consideration once I start to network my new blog. This will help me a lot with connecting to bloggers in my niche.

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep writing on this :)