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The Secret To Successful Comments

In an earlier post I wrote about how to jump into oncoming traffic as a way to increase targeted visitors to your blog.  The main concept is to get out into the blogosphere and start making an effort to leave comments on other blogs that already have an audience that you would like to target.  The comments you leave (if approved) will not only show your participation and contribution but also offer a link back to your own site.  The basic idea is that this will present an opportunity for the audience reading your comment to visit your blog through the link you have left.

When successful, a comment should accomplish at least 2 things:
    1. Offer some contribution to the original article.
       If you agree with the article, but feel there is something that could be added to enhance the message - say so.
       If you disagree with the article, and have a clear idea as to why - say so.
    2.  Inspire the reader of your comments to 'check out' who you are.

Why a blog writer loves readers' comments
    1.  The content added to the comments is included as addendum to the original article and is spidered (by search engines) along with the original article.
    2.  Comments create community.  Not only is the article being read, but readers are participating, which inspires more participation.
    3.  It is difficult to write the 'perfect post'; sometimes it takes many voices to round out a topic.
    4.  Comments are accompanied by contact info.
            This contact info can:
            1.  Be a new lead
            2.  Be a new friend
            3.  Be a new destination for like-minded knowledge
            4.  All of the above.

Be aware, not all comments are created equal.  A comment, in order to be successful, can take a lot of thought and effort.  Whimsical comments are treated as such.  I see a formula to successful comment writing around the real estate blogosphere, and although it may not be the only one, there is proof that it works brilliantly.

First, be nice.
Compliment the article (when deserving).  Coming right out and telling the author that you have something to add (positive or negative) to their article (read: baby) can seem a bit aggressive and not be received as well as you may have intended.  Kind words always soften criticism.

Second, provide any compliment, criticism, advice or additional insight to the article in the same tone: positive.
This makes your contribution flow well with the original article and will inspire others to want to learn more from the commenter. Understand that writing (especially when curt) has a tendency to lose all intended inflection and tone.  Re-read your comments in a monotone manner, checking to see if your 'voice' will be heard as you intended.

Third, link.
Most comments are to be accompanied by a web address and name when posting.  However, if your comment merits a link back to an article (on your blog) related to the subject at hand, don't be afraid to include it as well.  Not all moderators allow for hyperlinks (or HTML tags) in their comments, so you may be left with a text non-link that needs to be copied and pasted into a browser... but that's better than nothing.

Fourth, proofread.
Don't be sloppy.  Comments, like blog articles will be accessible in the search engines.  Your name and web address are connected to your comments.  Treat your comments as you would a polished blog post: check spelling, grammar, link URLs and contact info for errors.

Added Benefits to Commenting.
Besides attracting traffic with every successful blog comment on any given article, there are also added benefits in search engine optimization for your own blog.  By adding a little shameless self promotion aka a link back in each comment, you have now started to weave your online web.  As the search engines spider the article where you made comment, it automatically establishes an inbound link from said blog.  Leaving successful comments on the blogosphere is just as important as social networking* your own blog entries.  Running a consistent commenting campaign is going to produce visible results similar to any kind of link building efforts that some companies charge thousands for.

Today's article has been inspired by the efforts and success of Mary McKnight from RSSPieces (AKA REBlogGirl).  She started participating actively in the real estate blogosphere a little more than a month ago, littering the our community's best blogs with her insightful and delightful comments. She offered a peek at her stats for this article, and let's just say we were both very surprised at just how effective her campaign has been. Her sole marketing effort for the month of October has been through blogosphere participation: blogging and commenting.  Her traffic increase has be as much as 8 fold!  Here are two examples of comments she has left on the Tomato in just the last couple of weeks:       

      (From 3 Soft Barriers)      
Geez, why hadn't I thought of this post? Another good one Jim. One of the ideas we have implementing is the custom/personalized RSS feed. When users search the MLS, we generate a feed for their search criteria so they can subscribe to that and when new listings that match their criteria come on the market- the system emails them the listings- it helps boost RSS subscription. Because, you are right, regular RSS subscription just doesn't cut it anymore!
Posted October 22, 2006 at 04:41 AM   

     (From No Time To Blog? )
Love the swicki. Great post for mentioning such a good tool. Another way a blog can help users select topics is that most bogs show you how many times each article was viewed. That helps users to determine which articles are of most interest to your visitors. For example, we found that many of our Cape Coral bloggers that specifically talked about marketing homes in this declining market drove more traffic than those that didn't. Those that revisited that topic from different angles frequently also drove more traffic than those that didn't. That is a very valuable feature of a blog. It can also help visitors to determine which posts might be of most interest to them.
Posted October 09, 2006 at 08:36 AM    

And another from a great participator, Bernice Ross
    (From 3 Soft Barriers)
Great suggestions!
Two other suggestions. We've been recommending to our clients that they take their "free reports" and divide them into 3 to 5 sections and offer them as an "E-course." I also love the MyHomeManagementClub program which provides a really terrific newsletter packed with consumer tips about home ownership. This is a consumer advocacy newsletter, not the same old stuff about "when you sell your house." You offer your web visitors or the people you meet at open house a "gift" of membership. The third approach I like for the web are free web coupons. Check out www.Baton.com for more info.
Posted by: Bernice Ross | October 22, 2006 at 08:18 AM

Related Read:
Adding Your 2 Cents, Stay On Top Of Comments

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Wow, Jim. What a compliment coming from you. I really never looked at commenting in terms of ROI until you asked. I began commenting on Oct 8th. My hit counts prior to Oct 8 had been around 12K/day. Since I began commenting and actively synidcating articles my hits have jumped to an average of 27K/day. When I looked more closely at the numbers I can directly attribute 8% of all traffic on my site to commenting on other blogs, 12.6% to Active Rain and 6.5% to Real Estate Voices.

Another good post Jim. Recently I have started asking my favorite bloggers to comment on select posts in my blog. It's important for me to get opinions on the content I am providing from outside sources. I want my blog to be an interactive experience that provides my readers with insight from as many people as possible. That's why I get excited when people like Jim here at the Tomato, Joel B, Greg Swann, the folks at Sellsius and so many other people I admire respond to my requests to comment. A great example was my request for opinions on The Best Consumer Real Estate sites. I asked a select few people to comment and the momentum resulted in 24 insightful and thought provoking comments. I've been able to establish relationships with people whom I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to interact. That's been the most rewarding part of my blogging effort thus far and I'm only about 4 months into it!

Yes, I agree it is always good to be positive and compliment the blogger as well as offer more info since none of us have all the answers. It's a great way of meeting new friends, clients and other bloggers that can serve as mentors. Good lessons for all. Thank you.

The only thing I would add with checking your spelling is for blogs to provide a spellcheck.

Jim, this is very timely and informative. I've been participating (aka reading) blogs for several months now but rarely left comments. Since I've started blogging, I've come to appreciate comments as it does provide feedback and validation that people find my blogs useful, so I've started to make a concerted effort to do so myself. And, I've noticed my inbound traffic pick up, too.

I agree. The blogosphere is a very responsive medium. Almost everywhere I comment I get a return comment on something, and a return link. It's one of those success feeds success things.

The only problem is a lack of local readers who might actually one day use my services. I mean it's really nice that a realtor in San Diego commented on something I wrote for example - but I live in Connecticut. Time for some printed T-Shirts and pens with the site address and old fashioned mailings I guess.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am a total blog novice with very little comment activity (either to or from). This post makes so much sense to me. Expect to see more commenting from me in the blogoshere.
Thanks for sharing your opinions and ideas. Keep up the great blog!

OK, let's try out the formula: first be complementary, then watch tone, link and proffreed ;-p

I'd emphasis the element of VALUE when commenting. I'm pretty tired of the "great post, thanks for sharing" comment all for the sake of feeding the spiders (or getting points on ActiveRain). I wish the spiders could penalize poor, useless, waste of time comments. AR at least has a way to score a post.

I call these pointless comments "comment fraud". Anyone can write a comment, but can they actually think of something insightful to say? That is the hard part, sort of like differentiating your services as a realtor from the thousands of other licensees in your market.

The internet never forgets; your posts and comments may long outlive you. You will be judged by the quality of your comments and your potential clients will be able to tell if you can ad value to a conversation and then decide if you can add value to a real estate transaction.

Now, did I follow the formula ;-? Was this "comment fraud"?

Jim and Mary: Following Bernice Ross' suggestion, why don't you both break down your outstanding posts and turn them into blogging e-courses?

I would be an early subscriber!

Thanks for all you share.

Ah, well, I did it all wrong the first time around Jim. Since we've gotten over the first rough encounter, I thoroughly enjoy reading your helpful hints like the ones in this post. I should have read this entry before I introduced myself a few months ago! ;-)

The "be nice" part is always the hardest for me. It can be so easy to make a quick pithy comment sometimes. But I don't think you've ever written anything where I've had to soften the blow of my criticism.

But you're absolutely right, leaving my mark (aka commenting) and linking out to other RE blogs are the two most important things that I don't do enough of.

I think my biggest pet peeve about commentors are when they leave a comment where you can tell that they clearly haven't read the entire post.

And the thing I like most about comments on my blog are the additional content, the sense of community it creates, the additional perspectives it brings, and the additional contact info, but that's just my opinion.

Good stuff, I figured you'd have more comments. PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!!

Comments need to be a continuation of the conversation. I feel that (unless overwhelmingly deserving) once someone has complimented the author with the "Excellent Post" comment, the crowd should work to develop the topic at hand. The compliments are nice, but the comments that are just that don't:
1. Help the flow
2. Add valuable content to the post
3. Attract traffic back to your blog (one ofthe best reasons for particpation in the first place)
---
That said, I see that all the comments to this post have fulfilled the above. I hope all of you have earned a bit of link back. Even yours Kevin!
--
Athol, hang in there. What seems like fringe traffic today will soon be local appreciation. We are in an early adoption and adapting phase with business blogging. Fill you site full of relevant content and your local audience will grow and incubate into business.
--
Roberta... we are all over it. Stay tuned.
--
Bonnie - we cool. I asked for some grief when I made my splash on AR.

Very useful article,
I am beginner blogger but the bloggs at this moment are on the top.
you can share more information and get large amount of visitor on relevant subject

An older post but still great advice. I'm going to start putting more effort into my comments. Up to this point I've pretty much just complimented them on their post. That doesn't go very far towards creating relationships.

Great post! Especially important is the proof reading - not only for typos, but to make sure the wording flows correctly. Some of us think faster than we type (or is it the other way around?), so words sometimes get left out in the first draft. Many comment systems allow for a "preview" before posting (like this one) - if they do, it's best to use it!

I wish that I had as much to say. My problem is probably a bit more that I am shy at getting started talking. Thanks for the tips. I try to live by the golden rule which also applies to bloggin. :-'
Thanks
Randy

http://www.satxproperty.com/welcome/satxblog.html

Jim - now I feel pressure to leave a really "insightful" real estate comment. :-) I'll just say that the dialogue above highlights the importance of comments and the way the help our real estate blogs come to life by engaging others in as part of the process - Cyndee Haydon

Thanks for all the information on successful commenting.

Have a great day of commenting!

A good post just like "classic" clothing never goes out of style. People that do not read their comment or spell check are the worst. If you don't have time to do those two simple things, why bother commenting at all.

Note: Many blogs use “no-follow” tags if they allow links. This will take away much of the SEO value but will still allow new leads to click through.

Just remember that shoddy, sloppy comments will “brand” you as shoddy and sloppy.

An earlier post brought up a good point. How can you generate local/regional business with a blog that can be read anywhere in the country - and the world? Like many companies, Long & Foster Real Estate (www.longandfoster.com) is a regional presence. Aside from their very effective relocation services, most of their business is limited to their East Coast footprint. Is there any way to blog for the masses while still targeting a very specific part of those masses? In other words, how do you attract – and retain – your primary audience without alienating everyone else?

Jim fantastic post, most blog owners dont see the value of end user generated content.

Most times if done correctly the blog owner can basically build a blog, get some trageted traffic to it, post some extremely usful content then let the blog go viral.

Its not that hard but some blog owners like to keep their blogs to themselves instead of letting the world see them.

I can honestly say a couple of clients that I deal with when I first met them wouldn't let the search engines spider their blogs, YES... that shocked me as well.

But speaking of blogs and getting traction with them so the blog becomes successful, one of the best marketers online today that has blogs getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a day, yes a day not a month or a year is none other than John Reese.

John is about to release his much anticipated Traffic Secrets 2.0 and its the web 2.0 aspect of Traffic Secrets 2.0 with social networking and social marketing that many of us can't wait to sink our teeth into.

Blogs are now becoming the life blood of even certain big businesses as they are now starting to realize who powerful and interactive they are.

To your continued online success

Peter

Good post, I am going to have to try this. I never realized that backlinks could generate so much traffic. Woohoo!

Good post, I am going to have to try this. Thanks for the post!

I love these articles. I am very still new to blogging, and really had no idea of how to handle it. I am glad to find such a wealth of advice. My blog traffic is still poor, but I am on my now, at least.

I think everyone from here should read this article about how to write good comments

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