Blog Comments: Should You Disable Comments?

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?

Probably not.

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?

Not necessarily.

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.

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About Luke Jordan
I craft posts to help you get more traffic - both through SEO & through the quality of your content. Founder of Intergeek, influencer of the future, idiot of the present. My Google+

11 Comments

  1. ok you rock,this post is outsidin,dont have to read it all to knw that

  2. Ok Luke, you rock….as usual.

    Good article, but it’s completely messing with my mind.

    I think it’s the trying hard to think back to my school days…about being popular.

    Yes, I was a popular kid.
    “Hey, there’s Buckley—lets’ kick the shit outta him.”

    “Good idea, George.”

    *insert screaming here–throw in a cup or two of blood for good measure…*

    “Hell George, that was SO much fun, we should do a promo…make flyers, hand out coupons. Sell shit-kicker boots…we could make some MONEY!”

    Ok, that’s a lie.

    …the never made flyers.

    Funny thing was, I was the quite kid–the artist, that even the bullies, when no one was looking, became friends with me. So I had more signatures in my book at the end to the year than most…

    But I would have traded traded it all to hang out with that “it” girl.

    I’ve NEVER been the “it” girl.

    Hmmmm.

    Course, I’ve never been a GIRL either.

    Meh.

    • Jaime, you’ve never been a girl? You’re missing out!

      Sincerest apologies for bringing back those bad memories, they sound awful. I’ve always had a knack for avoiding any fighting or confrontation, I always just used to run away as a kid…who am I kidding? I’d still run away now. I fear my stamina isn’t quite where it used to be, though.

      I think I accidentally threw out my end-of-school signature book as I looked for it a while back but couldn’t find it anywhere (although I’m sure if I called up my mom she’d find it within seconds). It’s a shame, I’d quite like to see how many people said ‘stay in touch!’ and never spoke to me again.

      As ever, your creative comments have been the highlight of my day!

      Luke

      • HAHA, Luke it’s perfectly alright…seriously. I’t all GOOD!

        I don’t regret the violence. I truly don’t. It shaped me in good ways.

        No, wasn’t fun, but hey–I’m here, right, defending others beCAUSE of that crap, so I’m happy.

        You Do get when I’m joking and being sarcastic…yes??

        Now as for the girl thing, we may all get a shot at that with the transgender garbage going on AND all the female hormones in our food. Don’t know about you Brits–but in the USA it’s a serious problem (chemicals in food).

        Oh, and I have a side question for ya. How do mom’s DO that, anyway?

        We look for what seems like weeks and not only can they find any item you can possibly suggest in seconds, most moms can TELL you where it is within 6.5″ of its actual location without taking their eyes off folding the laundry!!!

        Talk about super powers!

        ….waiiiiit. Maybe THEY hid the item…to LOOK cool? Hmmmmm.

        Yeah, i ran away too. They followed. Seriously–that’s 90% of my experiences. Followed and jumped, then serious, bloody (meaning bloody, not your swearing ‘bloody’…but then again I COULD say Bloody Bloody, huh?) beatings ensured. Nowadays I think people like me too much to want to hurt me.

        No, I couldn’t outrun anyone. Hell, I couldn’t outrun a dude in a wheelchair at this point. Luckily I keep a turkey leg I’m gnawing on in my hoodie to clobber anyone stupid enough to get close to the irritated bear.

        HAHAHAHA! “Stay in touch”…..riiiight. Yet, that IS the most common thing in MY book too.
        Liars.

        • You’re a funny guy, Jaime, and a great writer too. You could be writing paragraphs of abuse for all I know, I still enjoy it – they look like jokes and sarcasm to me either way!

          My mom has a serious talent for it, I know it’s a mom ‘thing’ but I’m sure if finding lost items was an olympic event then she’d be a cert for a silver medal (you Americans win everything, after all).

          You were a bloody mess. You were a bloody mess. You were a bloody, bloody mess. Heh, the joys of the English language. Glad to hear it’s done you well as time has progressed.

          Stay in touch Jaime – no, really!

          PS: Your new site redesign is AWESOME.

  3. Hey Luke completely agree with your points.

    I was following this blog just about a year ago, had some very good information/tips on a variety of different topics. I really liked the site. Than one day early last year CopyBlogger decided they were going to turn off comments on their site. This blogger thought that was a brilliant idea and decided to follow suit. Her response was, if you want to comment on my post, connect with me on Twitter or G+.

    Now I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after reading a post is to open up a new window, find this blogger on social media, reference the post I want to comment on, and then leave my comment. That’s nothing but a waste of my time, and I ended up not following that blog.

    Comments add so much more to the discussion. I’m all about networking/engaging through blog commenting, but that’s only one piece of it. I find myself reading (maybe skimming) through the comments on a number of blogs because I can learn as much from the comments as I can the post itself. That may not be true in every case, but there’s usually a pearl or two that you can pull from these comments.

    This is a great topic.

    Craig

    • Hey Craig, how’s it going?

      Thank you for the CopyBlogger reference – I’ve popped that into the post too as it was definitely their change that kickstarted the strange trend.

      I completely agree with you, I don’t know how often I’d hunt someone down on social media to tell them their post was great, even if their profiles were linked to from the post. Sure, if someone shared something that popped up on my Twitter feed that I thought was great then I’d respond, but I’m unlikely to click from a blog to their profile to give them feedback.

      Yes! I often skim comments to see if people agree with my thoughts or if anyone can back up techniques with positive responses, there’s so much more I know, but you get where I’m heading on this one. Discussion is important even when I’m a casual reader of a website! It even encourages me to join in regularly.

      Enjoy the rest of your week.

    • The only time I’ve ever turned the comments off was because it was a page, not a post and I was making a statement, not engaging in a conversation.

      This is my “About Me” page.

      No, I’m not interested in what the hell you think about it.

      It’s about ME numb nuts, not you.

      Just read it or go away.

      Now,…I didn’t say that in exACtly that way….but I WAS THINKING about it in that way.

      ….just sayin.

      • Agreed Jaime, comments on pages aren’t necessary.

        A real gripe of mine is when people have comment sections on contact pages – the amount of times I’ve submitted a comment when trying to get in touch with someone! Grr.

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