In a perfect world, each of your blog posts would have at least 10 Facebook Likes, 20 Tweets, 30 Google +1s, and 50-100 comments. There are so many benefits to having an engaged community on your website, including far-reaching social signals, a natural conversation around topics related to your content, and with the blog comments, a source of superb user-generated content (UCG).
But comments on your blog posts can be sparse, and there could be days that go by where you would hardly see any interaction. Why is that? You’re spending time writing great content, researching and reaching out to others in the community, interacting with others on social media, talking with your friends and coworkers about your blog, and on and on. Why aren’t your posts getting any comments?
Before I jump into some actionable tips for increasing the number of comments on your blog posts, I’d like to spend a few minutes discussing why comments are important in the first place.
Imagine you’re driving down a highway, and you stop to fill up for gas and grab a bite to eat at the service station. You sit down at the table, and you can’t help but notice swarms of people coming in, buying a package of gum, and then leaving in a cloud of dust. Where’s the conversation? Why are people in such a rush? Don’t they want to hang out here?
Google uses a lot of factors when determining how to rank a page, but one of the things that is important to remember is user-generated content can add natural keyword variations that you couldn’t add naturally on your own. Without blog comments, your page may rank just fine, but it could rank better with a natural influx of comments, much like my gas station metaphor. If people noticed others sitting down and having a conversation, they might be inclined to do the same.
User-generated content can also affect your freshness score. In a 2011 post on SEOmoz, Cyrus Shephard mentions the fact that the amount of change on your page can play a role in its freshness score. Obviously there are other factors at play, but a living, breathing document (a page with new comments coming in) could rank higher than if it didn’t have any comments at all.
How to increase your blog post’s comments
OK, now on to the nitty-gritty. There are some things you can change right now that could increase the level of engagement on your blog posts, including:
1. Placement of the comments widget
Place the comments box as close to the end of your content as possible, so users won’t become lost in a sea of calls-to-action such as related posts, ad blocks, social buttons or other distractions.
2. Participate in the conversation
Let’s say you’ve come across a new blog post that you really enjoyed reading, and decided to leave a comment. Weeks go by, but there’s still no response from the author. Bad form! At the very least, that author should have thanked you for reading! You can keep the momentum going with your post long after you write it by asking questions, sparking conversation and responding to comments.
How many hoops are you making your readers jump through to leave a comment? Sure, you want to combat spam (who doesn’t), but college-level algebra CAPTCHAs should not be mandatory, and registering for an account in order to leave a comment will only turn people off. There are a host of great WordPress comments plugins that are easy to use right “out of the box”.
What are your tips for increasing the number of comments on your blog posts?