Should I allow comments on my business blog?
So, you’ve heard that your business needs to start a blog. I think that’s a good idea. There are several advantages to having a blog on your company’s website- especially from an SEO perspective.
- Take advantage of the power of long-tail. You might think you know how people are looking for your products or services. The fact is, most conversions come from searches that you don’t expect. Blog posts have a great way of catching those unexpected long-tailed keywords with high conversion rates.
- Build links the old fashioned- way: earn them! Despite all the claims that linkbuilding is dead, it’s not. It’s a fundamental part of the Google algorithm. It’s just harder to get links than it ever was. There is always a safe way to get good, quality links- producing content that helps people. These articles have ways of “accidentally” getting links. Google calls these natural links. Blogging is link building!
- Google loves websites with fresh content. By blogging on a regular basis you’ll be not only give the Google spider a reason to come-by your site for a visit but take advantage of the SEO benefit of fresh content.
But this is nothing new to you. You’ve read articles like this before.
Now that you have a business blog, should you allow people to make comments on your posts? It all depends on what you want to accomplish, what platform you’re using and how much time you have to maintain them.
What do you want to accomplish through your blog’s comments?
There are a few ways that comments can help your business’ blog.
Blog comments can encourage people to interact with your content
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to tap into what your target market or potential customers are thinking? Perhaps you’d like to get input from people to better know how to market your products or services? Maybe you just want to create a community around your industry into which you can tap for information or generate excitement? All these can come from allowing people to comment on your blog.
Of course, this can be a little scary: what if someone criticizes your company or it’s products? Yes- that might happen. If (when) it does, wouldn’t you rather be able to know about it earlier than later? Wouldn’t you want that conversation to occur on a platform you control (such as your blog) rather than on another network (like Facebook) where it could spread outside of your control? I would. That’s one of the advantages of allowing comments on your blog.
Blog comments can refresh old content
Like I mentioned above, Google likes fresh content. I’ve heard of some SEOs who regularly return to old web pages and change a little bit just to take advantage of this phenomenon. With blog comments, you can let your website visitors do this for you. Every time they make a comment on a post, there’s something new about that web page and another reason for Google to visit it.
Unfortunately, not every comment system provides this advantage. Some comment systems do not render static content on a webpage. That means you won’t get the freshness SEO advantage from comments.
But even if we can’t get this advantage from our comments, people like fresh content. They want to know they’re getting the latest information available. Blog comments allow you to keep a blog post up-to-date by crowdsourcing the article’s content.
Blog comments can help share your content over social media accounts
Some blogging systems can encourage people to share your content over their social accounts. These systems require someone own a social media account and comment using that platform. These systems also make it easy for someone to share their comment, along with your article, to their network.
Some say there are SEO advantages for your website when it’s shared over social media accounts. I’m not quite convinced. I do believe, however, that Google will personalize your search results based upon what your connections will share on their Google Plus account. Let’s say I’m looking for a new car. Let’s pretend I have a friend. Let’s say this friend likes his car dealership so much that he reviewed them on Google Plus. If this friend is connected with me via Google Plus (or even gmail) Google will be more likely to serve that car dealership to me. The same is true for the Google Plus commenting system. If someone made a comment on your blog through Google Plus, Google shares their comment on their Google Plus page. That means their contacts are more likely to see your content served-up in their search engine results. More likely- not a guarantee.
Blog comments can build links to your blog posts
Some platforms, such as Disqus (and, more indirectly, Jetpack) can be part of a link building campaign. When a Disqus user gives a content, it creates a link from their Disqus profile to your blog. If you’re using Jetpack, on your WordPress blog you can encourage other bloggers to interact wtih your content. Although Jetpack doesn’t directly link to your content, it can help you identify other bloggers interested in your topic. This can produce opportunities to build links from other experts in your common area of interest.
Let’s not overlook the importance of internal links here. These are one of the most under-rated SEO tactics. Many blogging platforms allow you to list your most recent comments on your blog (in your footer or sidebar, for instance). When done statically, whenever someone comments on a blog post they’ve just created an internal link. Added bonus: the posts with the most comments typically get more internal links built to them, giving them added SEO bonuses.
What blogging platform are you using?
These might all sound like wonderful advantages for your business’ blog. But your our blogging platform limits what solutions you can choose.
Does your blogging platform have a native commenting system?
Most platforms have a built-in commenting system. With a built-in comment system you’ll be able to encourage interaction and freshen content. Some commenting systems will allow you to build internal links to your blog posts by providing widgets that display recent posts or most-commented posts. Some blogging platforms might have plugins to take advantage of social sharing or other benefits as well. For instance, I use a plugin on this blog to invite commenters to sign-up for my One Thing newsletter.
Turning to alternative commenting systems
If that’s not what you want to gain out of blog comments you might want to turn to a third-party system to manage your blog comments.
If you’re using Blogspot/blogger.com you could use their Google Plus commenting system. This means that every time someone comments on your blog, it will appear in their Google Plus stream with a link to your post. Some say there’s an SEO advantage to sharing content on Google Plus- at least personalized search results. If you use this solution, your comments will not appear with your blog post and you’ll lose the SEO advantage from fresh content. The other disadvantage is that you’re limited to people who have Google Plus accounts.
If you’re using WordPress (whether the .com site or self-hosted) you can use Jetpack comments. This allows you to interact with other bloggers (using WordPress, at least) in your topic. This also bypasses the freshness advantage for blog comments, from an SEO perspective. Like the Google Plus comments, with Jetpack you’re limited to WordPress users, here.
You can install the Disqus commenting system on both Blogspot and WordPress sites (as well as several other platforms such as Tumblr and TypePad). For someone to use Disqus they can login using almost any social network. Of course, they’ll have to sign-up in the first place- which can be a hurdle in itself. Like the other third-party platforms, this has no SEO advantage for fresh content on your blog post.
Do you have time to manage your comments?
The fact is, most of your blog comments will be spam. In fact, by mentioning blog comments and SEO in this post, I’m prepared for the bots attempting to leave comment spam on this post. Sigh. It’s frustrating. It’s a real time-waster.
Why do they do this? They’re trying to get links to their website. Most native comment systems have nofollow attributes attached to URLs in blog comments- rendering the SEO advantage from the links worthless. However, there are enough blogs without this that some thing it’s worth the effort to build links to their site.
If you’re going to allow for comments in your company’s blog, you’ll have to deal with this. Why? Two reasons. First, if your blog is full of spammy links then you’ll lose the human advantages to having blog comments in the first place. Second, Google is holding websites accountable for the places to which they link. If your blog is linking out to spammy websites, Google will consider you as such (and might even ban you).
You’re going to have to deal with blog comment spam. How much time you have to dedicate to this will affect your choice to allow comments or what comment system you’ll use.
I don’t have time for that!
Most people don’t. Since some of the third-party commenting platforms are better at catching spam than native platforms you should consider one of these systems. Of course, like I’ve mentioned, these have other disadvantages so you’ll have to consider what you need more.
Some native platforms have comment spam protection options. For instance, WordPress has Akismet. This does a good job preventing blog comment spam, but nothing’s perfect.
I’m willing to make time for that!
If certain advantages from blog comments outweigh the time it might take to maintain your blog comments, it might be worth it. The fact is, even if spam isn’t an issue, you’re going to need to spend time monitoring your blog comments. People might ask questions- you’ll need to answer those. Someone might complain- you’ll need to address that. The only thing worse than blog comment spam are legitimate blog comments with no interaction.
Another Way of Looking at This: Which Blog Commenting System Should I Use?
Native Blog Comments
- Can encourage interaction easily- don’t have to sign-up for another service or social media account.
- SEO advantages
- Can provide a fresh content
- Can build internal links
- Might need to use extra plugins (if they’re even available) to gain certain advantages.
- Susceptible to comment spam. This will take time to manage.
- When someone comments on your site, it’s shared with their Google Plus followers
- Pretty hard to spam
- You might get a personalized search engine results boost
- What good is it to share content on Google Plus if no one’s there to see it?
- You can only use this on Blogspot blogs.
- No fresh content SEO advantage.
- Connect with other bloggers, since the only people using Jetpack are WordPress bloggers.
- You could use this as part of a link building initiative.
- Not particularly easy to spam.
- Only people with WordPress blogs will contribute comments to your blog.
- You can only use Jetpack on WordPress blogs
- No fresh content SEO advantage
- Not easy to spam
- Can install it on many different blogging platforms
- Commenters can be participants on several different social platforms
- Commenters can share their comments over their social networks.
- Builds links from commenters’ profiles to your blog post
- People have to take the time to create a Disqus account
- No fresh content SEO advantage
- Will take a little extra effort to install on your blogging platform