There are two major factors that define the success and popularity of a blog post: traffic and comments. The more traffic an article receives, the more comments are submitted – and the other way around. Articles with 50+ comments certainly imply that the content is of high quality. But, these highly commented articles are also carrying a heavy burden: They sacrifice productive communication on the altar of pageviews and traffic.Indeed, an increasing number of comments can act as an obstacle to the interaction of the community and the development of the whole discussion. Let’s first see why this happens and then get into how to improve your blog so that readers are encouraged to read and comment on the article.
Users’ Reading Habits
People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.”
Blog visitors, don’t scan only the actual content of the site, but also the comments. When the reader notices a great amount of comments, she will certainly not read them one by one, she will scan them. The amount and length of comments also defines how fast the reader will actually scan the comments.
Users’ Commenting Habits
Take a step back and notice how you comment on other blogs. Where would you be more likely to leave a comment?
- in a great article with just 5 comments?or
- in a great article with 67 comments?
Leaving a comment on an article with just 5 comments gives the commentator the feeling that his contribution will be noticed and taken into consideration – not only from the administrator but from other readers too. A comment among 67 others seems like one more grain of sand at the beach. That’s why blog promotional strategies suggest being the first to comment on a popular blog. Because readers usually scan only the first comments.
How to Attract More (Productive) Blog Comments
There are several ways to assist your community in reading the content of the comments and contributing more productive ideas:
- Separate your comments in categories. Trackbacks and pingbacks to an article are by default counted as comments. Instead of having a big block of mixed comments and trackbacks, customize your blog to separate trackbacks from comments.
- Advise your community to be more productive. Very often a large amount of the article’s comments are thank you comments, where readers just say how much they enjoyed the post. This is of course welcome, but certainly doesn’t promote the discussion. So, why don’t you install a small rating plugin and write a small note before the comment block saying something like: If you liked this post give it a rating or submit it to your favorite social site. Use the comments below to start a productive discussion about the topic.
- Don’t answer each comment separately. Wait a day or two and then reply to all the comments submitted so far. This will significantly decrease the total number of comments.
- Highlight your own comments. Highlighting your own comments is a very good way to increase the “scannability” of your comment block. Readers will be able to scan the post easier and it will also be less tiresome for the eye. Either use this simple hack or download this plugin.
Blogging is about creating interactions; it is about developing a discussion and not having passive readers. So give your readers the tools and possibility to react to your posts and promote interesting discussions. How do you promote interaction in your blog?