The Real Truth About Blog Comments (When They Matter and When They Don’t)

  • May 1, 2012 by Corbett Barr
  • 57 Comments

If you’re a blogger who doesn’t receive many comments on your blog posts, you might be feeling inadequate.

Your favorite big blogs have heaps of comments, so you should too, right?

Not exactly. In this post, I’m going to tell you why it’s crazy for some kinds of blogs to care much about the number of comments they receive.

And if you run one of these kind of blogs that naturally doesn’t receive many comments, I’ll show you what else you should be doing instead of worrying about comment numbers.

First, The Problem With Vanity Metrics

Let’s talk about vanity metrics first.

What are vanity metrics?

Vanity metrics are the things you measure that don’t really matter to your business. Vanity metrics might make you feel good, but they’re easily manipulated and can cause you to waste time trying to inflate them.

Vanity metrics are things like number of Twitter followers, retweets of blog posts, number of comments on blog posts, number of RSS subscribers, etc.

These things are substitutes for the measurable metrics that really matter (like revenue or email subscribers). They’re fun to track because A) they’re often achievable long before you have revenue and B) they’re easier to measure than important intangibles (like the impact you’re having on your customers, or the influence you’re creating in your industry).

But here’s the dangerous part: vanity metrics can make you feel OK about your business or blog when it’s really a sinking ship.

So your blog has 10,000 RSS subscribers. So what? How much revenue did you earn last month? How much of a difference did you make for your readers?

You could pay a virtual assistant or use some shady software to inflate your Twitter follower numbers, but you could also just burn a $100 bill in your backyard. Both will be about as ineffective in making your business profitable or respected.

The Intangibles that Matter

They say “what gets measured gets done.”

What if the thing you want to accomplish can’t be measured?

What if your goal is to build influence, change lives and make a difference? What should you measure then?

How do you measure “making a difference” exactly?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that checking your RSS subscriber number every day isn’t it.

Likewise, it’s safe to say the number of people following you on Twitter doesn’t give you a clue whether you’re really changing lives.

If you have a good way of measuring these important intangibles, let me know in the comments. I bring this up only to point out that metrics can be useful, but they’re not perfect.

Sometimes what you want to achieve can’t be expressed as a simple number.

Which brings us back to how many comments you got on your last blog post.

Are Number of Comments a Vanity Metric?

In some ways yes, the number of comments on your blog posts could easily be a vanity metric.

For example, you might get more comments by writing about Kim Kardashian than you do writing about your core topic.

Does that mean you should write about celebrities more? Probably not.

If you use number of comments as one of your most important metrics, it could easily lead you to write about things that don’t accomplish your main goals.

Those posts might attract more conversation on your blog, but will they make your visitors more likely to trust you or buy from you?

Why do you want conversation to happen on your blog?

Hopefully it’s not just so you can boast about how many comments your blog receives.

The real value in blog comments is to further the discussion. To connect with your audience. To let your readers share their thoughts and give you feedback.

Not all conversations are created equally. If every comment just says “nice post dude,” what’s the value in that?

Sometimes the definition of vanity metric depends on how you measure. If quantity of comments is all you care about, it’s likely a useless or even detrimental thing to measure.

If you want to measure comments, you have to look for quality, engagement and value being added to the conversation.

What About Social Proof?

There is one reason why the number of comments on your blog might matter: when readers stop by your site, they’re using little clues to determine if your blog is worth their time.

This is called social proof.

Social proof is the reason restaurants with a line become even busier, and empty restaurants stay empty. We look to the behavior of others to tell us what to do. People do things they see other people doing.

If your blog has a lot of comments (AND the number of comments on each post is highly visible), visitors might be more likely to stick around and leave more comments.

Does this mean you’re screwed if your blog doesn’t get many comments?

Not at all, but it might mean you should think about redesigning things to make sure this particular social proof doesn’t work against you.

Social proof works both ways. If some of your numbers aren’t attractive you can hide them or make them less prominent and put the focus on other numbers that will work in your favor.

This is your blog. No one said you have to proudly display “0 Comments” on every post if you don’t want to.

Should Your Blog be Getting More Comments?

As bloggers, most of us would love to have more comments.

Comment are validation. Each (positive) comment you get feels like a pat on the head. Getting hundreds of comments can make you feel great.

BUT, there are just certain blog topics that are just not conducive to attracting lots of comments.

I’m going to use a fellow blogger as an example here. Gregory Ciotti runs two popular blogs (one of those blogs is currently atop our blog challenge leaderboard). One of his blogs regularly attracts 30 or more comments per post. His other blog often doesn’t have a single comment on posts.

The interesting thing about Gregory’s example is that both of the blogs are similarly popular (over 30k monthly visits each), and they’re both written by the same blogger.

Despite the similarities in audience size and writing quality, Gregory’s blog Sparring Mind gets tons of comments and his other blog Sophistefunk gets few.

Why does one of these blogs get so few comments?

A big reason is simply the topic choice. Another reason is the posting style.

Sophistefunk is about electronic music. Gregory posts often there (one or more times per day), and the posts are more Tumblr-style than the in-depth style of his other blog (which is about marketing).

Electronic music may simply be a topic that doesn’t drive a lot of conversation, and the content/posting style may not be content friendly either. Neither of these facts have stopped Gregory from building a popular blog.

Take a look at your favorite blogs. Do all of them attract comments? How much does the number of comments matter in those cases?

Now look at the Technorati list of Top 100 blogs in the world. Many blogs on that list receive very few comments per post, while some of them receive hundreds of posts.

Having lots of comments is obviously not a requirement for building a massive or meaningful blog.

Why do you think some popular blogs attract lots of comments while others don’t? I’d love to hear your theories in the comments below.

What does this mean for your blog?

I’d like you to take action on three things today.

  1. Take a step back from this discussion about blog comments and think about what matters to you and your blog overall.

    What are you trying to accomplish?

    How can you measure what you’re trying to accomplish?

    Which vanity metrics have you gotten sucked into measuring? What really matters and what should you really be measuring?

  2. Think about whether comments are important to your blog, and whether your blog’s topic and style could attract a lot of comments.

    Also consider whether moderating comments is worth the time and effort for you. Some popular bloggers including Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Seth Godin have decided comments aren’t worth it.

    Remember that the right answer depends on your particular situation.

    Now decide whether you want to focus on comments on your blog or not.

  3. Make changes based on your decision about comments.

    If your blog topic/style isn’t naturally a comment magnet, you could alter your design to make comments less of a focus. You could even turn comments off entirely (like Pitchfork or Brain Pickings has done, for example).

    For more, check out the debate we ran between two popular bloggers on whether you should disable comments on your blog entirely.

    If you decide you want more quality comments on your blog, it’s time to start earning them. Attracting lots of quality comments takes some effort.

    A great place to start is with these 12 tips on how to get more comments from the folks at WordPress. They’ve studied why some blogs get more comments than others and have some interesting conclusions.

    With practice and a little strategy you can increase the number of comments on your blog, if that’s what you really want and need.

Now, over to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

How much do comments matter as a blogger?

What kind of blogs are more likely to attract lots of comments? What kinds of blogs shouldn’t worry so much about comments?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If this post was interesting or helpful, please share it:

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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Carolyn Cowen May 1, 2012 at 6:56 am

Oh. My. God. Excellent!

Corbett Barr May 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

That’s a lot of punctuation :)

Chris C. Ducker May 1, 2012 at 6:58 am

This is something that I have toyed with on and off for the last 6 months.

Its not that I don’t enjoy the conversation that my comment section brings – its that I’d perhaps prefer that visitors show their ‘thanks’ for the post/advice/inspiration by sharing on their social network of choice (helping me get more traffic), and then if they wanted to take the chit-chat further, hop over to my growing Facebook community.

Just an idea…… What do you guys think??!

This is a VERY interesting topic, and I am really looking forward to hearing what people have to say about it…

Jason Anthony May 1, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hey Chris,

I’d love to hear more about it, if you decide to give it a run/test. I think it could be very beneficial, as you mentioned, in getting appreciation, via “shares.”

Corbett Barr May 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

There might be something to the idea Chris. Leo Babauta has long had comments turned off. His readers turn to Google Plus or Twitter to share thoughts with Leo (here’s his G+ page: https://plus.google.com/109926473783208635050/posts).

I’m not sure if turning comments off would lead to more shares on social networks, but it would be an interesting experiment that I’d love to hear the results of (hint, hint).

Tania Dakka May 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

As you mentioned, blogs that are consistently getting high traffic volume don’t necessarily need to worry about comments. But for those of us just starting out, QUALITY comments are important – not quantity. I must admit to falling for the vanity metrics, but I think they’re a good starting point as long as you know when you need to walk away from them.

Jason Anthony May 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

Great write up, Corbett. Something that is not talked/written about from this perspective: Vanity metrics.

I do think that comments can be a good way to measure those “intangibles,” and a great way to see just how you are affecting the lives of others or making a difference. What types of conversations are being stirred up?

I’m also in line with your message about the level of importance the numbers are going to hold in comparison to your level of revenue.

Tiago Simões May 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

Hi Corbett,
Thanks a lot for those excellent tips.
I have a blog with almost 2.000 comments and i love to see my readers interacting.

Jennifer Boykin May 1, 2012 at 7:22 am

I’m afraid to say anything. Ha!!

Great piece. I get a lot of comments on my new blog, and — for me — that is important because we are building a community. I also like that each blog post attracts new commenters as well as favorite fans.

But as they say in music land — “Will it play in Peoria?”

For me, number of email subscribers is the number to watch. The other thing I already notice is that you don’t want to sacrifice innovation in service of your social proof numbers. It’s too easy to get bored and boring just dishing out formulaic stuff because that’s what tends to get you the hits.

This past month I decided to add several totally different kinds of blog formats to the mix. Some were a big hit and others were like polite gentrified applause at the symphony hall.

Thanks for a great piece. J

John Quinn May 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

I’m too new into this to know much about comments strategies, but if something is difficult to measure you can change that by putting a scale on it.

If you give a factor a number between -5 to +5 where 0 is acceptable and +5 is highest impact, you can start to visualise the relative benefits of one thing over another.

This helps me to visualise intangibles by building a picture of what is having the biggest impact on, or delivering highest value to readers based on popularity of posts or pages, even if they are not commenting.

Mandy May 1, 2012 at 7:31 am

What a timely post! I was just getting down on myself yesterday about this. I run a personal travel blog and it seems like the posts I spend the most time on (photo editing, video editing, compiling) don’t get as many comments as some of the posts I spend 1/4 of the time writing from the heart. Yesterday I was fearing that I’ve reached the point of not being able to connect with readers beyond “wow, that’s cool you did that thing.”

I’m definitely going to take some time and reevaluate what I’m trying to accomplish after reading this. I think I really need to reflect on the points you’re making here.

Haha this was such a good kick in the pants to not sulk, but to actually figure out how to solve the problem.

Corbett Barr May 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

No sulking allowed! :)

No seriously, I’m glad this was helpful. It sounds like your blog is in that grey area (or at least some of the posts are) where comments aren’t as natural or easy to come by. It’s interesting to think about what to do in the situation where some posts can get lots of comments but others don’t.

I’ll be curious to hear what you come up with Mandy, if you don’t mind sharing.

Robert K May 1, 2012 at 7:35 am

When I just started out with my EnglishHarmony blog, I used to get loads of comments for some reason while making just a few monthly sales. Then, at some point down the line, comments stopped but I started making sales due to higher traffic levels. I started receiving more comments only recently but the point is – I don’t see any definite correlation between the number of comments my blog posts are amassing and the number of monthly sales!

Those commenting aren’t necessarily interested in becoming your customers and vice versa, so personally I wouldn’t class quality comments as important for the bottom line. Well, they are important to some extent in that they help to create the buzz around your blog etc, but I believe that my average blog visitor rarely judges the quality of my blog posts by the number of comments they’ve received.

It’s rather us – bloggers – paying attention to these things, but when catering for non-IM and money-making markets it’s a completely different story altogether, I think.

Cristina Ansbjerg May 1, 2012 at 7:51 am

I think blog comments are overrated.
Certainly they’re important in the Marketing niche, but not so much in other niches. Sophistefunk, Greg Ciotti’s music blog is a good example. But there are tons of other successful blogs with a few comments or no comments at all.

The debate is interesting, for sure.

Brent Pittman May 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Chistina,
I clicked over and you’ve got a good number of comments on your last few posts. Do they motivate you the writer to continue writing? I’m guessing so. True comments don’t matter for some blogs, but I think they can go a long way.

Gregory Ciotti May 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

Corbett my man, spot on analysis, thanks for featuring my blog as an example of this trend.

I DMed you this, but I figured your commentors would appreciate this tale:

One of my competitors (ThisSongIsSick) added comments on the homepage of their site, meaning you could seem them under each post (they used Facebook comments).

This site gets HUGE amounts of traffic, so it was interesting to see people’s reaction to the new comment focus.

Commenters only feedback for the next few posts were (verbatim): “I come here for music and for my own enjoyment, not to listen to other people’s f*cking opinions; take comments down because nobody gives a sh*t.”

(That’s one is a copy and paste quote of a comment left, needless to say, people don’t want comments on their homepage for a music blog! ;) )

It was funny to see this reaction, but it points to your hypothesis being very much correct: not all blog topics thrive with discussion.

A community can be built in other ways, shared interest in the same style of music being one of them.

Thanks again for the mention and great write-up!

–Greg

Mandy May 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

Greg, that’s really interesting because I’ve followed your blog for a few months now and while I always enjoy the content, I’ve never commented. I don’t think I’d feel quite as strongly as that one poster about that kind of comment system though!

But since music (to me) is very personal, I usually don’t engage in discussion about it because no one/no comment will change my opinion on whether or not I like a song. Not sure if that’s the reason others have for not engaging in discussion, but that’s just me!

Leif May 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

My heart rose, my heart sank, I was momentarily left pondering. All in all I leave this post with more questions about the vanity numbers in general.

I don’t think that you would have such a consideration for the uselessness of these metrics if your blog was not already a verifiable success.

So I am considering the source.

Sure it’s easy to say “hey retweets don’t really matter” when said from an already established and successful blog.

To the little guy, these numbers mean ALOT and therin, they have their value. I suppose they only become vanity wen you don’t need them any more :)

Leif

Leah McClellan May 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Very nice to read this. I dropped the concern about comments awhile back for a bunch of different reasons. Since then, I’ve had a bunch of different posts with comments closed for a very long time (just the 6 month setting for closing I have) get more and more popular with shares and tweets going up and up though they were written a year ago or whatever. In some cases I can’t see how a post was shared but I can see really high traffic on it. Predictably, those posts are some of my best with numbered lists or similar with helpful stuff that’s focused on the reader, and it tells me I need to do more of those and also that comments aren’t that important to a post’s popularity.

I don’t think I’d close comments, though. I like to give people the option, at least for now. And I think a lot of my posts just aren’t the kind anyone wants to comment on–something about domestic violence, for example. The topic is too private and personal for many.

Success measurement for me right now is more about conversions–subscriptions etc. –as well as how many post updates (emails) opened, how many unsubscribes or not, and so on.

Then again, I’m starting a new blog right now with a different topic, and I think it’s the type to get more comments and I probably want to focus on them more to build up a community…have to see.

Sergio Felix May 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hey Corbett,

I’m with Chris Ducker on this one and as I actually do have a mind of my own, I also have my own thought on this.

I never watch TV (I got rid of mine two years ago and don’t miss it at all) but yesterday I happened to stumble into some cheff show while I was waiting for my gf to get ready as we were going out (she does have a TV).

To make a story short, the guy practically said that the positive comments don’t help him at all. He goes after the negative ones, those that actually teach him how to be better.

With that said, I’m sick of the “thank you”, “great share”, “awesome tips”, “dude, you rock” kind of comments.

I’m not saying I want some nut head coming to my blog and yell “you suuuuuuuuuuck” but I do mean the constructive kind of feedback where a critic actually shows you how to be better.

Now with that out of the way, the wp commenting system attracts well… commenters. And if add to the mix that I use a commenting plugin that gives a link back to wherever they please, it attracts even more comments.

But it’s mainly shit type of comments.

I’m seriously considering to change the commenting system to something else like Disqus or Livefyre.

The number of comments will decrease to maybe zero but that way whenever I get a new comment, I know it will be absolutely out of 100% genuine interest.

Sounds like a plan to me, any thoughts?

Sergio

Moses May 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

WOW.

Corbett your writing is such fascinating, I can’t get enough of it.
This is indeed a very intresting topic, to our concern I think this is on the more comments side.

In my opinion comments are good for the most part, I’d rather have them on.
To me it seems that social network are not really substitute for blog comments, there is another dimension, it’s more about the personal favors, some people like it either way, so I don’t think that by turning one off you are leading them to other media.

I’m so glad that you make living online… this way we can keep on enjoying your brilliant content! Keep it coming!

Dolly May 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I was worrying about this just today. For me, Twitter followers doesn’t matter too much, but I think comments do. It shows that your audience is engaging, that they are participating and have opinions to share.

But on the other hand, I have known that a lot of people were reading my previous journaling blog regularly but not necessarily leaving comments. So it’s difficult to judge the value, but yes, I would love to have that validation through audience comments.

Cendrine Marrouat May 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Hello Corbett,

Thank you for taking the time to write this article.

I absolutely agree with everything! To me, comments do not matter, unless they add to the conversation. What matters to me though, is to know who I can help with my articles.

“Having lots of comments is obviously not a requirement for building a massive or meaningful blog.” – You actually nailed it here. I keep telling people that what matters is reader engagement in all its forms.

Devesh May 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Hey Corbett,

I’m totally with Sergio. I’m bored with those thank you or great post comments that’s done by human spammers. Most of those commenters are bloggers that were doing commenting to build links.

In my opinion, one should only allow & do genuine comments that adds value to the conversation. I would rather happy to get one genuine comment than tens of “great post” comment.

The only reason why I do commenting is – to build relationship with author of a blog.

I am running two powerful blogs one is a WordPress niche and other is a blogging niche blog. I get very few comments on my WordPress blog and those I get are the ones looking for WP help. On the other hand it also makes more money than my other (blogging niche) blog.

-Dev

Jamie Alexander May 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Blog comments are not to important to me, but as you say, they are pretty good for social proof.

I hate going to blogs with no comments because I feel it’s like a graveyard. That’s why I’d keep mine on. If someone wanted to speak to me they could email. It’s also nice to let people have their opinion.

I don’t really know if my topic, creativity, will attract blogs. I hope not much so I can keep producing content, lol.

Cheers for the post.

Gabrielle May 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Hi Corbett. At this stage blogging is so new (approx 2mths), I can safely say I have made most of the mistakes possible, including measuring myself against comment numbers. For the most part, the comments I have received (just a few) while encouraging and supportive are not in any way conducive to discussion nor useful as constructive feedback. Oddly enough today, before reading your post, I wondered about just leaving the `contact’ option open and closing comments altogether.

As always, your writings give much food for thought.

Gabbie

Aaron May 2, 2012 at 4:43 am

Thanks for using the term “vanity metrics.” It helps me let go! Thanks for the great post and for helping me understand a bit more about my blog and the comment section of said blog.

Eduardo May 2, 2012 at 5:33 am

Hi, great post, very good the Vanity Metrics. If you don’t mind, I’ll use this post for my blog, in spanish, with my own words and own content, but referencing the source (this blog) ;)

Jamie Northrup May 2, 2012 at 6:26 am

I’ve just recently turned off comments on a few of my websites because there weren’t many comments and there was zero conversation, most of the networking and discussion done relating to the topic/post was on Twitter so I’m thinking of bringing that in instead of the comments.

But for the blogs I run that still have comments, I think substance is more important than quantity, I would rather have 2-3 insightful comments per post that I can answer or that make me thing rather than just a bunch of “good post” comments.

Gregory Ciotti May 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

I wanted to reply “Agreed” but I realized that would be a prime example of a “good post!” comment, heh!

Jenn May 2, 2012 at 8:44 am

I have to admit that I am guilty of this. We don’t get many comments on our company blogs, and I generally don’t comment on other’s blogs. I don’t see that as a failure, I just don’t necessarily have the time to get into a conversation at that moment. BUT, if the content is good, I will pass it along. I think that in itself has intrinsic value.

Brent Pittman May 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I staff write for a company blog and I almost never get comments there. But, when I do it’s mostly SPAM. I think if there were solid comments, it would motivate me beyond the mere dollar.

Chris Tompkins May 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

First off – great article. To answer your question, I think social shares are the most important in my book. While comments are great, I find that I get more “bang for my buck” so to speak when a visitor shares my post on Twitter, Facebook, G+ etc.

Kate May 3, 2012 at 6:15 am

GREAT post Corbett! I love your model of produce a ton of valuable content and give it away. I have found that people will reward you when you care about their success as much as yours! Thanks again!

Angie Schaffer May 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

I’ve gone back and forth with the “comments or no comments” thing on my blogs for a while now. I can’t think of any reasons my latest blog would generate that many comments to be quite honest, so I haven’t really worried about it.

Jennifer Brown Banks May 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

Comments should always be deemed important. We just should not agonize over them. The very nature of blogging is “interaction”. Without comments it’s like conducting a “one-way conversation.” And who wants that?

Enlightening post.

Jalanda May 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I didn’t think much about blog comments until I met a coach who was going on about her success.

When I went home to her blog I saw that her blog had no comments so it made me question her credibility. Like is she really so great.

Then I thought maybe people may think that about me.

So I started a Moderated Blog Commenting Tribe. We comment on each other blogs but it’s FAIR and moderated. So everyone is guaranteed to get comments each week. It’s been working out great.

Thanks

Trung Nguyen May 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

I worried when my blog didn’t get as much comments as I wanted, now – thank to this post, it’s oke :)

Darlene May 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Hi Corbett

I don’t get a lot of comments and I don’t really stress that much about it. I’m more concerned about my email subscriber list and increasing that. If it’s going up I know people are reading it.

But perhaps my blog isn’t something people comment on either. I teach photography and give tips, reviews, how to’s, etc. So it’s nothing controversial or anything that needs discussing really. I do follow Chris Brogan’s blog writing frame (which I’m guessing you do also because yours seems to fit) where you put a call to action, something you want readers to do or comment on. I give them a challenge, something to go try in photography and report back. I’m trying to find a plug in to allow them to embed an image in the comment (if anyone knows of one please tell me!) so it’s easier to share their photos with me.

price action May 5, 2012 at 10:05 am

As a fellow blogger, I too believe that comments are not a valid method to determine your blogs popularity or appreciation from readers. As writers we always want to feel appreciated and Corbett said it correctly – ‘we seek validation’ from our readers. Sadly most people don’t want to leave public comments, but that is no reflection or measurement on the true value of your blogs content. I enjoyed this article – many real world points made.

Shayna May 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

What are you trying to accomplish?

At the moment, I’m looking to increase traffic, subscribers, and shares on my 4-month old blog. My posts regularly get 70+ shares and virtually no comments.

However, I haven’t turned them off because sometimes people DO use them to say “nice post” or ask a question, and I always respond personally (often by e-mailing the person). Everyone has different ways that they prefer to interact, so I prefer to leave them available to accommodate anyone who prefers to comment rather than share or send a message through the contact form.

Sire May 7, 2012 at 12:07 am

I think it all depends on your blog. I have several blogs and there are some where I try to cultivate comments and on others I don’t. Take WassupBlog for example, I like getting comments on that blog because I like the interaction with my commentators. I usually learn something from them and hopefully they learn something from me.

Even though comments alone will not put money in your pocket they do tend to make the site look more alive and help to build the perception to those passing by that the blogger knows what he’s about.

Kim @Moneyandrisk May 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Corbett,

You hit the nail on the head about vanity metrics. The reality is that most bloggers are online hoping to strike it rich by working on the internet. However, most people are so into the numbers that they forgot the business itself or what the purpose of the blog was.

I’ve tried to tell people who are completely obsessed with getting Alexa numbers down to worry more about traffic & conversion to income. I see sites with Alexa of 10K and 700 visitors a month vs. another with 1M Alexa and 200K visitors.

Brent Pittman May 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I get comments from peers in my niche, but find it hard to break out to my target audience. How do I get my visitors to comment?

Corbett Barr May 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

Hey Brent, here’s a great article from the people at WordPress about how to get more comments:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/how-to-get-more-comments/

Sharon @ Funken Wagnel May 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I think it also depends on what gadget your readers are reading from. If they’re predominantly using a phone or ipad, then they might be less likely to comment than if they were sitting at a computer.

rashmi@GMR Transcription May 10, 2012 at 12:18 am

Comments in blog gives feedback, creates involvement in discussion and above all, motivates the writer for the next post. Like this post for describing it beautifully!

grace at {Gabbing with Grace} May 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

Corbett, I have a question for you though: I was thinking of enrolling in “start a blog that matters,” and I’m wondering if you think that’s a bad idea for someone who all ready has a fairly established blog (2 + years), not a lot of traffic and is unsure if it matters? It seems very geared towards startups, but I am in the middle of a design revamp so I’m wondering if this is a good way to “start over”?

Anyway, about this post…

I’m SO THANKFUL I came across this post. I’ve been sort of wringing my hands about his whole thing lately. My blog has been growing very slowly over the past two years (though I admit I’ve put very little effort in)…and I have averaged about 5-15 comments. These past few months I’ve decided to put in a lot more effort and my traffic has spiked (for me) yet the comments have been so few it’s been embarressing. Literally, embarresing. I’m asking questions and trying to engage with people and it feels like no one is listening, yet I can see with the metrics they are THERE…they are lurking, they are refusing to participate in my fun and hurting my feelings and embarressing me! (okay drama queen rant over). Anyway, I have tried to inflate my twitter and facebook fan pages and you are right I could have just as easily burned a $100 bill in the backyard b/c it’s made very little difference in my actual numbers.

I think I need to go through and answer those questions…and determine how to measure success FOR ME.

Caleb Wojcik May 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hey Grace,

Even if you already have an existing blog the SABTM course can help you “re-launch” it. Half of the people that take the course already have a blog, they just want to take it to the next level.

Hope that helps!
Caleb

Katie @ Women's Magazine May 28, 2012 at 5:40 am

Trust me when i say “I am impressed”. Learned a new word today “Social Proof”.

George July 17, 2012 at 4:45 am

Long, interesting and valuable article. But what about comments on an electronic music blog. Do you think comments matter in a musical genre where there is incredible amount of artists, tracks, mixes and remixes and where these huge input quantities mean big quantity of valuable material. Thanks in advance.

Nimish (DontSpendMore.com) July 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Very interesting and thought-provoking post. Extremely well-written. I do agree with one thing: “true business drivers” warrant more attention than simply ego-boosting vanity metrics, but that doesn’t mean they are not important.

It is these little things — number of followers/fans, RSS subscribers, etc. — that add up to drive traffic, and it is traffic from these disparage sources that produces revenues. On just the issue of comments, I second the author.

Sue - The Spin Cycle June 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

Vanity Metrics. Did you invent that term? It’s a good one.

I write a humor/lifestyle/parenting blog…so I guess I *do* want people to hit me up with a “Dude! That was funny!” or a “Here’s how I’d approach the situation.” And, yes, it does wig me out a little if my comments aren’t in double digits for each post.

But I do understand that they have to be taken with a proverbial grain of salt. If my 10 comments are all from the same 10 individuals week after week? What kind of reach do I really have? I might as well shut the blog down and invite my 10 peeps over for coffee.

Gregory Ciotti May 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

Thanks Mandy, it was an extreme example, I’m thankful my readers aren’t so damn aggressive!

I agree with you that music is such a personal topic that to hear opinions never really adds to my enjoyment, nor does it really effect my view of the song at all.

I guess a lot of my readers agree, but I keep comments on for my interviews and longer articles when I’m actually looking for feedback; those are some of the few times people will get involved.

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