Ask the Readers: Why Do You Comment on Other Blogs?

  • August 26, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 48 Comments

There’s a debate that flares up between bloggers once in a while. Is commenting on other blogs a valuable strategy for building traffic to your own site?

Some web marketers and new bloggers swear by blog commenting as a way to build traffic, make new connections and generally raise the awareness of your own site. Other people say it’s a complete waste of time.

I’ll share my thoughts on the subject in an upcoming post. For now, I’d love to hear what you think.

Why do you comment on other blogs? Please share in the comments.

Last Month’s “Ask The Readers”

In last month’s “ask the readers” segment, I asked: How Much of Your Self Do You Have to Reveal to Succeed Online?

That question brought up a whole lot of related topics, including whether it’s ethical and/or advised to blog under a pen name. Check out the comments on that one if you haven’t already.

One of my favorite comments on that post came from James Chartrand of Men with Pens. If you don’t know about James already, that’s actually a pen name. The real James isn’t a James at all, but James still manages to get an effective and full personality across at Men with Pens.

James started the comment like this: “How much of yourself you should reveal depends on your personal comfort zone.” James gets into some really great points about how full personal details aren’t really necessary to convey your full personality. Read all the comments for the whole conversation.

Now let’s hear your opinion on this “ask the readers” segment. Why do you comment on other blogs?

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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AstroFix August 26, 2010 at 6:20 am

I comment on blogs when I’m interested in the topic and have something to say. It’s also a good way to stay active in the community and prevent tunnel vision toward your own blog.

Rebecca August 26, 2010 at 6:39 am

I comment on as many blogs a day as I have time to read in their entirety and come up with something that is at least of some small value to add to the conversation. I do it for a few reasons. I think it does help make connections. I think it does bring traffic to my blog. But mainly, if I didn’t, blogging and working on the online world would be way too lonely.

Baker August 26, 2010 at 7:00 am

Commenting on blogs was the number one way I drove traffic to my site for the first 3-5 months.

It was the number one way I became “a member” of my community online.

It was the number one way I reached out to people I had never met, but was interested in knowing and learning from (at first).

It was the number one way I provided value to those with larger audiences and bigger ideas (at first).

For me, commenting on blogs is what got me into blogging (I commented regularly before I started my own blog), and it’s also what allowed me to get noticed and build up the first couple hundred subscribers. It was not a nice extra bonus… it was absolutely crucial.

Your fellow commenters, the people that also contribute to discussions online, are some of the most valuable followers and fans you’ll ever have. You need these core people first. They will help breathe life into your site, give you motivation to continue writing, and provide you with countless material for future posts/discussions.

Writing off commenting as unneccesary is a trendy thing to do these days. Honestly, there are several great reasons why you *would* want to do this. But I’m not one who is going to be quick to jump on this trend. Commenting has been too valuable for me and too valuable for most of my closest friends and allies online. :-)

Jarrett Coggin August 26, 2010 at 8:08 am

I agree with Baker (great website btw, been following for about four months now). If you aren’t commenting on other blogs and providing value as a member of the community, (I think) it comes off as too “salesy”. What I mean by that is it’s like trying to go up to someone you’ve never met before and say, “Come over to my house so we can hang out and play video games and watch movies.” This person may not be interested in movies/video games and may be the outdoors type, and you are trying to get them to buy in to the idea with no prior knowledge of who you are or built up trust in what you are providing them.

Sinea Pies August 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

I have been blogging and freelance writing since July. I love the whole process but it IS lonely not hearing from anybody. Now, more than ever, I comment when I really have time to read the piece because I know how good I feel if anyone comments or subscribes to mine.

My question is, as a commenting expert, how did you pace yourself so that you didn’t burn out? I find that I get so wrapped up in fanpages, twitter, commenting etc that it squeezes out my writing time. I have a “day job” too, so I cannot devote 24-7 to my writing (yet!)

Wilson Usman August 29, 2010 at 6:57 am

Baker said it perfect. It’s so valuable and great way to build a healthy number of subscribers on your blog. The point is not to “keep count” I understand that some things need to be tracked to see the input to output ratios and what not, but sometimes I think it’s okay just to do it because you want to actually offer your opinion or knowledge to help someone out.

So my advice is to do it, because you want to, don’t just comment because you think you’re going to make money or get X number of subscribers. People will appreciate you so much.

Devesh August 26, 2010 at 7:28 am

Hey Corbett.

When i first started blogging, i was commenting just to get some traffic and backlinks.

Now i do commenting to build relationship with other bloggers. Recently i was able to build great relationship with some awesome bloggers :) .

Thanks. You’re really doing great work here.

~Dev

Shannon Noack August 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

I enjoy commenting on blogs for a couple of reasons. I think it does help to bring some traffic to my site, and I do enjoy contributing to the conversation. It’s a great way to meet new people and get more out of a blog post. A blog post can be really great, but the comment section can improve it by bringing up more good points, and resources the author didn’t find or have access to. I don’t comment on every post I read, but if I have something to say and contribute than I join the conversation. Cheers!

Daniel August 26, 2010 at 7:38 am

I’ll comment to say hi to the writer, letting him / her know that someone’s reading and responding. :)

I closed comments on my blog just because it’s easier (and much better) to allow conversations to be brought over to Twitter or Facebook.

Marios August 26, 2010 at 7:49 am

In my opinion if commenting on other blogs works for you and brings you traffic then keep doing, if not then find another strategy to bring traffic to your website. But it also depends on what kind of comment you leave, if its only “Thanks for post, I like it” then no body will care or click on your signature, but if you leave useful comment then its more likely they will visit your bog/website.

Srinivas Rao August 26, 2010 at 7:50 am

I comment in order to build relationships with bloggers. In the early days it was all about trying to get traffic to my blog. Now I concern myself less with that and more with who I could meet through the comment. I also find ideas for new blog posts in comments. Another interesting thing to do is discover new blogs that you don’t already read in the comments. I’ve found some great people that weren’t on my radar before because they commented here on ThinkTraffic. In my mind one visitor you get from a comment on a blog who stays around at your blog is worth more than the thousands of one hit wonders.

Lee Hughes August 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

Depends on what you say in the comments. Comments like, “good post” are of course a waste of time.

However, you can make a good and worthwhile comment then it can drive you traffic as well as get you a guest post on that blog. One of my comments on this actual blog sparked off interest as I took his post further and I think could have got a guest post out of it if I followed it up. I think it was one of your guest posters,

So yeah, it’s all about what you say :)

Can you evolve the post?

James Tayo August 26, 2010 at 7:57 am

People trying to get traffic by commenting are losing the plot. It is better used as a way of connecting… creating a relationship with the persone behind the blog. So Corbett… you know I am just doing this to get your attention right? :-) ….. kidding

David Crandall August 26, 2010 at 8:07 am

I comment for a few reasons.

RELATIONSHIPS – There have been a number of people that I really admired and thought would be fun to know. I made a point of commenting on their blogs and becoming someone they could recognize. It made it much easier when I reached out to them later. Lots of cool friendships this way. I’ve even started meeting people in person that first showed up in my comments (even had one stay at my house a few nights!)

SUPPORT – I also make it a point to try and comment on the blogs of my inner circle/tribe. Doing so is a way that I show support to the fact that they are busting their tail just like me and trying to create something from themselves. I know I always feel really encouraged when they comment on my site, so I try and be conscious about doing the same in return.

TRAFFIC – I’ve intentionally targeted some sites in the past as a way of driving traffic to my own (not really anymore though). However, I would only comment if the article is something that resonated with me AND I could leave something of value. I limit my “I love this awesome post” comments to those times when that is all I really have to say.

REACTION – There have been times where my only reason for commenting was that the post was so good/awesome/whatev that I couldn’t help but respond. It’s not uncommon for me to RT those links also.

I don’t like the current trend of bloggers ditching their comments. If they have a valid reason and still attempt to engage in other arenas (Twitter, etc) it doesn’t bother me as much, but still not the biggest fan of it. I take it as almost an arrogant move when someone has benefit from a commenting strategy and then shuts off that avenue at their own home base.

But, I have been known to be unnecessarily opinionated (and occasionally wrong too).

Dave Doolin August 26, 2010 at 8:19 am

I can’t add much to this.

But really, “Is commenting on other blogs a valuable strategy for building traffic to your own site?” is the wrong question to ask.

A better question is “What’s the most effective way to build relationships and connect with readers?

And that depends who the blogger is, what they are blogging about, and (I really loathe saying this) how much “social proof” they have from other media.

For example, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t really need to comment on blogs.

Side note: Is social proof something we should actively cultivate? We’ve all read of the “wisdom of the crowd.” But what about when a crowd turns into a mob? No wisdom there.

BradS August 26, 2010 at 8:18 am

I think it serves several purposes and certainly building back links is one of them. But it’s also the only way you are going to get noticed in your community. You can’t open a shop (write a blog) and idly sit there waiting for customers (traffic).

It’s a great way to network, to find new friends and new professional associates. That’s why I do it.

Christopher Lovejoy August 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

I comment on a post when it stimulates my thinking, when it inspires me to take a new direction, or when it calls me to empathize with the poster.

If you’ve built up a core base of loyal fans from the get-go, wouldn’t it make sense to respect their loyalty by keeping the comments flowing?

In my mind (and heart), a thoughtful, insightful comment is sacred.

Betsy Talbot August 26, 2010 at 8:39 am

Hey, Corbett. I view commenting the same way as I do mingling at parties. You don’t do it to draw attention to yourself, though if you provide good stories and insight a crowd will naturally gather around. Sometimes the crowd is big, sometimes it is small, and sometimes you just have a quiet night and sip your drink while listening to what everyone else has to say. But you are always interested, even when you can’t muster being interesting. :)

I will agree with Baker and others that commenting is a great tactic for driving traffic to your website, but I think most would also agree that being really passionate about your subject means you want to be part of these conversations anyway. Even if I didn’t have a blog, I’d want to talk to other people about big life changes and minimalism as a road to happiness. It’s pretty easy to pick passionate people like that out of the crowd, and that’s why others want to further connect with them through their blogs and social media.

Sinea Pies August 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

I love to leave comments because I am a natural encourager. Maybe “cheerleader” is a more accurate phrase. I like to let people know that they are doing a good job. My secondary motivation is to invite others to check out my writing. A newbie (2 months old) to freelancing and blogging, some days I don’t feel like anybody is stopping by to read!

Lisa@practicallyintuitive August 27, 2010 at 7:53 am

Sinea,
I just checked your site out – I love it. Bookmarked. :) Glad to find you.

I usually comment and try to add to the conversation. Reading what others have to say is the fun part for me and that’s definitely the way to make new friends and blog buddies. I’ve had my personal blog for over eight years and have made some great online and in-person friends through commenting.

Great way to build readership and friendship!

Adam Beckett August 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

Although I’m aware of comments as a traffic strategy, my comments are there simply to show support and appreciation for the Blogger concerned.

Those people who comment on almost every post on a particular Blog often get a perceived as blatant traffic grabbers by the more savvy contributors; personally I think over-commenting creates a retrograde effect.

I invest very little time in comments since I’m concentrating on my own output first.

This is one of the few Blogs I’m actively supporting.

Adam

Mike August 26, 2010 at 9:36 am

I think commenting is really about relationships and community, and I find twitter and facebook a poor substitute. I enjoy commenting on a specific piece of writing, one that captures my interest in some way, and enjoy seeing the various perspectives on the topic by different readers. One persons point of view is nice, but a variety really get’s the mind thinking.

This has been a hot topic lately, as a few blogs I read have closed comments. I, for the most part, have stopped reading those blogs. I want to feel like I have the option of contributing, rather than just being talked to.

Linda Gabriel August 26, 2010 at 9:36 am

I comment on blogs because I enjoy being part of the conversation with like-minded people – the other commentors as well as the blogger. That being said I have noticed a considerable amount of traffic coming to my new blog as a result of comments, especially those on blogs with commentluv. I have commentluv on my own blog. I like the idea of networking with other bloggers and readers. As for subscribing to comments, I don’t do this as often as I would like because I have too many emails already! But I like having the option.

Onibalusi Bamidele August 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

Really great question Corbett,

I comment on blogs to appreciate the bloggers work, I comment if I love a post.

Commenting on blogs has also been a good traffic source for me.

Marilia August 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

I comment on posts I enjoy reading. I like to give the writer some feedback. Sometimes with the sole purpose of helping the writer see that he was heard. Sometimes because the message really connected to me.

It attracts traffic and it´s fun. But traffic alone is nothing without a true connection, right?

Phyllis August 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

Does it seem amusing to anyone else that we are commenting about commenting or is that just me?

Like others here, most often the motivation is primarily to show appreciation for the bloggers work and the content. I learn so much from blogs like this one and others. It’s a true value to me and I want to let the writer know. Additionally, when appropriate, I enjoy joining the conversation.

It’s a great way to connect with others.

Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things August 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

I like to meet other people, be supportive of good work I see and interact & discuss with people I may have not otherwise met.

Brian Driggs August 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Comments mean conversation.

Posts set the stage for conversations and I like to think the comments section is where those ideas presented in the post are discussed, clarified, and either adopted or denied. It’s also a way of showing appreciation for the value provided by the author (and participants).

To me, those who comment in pursuit of traffic to their own sites are insincere charlatans; self-serving hacks either unable or unwilling to provide value on their own sites in the first place. The only reason I include the link back to my site is so that those who actually read ALL the comments with a post (not just race to the bottom for that sweet link juice) and possibly identify with something I said might have a means to better frame my comments or get in touch with me.

Comments are sacred. It is the portal through which we, the readers, can interact with the authors and each other. This is where the true value of blogging comes in – not in generating traffic, but in generating thought.

Anyway, I suspect Corbett’s looking to do a little research with this question, especially in light of all the social media juggernauts (none of whom I read or have any interest in reading, by the way) turning on or off comments on their blogs, so I thought I would chime in with my, hopefully, not too far out point of view on the matter.

Looking forward to what you do with all this information, sir. Cheers.

Lee Clark August 26, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I have been writing my own blog for a couple of weeks now, inspired by reading other blogs like this one for a while. I’ve started to absorb as much as I can from some frankly superb blogs and comment whenever I can offer something constructive.

I’m still to receive any feedback from readers or any subscribers (I know it’s early days) but I get a feeling that remaining visible to fellow bloggers and readers will hold me in high enough regard to create a readership of my own!

Plus, as one of my recent posts touches on, a bloggers ideas can only flourish if other people spark further innovative thinking – active bloggers commenting on other blogs can only be a good thing methinks!

Jarmar August 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I only comment when I really want to contribute something decent, have a question, or when asked too.

(I like to reward the call to action at the end of post… I guess it’s the marketer in me…)

Rather or not commenting is “good” strategy for driving traffic is all subjective. It probably won’t give you a ton of direct response traffic but can set the stage for generating familiarity and get the few people to your site who wouldn’t ordinarily see it through traditional means.

IF your content is relevant and served well you can then tap into more circles via “social media” which then could lead to significant traffic…

IMHO … when it’s all said an done it’s all about networking especially for a the beginner… and not about who you know but who knows you and commenting is a decent way for people to at least start that process…

David Wang August 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm

It’s all about the relationships. Along those lines, I see commenting as an extension of Twitter. On Twitter it’s easy to start up a conversation, go back and forth on a topic, etc. But on blog comments some people feel it is a traffic generation tactic. So I realized this and now my blog comments are all about relationships. If I follow and talk to you on Twitter, I’m going to be commenting on your blog too.

Elle August 27, 2010 at 4:47 am

I read about 30 blog posts a day ,but I probably comment on 1 or 2 posts. My motivation is to be a part of a conversation. I find some topics that I can contribute something, whether it’s a story or an opinion.

I find it a good way to chat with other bloggers and readers.

Coupon Mamacita August 27, 2010 at 6:14 am

I enjoy interacting with other Bloggers! Commenting on their blogs is a way for me to demonstrate my support. Comments have introduced me to the community! It’s a great way to build a relationship with other Bloggers that share the same interests I do. It has helped my blog tremendously. Commenting overall is very valuable to me. I LOVE and appreciate very much my Bloggy friends!

Greg August 27, 2010 at 10:51 pm

As a reader, I have noticed that I clicked on the “blue names” associated with comments that contributed to the growing discussion based on the original post. I see them as mini-posts that demonstrate the skill of the writer in interacting with the issues and points that the author presented as well as the others who’ve contributed to the discussion. I’ve discovered many intriguing blogs this way.

Annie Stith August 28, 2010 at 5:30 am

Hey, Corbett!

I comment on blogs for only one reason: when I feel I have something to express about the topic at hand. Sometimes it’s an angle or detail not expressed by the blogger, sometimes it’s something in me wanting to be expressed, and sometimes it’s in response to a comment.

It’s not part of my plan to use comments to drive traffic when my site’s up and running regardless of any benefit I might gain in traffic because I don’t want to blur those reasons for commenting with ulterior motives.

Annie

Valerie August 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

I do join memes that feature a subject I am interested in and can participate in. If the post is interesting and I want the poster to know that I liked their content I would certainly comment. If not I move on to the next poster. I do want to attract people to my blog that have an interest in the subject. I am always interested in things that are new and different and looking at blogs is a way of doing that. I have learned so much about photography this year from looking at others blogs. Who knew this was out there.

Dean Saliba August 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’d say I leave comments more to attract traffic to my blog than anything else.

Obviously there is a small part of me that wants to help contribute to the post but I’d be lying if I said gaining some raffic wasn’t my first task. :)

Ashley Pichea August 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I comment to build connections. If I find a post I like or a blogger I want to connect with, commenting becomes “foot in the door” for building that relationship.

Clayton August 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I comment on blogs because I’m procrastinating on doing other things I should be doing instead :) I guess it’s just my way to keep myself from becoming too socially isolated while I work on websites.

Alamin August 31, 2010 at 2:07 am

Hi, thanks for your good question.
While i’m writing this comments i can see some great comments here and most of them are saying that they comments to promote sites and build relationship. And some says they comments if they really liked the post.
Well if in my case i comment only to promote my blog yea only for promotion. I do believe to get comment on your blog you don’t have to write great post. You just have to make your site popular. People loves to commend on popular blog to promote they blogs even thoug on a sucking post just because popular blog get’s lots of visit. But to make a blog popular one needs to write top quality content. But after getting popularity, if they write a sucking post, that don’t deserve a comments get lots of comments and that’s proved that people don’t commend on post they really love only.

Nick Stamoulis September 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

Commenting on blogs is a great way to build connections, and drive traffic, but I love being able to expand on and contribute to posts.

Deauxmain September 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I use to be a lurker, on forums and while reading blogs, but I’m now starting to realize that I can’t make connections or friends if no one even knows I’m there. So I’ve taken to leaving comments when I find a post interesting, or if the blogger asks a good question that deserves a response…like this one. I like reading the other comments, and will almost always visit sites after reading someone’s comment. (not all of them…for instance, I’ve visited probably 5 sites from the comments on this post). I know that leaving comments leads to more traffic, but I think that connecting with and supporting other bloggers is where my biggest payoff will be. Cheers ~ Deauxmain

Dwight Anthony October 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I leave comments because it helps build value to the author’s post usually and we can reciprocate some traffic, but I like to definitely add to a thread first and foremost.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot Com

The Ugly Koala March 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

I never comment on blogs.

Robert January 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I comment when I like a post. Before I had a blog I never commented but I do it now as a way of encouraging the writer. Now that I how good it can be to hear some words of encouragement.

Jamie August 18, 2012 at 3:07 am

I have only just started to comment on posts and am doing it to help add value to the blog itself. As a way of paying tribute to the value I have been given from the blogger (Corbett). Any connections or traffic that returns from a comment is just a bonus – it shouldn’t feel like a chore if you enjoyed the post anyway. Who wants to be a spammer?
(I don’t want anyone on my blog yet anyway because it’s a day old and looks pure amateur)

David Crandall August 26, 2010 at 8:26 am

I keep torches and pitchforks readily available just in case that mob thing ever happens.

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