awesomeOnline tools like blogs, Twitter and Facebook have made it easier for people to share with one another, but they don’t necessarily make the Web social. In fact, one could argue that these tools make it easier for people to be less social. In a space where spam and irrelevant messages spread faster than ever, being social requires one to be remarkable. On platforms battling spam and narcissistic one-sided dialogues, the true social value lies with businesses and individuals that communicate in meaningful ways.

This post will discuss how to be a thoughtful and engaged commenter, whether you are active in the blogosphere or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and message boards.

Keep Your Signs Off Other People’s Yards

Would you take a sign for your business and put it in the front yard of someone you don’t know? No, a credible business wouldn’t do that. But leaving blog comments that are nothing more than a link or multiple links back to your website is the online equivalent of that behavior. It is also the fastest way to get your comment deleted and to have future comments marketed as spam.

If you have a post addressing a specific question at hand, then it is ok to include that link into a comment, along with a summary of the information provided on your site. That way if people are looking for only a brief answer, they don’t have to click through to your site.

Another way to include a link back to your website in blog comments is to use a well-optimized signature.

For example:
Twitter Username

This signature helps provide some context to the person reading the comment. If your comment is thoughtful and adds value to the discussion, it is likely that readers will visit your website and follow you on Twitter.

Understand Comments and the “nofollow” Tag

So, why do you constantly see people including links in their comments? It isn’t really to get traffic back to their sites. Instead, it is mainly for search engine optimization purposes. Those who constantly include links in their comments hope to generate more inbound links in an effort to rank higher in search engines for specific keywords. However, most of these commenters are wasting their time.

Most blogs, including this one, use something called a “nofollow” tag for all links in the comments of a blog post. The “nofollow” tag tells a search engine’s web crawler to not follow the link, thus not passing any search engine optimization credit. In other words, links with “nofollow” tags do not count as inbound links for a website.

How to Determine If a Blog Uses “nofollow”

Go to a blog post that has at least one comment and copy the name of the person who left the comment. Then, in your web browser click the view menu and select the option that says “Page Source” or “View Source.”  Use the find function on your computer (Ctrl+F) to search the source code for the name that you copied from the blog post. Does the link left by the commenter have the “nofollow” tag next to it? If it does, you know that the blog you are looking at does not pass SEO credit through comment links. Most blog owners use the “nofollow” tag as a way to reduce the number of spam comments on their blog.

nofollow tag

How to Always Leave an Interesting Blog Comment

How many of the blog comments you have read do you actually remember? If you are like me, your answer would be very few. That is because the vast majority of them are not thoughtful or interesting enough. In some cases I read comments and think to myself, “Did this person even read the article?” So, how do you make sure that the author of the blog remembers you? (More on why this is important later.) It is best to have a framework, a way of organizing your response so that it makes an impact.

For blog commenting it works best if you start out with a piece of positive feedback about the article. Follow up with more in-depth explanation or disagreement on one specific part of the article. Using this framework, a comment for this article could look something like this:

“Interesting article, I have never thought about commenting on blogs in this much detail before. I will use this information to improve the comments I leave for my business in the future. However, I do have to disagree with you about the reasoning for including links in comments. Being that many people sign up to receive email updates for new comments to a post they have previously commented on, I have found that including links in you comments can send a decent amount of quality traffic to your website and impact lead generation if you are commenting on relevant sites.”

This sample comment follows the methodology mentioned above. Notice that it isn’t too long. It is long enough to show thoughtfulness and to make a point, but not so long that others won’t take the time to read it.

Build Relationships Through Blog Commenting

The most valuable aspect of blog commenting often goes ignored. Most spam commenters are looking for a quick way to drive relevant traffic to their sites. Yet blog commenting isn’t good for quick traffic. Its true value lies in the opportunity to build long-term relationships. Leaving thoughtful blog comments can be one of the best ways to start a relationship with an influential blogger in your industry. After leaving several insightful comments and following him or her on Twitter, it is likely they will recognize your name and follow you back. Once they follow you on Twitter, you can continue to build your relationship with them through their blog and Twitter. After a while, you can approach them about the possibility of doing a guest post for their blog, or maybe ask them to tweet a major blog post that you have recently completed.

This type of relationship building through blog commenting can help drive long-tail traffic over time from links to your blog or website being included in the influencers blog posts and tweets.

How often do you comment on blog posts?