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I went against everything I know as a social SEO person a few weeks ago. It may be a cardinal sin of social media marketing and blogging, but I decided to close the comments on my company’s internet marketing blog. I had been trying to find a way to better manage the commenting process on that blog for a while. It had been getting so many spam comments everyday (anywhere from several hundred a thousand), and even though most of them were getting caught and filtered by the spam filter, I was still manually sorting through the ones that snuck. I’d say that for every 50 comments that I had to manually approve MAYBE 1 was a good comment. (forget about the 5,000 spam comments that were already caught every day!)
What constitutes a good comment?
In my opinion, a good comment contributes to the conversation. While hearing how brilliant my post was is nice, I know it’s a load of BS. I am a big fan of blog commenting for link building, but I make try sure that any comments I leave for my company or my clients are at least 2-3 sentences long and add some sort of value to the blog post. I want to connect with other commenters, start building a rapport with blogger and build my reputation. I don’t just leave comments to get the link; I think blog commenting has much more value than that.
I’ve been doing this for a long time and I can spot a “get the link” blog comment a mile away. I try to not to do that to other bloggers and I decided that I didn’t want to offer my blog up as free links to spammers and competing SEO firms. So I followed my gut (against the frantic advice of my web developer) and closed the comments entirely. So my question the Search Engine Journal audience, do you think it was a crazy idea?
I’m going to preface this by saying this might not be the case for every business blog and blogger out there, but that’s why it’s considered best practice to allow comments on your B2B blog and not a hard and fast rule.
Before you start calling me a fool, let me try to explain why I think comments are NOT the most important thing when it comes to a B2B blog’s success.
1. What is your end game?
I am not a professional blogger; I’m an SEO consultant and business owner. The goal of my blog is to help generate new business for my company. I’m not trying to sell ad space or become the most important blogger in my industry. I never want my blog to be the last stop of a visitor; I want to push them over to my site and get them to convert (in my case, conversion means signing up for my SEO newsletter or filling out a lead form). Since I closed the blog comments section and replaced it with a small banner ad encouraging readers to fill out a proposal form, my conversion rate has practically tripled (8% to 22%). I may not be getting any comments, but I’m getting leads and that’s what really matters to me.
So why do you blog?
2. Do you really want to have a conversation with your competitors?
It might be the industry we work in, but I have noticed for a long time that the vast majority of comments being left on my blog (upwards of 80%) were coming from other SEO companies. Obviously other SEO companies know the value of blog commenting, so of course they’ll want to leave blogs on SEO sites. Here’s the thing though, I don’t want to have a conversation with another SEO company. I don’t really want to build a rapport with you (no offense) via blog comments because you are never going to become a client. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment on my posts, whether it is expressing your opinion, arguing with my points or adding your own thoughts, but I don’t really care if you read my blog. I didn’t create that blog to connect with other SEO firms; I wanted to connect with potential clients.
3. Have you ever gotten a client from a back-and-forth comment conversation?
In the 5+ years I have been blogging, I have never landed client after having a conversation with them in the comments field. Have I gotten clients because I blog? Of course, but as far as I can tell the comments had nothing to do with it. If someone is considering hiring me as their SEO provider, they’ve always sent me an email or filled out the lead form. I’ve never gotten a phone call that started with “So I’ve been leaving comments on your blog…”
Am I recommending that B2B bloggers run out and close their comment sections right now if they want to triple their conversion rate? No. But I am suggesting that it might not be worth the hassle of sorting through the hundreds of spam comments just to have 1 decent comment go through.
I would love to hear from other bloggers and SEO professionals. Have you gone a similar route and either limited or completely shut off the comments section? Or do you think I’m making a big mistake in my decision?
About the Author – Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing a Boston based SEO firm that offers white hat SEO link building solutions. With over 12 years of Internet marketing experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal.