Rewind a few years (ahem) to when you were at school.
Did you turn up on the first day and instantly become popular? Did anyone, for that matter?
Granted, some will have risen to the top quicker than others, but no-one became the it girl overnight.
It doesn’t matter who the cool kid was, it will have took them time to master the art of being a social butterfly.
Gradually, they’ll have made people laugh. Made people smile. Made people jealous.
Were they funny?
Good at sports?
Just so god damn irresistibly gorgeous?
Whatever it was, they rose to fame – within your school at least – for being good at something, even if this was simply having seemingly faultless genetics.
I bet everyone wanted to befriend them. Speak to them. Impress them.
It must have been amazing to be the cool kid at a school.
My role was the class clown, so I had a duty to distract others – damaging their education and their future prospects whilst making a fool of myself.
Hey, don’t blame me. I was just doing my job.
Sometimes, I’d envy the people cooler than me (which happened to be anyone that washed on a daily basis) and wonder what I had to do to be like them.
They spoke to everyone. They knew everyone.
They impressed people and stories about them would spread like wildfire – I still can’t believe those two hooked up in detention.
Then came the trend when the popular people decided that from an exact point in time, no-one would be allowed to talk to them anymore.
From now on, they’re just way too cool to be speaking to other people – even to each other.
They’ll be updating their Facebook status, but you’re not allowed to comment.
You’re allowed to see how well they’re doing or any advice they want to give to people, but you can’t give your input. No-one can.
Does this sound familiar?
It wouldn’t make sense for them to do so.
So why would a blogger do the same thing?
Get To The Top By Stepping On Those That Support You
You’re probably trying to build your blog audience. I get that, we all are, right?
Imagine getting yourself into the position where you’re getting more visitors, more comments and even more money than you could have ever dreamed of.
That’s what we’re all working towards. We’ll get there eventually if we keep working hard.
In the vision of your future perfect money-spinning blog, how many of you envisage a bustling community that receives zero comments on every single post?
None, I’d guess.
Active, engaged visitors are the cream of the crop of website traffic.
There’s no greater feeling when you’ve published a post than receiving feedback and seeing it get shared elsewhere.
Why would you want to shut this opportunity down?
These are the people that have helped form the community to bring you all of your success, now you want to kick them to the curb and give them a quick “thanks for nothing!” along with a two fingered salute?
It just doesn’t cut it in my eyes.
Let’s quickly consider some of the reasons in favour of turning them off; ProBlogger wrote about this previously.
Then CopyBlogger went one step further and disabled them altogether, sparking a new trend with popular online websites.
Reasons To Turn Your Comments Off
If you don’t want to read that article, the positives for turning your blog comments off are apparently:
- Most responses you receive are meaningless
- Bloggers stick around with an agenda
- Regular commenters intimidate the casual reader
- There’s often disjointed spelling and unconstrained grammar everywhere
- People often mock the author
- You can save valuable writing time
Okay, I’ll try to keep my responses to these points as brief as possible.
I don’t know about you, but receiving a two-line response along the lines of “this has really helped me out, thanks so much” is absolutely not meaningless.
I love to hear that I’ve helped people out, and other readers can now see that my advice has helped too – in turn making the new reader more likely to adopt my tactics and techniques too.
Admittedly, a lot of the comments you (and I) receive will be from other bloggers. Why does this matter? Networking is an important part of growing a site. The owner of a big site will have had to network to get to the stage they’re at now, you have to too.
Comments are scary and off-putting to a random reader. Wait…what? Because they refer to an author by their first name and chat as if they’ve known each other all their life, this intimidates first-time readers and those that only read occasionally? I’m not buying that.
I’ve only recently started leaving my thoughts on other sites and can wholeheartedly say that I’d never been put off a website before because it had happy and engaged regular readers.
As for the disjointed and unconstrained grammar, does this matter? It’s clear that these comments are left by other people, not the blogger.
Also, if you really care that much, you can edit for spelling and punctuation y’know. Not that I see much point in that.
If people mock the author, why not just unapprove them? No comment gets approved on Intergeek without me giving it the go-ahead – although this is mainly for spam.
You can abuse me all you want by the way, if you have feedback – whether this be constructive or just telling me that I’m a dick – I’m happy to hear it. I can handle it – especially if it’s funny (at my expense).
The one point I do agree with is that you can save valuable writing time.
If you spend 10 minutes a day moderating comments, you would save 3,650 minutes a year – this is almost 61 hours. Most people would be able to get around 20 high quality blog posts written in that timeframe.
All this extra time spent writing content would be great for generating more traffic, right?
If you’re spending 10 minutes a day moderating and replying, you’re probably receiving between around 10 comments a day on average – 3,650 in a year.
If people leave a comment, the least you can do is thank them for taking the time to do so.
When I leave feedback on a blog and get a reply back from the author, it makes me feel happy – genuinely, no matter how big the site is.
Why would you want to discourage probably around 1,500 people (I’ve discounted 2,150 of the comments because some people will respond more than once) from interacting with you?
Receiving just one response from you could be – and often is – the difference between them subscribing or sharing your article and also returning in the future, or just leaving to never show their face again. Not that you could see it anyway if you had your comments turned off.
The amplification possibilities of 1,500 extra loyal and engaged subscribers is potentially amazing.
What if just 100 of these subscribers shared your new blog post on Twitter each week?
Well, if they had 750 followers each on average – again a number I’ve just picked at random – that’s a potential audience reach of 75,000 people extra for every single post you write.
Don’t Underestimate Social Proof
Have you heard of social proof?
If you can see that people have commented or shared previously, you’re more likely to do so. It’s just a psychological fact of life.
If a post has a large amount of discussion on it, you know it’s liked by a wide range of people and therefore you’re more likely to share it – because you can safely assume that your friends/followers would be interested in it too.
When a blog is visibly popular, we’re much more likely to remember the site and go back in the future.
If it’s liked by a wide range of people, you can tell quickly that the information being supplied is going to be regularly helpful or interesting.
If your blog isn’t receiving a lot of comments then you can simply implement Comment Collection to handle matters on that front.
Engagement For SEO
Yeah, I’m harping on about this one again.
As Google tightens up its grip on ethical search guidelines, engagement is only going to pay an increasingly growing factor in years to come. If you don’t believe me, ask Rand.
Good engagement correlates with better rankings, but doesn’t cause it directly.
The indirect benefits of good engagement can lead to tonnes of authority being pointed towards your website, giving it more visibility within search engines.
If more people are commenting, subscribing and sharing your post, returning on a regular basis and engaging often, Google can see this. They can see that you’re providing valuable information and therefore will give your site more prominence in search engines.
Is this because of the engagement directly? Sometimes.
The reduced bounce rate, increase in repeat visitors, improved time spent on your site and more are all positives to help with your site’s bid to rank highly in search results.
Better still, as more people become engaged and hooked to your website, you’re likely to pick up more amplification and exposure – meaning you’re even more likely to attract new sharers and even links back too.
If that’s not enough, you’re getting user generated content on your posts – people are increasing your word counts for you, helping you to increase quality and even rank for more keywords than your post would without them.
So Long, Suckers!
All this being said, I’m turning my comments off. Forever.
No, not really.
There are so many benefits to receiving comments for both building an audience and increasing your SEO authority (two things which work hand-in-hand) that I just can’t see a reason good enough to do so.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, particularly my responses to that ProBlogger article – have regular commenters ever intimidated you?
Does poor grammar in the discussion at the bottom reflect badly on a website as a whole?
Would you rather write more and engage with your readers less?
Oh, and one more thing that I forgot. If you’re receiving too much spam then just get a good spam filter!
I use Akismet which is free and nothing slips through the net at the moment *touchwood*.
Flickr Creative Commons image via innoxiuss.