The Ridiculous Power of Blog Commenting

// // March 25th 2014 // Marketing + SEO

Blog commenting is the not-so-secret weapon to building your brand and authority. I’m not talking about comment spam or finding do follow blogs and littering them with links. No, the blog commenting I’m talking about lets you cut through the clutter and tap into the attention of creators.

Participation Inequality

To understand why blog commenting is so powerful you first need to grasp the concept of participation inequality.

In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.

You might also hear this concept referred to as the 90:9:1 Principle or The 1% Rule. You could even stretch a bit and mention the Pareto Principle in this discussion. The idea here is that the vast majority of people lurk and never participate. They are consumers of content.

A small minority, the 9%, may comment, share or participate in other ways. But it’s the 1% left that actually create the content that is consumed. When I explain it to people I refer to these groups as lurkers, reactors and creators respectively.

Participation Inequality Pyramid

What’s surprising (to me at least) is that many people still haven’t caught on to this idea. They remain shocked and appalled that 90%+ of Yelp reviews come from 1% of users. They use low activity (defined as contributing) on services like Twitter and Google+ to argue that they’re not viable.

Twopcharts Twitter Activity by Year

Now what type of person do you think was more likely to sign up and use Twitter back in 2008?  Lurker, reactor or creator? Give yourself a gold star if you answered creator. And that’s why the percentage still Tweeting from those years is higher. As the service became more mainstream, more lurkers joined the service.

And that’s okay!

Trying to ‘fix’ participation inequality is a losing battle against human nature. Most people simply aren’t going to create content for a wide variety of reasons. Sure, technology may slide the percentages a small amount but material changes to this dynamic won’t happen.

Creators

Hand Painted Saucer

If creators are responsible for nearly all of the content we consume, that makes them … pretty powerful. I dare say, you might call them influencers. Now, I don’t particularly like that term but there’s a certain amount of truth in it.

The sad thing is that most of the ‘influencer outreach’ content I’ve seen talks about how to identify (zzzzzz) and email these people or ways to interact with them on Twitter. I suppose that can work once in a while but the odds of securing their attention in these ways is limited and inefficient.

People continue to do this type of outreach because of the huge upside in gaining the attention of a creator. Creators often have a large audience so a mention or link in the content they create can provide a real boost to your brand and authority.

If you didn’t put the pieces together already, creators power the link graph.

Attention

Hangout Cat

Attention is at a premium and it’s your job to win the attention auction as many times as you can. It’s even more important to win the attention of creators. Yet, creators may have a more limited amount of attention to give. Why? They’re busy creating content! Seriously, it takes time (and lots of it) if you’re doing it right.

Not only that but if they’re a successful creator, the demands on their time increase. They get more email, more requests, more clients.

So how do you get the attention of a creator? Funny thing, there’s actually a really easy way to hack the attention of a creator. That’s right. Blog commenting.

You know that creators are going to be paying attention to the comments on their content. They worked hard to produce it and they’re looking to see how it’s received. Make no mistake, creators thrive on feedback and validation.

Creators hang out in the comments section. So take advantage of the implicit focus creators have on comments.

Blog Commenting

Blog Commenting

The problem with blog commenting is that most people suck at it. I’m not even talking about the cesspool of comments that often overwhelms YouTube videos or the comment spam with their ever present and overly complimentary prose clogging up moderation queues.

Commenting is your chance to get the undivided attention of that creator, if only for a few seconds as they determine whether the comment is interesting.

“Nice post. Very helpful.”

Is that comment interesting? Nope. Is it memorable? Nope. Comments like this do absolutely nothing for you. In fact, if a creator associates you with these types of moronic bland comments, you reduce your chances of securing their attention in the future.

Remember, attention is a habit. You figure out which people are worthy of your attention and which are not. The more times I choose not to pay attention to you, the more likely I am to do that in the future.

When you comment, your job is to add value to that content. That means you come with an opinion and point of view. You come with other related content that you’ll link to in your comment. Those links should not always be to your own site. No one likes the person who always talks about me, me, me.

Most creators want a reaction. They want a debate. They want a conversation. They want to learn. They want to be challenged. They want to be mentally stimulated.

Who Is This Person?

Thought Bubble

If you’ve done your job right and provided a comment that engages the creator, a thought bubble should appear over their head reading ‘who is this person?’

At that point they’re clicking on the links in your comment or on the ‘site’ link you provided in the comment meta that’s on nearly every comment platform.

A good comment gets a creator curious about that person.

They click around and do some research. Maybe you have a blog yourself and they read your latest post (or more). Maybe they like it enough they add it to their RSS reader or they find your Twitter handle and follow you there.

Of course this means you need those exploratory clicks to land somewhere that showcases your brand. Don’t make the mistake of leaving a great comment and then have the creator come through to a site that hasn’t been updated in over a year or a half-ass product page with a broken image.

If you’ve engaged the creator enough to garner more attention, don’t squander it with poor content assets.

Putting It All Together

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few months but it wasn’t until I bumped into Larry Kim (who is a great guy) at SMX West that everything fell into place. I was chatting with Larry about this topic and he gave me a perfect example of the power of blog commenting in practice.

On February 25th the talented Elisa Gabbert compiled the opinions of SEO experts on the ‘dwindling value of links‘ (bollocks, but that’s another story.)

Wordstream PageRank Post

The post was popular and garnered 37 comments, many from other notable creators. One of those was a very comprehensive comment by Russ Jones from Virante.

Comment by Russ Jones on Wordstream PageRank post

On February 28th (three days later) the indomitable Rand Fishkin released a Whiteboard Friday video that not only linked to the Wordstream post but referenced comments by Russ Jones.

Whiteboard Friday on Link Value

And if you watch the video or read the transcript it’s crystal clear that Rand has read the comments. Heck, he uses them as the basis for a material amount of this video! It might have been nice if Moz had also linked to Virante but c’est la vie.

Do you see what just happened here!? Have I convinced you how powerful blog commenting can be in getting the attention of creators? That those creators can then provide your brand, site or product exposure by including them in their content.

But … Reasons Excuses

Cheese

I know some of you are going to complain that blog commenting like this is too time consuming. Oh? Can I offer you some cheese for that whine?

Seriously! There are few better ways to interact with creators. Not every one will result in a mention or link in three days time but done right you’re going to build your expertise and authority with the ‘right’ people.

Would you rather send out a bunch of email pitches to influencers which are essentially interruptions and attacks on their attention or instead build lasting content assets (comments my friend) while gaining exposure with said influencers? Choose wisely.

Others are rightly frustrated with comment censorship, both human and algorithmic (i.e. – spam filters). But the answer is not to remove comments (and chase away creators) but to figure out a better way to have these discussions.

TL;DR

A small amount of creators are responsible for the vast majority of the content we consume. They have a limited amount of attention yet wield a lot of influence through their ability to reference sites, products, brands or content in the content they produce.

Creators hangout in (aka devote their attention to) the comments section of their content and that of others. Thus, memorable blog comments that provoke creator curiosity (and clicks) build your authority and improve your chances of gaining a mention or link in their content in the future.

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Comments About The Ridiculous Power of Blog Commenting

// 108 comments so far.

  1. Anthony Pensabene // March 25th 2014

    in my experience, comments were a quick, genuine and surefire way to get on other peoples’ pages (O.P.P.).

    no :) … i wanted to engage, and comments made my avatar, voice and opinions recognized. if people were stimulated by what came out of my fingers is another story.. i always scratch my head at people who desire engagement yet never comment…

  2. Andy Beard // March 25th 2014

    I have always looked on it that no matter how great a piece of web content it, it is only half-full/half-empty without comments, or the ability to comment.

    I am also intrigued by how comments can become part of the marketing funnel, with smart funnel analytics, email lead nurturing and retargeting.

  3. Victor Pan // March 25th 2014

    Are we also postulating that the same principle applies to the people who actively share your content on social? Should the blogger extend their reach to everyone that retweets or shares?

    //Note: Good Guy Larry will reply, favorite, or retweet when he knows you’re sharing his content! :)

  4. Larry kim // March 25th 2014

    Part of the success of this particular comment was that he had a well articulated opposing view. Commenting for the sake of agreeing / re-iterating what has already been said isn’t nearly as impactful.

  5. Vinny La Barbera // March 25th 2014

    AJ, would love your take (and anyone else’s) on these questions:

    Do you think that if the traditional format of blog comments (end of post) has prohibited commenters from leaving more thoughtful, meaningful comments?

    What if blog commenting (as we know it know) evolved into the Rap Genius / Medium model (throughout the post), would that make a significant impact on the quality and quantity of “good” comments?

    Personally, it takes a really thought-provoking article for me to feel compelled to comment in most cases. However, I’ve found myself reading and participating in comments more on Medium articles and Rap Genius pages.

    Appreciate the article and look forward to your feedback.

  6. John Harris // March 25th 2014

    This speaks well to the need to increase engagement in your channels. Good engagement spawns more engagement which spawns interest and linking. Presently link quality is high on the list of where our efforts should go when building authority for SEO/SMO. Engagement has additional rewards beyond links as it plays a part in authority rank in general, and when you can consistently get content creators to engage with your comments in a positive way, your authority on that topic will grow. It is however a long-haul approach. A few comments here and there is not enough to affect authority – no quick-fixes and no gaming the system.

    With Hummingbird moving towards an emphasis in social signals and engagement, bloggers are going to be hungry for your engagement and will likely continue to engage in that comment stream as long as they can keep your interest. Such ongoing engagement may eventually be beneficial to the authority ranks of both parties.

  7. Matt McGee // March 25th 2014

    I’m reminded of something I wrote back in 2009:

    http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/case-study-power-of-a-blog-comment/1573/

    Still holds true today.

  8. Aaron Bradley // March 25th 2014

    Thanks for this AJ – great insights, as always.

    I was flummoxed by Copy Blogger’s decision to discontinue comments. I got the impression from their post that their decision was based on classically flawed logic: something is hard, so stop doing it.

    Well, the very reason that monitoring and moderating and responding to comments is hard is because comments are valuable! People generally don’t expend a lot of time and resources trying to game something that doesn’t offer a decent return on that investment. Comment spam is in an large part a measure of how beneficial the comment ecosystem can be.

    To think that you can “take the conversation” from an article to Twitter or Google+, as Copy Blogger claimed they’re doing, is disastrously disingenuous. You’re not moving the conversation, but abandoning it. As a reader of the original post how am I supposed to join those “conversations?”

    (I’m making all of these Copy Blogger references because, of course, I can’t comment on their decision to remove comments, because they’ve removed comments!:)

    On the subject of conversation, I generally view a site without a comment facility less favourably than one that invites comments – just as I tend to shy away from tweeters that follow very few people. In both cases it demonstrates to me that the person cares less about conversing and more about pontificating.

    Listen to me – even though I don’t care what you have to say.

    I don’t even cut “celebrity” writers slack on this count. I recall a New York Times column where Roger Cohen railed against organic food as an elitist distraction, with the sort of reaction you’d predict in the comments. Such a reaction that he followed up with a second article on the subject, summarizing the concerns he saw voiced in those comments. I thought it was an honest response, albeit one unlikely to smooth many of the feathers ruffled – but it *was* a response, and in aggregate represented a conversation that wouldn’t have happened without comments.

  9. Paula Allen // March 25th 2014

    Trying to see this from the other perspective (Copyblogger’s, for example), couldn’t the rich comments that happened around Elisa Gabbert’s post have happened elsewhere just as easily? I mean, Rand Fishkin read the comments on her blog, but couldn’t he have done so on another page where conversation was circling?

    For example, after yesterday’s Copyblogger announcement, Mark Traphagen posted about it on Google+ and started the conversation (https://plus.google.com/107022061436866576067/posts/b9KKtMUsKd7). The comments now total 22 and include a response from the Copyblogger post author, Sonia Simone herself.

  10. Dan Shure // March 25th 2014

    I thought you had written the post I’ve been wanting to write for a while: “if your business blog doesn’t get comment … ever, you should shut it down” – or something.

    Anyhow, my point for the other side of the fence (the blogger, not the commenter) is that commenting is the most valuable, yet most ignored “metric”. # of comments per post.

    There’s SO MUCH information in the fact some one commented (or didn’t) on your content. It bears the most mental, emotional and time commitment out of anything you could do (link, share, plus one, etc).

    Yet how many business blogs have you seen that are a complete ghost town – not one comment after like 6 months of blogging. It should be about audience and conversation – so, that’s my rant from now.

    Look for a full post soon…

  11. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Completely agree Andy. To me, comments on a piece usually make it better. They provide other points of view, or sometimes tease out the themes and thinking of the author to a greater degree.

    Comments are content, and not to be just swept under the rug.

  12. Jonah Stein // March 25th 2014

    Great post. Very helpful. I am making it a must read for my entire team.

    I am always interested in how the comments/interaction often flows from comments to twitter and back to comments and how often comments lead to revisions of the original post or even new product features. For example, I tweeted at Dan Shure after his WordPress SEO plugin post and included @Yoast in a conversation about adding a feature Dan liked from All-In-One SEO to his plugin (bulk editor option). Joost not only replied quickly, he included the requested feature in his next update.

  13. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Victor,

    People who share your content are part of the 9%, and link up closer to the idea of a True Fan.

    Reducing the friction for the 9% allows more people to see your content. If we apply the 90/9/1 principle to the views those shares get, then you begin to see how more social sharing has the potential to reach more creators, who then in turn might reference your content. I’ll talk about this in a follow-up post.

  14. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Agreed Larry. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to manufacture dissent, having a well reasoned opposing view, or extending on, honing or adding to the views of that creator is quite valuable. Just repeating the fact that you agree with the creator in a paraphrasing way doesn’t do much, if anything.

  15. Bob Strassel Jr. // March 25th 2014

    Aj, This article just validated everything that I have been saying to a client, as well as myself for over 2 years. Commenting is a great way to learn so much and is an great opportunity to add value. If you add enough value, more often than not you can be recognized and validated; although recognition for it’s own sake is fraught with problems. I agree commenting is overlooked, and so misused. I remember as a kid seeing people’s “letters to the editor” on different topics, and thought, wow, thats cool. These people spoke up, they had something to say, they got their letters printed. They added value and got recognition.

    It works the same with comments online (..except that anyone can post them). Creators and reactors have a relationship built on reciprocity, and often on trust – they need each other. But to engage the heiarchy of the creator, you need to meet their “value” with your own insights to add and or start the discussion. If you can do that, you could be recognized and perhaps, engaged on another level. There will always be participation inequailty, but for those looking to gain insight and a foothold in the world of the creator influencer, valuable commenting as “influencer outreach” affords that. I know with me the story never ends with the story, that is always just the beginning. Often, it’s in the dialog after where we gain the richest insights and confidence to one day, maybe create…
    -Bob
    Unfortunately, it’s always the old adage, “Everyone has an opinion, but no one wants to share it.” But if you do, leave comments. : )

  16. Jeremy Rivera // March 25th 2014

    I can’t help but think that there’s a better way for blog comments to function as “responses” to the article. Even going so far as to put a character minimum and setting the expectation that they will be integrated into the post. I just feel that would eliminate the “glad handing” and “back slapping” as well as the worthless perhaps?

  17. Geordie Romer // March 25th 2014

    It seems to me that this article is pretty powerful “comment bait.” You are describing the kind of people who comment on blogs in glowing terms and who wants to be a lurker when you can be a commenter and hand out with the influencers and the creators. Just like asking for RT or “likes” this post about commenting just begs for comments.

  18. Tim Longwell // March 25th 2014

    I had never looked at things regarding content and creators before.
    I find, You right however. In my case, I peruse articles, posts and notifications for that “thing” that grabs my attention. Those are the first I reply to after the quick ‘pick on friends’ routine we all do at one time or another.
    I never gave it thought as to why I did that. You see, I too am a creator, not as heavy in the text realm, rather, through my art, my oil paintings. I had never looked at myself as being a content creator. I just did what I loved. I am eager to check for the “nuggets” and get back to the paint and canvas.
    You have given me new insight into myself, as well as others. I will definitely be looking at what I give in response to those “nuggets” when I do see them. After all don’t those deserve as much attention and appreciation as I give art?

  19. Gianluca // March 25th 2014

    As I commented to your initial reply to the Copy Blogger’s decision on G+, I think that comments are what give to a blog their social nature.
    Without comments, a blog post is just another article, and even if you can move part of the “socialization” a post may create, all the value social interaction around it are lost:

    1) for the perdurability of social itself, the memory of which fades aways after few minutes/hours if someone doesn’t decide to “record it” using curation tools like Storify or saving them in another post;
    2) because, as you well said citing the Rand example, comments can enrich the value of the post itself. I think I’m not the only one believing that some posts are memorable especially because of the comments they generated.

    When I look to my evolution as an SEO, comments played a gigantic role. Not only I learnt a lot from comments people like you, Richard Baxter, Wil Reynolds, Eric Enge, Matt Cutts himself wrote (and still write), but I too used comments as a way for being discovered first and – so it seems – considered a trusted source for the community.
    To speak the naked truth, without my daily commenting activity on Moz, I wouldn’t be able to be what I am right now, and I wouldn’t have been able to grow professionally as I did.

  20. Arnie Kuenn // March 25th 2014

    Of course if you read this and then don’t comment, there is probably no hope for you :-)

    AJ – have to say this is probably my favorite post of the month. Maybe because I am so poor at commenting, but the case you lay out if so logical it’s not funny. Maybe even inspirational.

    Excellent!

  21. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Vinny,

    The format of blog comments is problematic for sure. The ones on this blog … suck. I know I need to change them. Platforms like DISQUS are doing a much better job in my view and I’m interested to see what Jeff Atwood does with Discourse.

    The model of having comments appear throughout the post is interesting but really fragments the conversation. Maybe it helps, but it may also create fewer solid threads. Not only that but it’s far more difficult for a creator to parse those comments. Or so I would think.

    Commenting in and of itself is a fairly high friction event which is why it’s a 9% event. So the goal is to encourage productive comments, not ‘I like this’ comments or ‘good point’ in the middle of a Medium post.

    As powerful as commenting is, the Internet sort of hates comments.

  22. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    That’s a great example Matt! It’s nothing new, that’s for sure. But people seem to overlook or forget just how powerful blog commenting can be – when done right.

  23. Anthony Zazo // March 25th 2014

    It will be interesting to follow the Copyblogger situation and see if people do indeed take the conversation to a social network. I think you should make it as easy as possible for your readers to provide feedback. Blog commenting is not a perfect solution, but it seems to be the best available option. I wouldn’t want to take away an opportunity to get valuable feedback from engaged readers, especially dissenting opinions.

    I manage websites where I have turned off comments, but they are all niche product sites which only generate SPAM comments and don’t lead to actual feedback and discussions.

  24. David Boroi // March 25th 2014

    Why does it seem EVERY example on digital marketing best practices are all examples by digital marketing agencies or services. Let’s get real and showcase the work from the rest of us in the trenches of other industries.

  25. Arnie Kuenn // March 25th 2014

    Forgot to add…
    1) I disagree with turning comments off. So far anyway. The people at Copyblogger are pretty darn smart and I can see their point of view, but sometimes the comments add so much value to specific post, I would hate to lose that thread. I guess time will tell.

    2) I think your “formula” above also supports why I do not believe in content shock. Very few people consistently produce anything – content, comments, etc. Plus good stuff rises to the top, it’s been that way since the beginning of man.

  26. Anthony Castelli // March 25th 2014

    The integration of Google plus embeddable posts which can carry the comments from the post into the blog, where the Google post is embedded, adds potentially more power.

    I do not know if it tends to boost the value or SEO of the blog , but the increased amount of comments, which apparently by default can be hidden, and then expanded makes for a lot more interaction.

    See for example http://personalinjurycincinnatti.blogspot.com/2013/11/cincinnati-law-firm-lists-top-4-google.html#gpluscomments

    I guess really it’s a different sort of animal . But still it makes for a living breathing post.

    Engaging creators and influencers is big on google plus , but then if you follow the link to the blog there are a dearth of posts. So if you really want to catch an eye comment when you find the post shared on google plus and add whatever else you can on the blog.

    Personally I like the clean look of a blog without a string of comments. So the commentary in google plus is ideal for me as a content creator. Esp since I keep my notification on and start associating myself with those that like my content.

    I certainly do not go overboard with embedding posts on google plus in my blog. But it has it’s virtue.

    Sorry AJ I mixed a few ideas here. But it’s how my brain works . By the way on a different note. When you came to COLT ( the circle of legal trust) you validated for me that Michael Ehline and the fledgling attorney marketing group he founded was for real. I’ll never forget you for that.

  27. Patrick Hathaway // March 25th 2014

    Great post as ever AJ. As someone who does most of his reading on mobile (in bed, no less) I have found myself commenting less and less since it is more of a pain in the ass to do so. I wonder if there have been any studies on blog comments vs mobile adoption.

    Another important factor I feel with commenting is the follow-up comment. One of the points of commenting is to create discourse, so if your comment sparks further replies and responses you need to be a good web citizen and continue the discussion!

  28. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Thanks Aaron. Well, I have Copyblogger to thank for getting me to finish this post, so there’s that. But I agree that the logic to remove comments wasn’t very persuasive.

    I like the idea that the volume of comment spam is validation for the value of comments. I hadn’t thought of it that way but that’s absolutely true.

    Also, while conversations might occur elsewhere about content if there’s no central place to do so then creators aren’t as engaged, Because the comments section is where creators hang-out. It’s a safe place, unlike social platforms where they’re forced to be far more interactive.

    Suffice to say I could write a lot about why I think it’s a bad idea but I’ll instead focus on the positive. And like you, I see time and time again how blog comments further the discussion. They provide fodder for multiple creators. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a comment that wound up being expanded into a blog post.

  29. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Paula,

    That’s a good question. But in the end, my answer is that the number and quality of comments will decline. Not only that but you’ve made it far more difficult for creators to connect with your comments.

    I mean, you’re not going to be able to give a reasoned response on Twitter. I mean, 140 characters! Come on. Facebook and Google+ could be a place to see those comments but who’s moderating those comments? And how much of the comments are actually seen? How many people open the link to read all the comments?

    In the end, I think people prefer to sit on the stoop and have these conversations. They’re more … intimate. There’s less noise. Having them on social platforms is like having that conversation at a noisy bar. Still interesting but not as productive.

  30. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve certainly said just that a few times but I’m not sure I’ve ever written a post about it.

    But you’re right. Comments are an under-appreciated metric for bloggers. Mind, you you need ‘productive comments’ not the slap-happy ‘Awesome post’ types. But real engagement and thought is HUGE and shows that a person took time and effort to engage with you and your content.

    Those are ‘your’ people. Those are the folks who could become True Fans.

  31. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Thanks for the comment and kind words Jonah.

    You bring up a great point about the back and forth nature between comments and social platforms like Twitter. That happens quite a bit and you can see this in how Quora grew too with their answers, which was a fancy way of commenting.

    Comments are the connective tissue and good comments do produce content, whether it be follow-up posts or actual features.

  32. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Bob,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I absolutely love your ‘letters to the editor’ example and think it’s a great way to think about blog commenting.

    Like you say though, it means you have to meet their content with your own insights and far too often that doesn’t come to pass. Whether that’s because they don’t put the time and effort into it or whether there’s just no ‘there’ there is tough to tell.

  33. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Jeremy,

    I don’t know really. I know Jeff Atwood is working on this issue at Discourse. I’m not sure he’ll solve it but I like where his head (and heart) are at. I too would like to see fewer ‘glad handing’ comments or those that seem to only exist because the person wants the creator to know they read it and … be associated with them? To be honest, I find the motivation difficult to understand.

  34. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Geordie,

    So I should write a post about blog commenting and about participation inequality that doesn’t do these things? How exactly would I go about doing that? And it’s absolutely fine to be a lurker. The majority are and no amount of cajoling is going to change that.

  35. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Tim,

    Thank you for your comment, particularly since you’re coming from a different medium (or is it media). Art is absolutely another form of content creation.

    The reactions people have on your work might influence your work or that of others. Interpretation of art, art commentary and criticism are all a different type of comment stream. I am profoundly impacted by art in various forms and it influences my work. So much so that I have an abiding interest in understanding the influences of those artists I enjoy to see where it all leads.

  36. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Gianluca,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I really like how you talk about the fact that the social conversation around that content fades away quickly. All that great interaction and engagement is essentially lost in many ways. If I stumble into your content in the future, do I know that there were great conversations around it? Nope.

    And you know how much I value memory :) Being remembered is what it’s all about and those social conversations might have meaning but they’re disconnected and wind up not being nearly as memorable. Great comment dialog often makes that content even better but … it can’t if it’s not attached to it.

    Like you, I used blog commenting as a way to introduce myself to the industry. I didn’t do much of it on Moz. Some but not a lot. But I picked my spots based on the topics I was interested in and writing about. It didn’t happen over night but slowly people ‘discovered’ me in those ways.

    So I don’t just preach this tactic, I’ve lived it.

  37. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Arnie,

    Thanks for commenting and being transparent here. Because I think a lot of people overlook blog commenting. Whether it’s just one of those things you once did but you’ve moved on from. Or you’ve tired of the poor commenting platforms and getting your comments stick in spam filters. It’s not for the feint of heart and there’s no instant ROI.

    But for my money, there’s no better way to connect with those all important creators.

  38. Jennifer (PotPieGirl) // March 25th 2014

    Great Post!

    I was also a bit shocked to hear about CopyBlogger turning off their comments. That’s something that never crossed my mind to do on my own blog (well, it HAS crossed my mind when I am blasting spam comments…lol!). I am no where nearly “big brand” enough to do that. Plus, I really LIKE blog comments – I love the discussion.

    Thing that really struck me about CopyBloggers decision is that maybe it’s a pretty smart thing to do.

    Hear me out…

    We just went thru the “death” of what many thought was the last white hat link building option – guest blogging. It’s also as important as ever now to have lots of social mentions and conversation links out there on the web.

    By “forcing” your readers to take their thoughts, opinions, and conversations about your post away from your site and out there on social media platforms and their own sites, isn’t it kinda smart?

    Response Marketing?

    However, I can also see Google saying, “Hey, you turned off comments and FORCED people to go elsewhere online and link to you – now you have a penalty!” and then the SEO community screaming “Response Marketing is Dead!!” and the cycle continues….

    In all seriousness tho, my bottom line feeling when I read their announcement is: they no longer care about their readers feedback or opinions enough to take the time to moderate them and/or find a more efficient way to do it on site.

    Excellent post, AJ!

    Jennifer
    ~PotPieGirl

  39. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Anthony,

    Thanks for your kind words and comment. The Google+ embeddable comments is something of a hybrid since the comments can be had simultaneously on the blog and on the social platform. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. But I’d prefer to have some sort of comments attached to the content than not, one way or the other.

  40. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Patrick,

    Thank you for the kind words and you bring up a TON of great questions and points. Could the device you use limit commenting volume? My gut reaction is a resounding yes. Once again, it’s frustrating that comments are so important yet, as a product, they go largely ignored.

    And I completely agree that follow-up commenting is critical. I make a real effort to respond to all productive comments here on Blind Five Year Old. If a person is going to give me a chunk of their time and attention to comment on my work I damn well better honor that with a reply.

    Threads are even better and … that reminds me how poorly my comments are here and that they need to be fixed.

  41. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Had to rescue your comment from spam Anthony. Sorry about that my friend. ‘A surefire way to get OPP.’ Ha, that’s great.

    And I do think that the best creators are ones who also comment, but perhaps that’s my own bias.

  42. AJ Kohn // March 25th 2014

    Thanks for the kind words and interesting comment Jennifer.

    I, personally, don’t think the ‘turning-off comments will increase links’ theory works in practice. People often link to a post after the comment stream has picked up steam. That won’t happen now so there will be less of a reason to link to that post.

    But it’s not even really about that. It’s what you said at the end. You feel like ‘they no longer care about their readers feedback or opinions’. That’s not good. Not only that, but creators love hanging out in comments. It’s asynchronous and allows them to contribute without much hassle. There’s less noise.

    Commenting on a blog post is like hanging out on the stoop and having a good conversation. Doing so on social media is like doing so on a subway platform. It’s noisy and distracting and I might jump on the next train that comes through.

    In the end, I want creators to hang out and contribute to MY content, not to some abstraction of it, so that my chances of them referencing or mentioning it increases.

  43. Gene Eugenio // March 25th 2014

    The best comments CHALLENGE not just the creators but the community. I’m not talking about posting like that obnoxious kid in your sixth grade classroom who farts for attention, I am talking about posts that challenge the ASSUMPTION of the people following your niche. As long as it is honest AND respectful, challenges can be very productive. At the end of the day, it’s not the typical blog skimmer you’re shooting for… You’re shooting for INFLUENCERS. And that might not necessarily be the creator of the post you’re commenting on.

  44. James Norquay // March 25th 2014

    Good post, comments can be a very important way to build branding and get your name out into the market.

    The only issue with sites like Moz are recently it does seem like a free for all on comments, you refresh the page after a post goes live and you have 20 comments with things like “Great post agree” over and over with little value, it really turns you away from writing an in-depth reply. I use to always comment on Moz but in recent times not so much.

    I try to leave comments and provide value where possible, many times people just delete or do not accept my comments as they do contradict the original post. Oh well all part of the fun.

  45. Nate Shivar // March 25th 2014

    “Commenting on a blog post is like hanging out on the stoop and having a good conversation. Doing so on social media is like doing so on a subway platform. It’s noisy and distracting and I might jump on the next train that comes through.”

    Fabulous analogy. And great post. Too many people forget that the web was (and is) social by nature even outside of the big platforms.

    To take the power of commenting even further, I believe trackbacks tap into the same creator curiosity – “Who’s this other creator who wrote an entire blog post about mine and linked to it?” Anecdotally, many creators forget this benefit of linking out, and miss out on opportunities to connect and have a conversation beyond 140 characters.

  46. Phil Rozek // March 25th 2014

    Thanks for another great read, AJ.

    Blog comments really seem to create a feedback loop: they tell both new readers how other readers digest the posts, and they tell bloggers what readers are interested in. If you see a bunch of deep, detailed comments, you’re a little more likely to write one.

    The reason I don’t like SEJ is 50% that the posts are – umm – thin, and 50% that the comments are empty.

    On the other hand, a good comment thread can give a so-so post a colorful afterlife.

    It’s a weird dynamic. There are probably better ways of describing it. But I’ve never seen a good blog with consistently crappy comments.

    Possible post idea for you (some day?): “__ Schools of Thought on Blog Comments: the Pros and Cons of Each”

  47. Hyderali // March 25th 2014

    Hi AJ,

    Thanks for the Post. I agree that powerful comment on a post not only allows you to voice your opinion but also let other feel that you are somewhat inspiring them to chime in & comment. But I also think that we can’t comment on every post. Also, sometimes our mind don’t help us in writing powerful words (which happens to me) to get reply back from the author. I understand that removing comments is not the solution but expecting good comments is also not feasible.

  48. Joe Robison // March 25th 2014

    Here’s a challenge for you AJ that I hope you see as starting a debate, or just pushing you to action: set up or fix the inline commenting system on your posts. I can’t read your replies properly!

  49. Mark Buskbjerg // March 26th 2014

    Wow.

    Just found this blog through Twitter this morning. And I’m already hooked. Well written and great points. And just another note on blog commenting. I’ve experienced a bunch of blogs (and I’m probably guilty myself too) where comments are just waiting for the author to reply and engage. And that’s a shame.

    I understand that you wouldn’t reply to the good ol’: “Nice blog maijn!” But just a reminder that engagement goes both ways :)

    Well I’m off to the archives for further readings.

    Over and out.

  50. smickle // March 26th 2014

    Such a superb post. It’s such a shame that your commenting system is so dire :D

  51. Anthony Pensabene // March 26th 2014

    comments are remote conversations. how do you get to know someone? if you see a cute girl at a concert, do you assume she’s great because you’re both at the same concert? i’d talk to her to make sure. comments are conversation. conversation is connectedness. connectedness is understanding. anthony is the best. (see what i did there?)

    great message, AJ. Im glad this came from you.

  52. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Exactly Gene! The 9% and the 1% gravitate towards the comments. That’s where they wind up hanging out because they want that productive conversation. They know that good debate makes them better thinkers.

    Even in my example, it wasn’t Larry or Elisa of WordStream (the creators of that piece) that picked up Russ’s comments but Rand – another creator. That’s how it’s supposed to work when you do it right.

  53. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks James. Totally agree on it being an important way to build a personal brand and get your name out there.

    Moz has done a fantastic job with their community and as such might attract more of the ‘great post’ comments. At present there’s just little in the way of a system to help minimize those comments without offending those people while at the same time preserving the conversation.

    Finally, comment censorship. It happens. I’ve blogged about it. It’s not cool but it’s part of being a netizen.

  54. Victoria // March 26th 2014

    I’ve certainly seen this trend on my own blog. In the past I’ve been disappointed to not have received more interaction on my posts, but realizing that regular comments come from 1% of my readers is eye-opening. And I haven’t considered the power of that 1% (that sounds bad, doesn’t it!?) I’ll be thinking about how to best engage these fellow content creators in the future.

    And, side note, I think the fact that most comment boxes ask for a website is indicative of the fact that creators are providing the bulk of comments.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

  55. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Nate,

    Thanks for the kind words. If you follow me for any amount of time you’ll realize how fond I am of analogies.

    And trackbacks are definitely another way to get on the radar and get discovered. The trick there is to have a truly great piece that provokes a comment from that creator. I don’t see that as many times as I’d like but then again no one said this was easy.

    I’m also a big proponent of linking out. There’s no good reason to constrain people or think that they must only stay on your site. Give people value and a lot of the time that value can be found in other sites – sites that you yourself found valuable.

  56. SHELLEY R ZUREK // March 26th 2014

    Read you all the time, here to comment and be ridiculous. Alas, in this sphere I am in the 9%!

  57. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks Phil. And it’s absolutely a feedback loop if you’re doing it right. Like you say, that feedback loop can also provide real value to the lurkers who come to consume that content. Everyone wins when there’s a thoughtful debate around a topic.

  58. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Hyderali,

    Yes! You shouldn’t expect good comments. The plain fact is that sometimes not everyone comments for the same reason and other times the comments just aren’t that good. I’d also say that you should comment infrequently. As with most things, it’s about the quality of the comment, not the quantity of them.

  59. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Joe. Challenge accepted! I know my comments section sucks. I’ve debated moving to DISQUS but every time I threaten to do that a vocal group howls not to do it. So then I’d have to tweak my WP Theme – which I’m happy to do but … I’m balancing client work and writing etc. so this gets knocked down the priority list.

    But it shouldn’t. So I’ll look into Discourse and carve out some time to get a proper blog commenting platform installed.

  60. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks for the kind words Mark and welcome to Blind Five Year Old.

    I make every effort to respond to productive comments. Because that person did give a chunk of their time and attention to comment on my content. So I need to honor that attention if I’m going to earn any more of it.

    I don’t answer every comment though. Saying ‘thanks’ to a ‘nice post’ comment just doesn’t seem like it helps the majority. Do I appreciate the praise. Sure. But I just can’t clutter up things with my appreciation. On Twitter I simply Favorite those types of things as a thank you. There’s no way (on this current comment platform) to do that though.

  61. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Completely agree smickle. It’s a good kick in the rump to finally find a better commenting platform.

  62. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    I do see what you did there Anthony! And you know what they say about assuming, right?

  63. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks for the kind words Victoria. I should mention that getting a comment stream going on your own blog is a bit of a different animal. First, commenting on other blogs often brings those people to your own blog. Second, it takes time. A long time. Creating a ‘community’ doesn’t happen over night. Lastly, you have to respond and honor those comments. One of the things I tell any client who thinks about starting a blog: ‘Always respond to every comment’.

  64. Krystian Włodarczyk // March 26th 2014

    Commenting is as good and effective, if… there’s real purpose behind it, not the stuff like : “I agree”, “I don’t agree”, “nice post-thanks” :)

    To be honest it’s the most efficient way to establish a relation and make yourself a little bit recognizable in the eyes of the author. Maybe even better than “hi” on Twitter or a personal outreach.

  65. Joel Klettke // March 26th 2014

    “Most creators want a reaction. They want a debate. They want a conversation. They want to learn. They want to be challenged. They want to be mentally stimulated.”

    Spot on, AJ. I might write back to a nice retweet, but I am definitely, DEFINITELY writing back to any well thought out comment I come across. They come so rarely, that every single one is a little bit of a “Wow! Someone really took the time!”

    I think Pensabene is a master of this; Victor Pan is good at it too, and Ronnell has more or less made it his primary way of engaging people. It’s such an easy win. I think there are barriers – people don’t want to use disqus or have a WP account or what have you. But for people serious about reaching me (and other creators), those a pretty insignificant barriers not really worth fretting over.

  66. Russ Jones // March 26th 2014

    Nice Post, Very Helpful

  67. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Well played Russ. Well played.

  68. Russ Jones // March 26th 2014

    Jokes aside, it is worth pointing out that I was first mentioned in Moz because of a blog comment back in 2006, which Rand noted in his article…

    http://moz.com/blog/russ-jones-of-virante-on-search-engines-consent

    “p.s. I’d like to point out that Russ went about being “found” by SEOmoz in a very clever way that illustrates the value of blog comments. I noted that earlier today, he left comments in two posts on the site, where EGOL clicked on his username and found his profile (note to members – update your profiles!) and website. When EGOL found the entry interesting, he pointed it my way. For all you link builders who think commenting on blogs is just spam, think again – a smart comment can mean a clickthrough from your exact target.”

    It was and still is a great way to get noticed

  69. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    What an awesome example Russ!

    This is certainly not a new tactic, just one that I think most people forget about as the new shiny thing becomes the new rage. For me, I’m trying to ‘refresh’ it a bit by couching it as a way to hack the attention of creators. Perhaps that will convince people to return again to real blog commenting that will help enhance content and build better communities.

  70. Tommy Landry // March 26th 2014

    At the risk of sounding like a “me too” response, I also disagreed with the Copyblogger decision to cut off comments. Copyblogger has the benefit of years of social media interactions and a rather large social graph. For the typical blogger, the audience is not quite so large. If we depend on the social networks for sharing as well as commenting, that’s fine for companies who don’t plan to take part in the conversation like you do, AJ. But for most of us, we want the conversation on our own TLD for the UGC, for the reasons you mention above, and also to keep a good archive of what other viewpoints popped up when we put our own ideas out there for the masses to consume and/or criticize.

    Spam is a definite problem, but the challenge is how to limit the spam without also discouraging interaction. We’ve tried a bunch of angles on Return On Now, and landed with a Disqus commenting system. It keeps spam at bay, but since there’s no SEO benefit, it also appears to discourage interaction somewhat.

    Keep up the great work AJ. I always enjoy the commentary here on Blind Five Year Old.

  71. Allen Taylor // March 26th 2014

    This whole thread is proof that you don’t have to have a pretty face to drive engagement. Your commenting system may not be Taylor Swift, but you draw attention like Miley Cyrus. :-)

  72. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks Tommy. And yes, there are SEO reasons for having comments appearing on your content, from the added UGC overall to the fact that those comments are going to better reflect a wider variety of user syntax and that it serves to keep people on the page longer which may be a user satisfaction heuristic.

    So the number of reasons to keep them are … numerous. I too like DISQUS and it can bring SEO benefit if you configure the comments correctly so they render in a non-JS environment.

  73. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks Allen. I suppose I could rationalize that the obstructionist commenting platform I have is a way to weed out those not serious about engaging (sort of like the Wikipedia editing environment) but that would be disingenuous.

    It’s heartening to see such dialog here despite the poor commenting platform. So hopefully I can draw attention like Miley and look like Taylor.

  74. Dan Shure // March 26th 2014

    @Jonah (cc AJ) – oh wow, I didn’t realize that my post and our twitter interaction caused Yoast to add that feature. Thought it was a coincidence.

    Interestingly, here’s the attribution;

    Podcast Search -> Pat Flynn -> Gary Vaynerchuck -> Random girl named Selene -> My Post -> Jonah -> Yoast

    In 2009 I searched for “entrepreneur” podcasts, found Pat’s Smart Passive Income, he was the first person I heard mention Gary Vaynerchuck, Gary Vaynerchuck recommends following twitter.com/search for ways to help people, Selene was asking about Yoast vs AIO, I published a post about it the next day.

    #ATTRIBUTION

  75. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    That’s a great thread Dan and shows the power of these interactions!

  76. Dustin Verburg // March 26th 2014

    I commented on Inbound, but figured I’d take it here too.

    Before I knew anything about online marketing other than what booking/promoting my own bands and DIY punk shows taught me, I turned to blog comments. This was years ago– before I’d ever heard the term ‘SEO’ or put any thought into marketing at all.

    Leaving comments on sites I liked/admired and talking to those creators helped me out immeasurably. Because of those comments and that networking, one of my stupid sites even got featured on two other related sites that were way bigger and our readership shot up exponentially.

    Of course, like I always do, I stopped the project as soon as it got popular. Because I am a super smart and fully functioning human being without any neuroses.

  77. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Thanks for your comment here Dustin and providing another example of the power of blog commenting.

    One of the things I like about your example is that the intent was … pure. Now, I’m not saying it has to be entirely altruistic now. I mean, we’re marketers! But if you don’t have that passion, have an opinion, then those blog comments just land with a dull thud. People sniff out posers pretty quickly whether they call them on it or not.

    Popularity and success can be difficult and in the music world, well, hey it’s no longer cool when they’re popular right?

  78. Gene Maryushenko // March 26th 2014

    Good post, nice info! LOL

  79. AJ Kohn // March 26th 2014

    Yup, Russ beat you to that one. :)

  80. Adam Beaumont // March 26th 2014

    My blog gets hundreds of spammy comments everyday and the comment has to be something controversial or funny for me to even accept it. I still think it is a great to have a few on a websites link profile.

  81. AJ Kohn // March 27th 2014

    Thanks for the comment Joel. (I just fished it out of my spam queue.)

    The barriers you mention are part of the reason why I think comments are so valuable. Because people do take the time to jump through hoops (even if they’re minor) to respond. And you’ve hit the mentality of a creator right on the head. You definitely want to respond when you get a comment that wrinkles your forehead.

  82. AJ Kohn // March 27th 2014

    Thanks for the comment Krystian. And I completely agree that a good comment is far better than Twitter outreach or even email. Those things are generally interrupts and attacks on that person’s attention. A comment puts you in front of a creator’s natural space of attention. Few things are as efficient – as long as your comment is worthy.

  83. Optimal Digital Marketing // March 27th 2014

    Thanks Al! I have seen that the value of a blog comment is often much greater than having content posted on someone’s own website from an SEO perspective!

    At our company, we read new articles and insights about the internet marketing industry every day and encourage everyone to comment on an article. A good blog with open commenting has the attention of hudreds of active posters which, if your comment is interesting enough, can also become interested in finding out what else you have posted.

    I use a few tools to actually find blogs worth commenting on, one being Link Research Tools, to find blogs that the competition or similar businesses in an industry post or comment on and then measure the actual Power and Trust of a page. Even if an article is old and outdated, the comments still keep the page relevant and interesting and the links and shares keep perpetuating. I’ve seen blog posts that are commented on for years, though that would be really tough to moderate…

    That being said, we appreciate your willingness to moderate your blog ;)
    -Jeremy

  84. Victoria // March 27th 2014

    Thanks for the tip, AJ! (See what I did there!? Seriously, I’m very motivated to be a better commenter, if that’s even a word. Thanks again!)

  85. Kyle Lelli // March 27th 2014

    Funny to read this now. About 7 years ago, when I was just out of college and looking to start my career, someone who was way ahead of the curve told me this:

    “Find 5 people that you respect in ‘xyz’ industry. If they’re worth their salt, they probably have a ‘weblog’ (yes at the time that’s what he called it). Start to interact with them by regularly commenting on their content and adding value. It will likely get their attention so that when you do reach out to them via email or phone, it’s not a cold call. They WILL [emphasis mine] know who you are.”

    Now, I didn’t actually follow those instructions because at the time, I was, umm, lazy. I certainly didn’t need this post to verify the validity of his statements then, but it was great to read it. Goes to show that ACTING on the advice of people who have “been there, done that” and are ahead of their time is well worth it.

    I’m a lurker by nature. Time for a change.

  86. AJ Kohn // March 27th 2014

    Thanks for the great comment and anecdote Kyle. The good news is you’re self aware and that’s something very few people have.

    And I tell you, I’m still a lurker by nature myself. I’ve slacked off on commenting. Part of that is because I got to where I wanted to be and … it is time consuming. But I want to jump in more often. You just have to pick your spots.

  87. Borja Giron // March 28th 2014

    Thanks for a great post. Not very usefull comment but I like it. I’m gonna pay more attention to my visits on my blogs. The best yout work the better you improve.

  88. Deepak Kundu // March 28th 2014

    AJ,

    I read your article twice over a period of 4 days. On my first read I just skimmed over and saw the point that you made in the article on meaningful blog comments. Over the next 2 days I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about this article again and again and decided to come back and read word by word.

    I completely agree with you on how powerful blog commenting can be if done with a right attitude. But most of us never raise ourselves to such standards. 99% of the time we never put the effort. No wonder, 99% of the time we don’t succeed.

  89. AJ Kohn // March 28th 2014

    Thanks Deepak. In particular thank you for the feedback that you kept thinking about this article. That’s one of my biggest aims with any piece of content, to get it remembered. So … thank you.

    And yes, proper blog commenting takes a fair amount of effort and many people are … allergic to work. But those who are willing to give it a try will be rewarded. Even if you don’t succeed every time, it’s about getting back up and doing it again, and again.

    When I started blogging I wasn’t that good at it. It’s only through doing it poorly that I got better at it.

  90. Andy Forsberg // March 29th 2014

    Great way to garner comments for your post =)

    So are you saying that the 1% includes all creators or is the 1% just the most influential creators? If the 1% includes all the creators, no matter how invisible their content may be, then damn I have to say being an influential creator is insanely powerful!

  91. AJ Kohn // March 30th 2014

    Andy,

    The 1% are those who create content. That’s anyone who creates content. As I mentioned, certain new technologies might push this percentage slightly (i.e – Instagram, Vine) but it’s still a small minority who produce content. And clearly not all of the 1% are created equal. But it’s still important. Even a small personal blog might reference other sites or brands and that’s meaningful.

    To be clear, the 1% are often part of the 9% who react to other content. So there’s a venn diagram overlap going on. Some creators are also reactors. But not all reactors are creators.

  92. Alec Kinnear // March 31st 2014

    I came over here thanks to a link in the CopyBlogger Google+ comments section. The Google+ move seems to me a cheap SEO trick (Google is rewarding sites with big social indicators with high rankings: we take care of a dozen or so sites and when we increased social activity on some previously quieter ones, rankings jumped).

    I’ve noticed a lot of people appear to be suffering through comment moderation. We invented Thoughtful Comments almost five years ago now to deal with just that issue. It allows front end moderating, including IP and email banning. Edit your comments in context. On the spam front, what you need is Akismet for human spam and FV Antispam for machine spam (the two are very different beasts).

    With these three plugins in place, moderating comments is as easy as pie (on WordPress). You will never face many spam comments. Thousands of spam comments will find their way directly to the trash.

    Do not leave comments unmoderated ever though (as Jeff Atwood and Anil Dash both warn). No one wants to be time-warped into anarchy. I would never entrust my community or my content to digital sharecroppers like Google, Facebook or Disqus. I’m astonished that intelligent people are prepared so to do. Again in the case of Copyblogger I think it’s a combination of a simple unannounced SEO play and laziness.

  93. Morgan M // March 31st 2014

    Now that I am fully aware (and ashamed) of the fact that I am a mere lurker, my real question isn’t how to gain the attention of creators, but how to become one – Is it just a natural talent or is there a process of development?

    Actually, even as a lurker I’m inclined to head to the comment section for further information, so I think it’s beneficial to creators and lurkers alike!

  94. AJ Kohn // March 31st 2014

    Thanks for the comment Alec.

    I just don’t particularly see any SEO value for moving conversations to Google+ unless the goal is to get more people to follow Copyblogger on Google+ which would have an impact on the personalized searches for those individuals. As of a month ago Amit Singhal made it clear that Google+ did not have an impact on non-personalized search results.

    Now, social sharing of any kind does have a downstream impact on rankings because of what I describe in this piece. More creators might see that content and wind up using it in their own. It’s not the social shares that has an impact but the impressions, branding and downstream links that make the difference.

    And to be honest, I’m a bit tired of hearing about how awful it is to moderate comments. Granted, I’m glad people (including you) are working to make it easier but at the end of the day, put on your big boy pants and deal with it.

  95. AJ Kohn // March 31st 2014

    Morgan,

    Thanks for the comment. And lurkers absolutely get value out of comments. They get down there too. It’s just another form of content.

    As for becoming a creator, one just needs to have the passion, determination and ability (to some degree) to create content – whether it be written or visual. I’ve been a creative writer for decades in one form or another and you’re always getting better. You’re always ‘workshopping’ your pieces and getting feedback.

  96. Vinay Koshy // March 31st 2014

    Your post certainly adds to my view of blog comments needing to be part of a larger strategy in building a blog audience. Unfortunately there are a number of people seem to view it as more of a tactic.

    That’s not to take away from the success of blogs like Zen Habits and Seth Godin that do not have comments.

    However there are a number of cases where it has played a significant role in building up an audience. Something that is worth considering carefully before you remove blog comments

  97. Alec // March 31st 2014

    Hi AJ,

    Pardon me for considering Amit Singhal’s remarks as disingenuous as Matt Cutt’s comments on SEO (guest posts are now unhelpful). If you look at how many Google products now dominate the organic results in any popular area (video, images, real estate, local music, travel), it’s obvious that the playing field is not level no matter how many times a talking head from Google says it is. Google+ content ranks all by itself and takes over your search results if you follow those people. Copyblogger are preparing for the day where Google+ rules the Google roost, even if we are in the early rounds.

    Trouble with comment moderation: we take care of some of the most popular alternative political sites. On sites like that you need all the help you can get. I do agree that the whining over at Copyblogger and other sites about comment moderation sounds like the worst kind of crocodile tears. It’s been a long time since Copyblogger might have been about helping site owners or making the web a better place. There’s only one objective over there and that’s bilking the masses for crappy themes, dodgy SEO software, shaky hosting and dubious mentoring.

    So yes, I agree with you, popular (and not so popular) sites should gear up for comment moderation and not put their future and their communities in the hands of monolithic third parties, whether Google, Facebook or Disqus. But again, I remain convinced that Copyblogger’s decision is primarily about longterm visibility/search and has naught to do with community or the good of their readers.

  98. AJ Kohn // March 31st 2014

    Alec,

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on the Google+ issue. While I like Aaron Wall his bias is clear and the other link via Eric Enge essentially says it doesn’t impact non-personalized search. #imoutoftinfoil

    But we can agree that putting your community and conversation in the hands of a third-party is flirting with danger. As to Copyblogger’s decision. I tend to take it at face value and follow Hanlon’s razor.

  99. Morgan M // March 31st 2014

    Thanks AJ,

    Actually that thought gives me hope. I’ve always been an avid-write – I’m a journalist by education and a marketer by profession so it’s a part of my everyday life – I’ve just never felt like I had much of a place in the social sphere, like I didn’t quite “get” it.

    I guess now I kind of see that it’s up to me to find where I belong, rather than forcing it!

  100. Julie Gallaher // April 01st 2014

    One of the problems with comments is that an article can be good (like yours) but reading even a fraction of the barely adequate comments diminishes the impact of the article rather than enhances it. Like others, your article inspired me to comment, but it’s less interesting to me after weeding through the comments. Not to be dissing the commenters, but you probably spent significantly more time thinking about the points you wanted to make than any of the commenters did.

    I prefer finding an article and sharing it. The comment is implied … I thought this was interesting.

  101. AJ Kohn // April 01st 2014

    Thanks for the comment Julie.

    I think part of your reaction might be about the formatting of the comments, which is atrocious. But there is a segment of folks who think comments take away from the article. I personally don’t agree with that. I mean, does your favorite YouTube video become less interesting because of the morons commenting on it?

    Commenting quality is certainly an issue, but a good comment stream should add to the content and not subtract in my view. Sharing or commenting are both 9% (reactor) acts, and sometimes you may wish to simply share instead of comment. In fact, that should be the vast majority of the reactions since having a truly insightful comment to each piece would be virtually impossible.

  102. Alec // April 02nd 2014

    Thanks Julie. I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time thinking about the comments issue and even writing super sophisticated software to make it much easier. When I came over to AJ’s, I took some time to formulate and write my comment too.

    There are many other insightful comments above as well, from Bob and Aaron to name just a couple.

    I do however agree with the general notion of strict approval guidelines for comments. Comments which do not add to the discussion or disrupt the atmosphere should either be edited (which can cause more trouble than deleting) or deleted. As I mentioned, we support a couple of very prominent alternative political sites. On one the moderators approve almost anything. On the other the moderator approves only intelligent comments.

    I’m sure you can imagine which has fewer but more far more valuable comments. Unmoderated (or nearly unmoderated) comments are a curse but moderated comments are a blessing.

  103. Charles Mosteller // April 07th 2014

    I didn’t come to this site, last night, with any intention of commenting on anything. After all, I was merely clicking on various links pertaining to search engine optimization by way of acronym (SEO), and here is where I ended up (amongst a variety of other places). As is often the case, though, I invariably left the page up on my web browser, before I went to bed, and awakened early to find it still open – not quite 3 A.M., so that early, just to set the record straight.

    That big pyramid image is what caught my eye. The truth inherent in it extends well past mere blog comments, though. The only thing about it that I wonder about, though, is that figure of 1% for creators at the top. My gut instinct tells me that figure is way too high – which makes that pyramid “chart,” if I may call it a chart, all the more relevant.

    Of course, it lumps all lurkers into one big category, without delving into why they choose to remain lurkers. Some, perhaps, don’t even know what a lurker is, in the first place, much less that they are one. Many are just passing through, searching for something that catches their eye long enough to make them pause and think. Some are far too busy wasting time on the Internet to be bothered with contributing to something that likely doesn’t strike them as being broke (and, consequently, in need of “fixing” by adding to it through commenting). Other have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. Then, too, there are those perceived obstacles and impediments that give them all of the reason in the world to not comment (this blog comment section asks to know who I am, what my e-mail address is, and what my website is – the things that are “expected” of lurkers to comment).

    Does it all add up? Yep, to me it does, anyway, and I’m not alone in that. I only listed a few categories of distinction for the lurker sect.

    Blog comments, themselves, are not where my interest lies, although I must confess that I do enjoy just browsing and selectively reading from them, at times. The whole blog comment thing is a great topic, and certainly worthy of much consideration and dialogue ad nauseum. However, it is the core, underlying “topic” that the pyramid image speaks to that captivates the bulk of my interest.

    I run a website that deals with play by mail gaming, a genre of gaming that many mistakenly feel is dead, but that’s a whole other story. I also publish a small scale PDF magazine that covers that same genre of gaming. I say this, not to tout that particular interest, but rather, to connect the dots with that pyramid image. The problem, such as it is, with lurkers not commenting on blogs is manifest in many different formats, and if anything, blogs may just have it easy, where lurkers are concerned. Getting people to become active participants in discussion on a given topic an be quite a challenge, many times, regardless of whether it is a blog that is even at issue.

    So, that a particular blog, or a particular posting on a particular blog, may want for lack of comments is nothing particularly disconcerting. One thing to consider is that not all blog postings necessarily have the same audience, even though they may often all deal with a given topic. Additionally, the audience for a particular blog posting might takes weeks, months, or even years to arrive and to find the posting in question. Thus, one might do well to be advised to not judge one’s blog posting prematurely. One should remain cognizant of the fact that they audience that you envision may well not be the audience that you actually end up being treated to. If they comment, at all, they will likely do so on their time and on their schedule, and not on yours.

    Additionally, some aren’t going to comment, no matter what you do, no matter what you post. That they choose to remain lurkers, however, does not mean that they are not enjoying what you are blogging about as much as your most prolific of commenters. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. While it makes for fine poetic verse coming from the poet, it often applies with equal force to the reading of blogs.

    I didn’t know whether to like this posting, to share it, or to comment. Decisions, decisions, decisions! And you wonder why people choose to just lurk? The Internet is the decision capital of the world. Life can be a whole lot easier, if you just lurk.

    Take care,

    - Charles -

  104. Ben Ustick // April 15th 2014

    Hey AJ,

    Great post and certainly one that encouraged an active group of commenters. I think that insightful inblog commenting can have the same value that a company would hope to expect from a guest post (short of rankings). Obviously the key is to add value, which creates a new set of potential eyes to reach, both in the readers and potentially the writer/blog owner.

    I think one big issue that discourages people from commenting is that many authors seem to want to make a post and not defend any challenges to what they have written. So a reader who like to continue the discussion is often times left hanging. I definitely see that bloggers who have a reputation for responding and furthering the discussion usually have a more active commenting board.

    Anyways, I thought this would be a nice post to share with our readers, so I included it in my roundup of the March’s best SEO, content marketing, and social media articles. Thanks again.

    Ben

  105. AJ Kohn // April 16th 2014

    Thanks Ben.

    I’m not a huge fan of guest blogging and see that generally as a way to find an audience who might not have found you otherwise.

    But I agree that there are many discouraging things about blog commenting, from comments being censored to lack of engagement to name a few. But even if the author isn’t engaged they’re generally still seeing you and your content. Getting that view, that attention is pretty critical in my view. So those that push through commenting difficulties are often rewarded in the long run. But it’s not for the feint of heart.

  106. Jenny @ The Brick Castle // May 21st 2014

    Of course all I want to do now is reply with some sh1t hot comment that will prove my undoubted genius….

    Alas in the real world… I was disappointed the other week when a group of very popular UK parent bloggers were discussing blog comments and the fact that they don’t even get time to read them all. I’m kind of gutted. I think comments are vital on any post, it’s at least half the fun for the author and the readers. If you don’t wish to learn or garner opinion just switch off comments and be done, or even better, go write a book…

  107. The Daily Drifts // August 05th 2014

    Thanks AJ,

    Actually that thought gives me hope. I’ve always been an avid-write – I’m a journalist by education and a marketer by profession so it’s a part of my everyday life. Thanks!

  108. Julie // August 30th 2014

    A.J.,

    I’m surprised at the actual percentage of lurkers compared to content creators. Maybe the reason more people don’t comment is the same reason they don’t create content.

    Maybe they don’t have a pithy comeback to the post or maybe the post was covered so thoroughly there wasn’t that much left to add. Or maybe they didn’t have a strong reaction to it, even though they really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. Who knows?

    But you’re genius with this post because no one could read it and simply say “nice post”…

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