What critical components must my blog have to ensure it performs at its maximum potential?
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In this post, I want to continue with our theme of critical components and concentrate on one which has caused some debate recently, comments.
Give your readers a way to engage in the conversation
If we look at blogging and allowing comments from the standpoint of a business or professional service firm, allowing comments should be one of the methods we can use to start to build a relationship with our visitors. We want to move forward from just getting visitors to our blogs. Our goal should be to turn those visitors into readers. It is the readers who we have the best chance of building a relationship with and hopefully turn into clients or customers.
One of the tools I use to monitor this blog’s traffic is Woopra. Not so much for number watching as to see where the traffic is coming from and to see how many visitors are becoming readers. I love it when I see a visitor who has been to my blog more than once. To me, this means we might be building a relationship which may even grow into something more.
Readers turn into regulars on your blog. They subscribe to your feed, either by RSS or email. And they may even subscribe to your Newsletter and later buy from you. Either a product or your service. How do we get beyond just having traffic full of visitors?
One of the best ways to explain what you need to be doing with your blog is to think about F.L.E.E.
- Find the conversations
- Listen to the conversation
- Engage in the conversation
- Enpower or Eable your readers to get involved in the conversation too
Providing for and allowing comments on your blog gets you to the last E in F.L.E.E. This may sound harsh. But, if you don’t allow comments on your blog it is not a blog. You are merely carrying on a one way conversation between three people, me, myself and I. Get over yourself and ask yourself why are you not allowing comments. If you moderate comments, which you should, there is no reason to not allow comments on your blog. And if you use one of the comment spam tools available, you can manage comment spam too.
Allowing comments on your blog gives your visitors a reason to become readers. It gives the ability to engage in the conversation you have started by posting to your blog in the first place.
A blog that does not allow comments is not a blog!
During this series, I have talked about and the comments on the post have indicated the same. It is the building of relationships with our readers which is so great about blogging verses other internet based marketing efforts. Anyone can gain traffic with some fancy SEO and keyword use. However, traffic is not what is going to get you results as a business blogger.
Just for a moment, lets think of your blog as a Shopping Mall during high traffic days if you will. We might sit around waiting on someone who is shopping and while sitting there, we notice a lot of foot traffic in the mall. Hundreds of people walking around with no shopping bags in their hands. These people are nothing more than traffic. Not buying, not establishing a relationship with any of the stores. Just stopping by for a quick look and not engaging in anything. The ones we want to see as store owners in the Shopping Mall are those visitors who we turn into shoppers who are carrying shopping bags out of our stores.
We don’t just want visitors and traffic as a blogger any more than the stores want just visitors and traffic. We want shoppers or to us, we want readers who take something away with them when they leave our blog. And, these readers will be back. They will engage and they will get involved in the conversation by commenting.
Someone said recently to me on twitter as I was discussing this that comments on your blog are nothing but an ego trip. Maybe. But don’t we do a lot of what we do because it makes us feel good. Don’t we enjoy seeing others get involved in the conversations we start on our blog. I know I do. And I can say, I almost always learn more from the comments than I do from my own blog post.
Lets stop beating this dead horse for a moment and get to the tools and techniques we can use to get comments.
- Encourage comments. Use plugins such as Comment Luv to encourage comments. This plugin actually gives your commentators a link to their most recent blog post.
- Recognize commentators. Use a plugin called Gravatar which provides your readers a globally recognized avatar. That way when they visit your blog and post a comment, they will have a photo or image included with their comment. Just one more way to recognize a commentator.
- Reply to comments. This is perhaps one of the best ways to continue to get comments on your blog. Take the time to comment on a comment. And with the new threaded comments in WP 2.7 and the fact you can reply right from the dashboard, replying to comments is very easy to do.
- Thank commentators It doesn’t take that much effort to drop commentators a quick email thanking them for comments. I try to do this to new commentators when I can. People appreciate a thank you, even if it is a short email.
- Ask for comments I try to ask for comments in my post as often as I can. I use a simple short sentence and it goes something like this, “make sure to leave your comments so we can keep the conversation going.” Ask for them, you will be amazed at how often you will get them.
- Make it easy to comment Don’t make your readers login or register to leave a comment. Chances are if you do, they won’t.
This is a very short list of things you can do to encourage your readers to leave comments. I know there are more. The point I am trying to make and I do believe it is very clear. Comments are a critical component of a successful blog. Don’t keep your readers from commenting and be proactive about getting comments to your blog.
Since there are other ways to encourage and get comments to your blog, if you can think of others or if you use other means, please leave a comment here so we can keep the conversation going.
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