I have a love-hate relationship with blog comments. When they are not coming in, I wonder what I did wrong and longingly listen for the ding like a teenage girl waiting for a boy to call. When they are pouring in, I curse the interruptions and the extra work.
It has been just over a month since I migrated my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. In that short period of time, I have acquired 700 blog comments. Half of that number consists of my replies. I believe that everyone deserves to receive an acknowledgement for taking the time to read, write and engage on my blog.
And while I am pleased to have readers take an active part on my blog, reading, monitoring and replying to those comments is very time-consuming. I began to research the pros and cons of allowing comments on my blog.
Is it worth the time and effort?
Does it help drive traffic?
Would my time be best served spent elsewhere?
Ashley Rader of
Blog Genesis says:
In my opinion, there are many more benefits of leaving a comments section on your blog, than there are downsides – so long as you play an active role in managing those comments. If you do not have time or an inclination to play an active role in moderating the comments, then you should not turn them on because they will turn into a spam fest that will only harm your site – both from an SEO and a trust standpoint.
There are 4 major reasons why I’m strongly in favor of allowing blog comments – when moderated.
- They create a sense of community where the blogger is open to hearing feedback and other opinions of their readers.
- They create a form of “social proof” helping to validate and elevate the blog to a position of authority.
- The conversation that ensues can give the blogger additional ideas or feedback for follow-up blog posts.
- They help to add unique additional content to your blog post which can help with your SEO efforts as Google loves longer, unique content. Blog comments help you achieve that by using the words of your readers to create more content for your page.
The biggest caveat to all of these factors, is that the blogger is active in moderating not only the comments themselves, but the links that they allow to be posted within the comments (where the commenters name is linked). I only allow back links to be posted when a users comment adds significant value to the conversation, and when the link is going out to a high quality site. If the comment is really generic like “great post, I love what you did” or the link within the post is to something of low quality, I may approve the comment, but I will always delete the link within that comment.
There are a lot of programs designed to spam out to blog’s comment sections, so if the comment at all looks like a spam comment that could be left on thousands of similar posts – I’m not going to approve the comment to include a link back to whatever spammy page they are trying to build links for. If the comment is obvious spam, I will flat-out delete the whole thing.
It is also important to note that blog comments, especially in long reply threads, can steer the focus away from your topic. Threads that become conversations can profoundly change the perception readers have of your post, the content and the author. Moderate your comments and steer those long engagements towards a social media platform that would be better suited for this kind of interaction.
The only clear argument I could find for not allowing blog comments is that readers and consumers, are increasingly preferring to comment and interact on social media. Those blogs that have successfully turned off comments have large FaceBook followings and engaged members on their fan page.
The world wide web is constantly changing and trends come and go. Who knows, maybe one day blog comments will be as ancient and outdated as blogrolls but for now, it is still one of the best ways to build a community of loyal followers. And that converts to increased referral and organic traffic. The benefits far outweigh the extra time it takes to moderate.
P.S. If comments have you overwhelmed, or you are going on vacation and don’t want to leave your readers feeling ignored, consider using a Comment Redirect Plugin. It can also establish another call to action on your blog. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Have you ever considered turning off comments on your blog?
I enjoy reading and replying to comments. I suppose it’s one of those things though, whilst I’m small it’s manageable but the bigger your audience the tougher it can get
It can become very overwhelming at times as you grow. What can you do when you are a one man show? You do what you can. Thank you for dropping by Fran.
Thanks for an interesting post, it’s given me some things to think about regarding the blog I manage at work.
In terms of my personal blog though, I like comments because they show people have actually engaged with the content. I know a WP blogger who turned Likes off for this reason and only has comments.
Like some of your other readers, I also enjoy the online relationships you build through comments with other bloggers; given many of my community are also WP bloggers, I don’t see a big advantage to having all the conversations on FB instead.
I don’t have a huge spam problem though and only a small following so comments are very manageable for me.
I will chat with people wherever they want to! I do turn off notifications sometimes, just so I don’t hear the beep all the time. I don’t think I would ever turn the like feature off. It is nice to know who visited, even if they didn’t comment.
I’m just going to throw out a comment just to force you to come here and acknowledge it. I’m a real ass like that.
I have a love/hate with mine as well. Of course, when you post the crap I do, you tend to get some weird comments…
I won’t turn it off, and I don’t delete them. It’s funny to read people who get all mad at me 🙂
I like getting comments from readers. I feel like I’ve failed somehow if a post I write doesn’t generate enough (whatever that means) comments. As others have said it also helps forge a bond between writer and reader – and sometime reader and reader.
Blogs that don’t allow comments frustrate me. I just came across one today and I felt like I was left hanging. I HAVE THINGS TO SAY. Lol.
Interesting post! I had never thought about it before, but I like how you discuss both sides to it. For me, I really enjoy replying to comments on my blog although occasionally they can pile up (I echo all of the worries already listed in above comments, such as feeling worried about seeming rude). It can also be difficult when the comments are just “Great post!” or clearly made so that they want you to look at their blog.
As we enter summer, it makes me more nervous that I won’t have time to respond in a timely manner. I’m so glad you dropped by and thank you for reading and commenting.
I am so thrilled that my readers want to spend their valuable time commenting on my blog posts. I can’t imagine ‘turning them off’ or not replying to them. Yes, it takes time. But consider this – everything you write, whether it be your blog post, another chapter of your book, an e-mail, or a comment return to a follower, you/I/we are WRITING and working on our craft. Win/win, if you ask me (and I think you did!) 🙂
Very true! It is amazing how such a small task can help hone your skills. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Thanks for the thoughtful / thought-provoking post on comments. Right now, I don’t get an overwhelming number of comments. I could be better about replying to all comments. I wasn’t focused on doing that when I started blogging 3 years ago. I didn’t recognize the value. Initially, I was blogging as a way to keep a record of my own research on aging and as a way to be a quick reference to others (like a book on a desk). Just recently, I have interest in the more community-building aspects of blogging where I’m forwarding the idea that I’m actually a human and not a researching-writing robot. (Waves at other midlife women blogging. Hello! Good to meet you and your readers!!) So I’m trying to do better. If I start getting a lot more comments, I will have to consider other options enumerated here. Again, thank you for this subject. Timely for me!
Waves back! It is a great community.
I can’t imagine turning off my blog’s comments – that connection with my readers is one of my favourite things about blogging! And I really wouldn’t like to have to depend on the whims of an external site like Facebook to connect me to my readers. Thanks for this thought-provoking post!
I never thought of it that way, excellent point!
I love the conversations that happen in my comments. My readers are some smart cookies and I learn from them all the time.
Plus ideas for future posts!
I know that feeling when you feel like a wall flower if you don’t get many comments on a post. When you have an active tribe to help share your content it makes it fun and it helps SEO. I still wonder though, without a tribe, how many organic comments would show up. Some niches are more active that way than others. In any case, I wouldn’t feel bad about it, as long as you know your content is being read.
I don’t think I get any organic comments on my blog. I do on fb though!
So interesting. I’ve gone back-and-forth on this and 99% of the time leave comments on. Mainly because I view my blog as the launching pad and the most interesting and compelling discourse I feel comes below in the commentversation 🙂
New word! lol I would copyright that. I’m like you, why not leave it as an open platform for people to choose whether or not they want to comment.
May I be annoying and ask what the difference is between WordPress.com & .org?
Org is a self hosted platform. You have more control over your blog and can monetize.
The comments are one of my favorite parts. I want to chat with people and develop relationships, not just benefit from their readership.
It is one of the great pluses of having a blog. Communicating with people all over the world is so cool!
I’ve got a terrific spam filter on my blog, so the comments that do come through are legit and not an overwhelming time suck. I love comments for all the reasons you mention — not the least of which is validation that people are actually reading and responding to my blog, and the great people (like you!), whom I’ve “met” online.
I’ve met so many people and get more insight into their personalities through comments.
Interesting read Elena…I’d never really thought about pros & cons of blog comments, or considered turning them off (actually, I’m not sure I know how to turn them off…technophobe o_O)
I love getting comments, I rarely check stats these days, but always check comments section…makes my day if people comment, especially the thoughtful comments…you know, the ones that leave you in no doubt that they have actually read the post 🙂
I often read comments/conversations on other peoples blog too.
Right, that’s my two penny worth, I’m off to make coffee… want one? 😉
You are awesome Kimmie and always go above and beyond! P.S. I’m a tea person. 😉
I have always pondered the same question. I get hundreds of spam comments and it is nice to get a genuine comment but I personally prefer chatting via social media about a post. I loathe the idea of turning the comments off completely though!
Me too! Bloggers are the only ones that comment right on my blog. My regular readers, comment on fb.
I find them wonderful when I have the time to respond, but they cause me anxiety when I’m busy as I worry people will think I’m rude for not replying…
I know how you feel Suzie! As you can see, I’m behind and feel bad.
I enjoy getting and responding to comments, I like my readers know that I am willing to engage them in conversation 🙂 I truly do care about my readers and some have become online friends, and friends are always a good thing.
Absolutely! The blogging community is very tight and I have met some amazing people. The feedback is the best part. It sometimes sparks another post!