Many bloggers ask whether they should enable comments on their blog. Blog comments can be a great source of conversation and community building. But there are also disadvantages to allowing people to comment on your website. In this article, I’ll try to answer some of the questions you may be asking, such as whether blogging without comments will limit your audience as well as affect your search engine optimization.
Everyone’s got their own view on this and there’s no general consensus.
Should you allow blog commenting on your website? To use the typical marketing-speak with these types of questions, the answer is, “it depends”.
I’ll try to address key questions about the use of blog comments like, whether blogs with and without comments are successful, and how popular blogs handle comments?
Back in the day, blog commenting was the social media of its time. The percentage of visitors that commented on a new post was high. And some posts could garner thousands of comments, turning their original 500-word blog post (remember those) into posts of several thousand words. While this might seined like a good thing, it’s not always. Would you let random people write the content on your blog? Probably not, but that’s essentially what you’re doing if you open up commenting to everyone, especially if it’s not moderated.
Why you should allow blog comments
- You can have direct interaction with your readers.
- You get suggestions about topics and open up the possibility for improvements thanks to helpful reader comments.
- Consider the comments section as a mini-review of your posts. Get feedback on what’s working and get the benefit of readers notifying you of changes in facts or news.
- Posts with lots of comments seem more trustworthy, especially if the comments are meaningful and thoughtful.
- Great for exploring new ideas and trends that an engaged audience comes up with
- Can be good for SEO but can also be a bad thing (see below)
Why you should turn off blog comments
- Competitors can try to change the text of your website in a negative way in order to manipulate the search rankings. Your competitors could purposefully add content to your blog posts via comments in order to increase the word count. This results in a different TFIDF – the frequency of certain keywords to the overall number of words.
- When blog comments grow larger than the actual body content, there are negative SEO implications as the content of the page drastically changes
- It takes a lot of time to moderate comments on a busy website.
- Spammers and trolls use special tools and searches to find blogs that have “leave a comment” and other signals that your blog is open for comments. This is an invitation for even more dangerous visitors to take a closer look at your site. This is the attention you definitely do not want.
Do blog comments help SEO?
It can. I have seen it work. On several blog posts, keywords only mentioned in the comments have ranked in Google and helped bring traffic to my sites. So comments can be a good way to increase relevant word count, add questions, and have different variations on a theme.
You’ve probably noticed that the top-ranking URLs for a keyword are not always in depth, well thought out posts. But some have huge numbers of comments. In fact, I’ve seen pages with less than 1000 words of actual content and 10000 words or more of comments. These pages don’t always rank first but they get tons of traffic to long-tail keywords.
If you’re interested in whether blog comments can actually increase income on a revenue-generating blog, the jury’s out on that one. Blogs with more resources than I, have already crunched the numbers to see if blog comments actually make a difference to revenue. There’s probably more evidence to suggest that blog comments can increase revenue, but let me emphasize that there’s a small chance and the difference is probably not worth it.
If you’ve got a team or a Virtual Assistant who can manage comments for you, then it could be worth it.
So should you allow commenting on your blog?
If you have the resources to deal with the questions and spam, then go for it. Understand, however, that every word on your post contributes to the overall word count and word density. It’s important to manage comments so there isn’t too much left-of-field nonsense.
Turn the question around, why would you want your blog readers to leave comments? What’s the end goal? Don’t just have a comments box on your site because someone said it’s good for SEO or content length or otherwise.
What are the alternatives?
The most obvious one is your contact form. Yes, it’s another thing to manage, but you definitely should have a way for people to reach you. Contact form tools offer much better spam protection technology and you can filter out junk in your inbox as a second defence.
Social media can be another good channel to receive comments and interact with your audience. Of course, this all depends on your audience having social media accounts and being active on the channels that you decide to use. Some people love reading and commenting on blogs but don’t feel the same way about Facebook or Instagram, for example.
How popular blogs deal with comments
WordPress’s own Akismet is a good option if you have a site that doesn’t require more than 10,000 API calls (requests to the spam database) per month. That should be enough for most regular blogs. It costs around $10 a month for one site.
Another option is Hyvortalk, an excellent modern commenting system that not only provides an easy way for people to leave messages but also takes care of spam and keeps malicious commenters away.