You’ve probably heard me talk about “connecting with your tribe”. So what follows might seem a bit contradictory. So let me explain.
Back in the day, circa mid-2000s, “blogging” was the hot new internet craze and blog comments were a way for content creators to build conversation around their work.
In 2022, content creation is just as important as ever for establishing brand authority. However, I feel that in the majority of cases, blog comments don’t add much value anymore.
Unless you are a rock star blogger with volumes of content and/or you blog about topics which incite passionate responses (politics, economics, sports etc.), most small business owners would be better served to disable comments on their blog site.
Table of Contents
The Case “For” Blog Comments
Those who are argue in favor of blog comments usually cite the following:
– Blog comments provide a form of social proof.
– Responding to comments helps you to deepen your relationship with your readers.
– Blog comments are good for search engine optimization (SEO) of your content.
The Case “Against” Blog Comments
Those who argue against blog comments point out:
– The social proof argument only works if your commentary looks genuine and purposeful.
– Social media offers better ways to learn about your target audience and engage with them.
– The SEO benefits are minimal at best.
Low Value Commentary and Backlink Spam
Typical blog commentary is something along the lines of “Nice blog”, or “Thanks for this article”. It doesn’t really add any value to the page or lead to more substantial conversations. In fact it’s often hard to discern whether these are genuine, human generated comments or the output of a spambot crawling your site.
Facebook also has its share of spammers and scammers but the problem is particularly rife when it comes to blog comments. There are some SEO black hat operators who (mistakenly) think that dropping comment links back to their casino, crypto or pharmaceutical website will improve their search engine rankings or maybe deliver some random click through traffic. It’s a desperate strategy but there are no shortage of automated “bots” engineered to leave generic backlink comments on any blog they find.
The inevitable spam means that website owners find it necessary to deploy technological solutions to filter out and moderate potential spam. For self-hosted WordPress blogs, for example, there are anti-spam plugins like Akismet which have a license cost associated. Even “free” plugins have a technological overhead element – its extra code that the server needs to support and which needs to be maintained.
And then there is the cost of your time. As a blog site owner, typically you need to review and approve blog comments, at least for first time commenters. Unless comments are approved quickly, your website visitors will feel disinclined to leave further remarks.
Prolific blogger Seth Godin believes that comments even negatively impact the quality and quantity of his writing. He explains why he has never had comments enabled on any of his work.
First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters.– Seth Godin
The Rise of Social Media
These days, most conversation engagement seems to happen on social media. Facebook pages and Facebook groups in particular are are arguably much better discussion environments for several reasons:
– People are already “in their feed” and therefore more likely to see and engage with commentary.
– Conversations can leverage rich media resources like images, GIFs and video. Not so easy to do within blog comments.
In order for somebody to leave a comment on your blog (for the first time at least) they need to fill out their name and email address. This creates friction in the process which doesn’t exist on social media. To leave a comment you just need to be logged into whichever app you are using.
Furthermore, social media platforms are usually pretty good at pushing notifications about comment replies whereas with a blog, commenters only really get informed about responses via email, and even then, only if they have opted in to receive such updates.
Finally, blog commentary is mostly conducted, for all intents and purposes, by anonymous participants. However, on social media, all participants have the opportunity to check each other’s profiles and potentially forge productive relationships and take the conversation into more “private” spaces like direct messaging.
The Truth About Comments and SEO
Well-known marketer and SEO expert Neil Patel conducted some research into how much additional search traffic he received from the comments on his 500+ blog articles on marketing. He found that the incremental benefit was about 16% of total organic visitor traffic – which isn’t nothing, but it’s not something to get too excited about either.
Comments didn’t drive as many visitors as I wanted, but considering that it’s user-generated content, it’s not that bad. It could be that Google may not be placing as much value on text created through comments or words appearing lower on a page (since comments are located below each blog post) as it does on the post itself.– Neil Patel
All of these factors support the view that blog comments aren’t necessarily the best way to drive engagement or start conversation with your target audience. Social media platforms may be a more effective platform for achieving those outcomes.
So from this point, comments will no longer be enabled on this blog. But if you would like to engage in a conversation about any of the content here, I invite you to join The Teacherpreneur Marketing Academy Facebook Group.
The author of this post lives in Japan with his wife and family. He has taught English part-time (online and off) for more than a decade. He is passionate about WordPress consulting, online marketing and using the power of the internet to help people achieve their dreams.
He thinks that until you’ve tried sashimi tuna with wasabi, soy sauce, hot sake and a cold beer chaser, you just haven’t lived.