Why do you blog? Is it purely for SEO reasons or are you legitimately interested in building a lasting rapport with your readers? Perhaps it’s a little of both?
Of course it is. Google is continually trying to refine its algorithm to cater its search results to original, quality content. When you write quality content, you’re not only appealing to Google’s algorithms, but you’re giving your human audience something real and worthwhile to respond to.
When a spammy blogger spews keyword-laden drivel onto their WordPress blog, do you really think they’re expecting an influx of comments? Absolutely not. Their goal isn’t to inspire conversation, but to play the SEO game. You want to set yourself as far apart from these bloggers as possible, and here’s how.
Follow these tips to nurture readership and participation on your blogs, organically building relationships, creating subject authority, and, ultimately, boosting traffic.
Pay Special Attention to Comments
You won’t be able to cultivate a relationship with your blog readers without interacting via comments. As you are responding to comments, remember these pointers to get the most out of your efforts.
- Write your posts in a personal tone, and let that tone translate over to your replies. In many cases, your blog content is going to stand out from your other web copy, and that’s as it should be. People expect your blogs to be more personal, and unless that expectation is satisfied, they won’t feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts with you. Bottom line—simply be approachable.
- Conclude your post with a CTA (call to action) or prompt to leave a comment. Ask your readers specific questions about the topic you’ve just discussed.
- If you’re writing an opinion piece, make allowances that you may be wrong about your assertions, or that you’re open to being corrected and given new viewpoints. This will keep you from sounding like a know-it-all, and nobody likes those. People will be more inclined to leave comments if they know you’re open-minded enough to receive them.
- Don’t neglect your author bio, and include a picture.
- When you’re leaving a reply, greet your reader and use his or her name organically.
- Ditch any inclination toward using a canned response. Show empathy and be sincere.
- Ask follow up questions. Continue the conversation.
- When applicable and appropriate, reply to your reader via email, which they are usually required to leave when making a comment on your blog. Your reader will not only be surprised at the personal response, but appreciative of the extra effort you took to reach out to them.
- Be specific in your reply. When your readers have made an original insight, acknowledge and praise them sincerely, not generically.
- Remember your regulars and acknowledge their loyalty in your reply. Even a simple “welcome back” can go a long way.
- Make use of your WordPress tools and make sure you’re getting notified of every new comment. One recommended plugin is ReplyMe.
- When you feel that a reader has made a special effort to leave an insightful response, thank them.
- End your reply with your name. It makes it that much more personal.
- Look for future post ideas in the comments you receive, and then acknowledge the original commenter when you write the post.
- Accept criticism or opposing points of view graciously. Use them to launch a debate, but also recognize when a comment should be deleted for being incendiary or needlessly offensive.
Now to Begin
When it comes to using your blog comments to cultivate relationships, what’s your greatest challenge? For most, it’s finding readers who will actually leave comments for you to respond to. It’s believed that less than 1% of your readers will leave a comment. How have you tackled this challenge and which technique has shown the best results?
Sheridan, Marcus. “19 Ways to Build Relationships With Blog Comments.” http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/blog-comments/. (July 18, 2014).