Are blog comments the key metric of success? The short answer is “no,” although most bloggers are lying if they say they don’t want more comments. Blogging is a content marketing cornerstone, and comments are not necessarily the only indication of success.
In the post titled, This Disease Called Blogging, Mitch Joel shares Gini Dietrich’s observation of:
“three types of bloggers and their level of comment engagement:
- The blog is widely read, but no one comments (Valeria);
- The blogger has his or her say and leaves the comments open for everyone to debate, argue, or agree with one another, but the blogger rarely responds (Mitch and Geoff); and
- The blogger replies to every comment left on his or her blog post (Chris and me).”
Joel goes on to explain that “I write to share my ideas” and that “Just because I don’t actively respond to each and every comment, it doesn’t mean that I am not reading them, thinking about the context and appreciative of the additional thinking.”
Joel also shares the idea that comments aren’t the “responsibility” of the blogger, either. He feels the ideas expressed therein are not his own, and instead that “The blog comments are about you [the reader] and what you add to the discourse.”
If a blogger thinks that comments are the only measure of success, a lack of comments on a blog can kill it. The assumption is that no one is reading a blog without comments. How wrong!
Some blogs skip comments altogether. This practice is criticized for turning your blog into a soapbox, a one-directional conversation. But supporters say that by opening your blog to comments, you may start to soften what you say or try to appease any naysayers and “trolls” who appear.
As Matt Gemmell points out:
Everyone has a right to their opinion, but they do not have a right to express it on your site. A blog is not a democracy, and those that try to be are usually less engaging for it.
Comments are not everything. A lack of comments does not automatically indicate a lack of readership. Nor does a lack of commenting accurately reflect the search strength or branding prowess a blog can provide.
Six reasons a blog without comments is still valuable:
1. Content on your blog is working for you 24/7, in every time zone. Your blog content — the service, knowledge, opinion, or expertise it represents — is “discoverable.”
2. A blog provides a cornerstone location for all of your online content and social profiles, which works to establish and reinforce your brand and/or message. (See also, point #1: 24/7.)
3. A regularly updated blog improves overall search results, especially when you consider impact in “the long tail” (searches for less popular, but still very searchable, keywords and phrases). As Chris Anderson, the person who coined the phrase “Long Tail” in 2004, explains:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of ‘hits’ (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Check out the gigantic size of this long-tail search stat courtesy SEOmoz:
There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.
4. A weekly updated blog can increase sales leads by 68% or more, reports HubSpot. The “or more” percentage comes once there is a backlog of at least 20 quality, original posts.
5. Blog content can be “upcycled“ and reused and formatted into different media channels. This makes the effort spent building blog content more valuable to a business in the aggregate.
6. Blogs without many comments can provide other intangibles important to business, too. These include but are not limited to: demonstrating and disseminating knowledge, sharing company information (externally as well as internally), and presenting a more equitable publishing platform to bring good ideas to the surface.
So, don’t believe that a lack of comments means your blog is not valuable. It is. Learn more about Newsblogging, our method for professional, corporate blogging — sometimes posts get comments and sometimes they don’t — but, regardless, the blogs we manage are working for our clients.
Are you a blogger and you wanting more comments? Check out this excellent post by Chris Garrett, “10 Reasons Commenting is Good for Bloggers“. Oh… and feel free to comment here. ;)
Katie McCaskey is SixEstate's content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the specialty grocery she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.