If you have had a blog for any length of time, whether personal or professional, you're going to get comments from your readers at some point, assuming they're enabled!
Whether they're positive in nature or..... well, not so much, comments help create a community of people who are as passionate about your writing as you are.
Comments should generally be regarded as a good thing, regardless of their nature. Having people respond to your writing shows that you're connecting with them, inspiring them, provoking them and maybe even sometimes enraging them, but at least you're doing something.
Basically, what we're saying is that the words you write will have an impact on your readers and sooner or later, they're going to let you know it!
It's easy when they're glowing comments about how good you are and how much they enjoyed your latest musing, but what if they're not?
What do you do when you need to respond to comments that aren't so nice? Should you respond at all? Do you need to? Does it matter? Will it affect your search ranking? Who let the dogs out?
Let's take a look, starting with...
Do Comments Affect Your SEO?
Simple answer, no, well not really. At least not directly.
We've often said that content is king, so it's fairly obvious to say that comments on a particular post do add to that content.
Google and the other search engines will index the content on your site, including the blog, so it's worth remembering that this includes any comments you get, but they need to be managed.
The algorithms will be able to differentiate the body of the post and the responses, so the weight they give to comments will be minimal.
What they do offer however is the opportunity to create a community of engaged readers who will regularly visit your blog to hear from you.
The more people who visit, the more likely they'll comment. More comments mean a more engaged and higher readership which will help to drive traffic (and returning visitors) and boost your SEO that way.
The 5 Types of Blog Comments
We've put together some ways to handle the types of comments you can expect when you have a blog. But '5' types you say? Yes, we do. What are they? Well.......
1. Positive Comments
It's no surprise that any positive comments you get will be the best ones to receive and the easiest ones to manage.
Everyone likes to know that people have responded positively to what you've written. Whether that comes in the shape of a comment, a share or a 'Like', it's nice to know you've hit the right note with your audience and they like it enough to post a comment (like you'll probably do once you've read this post ;-)
It's important not to take positive comments for granted. Reply to them, even if it's just a 'thank you', to let the responder know it's appreciated.
Once you've amassed enough of them, you can even write a blog post specifically about how much you appreciate the feedback you're getting and how grateful you are for your audience's support. Positive comments are lovely, but sadly they're not the only ones you'll see!
2. Negative Comments
The flip side of the positive comments you'll get is, of course, the negative ones.
Not every comment you'll get will be a glowing endorsement of your opinions, but a negative comment doesn't have to be a hate-filled spew of vile insults (although they obviously can be that too!).
If you use your blog writing to share your opinion on the industry in which you work or your wider views on the world at large, not everyone is going to agree with you.....and that's OK.
Some might not like the product or service you provide (for whatever reason) whilst others might just be people wanting to troll you. Negative comments come in all shapes and sizes... and levels of vitriol.
Negative comments are often the hardest types to handle and it's hard not to take them personally, but you really mustn't. Everyone is entitled to their informed opinion (as Harlan Ellison once said).
If the comments you get are just inappropriate, hurtful, vindictive, violent or threatening, it's best not to engage at all. Just delete them and move on.
The poster (aka troll) is generally just looking for a reaction, so don't give them the benefit of one.
Whilst you also might want to delete any comments that show dissatisfaction with the product or service you provide, you REALLY shouldn't.
You don't want to make the situation any worse by seemingly 'censoring' them. Instead, engage with them and try to understand where that dissatisfaction comes from.
It could just be a miscommunication or misunderstanding on either side, but don't try and resolve it in the comments section.
Offer them a way to get in touch with you (either an email or telephone number) to try and resolve the issue.
Finally, if the comment is deemed negative simply because they share a differing point of view, again, that's OK.
It's the perfect opportunity to start a discussion, respecting their views as they should respect yours. It could also be a good opportunity to flex your expertise on the subject to bring up perspectives they might have not seen or appreciated.
People will always want to see a good debate of ideas play-out, but keep it polite, respectful and don't resort to name-calling..... you big stinky poo-pants.
3. Off-Topic Comments
You may well have blogged about one thing, but you might get comments that are completely unrelated to the topic in the post. These 'off-topic' comments can be a little harder to manage, not to mention understand.
Often the first emotion with off-topic comments is confusion as you try some mental gymnastics to understand the connection between the two, when often there simply isn't one. It's a random comment about something completely different.
That said, it could be that the person posting the comment just hasn't articulated their position adequately.
Alternatively, you might have misunderstood the comment on the first read. Take another look and see if that helps. A missing comma or incorrectly placed semi-colon can often alter how you read a sentence.
Off-topic comments aren't 'bad' necessarily, but they can have an impact on your search engine optimisation that we touched on at the beginning.
If the search engines think your blog is about one thing, but the comments are about something else entirely, it can make it harder for them to index it correctly.
If that's the case, and you genuinely can't see the connection, consider deleting the comment. It might be spam in a different form (more on that later).
You could of course reply to the person posting and simply ask them to clarify what they mean. It could be a genuine mistake (e.g. copy-n-paste gone mad or they've posted it on the wrong blog).
If you choose to delete it because it's completely irrelevant, reach out to them and explain why i.e. to keep your comments on topic and relevant for everyone else.
It would take a special kind of blog (not to mention a VERY long one) to cover every possible aspect, point-of-view or perspective on the topic on which you're writing. As such, it's natural for people to have questions about what you've written.
Those questions might just be asking you to clarify certain points you've touched upon, expand on things you might have accidentally (or purposely) glossed over, they might want to know more about you or your business or even question something you hadn't previously considered. Either way, questions are a great way to engage with your readership.
If the question is short and straightforward, then great, leave an answer (assuming you know it!) and move on. Even if you don't, let them know that you'll look into it and get back to them (but make sure you do!).
If their question has completely flummoxed you, be open and say that too.
It's OK not to know everything. People will appreciate your honesty. You could also ask the question to the rest of your audience to see if anyone else knows. This is a great way to engage the wider readership and build a community.
If the question is more detailed, and the answer needs to be more nuanced or requires a lengthier response, it might be worth using it as the basis for your next blog.
Thank them and let the commenter know that you'll tackle it in a later blog but again, make sure you do!
Spam comments are a part of blog life. They just are. Ask any blogger.
As your blog grows in popularity and your audience starts to expand, it will become a target for bots and spammers. They're usually looking to capitalise on your success or supplement their dodgy black-hat SEO tactics.
Think of it as a mark of respect that you have this large following, but one that's also a pain in the arse to manage.
Spam comes in many forms, and whilst most blogs will have some form of filter to try and keep them out, sooner or later, some will sneak through.
Spam might come in the form of adverts, too-good-to-be-true deals, unrelated to the topic in question (see #3) or just complete nonsense, copy-n-pasted from a million other spam comments across the web.
They often want to trick other users into clicking on them for some nefarious purpose.
Any comments that aren't captured by your spam filter should be deleted immediately. If you can also block the person who posted it, then do that too, but don't be surprised if another bot pops up posting the same thing on your next post. It's a cat-and-mouse game that will probably never end.
It's worth noting that, depending on the platform hosting your blog, there may be plug-ins (e.g. Akismet for WordPress) or third-party apps that can be added to help you manage the spam comments that you might get.
Some platforms also allow you to moderate comments before they're approved and displayed. Again, depending on how popular your blog is, this might help, but might also take up an inordinate amount of your time!
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
As we said up top, comments are a great sign that what you're writing is connecting with people. Regardless if comments are good, bad or indifferent, it's a good idea to put aside time in your schedule to handle them, whether you respond, engage or delete them outright.
The more successful your blog becomes, the more comments you're going to get, so adjust the time needed accordingly. In the early days, it might not take up too much time at all, but this will grow as your audience does.
If you are going to respond, don't think you have to do it the minute a comment is posted, but within a day or two is OK.
You might want to set time at the end (or beginning) of each work day to manage the comments you get, just to show that you're listening to them, as much as they are to you.
Remember, your audience is the lifeblood of your blog. They will want to be challenged at times, provoked at others and even cajoled occasionally.
Your writing should illicit emotions in them, but don't always expect those emotions to be nice ones, but how you handle them, will be key to your success.
We hope you found something in this post that helps you manage the comments section of your blog and keep it a nice place to be.
Have you any other hints or tips that you think would help our community? Have we missed something or have you got an example of how you've managed it? Let us know in the comments below.