SEO is constantly evolving.
The majority of people that think they’re ahead of the SEO game are just moments from being left behind.
Keep doing what’s working now and it will always work, right?
I guess that sometimes – yes, you’re right. To an extent.
However, the more that people use proven techniques, the harder it becomes to actually use them, thus rendering them less-effective.
For example, outreaching for a high quality infographic was so much easier a couple of years ago than it is today.
The technique still works, but the amount of people that are doing it now means that the inboxes of bloggers or Editors are a lot more saturated with similar content now.
So, what if I said to you that I have a brand new technique that will get you backlinks AND engagement on your posts?
Note: I do.
And the marketing budget you’d need for this? Absolutely nothing.
Interested? Read on…
Comment Collection: The Next Big White-Hat SEO Method
I thought I’d flip things on their head a bit with this post, and give you the results up front.
After all, you want proof this thing really works, right?
These are the impressive numbers that I have from the very first post that I tried out this technique on:
A 285.55% increase in average time spent on page as well as a more than respectable 15.65% drop in bounce rate and a 19.32% drop in exit rate looks great to me.
UPDATE (April 15th):
You might notice that my metrics were fairly poor before employing this technique.
My current metrics, a few months on after my Comment Collection brainwave, are as followed:
That’s right, thanks to a mix of engaging content and Comment Collection, the average time a reader spends on my posts is over 5 minutes.
On average, I receive six times more comments on posts that I implement the technique on.
How would you like to increase your numbers like that? You can.
What the Experts Are Saying
Huge thanks to Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting for sharing this post on his Google+ page.
Some highlights of his opinions on Comment Collection include “this really is a brilliant addition to any content promotion outreach campaign” and “rest assured I’ll be employing this in our future outreach campaigns for major content pieces.”
A range of popular industry profiles have also been loving this technique on Twitter:
— Brian Dean (@Backlinko) January 23, 2015
— SEMrush (@semrush) January 28, 2015
When industry influencers are speaking about and sharing a technique like this, you know that you need to be doing it for yourself also.
So, onto the key details of how this all works…
The Future of SEO – Why This Technique is So Important
How’s SEO shaping up at the moment?
Well, Google is certainly looking towards visitor engagement in order to determine how appropriate your content is compared to what they’re searching for.
What does this mean?
It’s probably best to answer this with a series of other questions.
When Google is looking at your site, they’re going to be asking the following questions:
- How long is a visitor staying on this landing page?
- Have they exited the page before clicking elsewhere on the site (bounced)?
- Did they share the content on any social media platforms?
- Did they comment on the post?
- Did the user link back to your website?
Did you know there’s such a thing as negative social proof?
If your website doesn’t get social shares or receive comments, other readers are going to be less likely to do so as well. Google sees this, and factors it into its algorithms accordingly.
Even if your website gets a decent level of interaction already, why wouldn’t you want it to become more engaged?
Experts in the field are pointing towards to improving the user experience (UX) through better website design, user testing, A/B testing and more.
Yes, these are all essential for improving conversions and can help with engagement too.
All of these areas can be improved using this simple technique.
Implementing the Comment Collection Technique
You can split Comment Collection into 3 basic steps:
Step 1: Find engaged content
Step 2: Find engaged people
Step 3: Re-engage people
Sound simple? That’s because it is.
All you’re going to need for this is great content – you’ve known for years that you need that – and a bit of hard work; you can do that, right?
Step 1: Finding engaged content
Engaged content can be defined as any article or page online that has a heavy serving of social shares and – most importantly for this technique – comments.
More on that in the second step of this process.
Firstly, we need to set about finding the content that is highly engaged.
If you already know enough blogs that are popular, engaged and post frequently then you can just go straight to these sites and begin on step 2.
However, if you need advice on finding content that fits the bill in specific areas or niches, then I would definitely advise using Buzzsumo.
Within the Buzzsumo platform you are able to search for content in a specific subject area and order them based on the total amount of social media shares they’ve received.
When a post has received a massive amount of social shares, you can be pretty confident that it will have a reasonable number of comments on it too.
I would really advise trying to find posts that are related as closely to the subject you’re writing about as possible.
One thing to consider with this is the date that the article was published or the date that regular comments were last received.
If the post is too old (I’d suggest anything more than a month is probably too old) or if it hasn’t received a regular influx of comments for a decent amount of time (again the same time period will probably suffice) then it wouldn’t qualify for the Comment Collection technique in my eyes.
A great thing about Buzzsumo is that is lets you filter by date.
If you really need to go back six months, a year, or even search by posts from all-time then you can, but I’d doubt the effectiveness of reaching out to posts that are as old as this.
Basically, the more recent the better.
Search for content from the past 24 hours, or the past week (this is probably your best bet), before you go delving into successful posts from yesteryear.
Once you’ve found at least one highly engaged post – although I’d be looking to grab at least a few – you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Step 2: Find Engaged People
Once we’ve found a few posts that we’d consider ‘engaged’, it’s time to move onto finding the people that we’ll need to contact.
How do you do this?
This is also a really easy process.
Scroll down to the comments section of your first post. Here you will find the holy grail of this whole technique; active readers that enjoy interacting.
Why are they the holy grail, you say?
People that comment on websites or, typically blog posts, are the most active and engaged form of web traffic – when they aren’t bots of course.
Not only do they read a post rather than scanning it (thus staying on a page for a decent period of time) but they’ll also scout around a website after commenting (reducing bounce/exit rates).
They’re also more likely to share the post on social media, link back from their website – a large proportion of blog commenters are typically website owners or managers – and importantly there is a big chance they’ll return to your website in the future.
It gets even better; user-generated unique content on your page is only going to give it even more weighting in Google’s eyes.
Now, if only our content was getting as many comments as the engaged content that we’ve found.
We can. It’s easy.
We’re going to target the commenters from other websites and, fortunately for us, websites tend to make it nice and easy to do so.
A large proportion of people that do comment will have a link to their website from their author name which is great, this allows us to simply open their website in a new tab and then keep scouting around for more potential people to target.
What if their website is low quality? This doesn’t matter at all!
We’re looking for engagement as a priority; we needn’t worry about the PageRank or Domain Authority of a website in this process.
Getting linkbacks is not our aim in this process, although you still may get some here and there which can be great news. Any poor links can be removed when you do a backlink audit, which I would recommend doing a few times a year.
If the commenter doesn’t have a website linked then they’re likely to have a social media profile attached, which is still great for us.
If they don’t have a social media profile attached directly to their comment, what’s wrong with quickly searching their name within Twitter and seeing if you can find said person? Nothing. The extra 30 seconds work is definitely worth it.
The aim of this is to build up an engagement outreach list of people that we wish to contact, to try and get them to leave their thoughts in the comments of our article(s).
I’d definitely advise using the BuzzStream BuzzMarker for this (if you don’t already use BuzzStream, you are seriously missing out). You can still do it all manually, but this saves SO much time and hassle.
My favourite thing about the BuzzMarker is that it will automatically look to collate contact information (specifically email addresses) and social media profiles.
You can also create notes within each contact you add based on the comment they’ve written on the website.
This will all come in handy as we move onto attempting the third and final stage of this process; re-engaging them.
Step 3: Re-Engage People
Familiar with outreach? If not, where have you been? Here’s some handy outreach tips if you need them.
What we’re going to be doing here is contacting the people that left comments on a similar article and simply ask them to share their thoughts on our piece of content too.
Sound too simple?
It really is that straightforward.
Find an email address for the people you’re contacting from their website link or from their social media profiles.
As mentioned previously, BuzzStream will automatically look to find as many email addresses as it can for you, but it won’t find them all. It’s really worth spending a bit of time for each person trying to find an email address.
If you can’t email them directly, try hitting them up on social media.
Once you’ve done your outreach, as ever, you play the waiting game.
Or, alternatively, try finding even more people to contact.
Testing and Results
I wrote a post about swearing on my blog. This was inspired by a post I’d read elsewhere which argued that writers should never swear on a blog, and it got a small level of engagement.
Please note, I hadn’t even thought of the Comment Collection process at this time, so finding a highly engaged post was not on my agenda.
I had quite a lot to say on the issue of swearing online, and thought it would be best to put it into a post of my own rather than a comment on the original post. So I did.
I wanted to see what people thought of my points, had I managed to change their opinion at all? Did they agree with anything I had to say?
It’s then that I had a brainwave and thought “hmm, maybe I’m onto something with this one.”
After giving it some thought and unsuccessfully looking around online for some information on this technique elsewhere, I simply had to try it for myself.
I initially invested only 20 minutes into trying this technique out.
My success rate for contacting people and getting people to comment for this one post was over 50%.
These weren’t just standard comments either, some of them was really high quality. Check out this from Don Purdum!
I’m so thankful to anyone that would go to such lengths for a bit of healthy discussion.
Better still, some of the wonderful people that left comments also went on to share the post – or other posts – on social media.
Most of the points raised are effectively disagreeing with what I wrote, but in a way that encourages more comments on the matter. I don’t see a problem with this; debate is good, opinions will vary with each individual in all subject areas.
Since I first trialed it I have put in a few hours more work into both a) refining the technique and b) continuing to implement it.
Across three blog posts I have contacted a range of people – all of whom I’ve never spoken to and have likely never heard of me – and my current success rate for getting a response on Intergeek stands at just below 50%.
If you needed any more convincing that this technique is worth the time investing into; this kind of success rate isn’t likely with any other technique.
Benefits I Hadn’t Even Thought About
When I set out on the task to prove this idea could work, all I really had in mind was to increase my comment counts and my engagement metrics.
This was admittedly short-sighted and foolish.
Little did I know that when I checked the site one day to see if anyone had responded to my Comment Collection attempts, I would be smashed straight in the face by my favourite comment from any website – EVER – from Jaime Buckley of WantedHero.
I’ve opted not to include a screenshot of this because a) it’s so long, his first comment (there were more) is 1,200 words alone! and b) it’s seriously epic, you need to read it in its entirety; see it here.
The best thing about Jaime’s comments?
I’ve discovered an insanely talented writer, who I can learn from myself and also engage with on his posts.
Making friends online – also known as networking, but I don’t like this term anymore – is important, and it’s fun too.
I’ve spoken about doing this more in a bit more detail in my New Year’s blogging resolutions post.
Truth be told, I can’t even tell from his comments whether he likes me, loathes me or even wishes I was dead. I don’t even care. He’s awesome!
Reading his comments is like an emotional rollercoaster where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, and I think this applies to everyone reading, rather than just me as the author.
The benefits to Comment Collection just seem to keep on growing.
Why Does This Technique Work So Well?
Engaged commenters are typically extremely interested in a subject area, or they’re passionate about a certain issue that has been raised in a post.
Both of these are perfect reasons for getting them to comment on your post in a similar subject area.
Not only are you getting what you wish to achieve – more engagement – but they’re also getting their views or opinions heard by a wider audience.
In addition, all of those that commented seemed more than happy to have been asked to contribute in the discussion, and why shouldn’t they be happy?
I outreached to these people because I liked their input in another discussion on the same subject area. Valued opinions count for a lot, I’m sure.
I think it’s best that I wrap this post up here for now.
Engagement will play, and is playing, such an important part in the future of SEO. This cannot be overlooked.
Whilst UX is increasing in importance, this is a perfectly ethical way to increase your engagement levels without the need for a site makeover or the need to learn any technical skills.
Flickr Creative Commons image via Martin Fisch.