Wikipedia says it, so it must be true: “The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.” They are important, because they can tell you what you should improve, in your writing, your products: they tell you what they want, you might as well give it to them.
Next to that, building a relation is an essential part of getting people to talk about you, and that is the goal isn’t it?
But even when your blog software hands you all your commenting capabilities, there are other things you can and should do to get people to comment. So here it is: the 7 step guide to getting more comments.
1. Ask them to comment
As simple as it might sound, this is often overlooked. You can ask for comments in your writing, but your “comment links” also speak volumes. Does your comment link say “22 comments” or “22 people commented, what’s your opinion?” And if you tested it, which one do you think would attract the most comments?
2. Respond to smart comments
You don’t have to respond to “wow, cool post”, of course, but if someone has a decent remark, it’s only fair to respond to it and see if you can do anything with it. This will encourage other readers to post their comments too.
3. Reward very good comments
If someone has really added value to your post, the best thing you can do is do a small update to your post, and give the commenter kudos for his good remark, or maybe even a link.
4. Keep people involved
Having the possibility for people to subscribe to the comments on your blog is essential if you want people to return to comment again on the same post. For WordPress, you’d use Subscribe to Comments for that.
5. Fight spam, all the time!
If you’re not taking care of the spam on your blog, people won’t feel as though you’re paying attention to the comments. So: fight spam, all day, every day. But keep in mind though:
6. Keep it Stupid Simple (to comment)
While fighting spam is very important, please, please, find another way of doing that than using a captcha or any other prevention that makes it harder to comment. It’s happened to me quite often that I wrote a lengthy comment, and the captcha had timed out, and my comment was lost. Save to say I wouldn’t be trying that again.
7. Measure, repeat and improve
You have to keep track of how you’re doing, on WordPress I’d recommend my own Blog Metrics plugin. It’s based on analytics guru Avinash Kaushik’s 6 recommendations to measure your blogging success.
So, what would you do to get more comments?
About the Author: Joost de Valk is an Internet Strategist at OrangeValley, and the founder of Yoast.com, a resource with loads of WordPress tips, tricks & plugins, where he also runs a weekly WordPress newsletter, which has been dubbed “essential for anyone seriously using WordPress”.