Blog Comments: Why They’re Still Relevant and How to Get the Most Out of Them

Posted on May 25, 2016 by in Tips & Tricks | 48 comments

Blog Comments: Why They’re Still Relevant and How to Get the Most Out of Them

Content is often judged by how many likes, shares, and comments it gets. However, comment sections get a bad reputation, due to the fact that they often devolve into spam-filled free for alls – which begs the question, are they worth your time if you’re running a blog?

Absolutely! Comments sections are still relevant, as evidenced by how many people choose to engage with popular brands by replying to their content on whichever platform they happen to use. This goes double for blog comments, since along with social media, they’re arguably the most direct method of engagement and feedback that you’ll receive on a day-to-day basis.

In case you’re still not convinced, let us walk you through some of the reasons why you should care about blog comments, and the best ways to get the most out of them.

Why You Should Care About Blog Comments

Blog comments are definitely worth your attention, and they arguably offer greater feedback than any other medium of communication with your followers. Let’s look at three reasons to ditch your prejudice and start interacting.

1. Comments Foster a Sense of Community

A crowd standing on a blue background.

Article image by Evellean / Shutterstock.com

Watching a comments section fill up is one of those things that can make your day if you manage a WordPress blog. In fact, it’s a pretty nice feeling for everyone involved in the content creation process (unless we’re talking about a YouTube comments section, that is). The main reason why is obvious – gratification is a heck of a feeling, after all. However, there’s also a second, more important reason which ties into the long-term growth of your blog – the fact that communities are built upon their interactions:

An exchange on the Elegant Themes comments section.

A lively comments section is a great sign that you’re doing something right, as far as your blog is concerned. The truth is that most people don’t bother to comment on most content unless it elicits some sort of emotional response in them – if your blog is capable of achieving that, kudos to you!

As for the comments themselves, you want readers to engage both with you, and among each other. It’s pretty common for a lot of comments sections to have all their activity directed towards the author, but the best ones all feature lots of users engaging between themselves.

Over time, this dynamic will make your readers feel like a part of your process. Patterns will be established, you’ll see regulars pop up to give you their take on your content, and the best part is that they’ll feel compelled to check back in, and do it often, to see what they’ve missed.

2. Comments Increase Your Social Footprint

A network of social media sites and users.

Article image by Hilch / shutterstock.com

Once you have a community, your goal will most likely be to expand it as much as possible. Regardless of what kind of content you’re creating, it’s natural that you’d want as many people to gain access to it as possible, and one of the better ways to do this is through social media.

An engaged community is a valuable commodity, not only because they provide you with a feedback and support network, but because they’ll feel compelled to share your content if they deem it worthy of their peers.

Now you don’t necessarily need to set up a social media sharing solution in order for your followers to spread the word about your posts, but setting one up is so easy that it would be kind of silly not to do it. For this purpose, you might want to check out the Monarch Social Sharing Plugin, or the Divi theme itself.

Social media sharing is not a magic button to gain more visitors, however. In order for your readers and commenters to feel compelled to do so, you must in turn provide them with posts worth sharing in the first place. It’s a responsibility you shouldn’t take lightly!

3. Comments Help You Gain Insight Into Your Readers

A cartoon lightbulb raising its hand.

Article image by Dmitry Guzhanin / shutterstock.com

There are plenty of analytics solutions available out there for WordPress users, which provide you with the necessary information to fine-tune every single aspect of your blog’s management and content creation process. You should certainly avail yourself of them, but why not also take a moment to simply check out what your readers are saying to you?

Your comments section can be a goldmine when it comes to finding out more about who your readers are, what they’re interested in, and most importantly, what their take on your posts is. Although this latter form of input will sometimes require you to have a thick skin, you most certainly shouldn’t ignore them.

At Elegant Themes, we like to take the time to go over our readers’ comments – as you might have noticed, since we’ll often have multiple authors pop into the comments of our articles to provide input. It’s not part of the job, but it is a goldmine when it comes to figuring out exactly what you guys want, and sometimes we’ll even come up with new article ideas thanks to your input!

How to Get the Most Out of Blog Comments

Just caring about blog comments is not enough, sadly. There’s still a fair amount of work to be done to harness their benefits. Let’s take a look at three ways you can wring the best out of your user interactions.

1. Foster Discussion

Five people sitting around a table talking.

Article image by robuart / shutterstock.com

So now we know that we should take advantage of blog comments to foster a sense of community, increase our social footprint, and gain insight into our readers – but how exactly does one get from a couple of spammy comments per post, to a well-rounded lively comments section?

Well, the numbers required to actually make a discussion possible in the comments are all up to the quality of your content, and once you have those, there are a couple of things you can do to foster discussion. For example, we like to use specific questions to get discussions going, and complement the subject of the posts they’re a part of.

Take for example our recent 50 Creative Commons Images for Business Websites article. You’d think that there wouldn’t be much to talk about in the comments, considering the topic, but that section actually turned out to be more lively than expected. We asked our readers to share tips for finding Creative Commons images, and a couple came through with their own site recommendations – plus a few questions relating to image usage specifics. This goes to show that if you’ve built a community around your blog and they feel comfortable interacting with you, discussion is possible on any subject.

2. Ask Readers for Their Input

A hand writing on a clipboard.

Article image by Mascha Tace / shutterstock.com

There is a pitfall to which many content creators are prone to falling, and that is naturally assuming they’re more knowledgeable about a specific topic than every single member of their audience.

The fact is that regardless of your blog’s main theme (be it web design or artisanal hammock reviews), there will likely be someone out there who knows more about your particular subject than you do.

If you’re lucky, your readers will feel compelled enough to expound upon different viewpoints within comments, or correct you if you made a mistake. A lot of times they’ll even share relevant information which you weren’t aware of, which is always welcome:

An example of some reader input from the Elegant Themes comments section.

Most of the time, readers will happily provide their input without any prompt if they’re familiar with your blog and have commented before, but a little nudge never hurts.

3. Be a Part of the Discourse

A businessman holding up a welcome sign.

Article image by Blueguy / shutterstock.com

This final tip is perhaps the most important as far as we’re concerned for getting the most out of comments, and it’s pretty simple to boot – be a part of the conversation!

You’d be surprised at how rarely this happens, even on popular blogs. Authors will simply pop in with a new post every once in a while and then disappear until their next publication date, unless there’s some kind of blowout – and that’s definitely not what you want to do.

Sure – a blog doesn’t necessarily need its authors to stick around and answer every question, but it’s such a great way to foster a sense of community and keep discussions going, that it seems pretty illogical to overlook. On top of that, why should people invest themselves personally into a community in which its own creator doesn’t want to spend time?

Even looking at the issue from beyond a utilitarian standpoint, if you’re investing your own time into crafting good posts which you can be proud of (and that you also want people to share), why would you avoid interacting with those very same people?

We’ve already established the fact that blog comments are crucial to developing a sense of community and getting your site out there, but on top of that, you also get to know a lot of people who actually enjoy reading what you’ve got to say and are happy to provide feedback. What’s not to like about that?

Conclusion

Creating a community around your blog isn’t something that happens overnight. However, as is the case with most endeavors, if you make an effort to deliver the very best of yourself and make it clear to your readers that you value their input, it’s certainly possible. If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of our first articles – we all have to start somewhere!

If this is something that you want to achieve for your blog, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Foster a sense of community.
  2. Increase your social footprint.
  3. Gain insight into your readers.
  4. Foster discussion.
  5. Ask readers for their input.
  6. Be a part of the discourse!

What is your attitude towards blog comments, and has a reader ever left a particularly insightful comment on your WordPress blog? Subscribe and share your story with us in the comments section below!

Article thumbnail image by puruan / shutterstock.com

48 Comments

  1. I love blog comments! I’m new enough that I get excited over every last one of them and absolutely use the reply feature on my site.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      It’s a great feeling to know that others value what you create enough to spend time reading it and to write a response 🙂

    • Tom Ewer

      So you should! It’s a good idea to carry that enthusiasm onwards – we’re still excited by comments now. 🙂

  2. Very interresting read, thanks Tom. It’s time to get my blog off the ground properly.

    • Tom Ewer

      There’s no time like the present, Eitel!

  3. Sorry to be a pedant but when you say: “which begs the question, are they worth your time if you’re running a blog?”

    What you mean is that it ‘raises the question’. The term Begs The Question means to assume that the claim of a statement is true without any evidence besides the statement itself.

    • You’re right, but I’m not sure I understand the meaning of the phrase “begs the question” as you defined it. Could you give an example? I hate using phrases incorrectly and I find myself using that one all the time

      • An example of the original definition “begs the question,” which I read on BegstheQuestion.org (which doesn’t seem to exist anymore) is something like: “He is ugly because he is unattractive.”

        I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to existing phrases and words (although I like to make up words and phrases as well). However, I regularly use my online Apple Dictionary version 2.2.1, which I feel is a little lenient by allowing previously incorrect words and phrases to become correct due to incorrect usage, like the term “literally.” (I haven’t read Webster’s American Dictionary recently to know if it has evolved.)

        With that said, my dictionary states the following when I type in “begs the question”:

        “Usage: The original meaning of the phrase beg the question belongs to the field of logic and is a translation of the Latin term petitio principii, literally meaning ‘laying claim to a principle’ (that is, assuming something that ought to be proved first), as in the following sentence: by devoting such a large part of the anti-drug budget to education, we are begging the question of its significance in the battle against drugs. To some traditionalists, this is still the only correct meaning. However, over the last 100 years or so, another, more general use has arisen: ‘invite an obvious question,” as in some definitions of mental illness beg the question of what constitutes normal behavior. This is by far the more common use today in modern standard English.”

        Because I am a traditionalist, I always write, “raises the question” rather than “begs the question,” unless I’m referring to the original definition, which is never.

        • Tom Ewer

          Thanks for your insight, Zanna! I must admit, I’d never considered it before now, so it’s been an interesting read.

          I also tried to look for that website at the Wayback Machine, but unfortunately they’ve not archived it.

        • Thanks, Tom, for responding to my, um, “book.” I’d never heard of the Wayback Machine, so thank you for that information.

  4. While I don’t blog as much as I should, I have recently set a blogging goal – From visitor comments on my blog, I have have come up with 20+ blog post ideas… Even better, after researching keywords and search traffic, I found that they’re all viable.

    Combine your blog post comments, with Google Analytics data, Google Search Console data, and Google Keyword Planner data – You’re guaranteed to find endless topics for blog posts.

    • Tom Ewer

      Good advice, Travis. There’s a lot that would find those tidbits useful!

  5. I always appreciate comments on my blog – it is one of the reasons I’m still blogging! Without that encouragement, I doubt I’d have the motivation to continue. I think responding to comments and engaging my audience by writing posts related to their questions is the least I can do to reward commenters!

    • Tom Ewer

      That’s a good viewpoint, Ruth. It’s always worth remembering that the internet is a two-way street sometimes. 🙂

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Agreed Ruth and Tom. Blogging is a conversation.

  6. Thanks Tom for the great post. Something also worth mentioning is the relative links that the commenters will generate which will in turn become traffic sources.

    • Tom Ewer

      And you’ve just mentioned it for us, James. 🙂

  7. Nice post. With all the spam issues plaguing comment sections and notable publications getting rid of blog comments, it’s nice to see the enthusiasm for fostering a valuable and productive comment section. A high-quality comment section, where all the comments are valuable contributions, takes a lot of work, but for small businesses and bloggers that love to interact with their audience, it can create a lot of value.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      For high traffic and high engagement publications keeping the comments section from spiraling out of control can be a real challenge. We’ve always found it well worth the effort though 🙂

    • Tom Ewer

      We hear you, Ben. We don’t know what we’d do without our community!

  8. I always try to ask what my readers have to say about something. Slowly but surely! I also reply to every comment. Not sure how feasible that is as a site gets as big as this though! Thanks for writing.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      We get a lot of comments here and while some do not require a response I know it’s still our goal to respond to as many as we can. I think it’s a good policy and I’m sure your readers appreciate your effort 🙂

    • Tom Ewer

      As a rule, we reply every comment that requires a response, William – and you’re definitely doing the right thing! Flick back through any of our articles to see what we mean. 🙂

  9. Goos post, but is a pain to read it via mobile. Please, update the site to a reaponsive version.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      We’ve had a re-design in the works for a long time. It keeps getting pushed back because it’s either the blog design or new theme updates. We’ve chosen to keep getting new Divi features into our users hands but totally understand your frustration. It’s coming! Slowly but surely.

  10. Can you please mention which tools are you using to design the images you use in your Blogs ? Its really impressive and i would love to replace real images with such vectors. It will also solve the copy right issues.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Sure John, we have a subscription to Shutterstock and we download/modify vector graphics from there for each blog post’s featured image. And sometimes images within posts too.

  11. Thanks for the post, Tom. I’m building a website today and you’ve inspired me to figure out how to include Facebook comments. You make a lot of content; you probably need to up the article count I’m your bio! Also, any tips on getting visitors to include keyword rich comments instead of random takeoffs on “I agree” or “I disagree” would be greatly appreciated 😉

    • Tom Ewer

      Ethan, it’s dangerous to treat comments and discussion solely as a pseudo-keyword stuffing exercise. You should strive to have an organic and relevant discussion about your (hopefully) search engine optimized content, above all else. Take a gander at our past articles to see what we mean!

  12. thanks a lot!

  13. I’m creating a custom blog page with the divi builder and the reactions module but the only thing it produces is ‘0 comments’ – and no form to write a comment

    • Tom Ewer

      Hello Marijn, that sounds like a job for an expert. 🙂 You could post a question in our forums here – https://www.elegantthemes.com/forum/ – where you’ll find plenty of people to help you.

      Good luck 🙂

  14. I get frustrated when I take the time to read blogs and write thoughtful comments only to have the authors not acknowledge them. It’s just a waste of my time and only causes me to not make comments in the future.

  15. Personally, I always expect my readers to join me in the comments section as it helps both parties to understand each other and gives a chance to explain the stuff in more details.

    Sometimes, I get lucky to get a comment/response from reader but most of the time they just pass irregular comments.

    Although, mostly people do commenting to gain some traffic and social hype missing the original purpose of having comments on a website.

    Anyways, thanks for explaining the art of comments.

    • Tom Ewer

      Hello Hamza,

      Glad you liked the article. You’re discovering an interesting part of blog comments – they still need a solid management process, rather than just letting them run wild. Though, you’ve got the right mindset to take the task on. 🙂

  16. I can not overemphasize the importance of commenting. I use to co-author a website called Hot For Words. It’s a website that focuses on the origins of words in the English language. For example how did the words ‘Woman and Man’ came to be. (if you think ‘wo’ is short for womb, you would be incorrect).
    The website started out as just another blogging site used for fun. There was no intentions that it would become a commercial site. Well that changed over the years. Marina (owner of the website) focused on making videos and uploading them to the site. My job was to manage the commenting. I would be tasked to keep the conversations moving and stamp out trolls and spammers. Marina posted three times a week and I spent anywhere from 2-3 hours per day to 16 hours per day on the website. In less than one year, we went from 2 comments to over 800 comments per post.

    This opened the door to turning our little blog into a world recognized brand. The website was averaging over one million hits per month and the Youtube channel is over 491 million views (nearly a half a billion views). The website was recognized from many large companies like, Fox News, The Huffington Post, The Early Show, Carson Daly Show, The New York Times, and New Yorker just to name a few.

    Creating just a post only gets your content read. But commenting create interactions with your readers. Recognizing your readers and interacting with them brings them closer to your site/business. They become a community which is part of your product or service. While all this take time and a dedicated staff, you can always bring on Moderators into your WordPress site. They can be just readers of your posts that would like to get a bit more involved. It sounds a bit scary to trust someone who you never met. If you’re a good judge of character, it’s not hard to find the right people.

    Comments can turn an obscure subject like Etymology into a million hits a month website.

    • Tom Ewer

      Thanks for your deep insights, Jack! We’re, of course, onside with your opinion. 🙂

  17. I have blogs and the comments can get so dang spammy. It’s just frustrating. All the comments here look like quality comments.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      We get TONS of comment spam. We use Akismet to weed out most of it. The rest comes down to personal moderation. It also helps to establish a rapport with readers so that they know if they have something to say they will be heard and responded to. Like a real conversation. This takes a lot of time to do but it’s worth it.

    • Sounds like you need some volunteer moderators. There is no way Marina was able to delete all the spammers and trolls by herself while running the business. That’s why she asked for my help. I had backend access to delete spammers and deal with trolls. It was nearly a full time job in its heyday. It got to the point I had to bring in a small team of moderators. This was after we were making over a million hits per month. Though it was a plus for the website was nearly clear of spam and quality commenters visited several times per day.

      Nathan is right. You need to use something like Akisment to clear out the bulk, but you still will have to manually do some clean up. Yes, it takes a lot of time, but like Nathan said, it’s worth it.

  18. I have blog too and I get comment with YouTube link in website field ,
    Should I approve them ?

    • Nathan B. Weller

      It’s up to you what you want to allow on your website. You can allow those links if you want but I would consider how far you want to let others go in promoting their own content on your website. Too much freedom and your site may become chock full of spam links.

401,632 Customers Are Already Building Amazing Websites With Divi. Join The Most Empowered WordPress Community On The Web

We offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so joining is Risk-Free!

Sign Up Today

Pin It on Pinterest