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The Art of the Blog Comment and Their Devastating Effects

This may seem to be a trivial post.

At the same time when you consider that the humble blog comment (a comment you leave on someone else’s blog) accounts for about 10% of the traffic I bring to this blog, it might still not seem so statistically meaningless.

Here’s a further clue to it’s importance, I had about 4300 unique visitors from Dec 1 – Dec 22. That means about 430 unique visitors arrived at this blog because of comments I made on other blogs.

Imagine having a party and having 430 people come over because you drafted a note and dropped it in their mailbox. And it was such a simple act that anyone can use it.

What’s great about blog comments?

  • They cost nothing to post
  • They persist as long as the blog you posted on is around
  • They give you an opportunity to extend your geographical reach way beyond your own borders
  • You can target specific countries and niches with laser-precise accuracy if you choose to

Having said that, I’ve seen a number of Internet Marketers employ blog commenting strategies in a way that ensures they’ll crash and burn (a major clue: I get a bad taste in my mouth after reading the comment).

Here’s a couple of tips:

  • Stay away from automated “intelligent” commenting software: This purported “revolutionary” software is old news. It spams comments across hundreds of blogs every hour. The bad news is that your comments will be deleted by the hundreds every hour too.
  • Stay away from generic comments: The worst comments to leave any blogger would be “nice”, “interesting post”, “I like your post”, “thanks”. I’m not saying you can’t leave these types of posts, but if you do say “nice post”, spend an additional 1-2 minutes more saying “why” you like the post. Was it the bloggers writing style? Their scintillating personality? The freshness of their idea? By expressing yourself this way, you catch the blogger’s attention. You start the basis of a dialogue. More on that shortly.

A blog comment gives massive leverage over publishing a post on your own blog IF you observe the following:

  • You identify blogs relevant to your niche
  • You shortlist the top 10 blogs in your niche
  • You regularly read these 10 blogs and get an idea of the blogger’s vibe
  • You post comments that are insightful, analytical, sarcastic, funny or introduce an alternative perspective (backed by appropriate support). An ideal comment (not easy to achieve) would contain a combination of all of the above.

How to use a comment to devastating effect:

There are a couple of levels of interactivity when you’re using blog comments.

Broadly speaking, I consider three levels of interaction via blog comments.

  • Billboard in the Desert: This is where you post a fairly generic comment, including your name, blog URL in the comment. I’d consider this to be the lowest level of interaction because it is just about as good as billboard in the desert. It beats not leaving anything at all, although I guess the clickthrough rates (to borrow a contextual advertising term) might be in the 1-2% range.
  • The Informative Interaction: Here’s where you start a dialogue with the blogger. You take the blogger or another blog commenter’s point and you run with it. You extend or bring the discussion along a different path. You start a debate/discussion/argument (depending on the intensity). Take a look at the comments for Shoemoney’s recent “10 Reasons Why Microsoft Will Aquire Yahoo In 2007
  • The Transactional Exchange: This is the deepest level of interaction possible and requires the highest level of trust and credibility to pull off. Reason being there’s a transaction or barter in place where money or products and services with a monetary value are being exchange. If you pull this off, you’d obviously have good cachet with the blogger.

As you’ve moving up the interaction value chain, you’ll find your circle of influence increasing too.

And as you become more influential, you’ll find that other bloggers start leaving more comments on your blog too.

Most think of blogging as merely a process of publishing posts.

But if you think of blogging as a form of ‘personal journalism’ as I mentioned in “Kickstart Your Blogging Business and Make Big Money: 7 Reality Checks“, you’ll see that blogging is at its heart a 2-way communication channel. Blog comments are as much a part of the process as the blog posts themselves.

18 comments on The Art of the Blog Comment and Their Devastating Effects

  1. Rashenbo
    December 23, 2006 at 1:11 am (5029 days ago)

    Blogs are successful because of the interaction possible between blogger and reader. I’ve built up some good relationships between the “back and forth” I’ve had with other commenters.

    I agree with your article here and I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Andrew Wee
    December 23, 2006 at 1:25 am (5029 days ago)

    Rashenbo: what i like is when the readers are bloggers themselves, then you set into motion a series of interactions between blogs.

    that’s when it gets really exciting for me.

  3. Raj
    December 23, 2006 at 1:57 am (5029 days ago)

    I always looked at comments from interaction point of view. I prompt and request my visitors to post their thoughts and suggestion through comments. At one time of time I always thought of disabling comments section on my blogs but then I realized that I don’t even have a clue about what the visitors think about my blogs. I wanted to be feedback driven and then I never unchecked comments for any of the posts that I make.

    1. Comments are very helpful in understanding visitor’s reaction
    2. Visitors come back to see what others have to say about their comments
    3. In technology or niche areas, comments do much more than just reacting to certain posts, they help in sharing ideas too
    4. Comments help in creating a healthy and long term relationship with your visitors.

    Thanks for writing this article. I like it.

  4. Tony
    December 23, 2006 at 3:11 am (5029 days ago)

    Well it is about leaving a comment insightful enough, to get readers interested in finding out more about you.

    Actually I’ve seen some comments reposted as new posts (and have done some myself), as some can really contribute much to the discussion.

    On the other hand, using those ‘automated’ commenting systems will have your name end up in WordPress’ spam archive.

  5. Richard Ball
    December 23, 2006 at 3:14 am (5029 days ago)

    Nice. Interesting post. I like your post. Thanks. ;-)

    Andrew, I’ve been reading your blog since you joined 9rules. I was accepted at the same time and have been exploring many of the 9rules blogs. Yours is one of my new favorites. Interesting to note that I linked to a couple of bloggers talking about SMO in the note you left on 9rules. A few days later, 2 of those bloggers also made it into 9rules.

    Anyway, just thought I’d say “hello” and let you know I’m enjoying reading your blog!

  6. Rashenbo
    December 23, 2006 at 4:37 am (5029 days ago)

    Very true… :) I remember on one occassion I got in a fairly good argument with another commenter on a blog each of us visited regularly. It was quite invigorating… :) and we both agreed that even though we were arguing (pretty much over semantics) it was a fun discussion and there were no hard feelings… unfortunately, it ended abruptly when the commenter said they got fired for blogging too much! I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but I’ve not seen them around for some time so I imagine it was.

    I also enjoy insider jokes… when several blog readers share the same interests and start seeing each other on similar blogs… the comments start including references and remarks carried over from other blogs… this links the readers and the bloggers and just brings the social network closer.

  7. Kian Ann
    December 23, 2006 at 6:49 am (5029 days ago)

    Great post Andrew, blogs comments and trackbacks are great ways to get traffic, but better of all, create conversations on blogs. The thread of comments following a post can literally become a chatroom!

    It is, however, important to always add value (or as your post put it : the interaction value chain) whenever you leave a comment. :)

  8. Mike Peters
    December 23, 2006 at 8:11 am (5029 days ago)

    Hi Andrew,

    My first visit to your site. And Yes you guessed it I came through your comment on Shoemoney’s site. So I guess you proved your point :-) It does work.

    Bookmarked your site and will be visiting you more often as I’ve heard both your name and seen your face around many of the other blogs I frequent.

    Keep it up!

  9. Walter
    December 23, 2006 at 9:50 am (5029 days ago)

    Thanks for the true and accurate insights into what makes blog commenting work and what doesn’t. As I go into my 90th blog post (yep, still a newbie lah), I realise that the more you comment – intelligently and purposefully of course – in other people’s blogs, the more they will reciprocate the deed. Indeed, there is nothing I find more effective in building traffic than blog commenting, over and on top of producing useful, interesting and well-written content.

  10. John Tan
    December 23, 2006 at 10:39 am (5029 days ago)

    Using automated software leaving comments indeed is aweful to me. It does not build an reputation for yourself at all as your comment does not make any sense. Recently one of 1 blog got spam comment and 1 days I got 3000 spam comments. Really waste my time deleting them. I agree with Andrew that leaving using content or feedback really help you to build your “me” branding and will bring you long term traffic. Well explained Andrew.

  11. Glenn
    December 23, 2006 at 10:53 am (5028 days ago)

    Hi there Andrew,

    New to IM and know that blogging is essential for a start and so just started to write and get a feel of hows it like.Have been at your site a few times so far and you really write very well.Hope to learn as much as i can from you.


  12. cjcm
    December 23, 2006 at 4:56 pm (5028 days ago)

    comments work like a magic… great post about comment…. and great comments about comment too.. :)

  13. Chris Cree
    December 23, 2006 at 9:12 pm (5028 days ago)

    Andrew, You truly do practice commenting to a “devastating effect”. I stopped by this morning to get a feel for your blog as I sat down to write an entire post as a result of a comment you left over at my place.

    Your comment was helpful (you pointed out something I could have done better) and thought provoking (you asked a probing question that really got me thinking).

    Way to practice what you preach!

    Now I’m off to write that post. Thanks!

  14. Ashish Mohta
    December 24, 2006 at 11:02 am (5027 days ago)

    Damn You read my mind.I was going to write something on this but no no more.I will have u included in spawners.

  15. Don Wilson
    December 24, 2006 at 3:07 pm (5027 days ago)

    Nice Post!…………..Now really, Andrew. Did you think that after the message you just put up, that I would go generic on you?

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. In fact, isn’t there some SEO value to having your link on other’s blogs. I haven’t been around long and don’t know how Google’s algorithms work, but it seems that the link to my website adds search value. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  16. Andrew Wee
    December 26, 2006 at 4:30 pm (5025 days ago)

    raj: good points. especially when you combine comments with your web analytics, you get a bird’s eye view of your visitors. if you check out the stuff at crazyegg.com, it generates ‘heat maps’ of where clicks occur on your page too.

    do note though, that having too many analystics scripts running on your blog will slow the page loads.

    tony: using comments to springboard entirely new posts can help multiply your blog post output. going beyond reproducing the comments to include new content, or aggregating varied comments can add a lot of value too.

    richard ball: thanks for dropping by!

    mike peters: good to see you here.

    chris cree: tks for the feedback. i dont consciously practise ‘devastating comments’. i’ve seen too many bland comments on blogs, and think that spicing things up helps a blog become more ‘forum-esque’ and fosters 2-way communication.

    ashish: “I will have u included in spawners.” — gee, i hope it’s something good.

    don wilson: heh…going generic doesnt impact the blogger, it can generate goodwill (and possibly traffic) for the commenter though.

    what little SEO value there might be could probably be outshadowed by spending time writing an article or press release instead if you’re going down the path of the ‘backlink whore’.

    the SEO value from an article or press release is much more powerful than the humble blog comment.

    a blog comment, if used effectively, can bring great SOCIAL traffic (as compared to search engine traffic).

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