Updated January 22, 2016
One thing that often leads to an increase in traffic is commenting on other blogs. The rise of social media has resulted in many conversations taking place elsewhere, but comments are not dead. However, to avoid just adding to the noise, don’t comment willy-nilly. Be strategic about it.
Adding value to the conversations happening in your niche is one way to gain trust and establish some authority on your topic, two very important parts of building your platform.
1. Hang out where your target audience hangs out
It might go without saying, but if you want to draw readers to your site, comment on other blogs similar to yours. As I mentioned in my post of networking tips, hang out where your target audience hangs out.
For example, if your blog is about knitting, commenting on blogs about softball, sports cars and snow cones is not likely to convert into many readers for you. It’s a silly example, but you get the point.
2. Branch out
At the same time, it’s a common mistake to find a handful of blogs we like, visit often…and then stay there. This isn’t bad—it’s a great way to get involved in the community—but it becomes limiting when you’ve exhausted your traffic pool. Don’t forget, there’s a whole huge world of internet out there.
Next time you’re visiting one of the blogs you always visit, make a point of seeking out some interesting links that might lead you to another pool of interested readers.
3. Be helpful
“Great post!” is a nice comment (I always like hearing it), but not very effective when it comes to driving traffic to your site. Try leaving useful information instead. Something like, “I really like your idea. Sometimes I also try using bigger needles because it gives a more textured effect.” (Can you tell I know nothing about knitting?) Offer good advice and be friendly.
Not only are helpful comments appreciated by the blog owner, they also help to establish your credibility and are much more likely to be noticed by others. The more comments you leave that are helpful, the more people are likely to remember who you are and the more likely they will want to check out your site.
4. Don’t be spammy
It should be said that while commenting on other blogs can be an effective way of gaining readers, gaining readers should not be the only reason you comment on other blogs. Don’t be a nuisance by commenting only to plug your own site or toot your own horn.
A huge pet peeve is the “comment competitions” on really big blogs. This is when people race to be the first one to comment. And then they leave a “First comment!” in their comment. Get genuinely involved in the conversation.
Should you leave links to your own site in your comment?
There are various opinions about whether or not it’s okay to leave a link to your own site in your comment. On a few occasions in the past I have included a link to my own site in my comment when there was a really good reason to do so.
However, the longer I’m online, the more I lean away from this practice. Leaving a sincere and helpful comment and trusting others will click over to your site via your name is a win-win-win situation for the blog owner, their readers and you.
5. Login with a good URL
When you want to leave a comment, you typically have to register by leaving your name and email address. Most of the time you’re also given the option to leave your website URL.
Many bloggers just leave a link to their homepage in this spot. Instead, deep link. That is, leave a URL deep within your site that relates specifically to the post on which you’re commenting.
For example, if I’m reading someone’s blog post about how to blog, I do not leave the URL of my homepage (i.e. https://amylynnandrews.com) in the Website URL field. Instead, I leave the URL of my post How to Start a Blog (https://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-start-a-blog/).
My assumption is that anyone who is reading the comments on a post about how to blog is somewhat interested in the topic. First I leave a useful comment on that post (no links in the body of my comment). If someone finds my comment helpful, the chances of them choosing to click through to my site via my name increase.
If they click my name and are taken to my homepage because I left my home page URL, that may be fine. But they are clearly interested in how to blog, so if they click through my name and they are taken directly to my post about starting a blog, it makes exploring the topic much easier.
And this will increase the likelihood that they will stick around a bit…and hopefully in the process, will find some value which will make them return later.
6. Be patient
If you haven’t figured it out yet, making money as a blogger is hard work. It’s time-consuming and requires a lot of sticktoitiveness.
Don’t expect to comment on a few blogs and then get a flood of traffic. It doesn’t work that way. It takes time, lots of time in most cases.
7. Monitor how it’s working
Put a note on your calendar to reevaluate your commenting strategy after 3 or 6 months. Is it working? Have you noticed an increase in traffic? Is there a particular blog from which you get a lot of new visitors? Are there blogs that don’t seem to send any traffic your way?
These questions can be answered by looking at your stats in Google Analytics. Login and go to Acquisition (left column) –> All Traffic –> Referrals. As you page through the results, you’ll be able to see who is sending traffic to you. Click on any site name in the results to see which posts in particular are working the best.
Make adjustments to your plan—try commenting on some new blogs, drop some non-producing ones or increase (or decrease) the time you spend commenting, depending on how valuable it is.
8. How to find other blogs on which to comment.
You might be thinking, “Well, this is good Amy, I’d like to comment on other blogs, but I’m not sure where to find them.” This is completely understandable. Sometimes it’s hard know where to go when there are a gazillion blogs online. Of course there are always a few heavy hitters in every niche, but here are some ways to find new ones:
- Search. It’s simple, but sometimes overlooked. Looking for other knitting blogs? Google “knitting,” “knitting blogs,” “how to knit” or other knitting-related keywords.
- Use social media. It’s easy to find others online with sites like Pinterest.
- Copy others. Take note of what the bloggers you already follow are doing, who they follow and where they spend their time. If you follow them long enough, you’re likely to hear them refer to other places they are involved online. Click on “Following” in any of their social media profiles to get a list of people they follow.
- Forums. Forums are also great places to find other like-minded bloggers. Again, simply search “knitting forum,” “knitting community,” “knitting group” etc.
- Hashtags. The words or phrases indicated by a pound sign (#) semi-organizes a particular conversation into one stream. You can search for hashtags at a place like hashtags.org, but I prefer to find them by noting which hashtags the people I follow use.
9. Time your comments so you’re near the top of the list
On blogs with comments listed from oldest to newest, if you’re the first person to comment on a post, your comment is more likely to been seen by other readers as they visit and leave a comment themselves. And because most bloggers interact in comments when their post is new, it’s also more likely to be seen by the blogger who published the post. The more people who see your comment and interact, the more likely they are to click through to your site, resulting in more traffic.
I wouldn’t spend a ton of time waiting for someone to post, but lots of bloggers publish at regular times. Sometimes it’s not difficult to figure it out. If it’s worth it & you have the flexibility, set a reminder and show up.
10. Be efficient
If you choose to make commenting a part of your networking process, my recommendation is to carve out a few minutes each day to do so. Set a timer (“I’ll spend 10 minutes commenting”) or pick a number (“I’m going to leave 3 comments today”) and go for it. If you do it regularly, you are likely to see some people come your way eventually.