Strategic commenting

Blogging is at least as much about building your network of relationships as it is about producing great content. Of course quality content is a necessity – without it no amount of marketing will get you very far. But it’s not sufficient by itself, not when there are literally hundreds or thousands of other blogs competing for the same audience as you.

blog commenting strategy
Image courtesy of pshutterbug

Now, one of the most common techniques for gaining exposure and building traffic is commenting on other blogs. Nothing new there – you’ve probably heard the same advice plenty of times already. But today I’d like to examine this in a little more detail, to maximise the benefits to you and your blog.

Think relationships, not traffic

When I comment on someone’s blog, I try to have in mind the goal of building a relationship with the other blogger, not merely using them to get a link. You might think that sounds very noble of me, and perhaps it is, but my reasoning is that in the long run I’m likely to benefit far more in terms of backlinks, traffic, and comments on my own blog if I spend some time getting to know the guy or gal on the other end. This is as opposed to randomly commenting here and there, but staying essentially anonymous in the process.

Think about some of the blogs you read regularly – I’ll bet you have some idea of who the blogger is behind the posts you read. As you follow a blog it’s almost inevitable that you build up a mental picture of the author, as they reveal personal tidbits here and there. Whether you like it or not, blogging is a personal medium. If you want to become the next Darren Rowse, Yaro Starak or John Chow, you need to become known.

Strategic commenting

So here’s how I do it:

  1. When I land on a likely-looking blog, I like to spend a bit of time reading a couple of posts, the About page etc, to get a feel for the site.
  2. Then I’ll leave a comment or two or three if I feel I can add something.
  3. With some sites I’ll leave it there, but if I feel there’s potential for taking it further, I then subscribe to the blog’s feed.
  4. I’ll make a point of revisiting the site a few days later, and see if there’s anything new. If so, I may leave another comment or two.
  5. By this stage, I should have gotten the other blogger’s attention. Chances are they will have checked out my site and left a comment or two in return. If they have, the next step might be to try and link up to one of their posts (when the right opportunity presents itself); if not, I probably won’t push it any further.
  6. I like to try and hook up with them via other social channels too – StumbleUpon, Delicious, MyBlogLog, etc. This really helps to cement the relationship.
  7. And so on. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does I’ve added another site to my network! Like any relationship it takes a bit of work to maintain, but this is how I build my blog empire (Ok, no empire yet, but you get the picture).

9 Tips for strategic commenting

  • Leave only comments of the highest quality, or you might get noticed for the wrong reason!
  • Be personal. Reach out to the person behind the blog. Use their name if possible.
  • Be sincere. There’s an old saying that goes “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”; most of the time I think that’s good advice, but sometimes I feel the urge to hurl after reading one sycophantic comment after another, don’t you? It’s possible to politely disagree with someone too – just don’t do it to deliberately stir up a fight, and try not to alienate the recipient.
  • Get yourself an avatar. More and more sites these days are using them (those little pictures next to people’s comments) – including this one, and they help to reinforce the personal aspect of networking.
  • Comment within your niche. For SEO purposes, it’s best to have links coming from other sites in the same niche as yours, so concentrate your networking efforts there too. Plus you’ll probably have more in common with the other blogger.
  • Target blogs you respect. Just like you probably wouldn’t hang out with someone you despise, try to link up with blogs / bloggers you can respect.
  • Stick within your peer group. You have a far better chance of forging links with blogs at a similar level of authority to your own; getting noticed by an A-lister will be much more difficult because everyone’s trying to hit them up for something. Ask yourself: what’s in it for the other party? Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t try for those that are a little further along than you.
  • Target other bloggers who’re actively reaching out themselves. Blog carnivals, forums and social sites are good places to look.
  • Don’t hit and run. Build relationships, not just links.

That’s it in a nutshell. Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Or have I left something out? Feel free to add your 2c worth in the comments below.

Related posts:

  1. Strategic commenting, part 2

15 Responses to “Strategic commenting”

  1. Gravatar of Yan Shall Blog 1 Yan Shall Blog

    Insightful insight! Excellent stuff, Rodney. Building relationship is far more important than building links. The practice that has worked well for me is the reciprocal visit, sort of “You Comment, I Visit Your Site To Comment Too”…and here I am.

    “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” I’m done as I have nothing else nice to say…did I just say I love the quote?

    Will be back and thanks for the visit. If time permits. do join our super friendly community and share your experience.


  2. Gravatar of Elijah 2 Elijah

    Man, I live for strategic commenting. In fact, a huge factor to our blogs traffic in the first month was that I have been an active commenter and participant in various niche related blogs for months prior to us launching our site.

    Get yourself an avatar – branding baby!
    Stick within your niche – targeted traffic and targeted networking!

  3. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 3 Rodney Smith

    Yan: thanks for the comment – I really like your site, and have bookmarked it, so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me.

    Elijah: well, if it worked for you, I must be on the right track – I’ve already seen your stats!

  4. Gravatar of Yan Shall Blog 4 Yan Shall Blog

    Hi Rodney

    Appreciate your nice compliment and the same respect is due to you too. All the best in everything…


  5. Gravatar of Work At Home Ideas 5 Work At Home Ideas

    Hi Rodney,

    I enjoyed your post and I agree one has to have a certain strategy on blog commenting. A lot of things you mentioned are what I go through in phases too, so I have to agree what you said makes sense. It’s a learning process and I think it does take a while to see some results but it’s nice when you could see some light at the end of the tunnel when it does work isn’t it.


  6. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 6 Rodney Smith

    Peter: Yes, it takes awhile, but what I like about this strategy is you can proactively build links to your site, rather than sitting back and hoping that people will a) discover it and b) link to it. This is of course the ultimate aim, but the catch-22 many new bloggers face is that no-one’s gonna link to their content if they don’t know about it.

  7. Gravatar of Phil Taylor 7 Phil Taylor

    Hi Rodney -

    I’ve used blog commenting for awhile now and it is indeed a good method for developing a rapport with the blogger and in return one may develop new readers for one’s own blog or website. Another tip is to not just “hunt PR” by commenting on older posts but rather leave comments on new articles – they should eventually gain PR (if that’s what you’re after) and also fresher content is naturally viewed more often and therefore exposes the link to your site to a bigger audience.

  8. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 8 Rodney Smith

    Phil: And of course, chances are your comments will be nearer the top, and thus likely to get more traffic.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Gravatar of Phil Taylor 9 Phil Taylor

    Another good point Rodney – I hadn’t thought of that. It’s much better to be on top of the heap than buried beneath it. ;)

  10. Gravatar of Sire 10 Sire

    I have always made it a commitment to comment on other peoples blogs and I admit that the ones I have developed a certain relationship to actually do result in a lot of reciprocating comments.

    I like the way you have put it all down in a post as it makes a lot more sense when you read it than when it’s just flapping around loosely in one’s mind.

  11. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 11 Rodney Smith

    Sire: I’ve seen some of your comments around and about, so I know you’re not just saying that. Welcome.

  12. Gravatar of Tudor 12 Tudor

    Well, I must agree with the things you say. It is pretty disturbing to get different variations of the same post throughout your blog.

    On another note, I’ve red some of your posts and I definitely can say that you have a healthy point of view regarding SEO and SEM.

    Best regards,

  1. 1 All backlinks are created equal…not! at Hippo Web Solutions
  2. 2 Strategic commenting, part 2 at Hippo Web Solutions
  3. 3 Link Love-Links Round Up No. 8 | Work From Home Business Blog
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