Do you ever get a comment and wonder if the commenter even bothered to read the blog post?
Or do you wonder what the purpose was behind leaving a certain comment?
Maybe it was something along the line of, “That was very helpful, thank you.” This type of comment is nice. It makes your comment count go up, and it’s not a spam comment nor a negative one. So you approve it and maybe even leave an equally unceremonious response like, “Thank you for your comment.”
Truth is, comments are mighty! If you use them properly. Of course, it is beneficial for the one getting comments (raises comments count, making it look like they have a lot of engagement, even when they have none,) but even for the commenter, it can be super useful. But perhaps not always the way you expect. The reason you keep getting useless spammy comments is that some people still listen to outdated advice (partly its the fault of those still giving outdated advice… like, why?!)
For example, there are still Facebook groups where if you want to share your blog post link, you must go and leave two comments on someone else post. Supposedly, it is to increase engagement. But in reality, that does nothing. Except maybe add to the number of useless comments out in the blogoverse. One of the reasons I stopped going to these Facebook groups is to get away from these never-ending, useless, and time-wasting rituals.
The blogging industry is full of bad advice, and to the best of my ability, I try to do my due research to avoid adding to the noise. But I’m just one blogger in a sea of millions of bloggers. But hey, trying is still something, eh?
On the other hand, I much prefer how commenting works on the Medium platform. It’s a newer platform and the concept of blogging on Medium is much different from “traditional” blogging. Because of that, the platform was able to establish its own sets of good and bad practices. There are still comments that make you want to pull your hair out sometimes (for example, when I wrote a post on me being liberal and a feminist, men were all over it, telling me what a nasty piece of crap I’ve written…) but even so, these are not one-liners like “That was a good post.”
Even the nasty commenters on Medium take their time to actually read the post and then pull it apart with their nastiness. Other times, if you’re lucky, they pull it apart with real constructive criticism.
I love receiving (even the nasty ones) comments on my Medium articles precisely because of that, and not just receiving, but I also like to leave comments on that platform. Because it just feels real! Real words from real people. You don’t have to worry about bots or marketers leaving spam all over.
In this post, I will attempt to shed some light on how you can be a better commenter. You cannot control other people’s comments on your blog, but you should at least pay attention to the type of comments you’re leaving on others’ posts. In fact, I encourage you to leave meaningful comments. There are benefits to responding to others’ writing, and I will do my best to point some of those out to you in this post, following some tips for crafting great comments that get you noticed.
The One Giant Misconception to Leaving Comments on Others’ Blogs
Let’s start with this one because leaving useless comments are often justified by fake gurus under this misconception.
Misconception: Leaving comments on others’ blogs will help you drive traffic.
What’s wrong with this notion?
You’re not driving traffic, but you’re bringing in very specific people to your blog. When you say “drive traffic”, it sounds as though you’re driving a massive number of people by leaving comments. That is simply not the case. By leaving meaningful, well-thought-out comments, you may get specific people to visit your blog, such as the blogger whose content you’re commenting on.
A generic comment won’t get you any clicks. Thus, this whole idea that leaving comments will get other people to visit your site in itself is flawed. The only thing that will happen is that you’ll waste your time.
Often bloggers do not allow clickable website URLs in comments. And there’s a good reason for that, mostly born out of the need for limiting bad, spammy comments (links). I’m one of those bloggers. I don’t allow a clickable link in my comments. Unless of course, you leave your URL inside the comment body. And usually, I’m very particular about those comments with clickable links. Unless it is a well-thought-out comment and the link actually leads to a proper blog/website, I delete these sorts of comments right away.
People just don’t have the time. Even when you leave a great comment, chances are that most people won’t even read them. Except for the blogger perhaps. And that is why leaving a meaningful comment is so important. Not because you’re trying to get traffic, but you’re relaying a message — a proper message — to the blogger.
Bonus, Somewhat Lesser-Known Misconception
Another misconception related to commenting is that it gets you backlinks.
That’s just not the case. Pretty much all commenting systems make links “nofollow”. This is a link “rel” tag that tells search engines not to associate the URL in question to the blog/website where it appears or to crawl it from that site. In other words, Google ignores to “see” a “nofollow” link. Which in turn doesn’t count towards a backlink.
So, if you’ve been leaving comments thinking that it would increase your domain authority or SEO ranking by way of seeing it as a backlink, then you can just forget about it.
Why You Should Consider Leaving Comments
Before I go into the art of writing comments, let me first clarify why you should (or shouldn’t) leave comments.
You want specific people to check out your blog.
Just as I pointed out in the previous section, the idea of driving traffic through commenting is pretty much a myth. On the other hand, if you make yourself stand out through your comment, then you have a chance of the blogger checking out your site.
On rarer occasions, some others may feel that your comment was great and decide to check out your blog. You can call it “driving traffic”, but again, the term just sounds misleading, and so I avoid saying it that way. You’re not driving traffic, but you’re getting very specific people to check out your website.
In other words, if you want to get on the radar of other bloggers, crafting a great comment (ideally more than one) is one way of doing so.
I’ll give you an example. I love this one author on Medium. Jessica Wildfire is by far one of, like, two self-help bloggers whose content I actually love. I don’t feel that she is full of BS when I read her stuff (something that happens often when I try to read most self-help blogs) and I just get the feeling that she is a pretty empathetic fellow. In short, I’m more or less in awe of her. I would often leave comments on her posts. It happened quite naturally. I wasn’t forcing myself to do it, I just wanted to let her know that I related to what she was saying, and mostly agreed.
Wildfire is probably one of the most well-known authors on Medium in the self-help and relationship topics. The last thing I expected from her was a follow-back. But she did. Not only that, but she was also checking out my posts, actually reading them, and leaving meaningful comments on them!
By being genuine, I had managed to get on the radar of one of my idol bloggers! How cool is that?! (Oh and feel free to check out her stuff, guys, she is awesome!)
Commenting makes you a better reader, writer, and observer.
Leaving a good comment isn’t easy. It requires that you read what you’re commenting on, that you understand the topic at hand. That takes effort. By the time you’ve crafted your comment, you’ll have found yourself a tad smarter. I’m not kidding! In fact, if it doesn’t make you feel that way, your comment is likely missing something and you should probably go back to the drawing board.
Commenting can open up unique opportunities.
I have heard of bloggers getting guest post gigs by way of leaving great comments. In fact, Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School once shared that he found one of his guest bloggers in the comments section — this person left such a value-packed comment on one of his posts that Rowse reached out to this person and offered them a guest posting gig.
I have a somewhat different but relevant story that I’ll have to share with you another time. But the thing is, do not underestimate a comment. Just like it can open up opportunities, it can also kill them. You do not want to be known as a trashy commenter. But the thing is, you also do not want to be a generic commenter who is never remembered nor recognized. The only thing that does is wastes your time. And time is precious, my friend! Treat it well.
You should not leave comments just for the sake of leaving comments.
If you find yourself writing comments that provide no value or insight, not even a bit of humor at the very least, then don’t bother leaving comments at all. It’s just not worth it. Your bad or generic comments won’t do anything for you.
Sure, you may think that you’re doing the other blogger a favor, but that’s just not right. Trust me, one well-crafted comment is much better than 20 generic “that was a great post” one-liners.
The Really Bad Commenting Practices (that You should Avoid)
Let’s start with some basics.
There are certain practices that will automatically mark you as the trashy commenter. And then there are those comments that aren’t trashy per se, but they do nothing for you as the commenter. Ideally, you’d want to avoid both types.
Let me give you a rundown on some of the common practices among commenters that you should avoid.
You’re spamming/ spam promoting. You’re promoting your blog in such a spammy way that it won’t go through an anti-spam plugin, and even if it does, it will likely get deleted anyway. And if someone isn’t paying attention and your spammy comment does end up getting published, rest assured, no one will be eager to check out your blog.
You’re commenting without reading the post. You see, some people think they’re so smart! They go over the title, maybe even a couple of headlines, and then write a long-ish comment full of false praise. Who are they kidding? A blogger can always tell when a commenter is shooting in the dark and spouting nonsense. Don’t be that annoying guy.
You’re leaving one-liners. They’re just plain irritating. Like I said, it does nothing for either party. In fact, as the commenter, you’re likely wasting a few seconds of your life by leaving these one-lines that nobody cares about. That’s just pathetic.
You’re attacking the blogger. There’s a difference between providing constructive criticism (I’ll go into that soon) and just trash-talking or flaming a blogger. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes sometimes. It is hard to give our 100% all the time. A blogger cares about their writing, so unless a person is doing something awful with their content like spreading hate and racism and misogyny and violence and the likes, (but even then, try to keep your calm and see if you can make your point in a more constructive way,) do not be that person who ruins a fellow blogger’s day for no good reason.
You’re being a little over-enthusiastic. Sometimes you’ll see some people always leaving comments first before everyone else, and doing so on every single post. It is one thing if you have something constructive and of value to offer every single time, but that is humanly impossible. No one has something to say about everything. This behavior suggests desperation and a need for attracting attention to themselves, which can seem almost abusive at times. Just chill, say something when you have something meaningful to say. This is not a competition.
On that note…
You’re leaving comments for the sake of commenting. I’ve mentioned this in the last section, but let me say this once again. Just don’t do this. It adds nothing and does nothing for either party involved.
You’re not using your own name. That just pisses me off, and depending on the day and my mood, sometimes I even delete these comments. And I can tell for a fact that most bloggers appreciate it more when they the real name of the commenter. Adding your business/blog name is bad enough, some people and go and try to keyword-stuff the name section of a comment. Can you just not? Please?
You’re writing a novella in the comments section. Sometimes this can be borne out of a genuine willingness to provide value, or just desperation to get noticed. Remember, it is not your blog. Do not try to take the spotlight here, it doesn’t work that way, and ends up making you seem like the attention hogger. Give value, but do not try to outrank the blogger. You will only get the wrong kind of attention by doing this.
How to Leave Great, Noticeable Comments
Wanna hear something cool?
A few days ago I signed up for an English Composition course on Coursera. I felt a little silly as I was signing up, but hear me out! Back in college when I took this mandatory course, I was too busy acting like the electrical engineer that I had set out to be, and not paying any attention to the composition class.
After all, what would an engineer do with English Composition? – so thought my naive self.
The amount of writing I have had to do ever since as a professional engineer is mind-boggling. I swear, only if I knew how much writing was involved in the life of an engineer, I would have paid a lot more attention in that class.
But anyhow, the reason I signed up for the English Composition course now after so many years, is that I want to be a better and more efficient writer. While the class is geared towards academic writing, what I’m learning is highly transferable. In fact, just within the first week’s lessons, I had some great ideas about how to write better comments.
You see, one of the lessons was about how to respond to others’ writing. While I was doing my research on writing comments, I came across a great many posts, but none of them really taught me anything new. Now, I’ve been blogging for some time and have picked up a few tips on the way. I’m not going to assume you also know what I know, so I’ll share everything.
BUT! Even I learned something that I didn’t know before in that first week in my English Composition course. Like I said, what I’m learning in that course is highly transferable. If you’ve taken English Composition before and remember the course content (I don’t… like I said, I never really paid much attention in that class…) some of this may sound familiar to you. If not, you’re in for a treat my friend!
Comments are meant for interaction.
In my English Composition course, the instructor was talking about different types of responses to someone else’s writing. For example, she mentioned responding in order to interact, to summarize, towards revision, or for evaluation.
As bloggers and readers, we comment mostly to interact. We also share our point of view, which may seem similar to evaluation, but not quite so because as a reader, our job does not involve evaluating the blogger’s writing. If the blog post is missing something, we may politely point it out, but we do not evaluate it in the comments section. Period.
When you’re writing a comment, keep this in mind. You’re inviting interaction. You’re NOT summarizing. You’re NOT proofreading (if there’s need for that in the blog, contact the blogger via email or DM, do not leave a public comment. Do not shame the blogger publicly), and you’re definitely NOT evaluating their work.
Be generous and kind in your comments.
Most of the times a blogger will hardly say anything so offensive that you’ll have to forego kindness and generosity.
I mean, there may be occasions when someone will infuriate you with their words, and a response may be required even, but still, you should try to point out their flaw in private, or, if a public response is needed, do so with dignity and patience and decency.
But that’s an extreme scenario. In most cases, before you start rage-typing, take a minute and cool down first. And then evaluate the content and see how you can make the most impact without having to resort to animosity.
You’ll realize that in most cases if you just allow yourself to calm down first, you’ll find a better way to broach a correction to the blog post.
Be deliberate with your comments.
Even when you’re being generous and providing a helpful comment, you should still be deliberate in the way you write your comments. Always take a few minutes to read and re-read what you’ve written. A little deliberation often goes a long way.
Pay attention to what or who your emphasis is.
This is a tip I picked up from my English Composition class and I love it!
When you’re giving positive feedback in your comment, say something like “I liked how you..”, or “you pointed out that…”, or “the way you described…” Basically, your emphasis should be on “you” — the blogger.
What you’re trying to convey here is that “YOU” [the blogger] did a good job!
In contrast, if your comment is more on the constructive criticism side (a generous phrase for negative comments, huh!), instead of putting your emphasis on “you”, put it on the blog post.
For example, instead of saying “you’ve said that”, you should say something like “your blog post suggests that”.
While the “you” emphasis works wonders in positive comments, it can often seem like you’re attacking the blogger personally when it is used in the frame of a negative comment. So, switch the emphasis from “you” [the blogger] to the blog post itself. This way you create a distance between your negative comme… oops, your constructive criticism, and the blogger.
Nothing says that you’ve read the post and paid attention more than asking a well-thought-out question that has actual relevance to the blog post, and the answer will increase the value of the post itself.
Say what you liked in the post.
Generic flattery usually annoys me. One-liners like “that was a great post” leaves me wondering what they liked about my post in the first place. Often times, I just conclude that they’re leaving comments for the sake of leaving comments and they haven’t actually bothered to read what I’d written.
When you praise the blogger, do it after you have read the post, and there is something that you genuinely liked and feel that it’s worth pointing out. After all, we bloggers love it when our readers like what we write. So, say something like, “I liked…” or “I admired…” and then elaborate on what you liked and why you liked it.
Draw on your experience.
When you’re commenting, try to relate. Say things like “I have had a similar experience where…” or “I have had a very different experience…”
You see, your experiences do not have to be the same, you can draw on a different experience and still relate to the blog post. By sharing a different experience you may even be giving the blogger a different perspective or point of view.
Show that you’re curious to learn more.
I love these types of comments — comments where a reader reads through and wants to know more about the topic. It is especially useful when you specify exactly what it is you’d like to learn more. Say something like “I’d like to know more about…”, or “I was hoping you could say something about…”
Not everyone is good at this. For example, I’m not a very funny person. However, I admire those who are, and it cracks me up when I read good and innocuous humor in a comment. It may not be your cup of tea, and that’s fine. But if it is, use it!
Use helpful links.
Be careful. Do not spam with links in the disguise of being helpful. Use links with caution and only when you think they’re useful.
Format your comments.
If your comment tends to run on the longer side, consider making shorter paragraphs instead of one super long and dense paragraph. Use bolded text to emphasize certain sentences if needed. Use hyperlinks instead of adding links directly (if you have the option). Just like blog posts, comments can benefit from a bit of formatting.
Make sure you have an avatar.
Some blogs, depending on the design and theme, sow a small avatar next to the comment. I personally do not have it, but some bloggers do. If your comment shows up next to an empty avatar, it just looks kind of crappy. So, make sure to add an avatar. For WordPress users, we set it up through Gravatar. Some people use Disqus or other services. Whichever it is, set up an avatar on that platform. It will give you a more personalized look. Also, it’ll make you seem like a real person, and not a bot leaving spammy comments.
Now Show Me What You’ve Learned
Practice time guys! Leave a comment below; show me your comments! Praise me, criticize me (wrong, not me, but my blog post!), tell me what I’ve missed, humor me!
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