What Is Your Blog Commenting Strategy?

Ah, blog commenting… I have to admit that it’s my favorite thing about blogging.

It’s a great way to meet new people, learn from them and share our opinions. But there is more to it than just stopping by a post and leaving our thoughts.

The landscape of blog commenting is changing. Thanks in part to the recent Google algorithm changes and the manual web actions for “unnatural links“, people are beginning to get nervous about backlinks.

For those of us who use CommentLuv, (the WordPress plugin that allows do-follow backlinks), that’s causing concerns too. So, let’s take a look at commenting on blogs.

I’ll do my best to set up some of the scenarios that are going on and then I encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences. This is definitely a topic that is in the forefront of many bloggers’ minds.

The 3 Stages of Commenting on Blogs:

When I first started blogging, I desperately wanted comments – any comments. That’s what I refer to as stage #1 of my commenting strategy, otherwise known as “building awareness”.

I installed the CommentLuv plugin (more on this later), started replying to all comments and focused on driving traffic to my site through commenting.

Actually, this strategy is very similar to what Harleena Singh wrote about in her guest post on Adrienne’s blog: How to Become a Blog Commenting Superstar.

In stage #2, “building an online presence” I moved away from the all-traffic is good-traffic mentality and started targeting the blogs that I commented on.

I looked for blogs where my target readers/clients would be and started developing mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers who shared my interests.

Then came stage #3, “focusing on strategies that work“. At the end of the day, I believe that’s where most bloggers want to end up. We develop a commenting strategy that works for us and tweak it as we go along.

Do You Reciprocate Comments?

There are definitely people who firmly believe that all comments should be reciprocated. Period. (If you ever want to start an active discussion between bloggers, just ask if they believe in reciprocating comments.)

Many bloggers believe that if they leave a comment for you, you should leave a comment for them.

But should you? Since Google has been penalizing sites with manual web spam actions, is this something that you should re-think?

If you blog about health and wellness, should you be reciprocating comments with a blogger who runs a blog about gambling or someone who runs a blog that’s riddled with AdSense ads?

Now, to be clear, the URL that you leave (when you leave a comment) is by default “no-follow” but what about comments that you leave on do-follow enabled CommentLuv blogs?

If you leave backlinks on sites that are not in your niche, are you at risk of being penalized by Google?

For example, what would Google think if I left backlinks on a lot of recipe sites or sports sites? That relationship would probably not make sense to Google at all. Are those links “unnatural“?

Personally, since backlinks are being scrutinized by the Google webspam team more than ever, I’m erring on the side of caution.

I’m not saying that I won’t leave a comment on a blog that’s not related to my niche. I will. I will also think twice before leaving a backlink if your blog is CommentLuv, do-follow enabled.

Reasons For (and For Not) Reciprocating Comments:

I realize that there are more than 5 reasons for both reciprocating and not reciprocating comments but this short list should get the conversation going:

5 Reasons Why Reciprocating Comments DOESN’T Make Sense:

  1. You have nothing to add of value in your comment.
  2. Some of the comments on the site lead to URLs that Google may deem spammy.
  3. The website is one that you don’t want to be associated with.
  4. It’s not the best use of your time.
  5. Backlinks from that blog could potentially be perceived as unnatural by Google.

5 Reasons Why Reciprocating Comments DOES Make Sense:

  1. Your comment adds value to the conversation.
  2. You have a connection to the blogger and want to support them.
  3. You hope to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the blogger.
  4. You want to establish brand awareness amongst their blog readers.
  5. You’re building your reputation as an authority in the niche that blog centers around.

The Threat of a Google Manual Web Spam Action:

In light of the massive amount of manual web spam actions that Google’s webspam team enacted last month, it’s more important than ever to be diligent about both incoming and outgoing links.

You don’t have to look further than Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest.com or Doc Sheldon’s recent run-in with Google to be leery of being penalized and/or totally de-indexed by Google.

The last thing any of us want is to receive a manual action labeled as “unnatural links from your site”. So, we need to be diligent about what backlinks we’re leaving and what links to other sites we’re allowing.

Should You Reciprocate Comments?

As a rule, I don’t automatically reciprocate comments. I simply don’t have the time. I reply to every comment left for me and I strive to cultivate true conversations in the comment section but do I reciprocate every comment that is left for me? Sorry, but no.

Actually, some of you who are regular readers of my blog may find that odd. After all, I’ve been a manager of the Bloggers Helping Bloggers LinkedIn group for years and I advocate joining that group often.

(For those of you who may not be familiar with this group, while the focus is on helping each other, there is a weekly discussion for sharing and commenting on each others’ posts.)

The reason that I personally no longer participate in that discussion is that it no longer meets my needs and it is not the best use of my time.

I have moved past the stage in my blog growth where I needed eyes on my site. Instead, I choose to spend my time commenting on sites where I can truly add value.

Does that mean that I don’t value the relationships that I developed on the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group? Not at all.

Instead of blog hopping and trying to leave comments on a number of blogs, I try to spend more time fostering true discussions on the main discussion area of the group. That’s where I believe the most value (of being a group member) lies.

A side benefit of this strategy is that I now have more time to spend commenting on blogs of true influencers. Building relationships with influential bloggers has huge potential when it comes to promoting your site through social media (as opposed to relying on Google for organic search traffic). Let’s face it, relying on organic traffic is a risky strategy and is likely to attract readers who really aren’t at all interested in what we have to say (or sell).

What Does the Future Hold for CommentLuv?

Let me start out by saying that I have no idea what the future holds for CommentLuv. I’m still a huge advocate for using the premium version. Will that change? I hope not but I’m not making any promises for my own site or predictions for anyone else.

Lots of well-known bloggers (and authorities in their niches) have chosen to remove the plugin while others have made the links no-follow. At the time that I’m writing this, I still have CommentLuv Premium installed on my site but I am using it more strategically.

I no longer enable the do-follow attribute until someone has left ten approved comments. I also diligently monitor my older comments to insure that the links that I have approved are not broken and still point to sites that I want to be associated with. Is it a lot of work to maintain? Yes.

Do I think it’s worthwhile to offer backlinks as a way of rewarding loyal readers? I do. Will I ever change my mind and remove CommentLuv? I don’t know for sure.

Over to You:

What are your thoughts? What is your strategy for commenting? Do you comment on do-follow enabled CommentLuv blogs for backlinks? We’d love to know.

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends now, I’m sure they might want to get in on this discussion too!