In the age of Freedom of Speech, your audience having their say is an unavoidable hazard. But there are ways to turn it to your advantage as a blogger…

 

INTRODUCTION

Despite admissions to the contrary, no one writes anything purely for the love of writing. They do it to get a reaction from an audience. Regardless of whether that’s their friends and family; a particular, well-researched demographic; or the entire world. That’s still an audience.
And the best way to gauge an audience’s reaction is to let them tell you. Polls and questionnaires are sometimes too much effort for the random readers. But if they have enough time on their hands and a strong enough opinion, give them a comments section, and they will tell you exactly what they think.
It gives them a sense of contributing TO the content being discussed without having any knack for writing at all. Or reinforces their belief in their own opinion, if they think their point is valid enough.
This article will explore the good and the bad in terms of the readers’ comment section of a blog, and why it is a handy business tool. The key to a successful online career in some cases; a necessary evil in others.
 

THE COMMENTS SECTION – WHY IS THIS GOOD FOR YOUR BLOG?

No blog can expect to do well without a comments section. Your readers NEED to feel involved in the process somehow – even if that means giving them the freedom to have their say.
Sometimes it offers them an excuse for someone to spark a racial or religious debate, often totally irrelevant to the content you posted. Other times, readers can reminisce and muse nostalgically. Or they can outright declare their views on the subject matter and the content at hand. There is no way to predict it.
However, many bloggers and web designers will opine “there is no such thing as bad discussion”. An online conversation is a means by which one builds and generates traffic to the blog or website. With more traffic comes more recognition and a higher reputation.
When used properly, word of mouth is a powerful tool – ESPECIALLY on the internet!
An involved and engaged audience will keep coming back to your blog or website. They are the real key to making a profit from blogging.
 

HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR READERS TO COMMENT

When it comes to planning your content, you should consider WHY you’re writing it. If the reason is to arouse a big discussion from your readers, then you need to write something that they will want to comment on. In other words, something controversial. Something where their opinions will seem to matter.
Obviously, not all blogs are suited to posting about the world’s great issues. Take a Mothercare blog, for example. The content is not going to be intended for starting some politically-heated argument in the comments section. With these kinds of sites, you approach it in a different way – make it clear repeatedly in the content that their advice, stories, and experiences are important to you as the blogger. They will go straight to the comments box to share a (hopefully) relevant anecdote.
If they don’t know it’s there, then you haven’t made it clear enough. Obviously as a blogger, if you’re not dealing with a controversy or hot topic, you will need to be creative with how you encourage your readers to comment. If applicable, include a lot of questions for potential discussion in the copy. Make it clear you want their opinion and ask them to answer. If it’s a food, travel or fashion blog, lavish the users with excellent photography for them to remark on.
 

READER COMMENTS AND SEO – WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

The comments section of a blog can be an educational tool – it can highlight where you’re going wrong in your content. Or in other cases, they can be outright hilarious – seeing for yourself how human stupidity has come so far.
But most importantly, a website with a thriving comments box can do wonders for your SEO.
Take Google as the prime example. It views the comments as part of the content, so if some of the comments inadvertently link to high-ranking keywords, for instance, they could be pulled by the search engine to show up in the “sample”. You know, the little snippet of the post that appears in the search listings.
By encouraging your readers to comment with well-thought-out, meaningful stuff, you will find more readers will come to you. The higher your SEO ranking, the more likely you are to be seen in the search engine listings. That leads back to the “more traffic, more attention, bigger reputation, bigger profit” process.
And to think, some sites willingly disable their comments sections. This is primarily due to the spam or abusive content, which can tarnish the reputation of a site and/or put off potential users. Thereby, having a negative effect on SEO.
The fortunate thing is it’s now more common on Content Management Systems like WordPress to review the comments before publishing them. Admins can comb through the readers’ remarks and make the executive decision whether or not to allow them on the site for the public to see.
 

CONCLUSION

It is SEO 101. You cannot expect a blog or website to attract any sort of attention without some form of user engagement. And the easiest way to do that is to let the readers have at it. Offer them the opportunity to indulge in sharing their opinions and their anecdotes and become part of the process.
Any attention is good attention in this cut-throat online world. Perhaps have a moderator plug-in on your site to get rid of all the spam, as that won’t do your site any good. But otherwise, let the chance of discussion bring you the traffic you need, which will in turn open more doors in building a profitable website in future.