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I Came, I Saw, I Commented: Was It Worth It?

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of September 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian

Two quotes:

From Jane Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a blogger in possession of a good domain must be in want of some worthwhile comments.”

The second is the undisputed, best comment I ever received. It didn’t even matter that it was spam: “So so good. Your grd information blog is so wondrous and impotent. So so good.”

Of course, my first thought was, I’m not wondrous!

But seriously, it’s great to get comments. Don’t forget, though…someone out there has to do the commenting. So why do they do it?

Is it worthwhile to leave comments on other blogs?

I was a reader, but not a commenter

I’d never tried commenting as a traffic-building strategy, mainly because I’m not smart or patient enough to strategize. My brother once checkmated me in four moves during an unfortunate chess game I should have turned down.

For the record, I read a ton of blogs. It’s just rare that I comment.

But then in a recent interview someone asked me my opinion on blog commenting as a traffic builder. I froze and sputtered and dodged the question because I didn’t have an answer.

I knew that I might get this question again, so I tried an experiment to find out for myself.

The Experiment

I spent one week leaving as many comments as possible.

Now, a common question is “how do I find blogs to comment on?” First and foremost: I believe that real peace of mind comes from staying out of conversations you aren’t ready for. Meaning, if your idea of masterful penmanship is doodling with a crayon in your mouth, you might look out of place trying to jump into a conversation with a bunch of bloggers discussing calligraphy.

So where did I find blogs to comment on?

I had a perfect audience to test with. Smart, literate, blog-savvy people.

You, in other words.

After my most recent Problogger post, “I Heard Blogging Was Dead. I’m Glad I Didn’t Listen,” I spent a week commenting on as many blogs as possible.

Here was the criterion for the authors whose blogs I commented on:

  • They had a blog (duh)
  • They commented on my Problogger post with a “real” comment
  • I could actually add something to the conversation. I only commented on blogs that I could engage with
  • The blogs were in English

I left over 30 comments on other blogs that week.

The Measurable Results

Now, I can’t prove with scientific certainty that the comments led to these results. A guest post on Problogger leads to spikes across the board, so it’s possible that comments were not the primary cause. But after I left the comments, the numbers went up again, far beyond the typical spikes following a Problogger guest post.

The numbers after commenting:

  • A 100% increase on RSS subscribers (160-320)
  • Over 40 newsletter subscriptions
  • A second traffic spike due to people returning to answer my comment on their own blogs

The Intangible Results

More important has been the goodwill and relationships generated by some simple, sincere comments. I was stunned at how many of responses I got that just said “thank you for the comment on my blog.”

The most rewarding thing has been that my comments led to me meeting some great people. I possibly never would have known them otherwise.

Real Relationships

Broken record time: my favorite part of blogging is meeting people. I reject the idea that you can’t form real and meaningful relationships online. Many of the people who commented on that Problogger post are now my friends.

Like me, like you (maybe it was you), they are real people with real ideas and emotions and our ability to interact is not diminished much by the fact that we may never meet in person.

There are people on the other side of the screen. They are more than links to click on. More than blog stats to crow about. More than usernames. More than traffic and numbers.

So – Is Commenting Worthwhile?

The answer is different for each blogger. In my case, the modest boost in my modest traffic has been worth it, because every little bit helps.

As we’ve been told again and again by the master bloggers:

  • Good, substantial, conversational comments are worthwhile.
  • Self-serving, spammy, falsely flattering comments are almost always going to be a dead end.

It would not be worth my time to leave this comment thirty times on thirty blogs:

Grt post. Love your blog. Love how good it looks. This came at the perfect time for me. I was just talking about this today on ToplessJoshHanagarneTellsAllSuperHot.com

I wouldn’t blame you for deleting that comment.

Bloggers, Not Blogs

Focus on interacting with bloggers as peers and friends, not interacting with blogs for profit and links.

I now comment because it’s proven to be a great way to meet people. And I will continue commenting because for me, relationships are the best part of life. The more the merrier, online or off.

And for the record, I’m not a Jane Austen fan and will never quote her again.

Whatever you do, and whatever your reasons are–keep it fun or you won’t keep it.

Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog to help you get stronger, get smarter, and live better… every day. For bonus articles, videos, and original music, please subscribe to the Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter. If you know someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, please let them know about the blog. They need to know that someone out there “gets it.”

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Nice one, Josh! It’s so cool when writers illustrate their stories with their own data. It really brings the message home. I appreciate the sharing and the learning. Best regards, P. :)

  2. I don’t get many comments on my blog due to the nature of my blog. It’s more of a humor site than a blog. But I do get excited when I get comments. I visit numerous blogs, and read many posts, but I only comment on posts that I feel I can add to the conversation. I believe you learn from posting and other people learn from your posts. The sharing of knowledge (among other things) is what makes blogging so much fun.

  3. Hi Josh,

    I really like the message behind this post … that commenting is ultimately about People, and connections.

    It seems like these days, most people who comment on blogs are merely chasing links. They search out “dofollow” blogs, then copy/paste some unintelligible gibberish, all hope of geting a single followed link to their “money” site.

    Unfortunately, they’re missing the forest for the trees.

    Good comments will bring real people, to your real site. And if you have good, interesting content at the site they arrive on, the connections that you might make can end up being much more “profitable” than simply getting a couple of followed links.


  4. i think giving comments gives benefit to the author and the reader itself, i just have small amount of comments in my site.

    To be honest, i expect there will be a lot of comments so i can evaluate on my own posts

  5. Great post. This was the first advice I received about successful blogging when I started – to participate on other people’s blogs – not that I’ve exactly been successful with any of my blogs. I’m not consistent enough. I have, however, like the author points out, established some relationships with people I otherwise wouldn’t have.

  6. Useful article Josh and Darren. Thanks so much! I’m reblogging.

  7. I have carefully avoided the blogging world for years. Friends and families blogs have gone unread in my effort not to get sucked in!

    Despite my previous efforts, I have dived right into the blogging world and I am now learning what I should have know years ago.

    Since I have now started blogging myself, the information I have gleaned from your experience is invaluable. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for doing the research and posting this article. I have been a Graphic Designer for more than 23 years, with the last 7 or so more focused on website design and now Internet marketing. I am doing research on how to promote my business by offering advice on blogging and e-newsletters to the marketing mix for my customers. I found problogger offers great info, including your article. I am adding your RSS feed to my list. Keep sending out good advice and I look forward to reading your other posts.

  9. Great post. I can say that this is true because the times that I do leave comments on people’s blogs just to join the conversation or to say thank you for commenting on my post, I do get more people visiting my blog. Unfortunately, I don’t do it on a regular basis. Leaving comments is something I need to work on more as a blogger and this post is a good reminder for me.

  10. Blog commenting is, indeed, worth it.

    First, its signifies to the writer of the article that you value that person’s input;

    Second, it allows the commenter to engage in a conversation, one that will hopefully add value to the thread;

    Third, it means everything that you said — more traffic and visibility to your own site.

    With blog commenting, especially those comments which are serious, everyone is a winner.

  11. Nice. I got the idea. Sometimes we just tend to deal with the blogs, not the bloggers themselves and now I realized that it’s a really terrible mistake.

    Nice article. Thanks for the info.

  12. Great comment builds authority, and a lot of great comments means a lot of high quality traffic, isn’t it?

  13. I’m embarassed that you would need to point out to me that there is a person behind the blog, but when you said it that clearly it hit me between the eyes, Apologies to all the bloggers I have not responded to and shopkeepers I did not strike up a conversation with, and other task oriented stuff which disconnects me from people. Great reminder, Josh

  14. Hi Josh, I must say that after I read this post I have to totally agree. I initially started commenting on blogs that I read – only the ones that interest me and I found that my search engine results positioning really did improve.

    Now I make the extra effort to leave a comment, especially if I have something useful to add. It is well worth it.

  15. Really a great post.I am totally agree with this post.Commenting is really a great way to build one’s network.Amazing comments as well.Nice post.Thanks a lot for sharing this post with us.

  16. Totally agree with you ~ I just learn to comment too XD

  17. I generally don’t comment to get traffic spikes, but because I assume the blogger and readers might be the type of people whom I’d like to be in a discussion with.

    Are these blog comments NoFollow in terms of the robot txt file for the page? If you get a rep for allowing spiders to follow your blog comments, smart people will read what you write more closely and comment more often. :-)

  18. can’t say I’ve ever heard Jane Austen quoting about a blog. that’s news to me!

  19. I agree that leaving blog comments is worthwhile and enjoyable. The value really depends on your objective. The benefits of commenting can also depend on the nature or focus of the blog. And of course the level of traffic the blog receives.

    For some people the value is sharing thoughts and interacting with the writer and the audience. For others it is acknowledging a well written blog or post. For some commenting is a great method of link building and authority development. The best is when you can do all three at once.

  20. Although we all knew this but we never take such things for granted and feel like dropping a comment due to busy schedule and lazy nature. I’m surely going to implement what all you’ve written in this post and the first step to move forward is here that I’m commenting on this post.

  21. I think tools like disqus or backtype are useful way for the reader to know how an individual has been commenting. A person who provides balanced views and opinions will be able to build his own network. May be on twitter or on disqus.

  22. Interesting. I am the same. I never commented on blog posts. This is maybe the 5th out of thousands I’ve read. Maybe I should start, with worthwhile comments of course. Thanks for the post – it’s helped.

  23. Must comment…. like kryptonite around my neck.. this post demands a comment… 119 comments already!… must think of something useful to say…

    Commenting is getting easier. Used to be you had to jump through lots of hoops and captchas (still do to some extent – jeez Facebook needs to find a way to validate people so you don’t have to captcha every time you want to comment there). Strange that technology gets in the way of simple conversation. All in the name of eliminating spam.

  24. I have to agree that commenting on other blogs is a great way to bring in new traffic. The problem is it can be very time consuming! I’ve noticed on my own blogs that if I go an extended period without commenting on other blogs I see a dramatic drop in traffic and comments on my own blog.

    But as you said the key is to actually leave worthwhile comments that engage the reader and not just a pile of garbage like “great post!” You won’t get much traffic with garbage comments like that.

  25. I recently started to focus on relationships more then blog promotion and the results are amazing. Leaving comments on blogs, answering questions on forums and linkedin, has starting my social presence rock rolling.

  26. Very true. I have struggled with readers that comment on my blog. Much of this, I attribute to the content; it’s pretty serious many times with some hard content to swallow….

    But, besides the side where I’m lightening things up, I’ve noticed when I am able to get through my RSS feeds and leave worthwhile comments, the comments on my blog in turn increase…and our relationships bloom.

  27. Every time I will think deeply after reading you blog, However I’m poor in English and I can’t understand totally. But I think I have gotten so many tips from you, I will work hard and come here to get knowledge frequently.

  28. Although I don’t allow comments on my blog, I comment frequently. Over the last year and a half, I have been honored with approximately 6 solid friendships; no link builders or money makers. Was it worth it? You bet. Not looking for quantity…quality reigns! ~Nards

  29. I’m one of those people who met Josh after reading his guest post on Problogger. I agree that meaningful content is essential in any blog, as well as any comment. The blogging community, I find, is filled with people who can have intelligent discourse about various topics.

    Thanks, Josh, for another insightful posting. BTW, I love Jane Austen…..

  30. I’m getting better at leaving comments (like now), but for a long time I wasn’t sure what to say. Now I really have to work at getting comments on my blog. I even ran a contest offering a free book (not such a big deal) in a drawing for commenting on a certain post. I STILL only got 15 comments! Not much in PBlogger-terms, but a record for me.

    BTW-how did you get a guest post on PB?? I love this blog…it’s like my blogging reference manual . Your post was great, too….thanks.

  31. Yeah, i think commenting is a traffic building, also relation building. Because every blogger wait for comment on they post, so who comment = who care and my friend : )

  32. “And for the record, I’m not a Jane Austen fan and will never quote her again.”


    -Thank you!

    (P.s- this comment is purely for increased traffic)

    p.s.s -That was a lie. I read your blog everyday. First time commenter though.

  33. @Tristen, well played, my friend! Very crafty.

  34. Hmm, good food for thought. I always wanted to increase comments on the few blog posts I manage to post these days. I used to think that I would only generate those comments if I posted more but frankly, I don’t have that much to say, nor am I that good of a writer. Perhaps I should try leaving more comments around the many other blogs I read. I’ll give that a try and see if there’s any noticeable benefit.

  35. Thank you for putting a real face on this concept. I have always commented on blogs that I read that make an impression on me as I pass by, but little did I notice the importance of what I was doing until I read this article. Yes, I have made many connections just by commenting on blogs. This shows the owner that you are paying attention, and that you have a true interest in what they have to say; if it is done right.

    Just posting comments in order to gain attention to your site does way more harm than good, because you are ruining your reputation in the marketing world by spamming others.

  36. Wow!

    Thank you so much for your insight into how to get people to look at your blog. All this time I was doing exactly the things that you strongly urge your readers not to do. Oops!

    I’ll try your suggestions now about leaving thoughtful and meaningful comments instead of just writing the crap that I’ve normally been writing, like “Wow! That was a cool blog!”

    Okay, hopefully my comments haven’t been that bad.

    Thanks again for the advice.

  37. Great post, just what I need, terrific stuff really :)

    Seriously I also found commenting really worthwhile and addciting of some sort. I do go back to most of my comments to answer back a reply from the blog owner or from the commenters.

    Looks like comments are getting mroe valuable these days.

  38. Great post! I always make a point of tracking down the blogs of people who comment on my blog (if they have one) and comment back. Blogging truly is about building relationships with your readers (something that is missing at times from mainstream media). I rarely find a blog that I can’t find something to add/comment on… but maybe that’s because I just have a lot to say – hence the blogging! :)

    Thanks again for affirming how important comments really are!

  39. The prove that this experiment can works for any of us its the amount of comments that’s getting. I enjoy receiving them in my mail. I’m sharing this tip with everybody.
    Thanks again Josh, Darren and the collaborators.

    Caracas, Venezuela

  40. I actually do this practice already and not only does commenting help build traffic per se via the author of the blog but other people who are reading the post might also click the link to your blog.

    I like when you said “every little bit helps” because it truly does!

  41. For a good blog all you need to do is write great content on a blog for it to get readers and introduced the idea of ’seeding’ content rather than ‘forcing’ it upon readers.

  42. While creating comments on another blog can bring some interest to your blog keep in mind a couple of things.

    Your blog MUST contain CONTENT!!!.

    If someone leaves a comment with a link to their blog I will check out their blog and leave a comment for them as well. This can be mutually beneficial. Now if there is nothing worth commenting on, then I can not.

    Leave comments on blogs that are related to yours. I would not think of leaving a comment on a blog about cats for instance because my blog is about internet marketing scams.

    When leaving comments on another blog think of it as submitting a new post. Grammar and spelling must be correct. Writing style must be interesting and to the point. If your comments are badly written you will not generate interest in your blog.

  43. Wow, talk about comments! Anyone get down here yet? Anyway, I enjoy commenting on related blogs – talking about beer can be fun! I’ve gotten to know many bloggers initially through comments.

  44. My latest spam comment is:

    I have a crush you on, my Adonis!

    I never post it as a real comment. It doesn’t make sense. Although, I do wonder, am I ignoring my possible soulmate? :)

  45. @Pete, you’re probably missing out. I think the two of you owe it to each other to see what happens. “My Adonis.” Too awesome.

  46. I always get something to learn from this blog. The basic aim of SEO is to divert as more online traffic to a website as possible. when you place your banner or link on these sites it will divert traffic to your website. Thus you will get a number of interested visitors, which will ultimately increase your website ranking as well as your business outputs. So finding some relevant sites are necessary to get effective web traffic diverted to your website.

  47. This is a nice article. Why I am a regualr visitor of this blog? Becasue it give something good to learn everytime I visit here.

  48. Not a Jane Austin fan? What gives?

    “I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable blog” (Pride and Prejudice Kind of) But I am surprised to hear that Josh.

    You’re dead right about commenting back to your commenters it is part of the reason that I follow your writing and read so much of what you write.

  49. @Casey B: I blame Mark Twain. Besides Kurt Vonnegut, he’s my co-favorite author. After reading something of Austen’s, Mark said something to the effect of, “It made me want to dig up her skeleton and beat her over the head with one of her bones.”

    I’ve never been the same since. Not fair to Ms. Austen, surely, but I’m a lost cause.

  50. The article is nice. My comment is that Strategies exist at several levels in any organisation – ranging from the overall business (or group of businesses) through to individuals working in it.

    Corporate Strategy – is concerned with the overall purpose and scope of the business to meet stakeholder expectations. This is a crucial level since it is heavily influenced by investors in the business and acts to guide strategic decision-making throughout the business. Corporate strategy is often stated explicitly in a “mission statement”.

    Business Unit Strategy – is concerned more with how a business competes successfully in a particular market. It concerns strategic decisions about choice of products, meeting needs of customers, gaining advantage over competitors, exploiting or creating new opportunities etc.

    Operational Strategy – is concerned with how each part of the business is organised to deliver the corporate and business-unit level strategic direction. Operational strategy therefore focuses on issues of resources, processes, people etc.

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