I have a secret you may not know. The Article Archive is based on the idea of promoting Level343 website, gaining more clients and enticing to visitors to engage with us. I mean, we’re a company that actually sells SEO services. We want people to RT our conversations on Twitter, fan us on Facebook, talk about us to others (in a good way, of course) and happily refer us to all their friends without even thinking about it.
It’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it? It’s not just our dream, either. And yet, even those who achieve this dream still complain. They moan, mumble, grumble and whine. Why?
“I can’t get anybody to comment on my blog!”
The amazing thing to me is that commenting seems to be one of the ways you “know” a blog is hip. People drop by and say, “ooo, good point”, or even, “if you say so”, and all of a sudden your blog is “in”.
It Takes Time for the Word to Circulate, But…
Look. I don’t care if you’re staring at a blog you’ve had for four years without a single comment. It takes time. However, if you just posted the articles and figured people would find their way, you figured wrong. IF the purpose of your blog is to build an actual community and create relationships, you have to be the one to start the conversation.
In the process of researching, we’ve come across several blogs that held the potential of being thriving communities. For many, there was an air of expectation and breathless waiting, but crickets chirped in the background. Why? Because nothing was actually happening – yet.
In one in particular, the content was great. After talking to the site owner, I found out that the blog was getting plenty of visitors, but had no comments. It turns out that the site owner never tried to engage – anybody, anywhere. She simply figured that somebody would comment eventually.
You Have to Engage…
Will quality content bring out visitors? Yes. Will it bring out comments? Not necessarily. Quality content will only bring out the initial comments if you manage to write something in just the right tone so the individual feels they simply must respond.
Are you going to do that with keyword stuffed articles? We all know the answer is no, and I’m sure I’ve beaten that topic into the ground often enough. For the sake of those who may never have read here before, let me rinse and repeat. Keyword stuffing doesn’t help your SEO, and it certainly doesn’t help your visitors. It sucks to read, is difficult to understand and doesn’t even entice the reader to try to understand. Don’t do it.
I digress. If you haven’t been lucky enough to hit that tone, you’ll have to take a deep breath, step into the masses and engage. Meet with people online through blog commenting and social networking. Answer questions willingly and freely (it’s the nice thing to do). Don’t spam people (it’s the annoying thing to do). Commit to building relationships instead of numbers (it’s the right thing to do).
Because Visitors Are People Too
It all boils down to the fact that visitors aren’t numbers – I don’t care what your web analyst or optimizer says. Visitors are living, breathing people who like or dislike your writing, blog, personality, services and/or website. They have feelings and are more than willing to share them with anyone and everyone willing to listen – on at least three or more social media sites.
If they don’t like you, don’t know you or feel like you’re a sociopath with no care for the world, doom on you. However, if you manage to create a bridge of information and trust between you and the community you’re building, the people in that community can become your personal cheerleaders.
One Person You Engage…
I’m not kidding; you’d be amazed what the power of one person who really likes and trusts you as a business individual can do for your business. Think about it. If that one person is active in social media and feels like you’re an important part of his or her online world, they’ll start to RT and pass your links around… let’s imagine with a math equation, shall we?
Your personal cheerleader, who is actively engaging in social media, is being followed by 2,000 people. They send out a link from your blog to their 2,000 people. Maybe 10% will look at the link: 2000 * 10% = 200
Let’s say those who open the link average 30 followers each; they forward the link to their Twitter feed. Maybe 5% of those open the link:
2000 * 10% = 200 * 30 = 6,000 * 5% = 300
Now, that 5% also averages 30 followers each and they forward the link. Their followers may not know your cheerleader at all, so maybe 2% open the link:
2000 * 10% = 200 * 30 = 6,000 * 5% = 300 * 30 = 9,000 * 2% = 180
Cheerleader + First Open + Second Open + Third Open = (1 + 200 + 300 + 180) = 680
Can Turn Your Blog Into an Active, Ranking Community
Your one cheerleader brought you 680 visits because they trust and like you. How does that transfer into SEO and better ranking? Bloggers who like you and like your content will blog about you. They might just add a link, write a blurb or write a review. They might mention you in passing: “My friend, Gabriella, over at Level343 (link) told me once…”
As well, they will comment on your blog. All it takes is a few articles with comments on them before more comments will come rolling in. Now, you may not be bombarded, but you will get enough to say, “Yeah, I’m getting comments”.
As you continue to build relationships, you will also build links. The wonderful thing is that these links happen naturally, organically; you don’t have to force them. While it takes time, a few cheerleaders for you and/or your services can turn your blog into a ranking, active community.
Can you do it? Can you engage and encourage others? Can you step into the online community with rings on your fingers and bells on your toes? Yes. Now that these questions have been answered by an expert, it’s time to ask yourself a question: will I?
You’re absolutely right – if you build it they won’t necessarily come. I found that out the hard way when I started a personal blog a couple years ago. I wrote some good posts but no one was reading them. I figured out I had to engage with people in order to gain traffic. But Steve Plunkett has a good point too, people are now switching to Twitter for their discussions instead of blog comments.
Yeah Steve does have a great point… but there is more than just Twitter. At this point you have places like Quora, Amplify, FormSpring, Tumblr, Plaxo I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more. Point is people are no longer satisfied with waiting for a response they want real time dialogue. But that’s not to say everyone does. Basically a blog is to engage your readers, listen to your customers, give them a place to give you their input, it can be used in so many way…but it also gives you authority on the topic. Especially, once you start getting a lot of readers that appreciate your information and share it with others. Giving your readers a place to find out new things and to even give you (the owner of the blog) ideas for new posts. A blog is a great place to speak your mind in more than 140 characters and to ultimately learn from your readers. Thanks Jason I hope you enjoy your new year and come back for another visit!
I really enjoyed your article
Very true Gabriella and getting those conversations is much harder then it looks…
Now talking about your statement “I don’t care what your web analyst or optimizer says…,” as your web analyst, let me tell you that you’re absolutely right. I often tell my number obsessed clients: You have two audiences, human and machine, and never forget which pays the bills!
Oops! hehe Hey Massimo, why did I not think you may come on and see how I talk about all your hard work? 😉 LOL Bottom line is you know how I feel about numbers. We need them no doubt but, when it come to a new campaign I say spend the time learning about your audience don’t assume you know who they are or what they want. I’m amazed at how many thing I DON’T know about my readers…So are the clients when they look at numbers. That’s when they do come in handy and thanks to this blog I’m realizing our readers want to know more about what to do next rather than what they have done (not worked) in the past. In simple terms it’s a matter of trust, respect and a vision. That’s what comes through once you have encouraged and engaged your client/readers.
Most people reading my posts, are telling me personally about them, the same as with Twitter, they just don’t “get it”. Another thing with them is that they don’t have blogs themselves, nor other Social Media devices where they connect. They just read the stuff and comment it at a glass of wine. Oh, and “how nice is to read a book, instead of a blog post”. By “The Book”, I mean the paperback, which they have near them – another trendy thing, to keep some famous book handy, under the bed lamp – only that they have “kids”, and “life” and various “problems” and not enough time to finish any handy paperback. Unfortunately, I don’t blog that much, do I? I’m mostly a reader, too. Great post, Gabriella.
Good points, Gabriella.
I’ve seen comments better/deeper that the posts they were under. You just gotta tackle the right topic…
yes I get comments on my blog and I’m very grateful for them, because I know people take time to write something usually something a bit unique or they’ll refer to something in my article to let me know they actually read it, although you’d be surprised how many comments come through awaiting moderation that look like genuine ones but are actually copied and pasted blocks of text that are put onto other people’s blogs too. I think that’s just so they get a backlink though I don’t know if Google is actually counting those backlinks to help with the SEO. Are you able to clarify whether accepting / approving the comments is going to count as a backlink for them? I usually only approve the relevant ones that people from our “bento” community send in.
It’s been a hit & miss with SEO in regards if Google is actually looking at those. I know I saw a video (I wish I had saved it) Where Matt Cutts addresses the follow no-follow rule & juice. He does discuss it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQfOhncTXRU & Then again here http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
Well I have found controversial topics gets people going. Link bait sure, but that’s temporary. It takes time to get a nice list of readers who are engaged. But you cannot stop writing just because they are not commenting.
Great post, and points Gabriella. I think that a lot of people complain about lack of blog comments without really engaging anyone to leave comments. I would love a post about tips you have for engaging your readers!
Voila a perfect example of engaging our readers. 🙂 I will keep that in mind. Another reader wants me to write about how to engage people when you have too many followers on Twitter. Easy, set up a monthly chat where people do a Q&A look, how do you think these communities started? Small, then eventually with time not $ but time & patience they have grown. Look at the Dojo? That did not happen overnight.
Coming from http://www.10GoldenRules.com I believe that if you tell 10 people and they tell 10 people and so on and so on…
Sure 10 + 10 +10…But unless you have a topic they want to discuss there really is no use to send your friends over. I love polls I love giving the reader something to do. They may not engage today or even this week. But if they know you are going to post every week twice a week then they will come back. I know that’s what I do. I can read something & have nothing to say about it. But I do go back since what I read there initially had my interest. Another huge way to connect are contests. Granted they have been overdone. But ask what people want to see. Ours wanted free consultation… guess what that’s what we do. One hour of free consultation. Did we sell anything to them? No, but I guarantee when they are ready I’m confident I will be first on their list of people to call.