Few people need reminding about the importance of regular blogging to keep your website’s content fresh and prevent it from languishing in the depths of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
But regular blogging is only half the battle. “If you want a successful blog, you need a special ingredient: engagement. ”
The importance of blog comments
Building engagement is a bit of an art form. You want your audience to be so engaged with your blog that they want to buy your products and services, and help promote your blog by sharing it on social media.
An engaged audience – one that regularly interacts with your blog via your comments – is helping you in two ways. First, their comments help to keep your pages topped up with unique new material – all plus points for the Googlebots! Second, they act as social proof for new visitors to your website, as blogs with loads of comments and engagement naturally appear more authoritative, which heightens trust.
However, getting people to leave comments can be a bit of a “chicken and egg” dilemma. The more comments on a blog, the greater the chances that other people will comment, too. But if tumbleweeds are blowing around your site, people are far less likely to get involved themselves.
So how can you build engagement and entice your visitors to comment on your blog? Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Passion, personality, and a dash of controversy
Passion is contagious. If you love your subject and let that passion spill over into your writing, it’s immediately going to capture your readers’ attention. People can tell when an article has been written simply because you need to write something for your rankings or you’re trying to sell something, and when it’s been written with true passion. Let your emotions shine through and people will want to engage with you and will comment to seize some of that passion for themselves.
Similar is true of personality. If your blog is rocking all the personality of a troubleshooting manual, you’re in trouble because your readers won’t believe it’s been written by somebody who cares. “Your blog is an opportunity to demonstrate that your business is operated by real people. ” Tell some great stories, use your personality to engage your readership, and let them know they aren’t dealing with a nameless, faceless entity.
Once you’ve got the personality down, don’t be scared to get controversial at times – nothing creates more buzz than a little controversy. Look at the hot topics being debated in your industry, and put forth your own opinion. Don’t be disrespectful for the sake of it; aim to produce a well-thought-out article with a unique perspective on a controversial topic, then sit back and wait for people to wade in. Avoid subjects you’re not completely sure about it, and do plenty of research so you’re prepared for battle in the comments section. Don’t do anything to damage your reputation and, most of all, ensure you provide value. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Add value and be honest
Your blog content must be valuable to your readers, because your blog isn’t really about you; it’s about what you can do for them. Remember, value comes in a variety of guises. It can be a simple 100-word post, a mammoth 5,000-word article, a video, or an amazing infographic, so long as it adds something to your readers’ lives and helps them move forward with a problem or issue.
To make sure you hit the sweet spot, put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about the sort of content they’re likely to seek from your site. Once you demonstrate your commitment to helping them, they’ll be far likelier to get involved and join in the conversation, whether to add their own point of view or ask for further clarification.
Remember too, failure is an integral element of success. Few people sail along the path to success unhindered – that road is usually filled with peaks and troughs. So get brave and share the story of one of your failures or a sad story. The science of emotions dictates that people are much more likely to respond to that. Make sure you get the right balance though – it’s ultimately about them, so tell the story in a way that will help prevent them from making a similar mistake. Appeal to their pain points.
3. Ask open-ended questions (and dangle the odd carrot)
When you reach the end of your blog, it’s OK to ask your readers to comment – you should finish with a clear call to action. This gives people a starting point to get involved. Otherwise, they’ll reach the end of the article and won’t know what to do next, so they’ll navigate away. Make that question open-ended, i.e. don’t ask something that could be answered by a simple yes/no, or a one-word response. Ask for their input and offer people an opening to express themselves and give a meaningful, complete answer.
If you’re struggling to get comments, try a little temptation. People respond well to incentives, so dream up an incentive that encourages people to comment – you only need a few people to speak up before others start chiming in, too. Hosting a contest is a good option if you’re launching a new product or service. Just remember not to overdo it – if you run a contest every time you publish a new post, people will soon start to become a little blasé about them.
4. Become an ace relationship-builder
Getting active on other industry blogs in your niche will help to give you exposure and create an environment of reciprocation. Get specific with the blogs you choose though – it’s all very well aiming at large media sites such as Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch because they’re active sites; they’re also very general so their audiences are too widespread.
You should seek a selection of high-quality blogs in your industry – places where your ideal readers and clients are likely to be hanging out – and regularly leave valuable comments there. Once your name is familiar, reach out to the site owner with a post of your own and ask if they’d like to comment. Chances are, they’ll be happy to reciprocate and some of their audience are likely to hop over with them. This technique also works with forums.
Your relationship building shouldn’t stop there. When people comment on your blog, they’re aiming to make a connection with you, so take the time to thank them for getting involved and respond to their questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. Show they are appreciated, and demonstrate your authority on the subject with a useful response. “If you want more comments, you should be part of your community, not above it! ”
5. Leave content unfinished
Finally, try not to be too thorough in your blog posts. If you cover every single point of view in a specific subject, there’ll be little left for people to discuss. But if you leave something out, they’ll be unable to resist diving in to point out the obvious.
Share an idea, but leave it open-ended to entice your readers in, or write a list post but leave the last few points empty and ask people to add to it. It’s human nature to want to be part of a conversation, so make sure there’s a conversation to be had. We all love to think we have something valuable to add, so by leaving an opportunity open, people will be itching to get their voice heard.
These are some of the best strategies for attracting comments on your blog, but there are plenty more. What other strategies have you used to encourage comments and which ones are the most effective? Tell us below.