comments

Comments are one of the most rewarding aspects of being a blogger. They’re also a great indicator of the success of your blog, and good comments will help it a long way!

While the quality of your content is the main thrust for causing people to engage with it, we can still do some things to encourage it even more. By thanking our commenters with some well chosen plugins, hopefully they will keep joining in. And as we’ve seen before, there are a lot of options.

I have used DoFollow for 2 years on this blog, but now changed to CommentLuv and trackbacks instead. In this article I will discuss what I see as the problems with DoFollow, and why I think the new setup is much better (for this blog at least).

The Problem With DoFollow

The problem with DoFollow is simple; it encourages spam. A lot of spam is automated, but the form of spam that hits me most is probably done by humans just as often. Have you seen comments on your blog like “great post – thanks for the info!”?

Comments like that definitely could be legitimate, but they could also be spam. That same comment could be posted on any blog post in the world and would fit in just as nicely. That makes it the perfect comment to be copied and pasted on 100 different blogs, right?

A good spammer knows the blogs that DoFollow. They’re the ones that make their spam count for a little more than it otherwise would. As my blog has grown, the number of these comments coming here has grown constantly over time. DoFollow has had at least a small part in that (Though it’s also had a part in helping my blog to grow, so I don’t regret installing it in the slightest! More on that in a minute.)

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Images from Kong Technology 

It’s not just about preserving your Google juice from pointless sites like this, it’s about making things better for your real commenters. The people who leave comments here add so much value to this site and make it more useful for everyone, me included! To have those comments polluted with spam is just ungrateful to them.

On top of that, it’s a huge nuisance to anyone who has used “Subscribe to Comments, either by email or by RSS. You don’t want these people being notified that more spam has slipped onto your site!

And the final reason that I’ve turned my back on DoFollow; it makes commenting impersonal. Comments are supposed to be discussions, but it’s hard to have a discussion without knowing someone’s name! When a lot of people see “DoFollow” on a blog, they replace their name with keywords for their site.

A Better Alternative; CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a plugin that automatically grabs the latest headline from a commenters site and adds a link to it on to the end of their comment.

pbdcommentluv2

This link is more useful to both your commenters and your regular readers:

  • Commenters get 2 links to their site, so it’s more likely that at least one will be clicked.
  • The new link is the title to a post of theirs, which says much more about the site than their name does. The post title is far more likely to grab a reader’s eye and get them to click.
  • Readers get to see a selection of posts from people interested in the same blog post they were. There is a good chance some of these links will appeal to them.
  • Bloggers can keep up with their readers much more easily and it’s far easier to get involved with your audience when you can see in one place what all their latest posts are and which appeal to you most.

And lastly, you are much less susceptible to spam.

  • Both links have NoFollow, so the pure-SEO spammers won’t bother to waste your time.
  • Many spammers link back to directories and other sites that the plugin won’t find a headline for, so they won’t get a link.
  • It can feel bad to delete an entire comment when it might be legitimate, but it doesn’t feel half as bad if you’re leaving the comment but just deleting that extra link from the end of it. You could end up deleting much more spam that way.

Trackbacks – To Thank Your Other Supporters!

The idea behind DoFollow, CommentLuv and every plugin like them is to reward your commenters. They take the time to read your article and respond to it, adding much more value to your posts than you could ever do on your own, and so you reward them for it.

Well, what about the people who link to you? They share your content with their own readers and encourage whole new audiences to find your site. That must deserve a thank-you!

trackbacks-smashing
Trackbacks on Smashing Magazine

Trackbacks list the sites who link to you, but in WordPress, they are treated as comments. That means you are able to moderate them like you would any other comment. See a rubbish site trying to take advantage of you? Spam it!

But see a real blogger send some link love your way? Then send some back. It’s a win-win for everyone. Even your readers will appreciate it because they can use those links to read around your post topic and see more points of view.

There is one very real issue with trackbacks though; spam. If you search around the blogosphere for articles on trackbacks, the recurring theme is “trackback spam.”

I might be underestimating the spammers here, but it doesn’t seem a strong enough reason not to give trackbacks a go at least. Akismet and other plugins are great at their jobs, it’s worth a try!

How To Best Grow Your Own Blog

I had DoFollow installed here for coming up on 2 years. It wasn’t all bad; far from it! DoFollow was a great aid in growing this blog. We’ve always had good comments here and DoFollow was a part of that.

As the blog was growing, the amount of spam was very small and I could easily manage it. But the blog has grown much bigger and I should have sorted out the spam problem a long time ago. If spam is causing hassle for you, then it may be the right time for you to swap from DoFollow to something else.

But more so than that, blogging trends have moved on. When I started out blogging, DoFollow was the big thing! Everyone was talking about it and everyone was looking for DoFollow badges on blogs. That meant that if you wanted to grow your blog, DoFollow was a no-brainer.

But less people talk about it now; the controversy over having/not-having it has died out. Using DoFollow now would do much less than it would have 2 years ago.

CommentLuv is a much more recent solution. There isn’t a huge number of blogs using it yet, which makes you stand out if you do. There’s a chance to be an innovator before it becomes the mainstream, like DoFollow did. (I’m already pretty late in installing CommentLuv, but still early enough I hope!)

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And the result of all this thinking? Changes here on Pro Blog Design. DoFollow has been on here since the beginning of this blog. It may return some day, but for now, we’re going to see how CommentLuv and trackbacks work out.

What are your thoughts on the best way to encouraging discussion on your blog? What plugins have you installed on yours?

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