Engaging with your audience is a vital part of running a successful WordPress website. By creating a thriving online community you will increase traffic to your website, secure returning visitors and consequently help your site convert against its goals.
Encouraging people to comment on, reply to, and discuss blog articles is an effective way to foster interactions on your site. But anyone who runs a blog will know how hard it is initially to get the conversation flowing. So how do you get more comments on your blog?
In this article we will look at some basic tips on how to increase comments on your blog, from adding calls to actions to your articles, replying to comments and engaging in controversy. We will then discuss how to upgrade your comments system, including enabling gravatars, implementing email notifications for commenters, and using the third party comment system Disqus. To finish we will consider how providing incentives, such as competitions, can get you more comments on your blog.
As usual, some of the most basic and common sense strategies can be the most effective. So let’s have a quick look at some general tips you should apply to your blog…
Choose Interesting Topics to Write About
This may sound obvious, but choosing interesting or popular topics to talk about, that get your audience excited, is one of the best ways to get more comments on your blog.
A brilliant example of this is an article published just this month on our own blog here at WPExplorer. 8 Proven Ways to Make Money with WordPress has, as I write this, so far received 95 comments, a high number by anyones standards. And the topic that has got so many people excited enough to comment? Money of course!
Engage in Controversy
Pick controversial topics to write about, or take a controversial stance on a subject. If your audience is shocked, angered, or just given something different to think about than the usual status quo, then they are more likely to share their thoughts on your blog.
You don’t have to adopt this approach for every post you write. However, a few well thought out controversial articles should get the comments coming, as well as help increase your social media shares.
Add a Call to Action to Every Post
Make sure you add a call to action at the bottom of every post. Ask one key question about the article your visitors have just read to get them thinking. Then ask them to share their thoughts below, so they know what is wanted from them. Stating what to discuss in the comments, and simply asking your visitors to make a comment, will encourage them to do so.
Reply to Comments
If you want to create an interactive blog, where visitors reply to each other’s comments and discuss opinions, then you need to lead by example. Reply to every comment, so users learn that their comments are valuable. Ask questions to help generate conversations between your audience. Being present and visible on your blog will help your audience engage with your content and community.
Upgrade Your Comments Section
Improving your comment section’s functionality, and making it more user-friendly, should have a positive impact on the number of comments you receive on your blog. Let’s have a look at a couple of ways to upgrade your comments section…
Enabling Gravatars on Your WordPress Website
A gravatar is a Globally Recognized Avatar, which is a graphical representation of a user. Usually this is a photo, but can be a drawing or logo. All individuals can create their own gravatar, which will then automatically appear next to their name when they do things online like comment on a blog post. This gives people an online identity and makes them easier to recognize.
Using gravatars on your WordPress website is important because it helps give faces, or identities, to those leaving comments. This strengthens the community you are trying to create as it helps your audience to recognize, and therefore connect with, each other.
Enabling gravatars on your site is very straight forward. Within your WordPress dashboard simply go to Settings > Discussion.
Scroll down the page to ‘Avatars’. Now make sure the ‘Show Avatar’ button is ticked. To allow your audience to really get to know each other, you should also select ‘Gravatar Hovercards’.
You can then also choose a suitable rating for the gravatars displayed on your site, and a default gravatar icon for those members of your audience who have not set up their own gravatar yet.
Don’t forget to click on ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of the page. Now when you get a new comment on a blog, the person’s gravatar will appear, helping other readers relate to the commenter.
Set Up Email Notifications for Replies to Comments
If a visitor makes a comment on a blog post, once they have left your site they will often forget all about it. Ideally you want them to revisit their comment and reply to any comments their comment may have generated. By setting up email notifications on your blog, visitors can choose to be kept informed of either any comments written on a particular post, or of any replies specific to a comment they left.
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded is a free WordPress plugin that enables commenters to sign up to receive email notifications when anyone comments on a post, or replies to their comment. By receiving an email detailing comments, visitors are more likely to return to the post and re-join the discussion.
If you are looking to upgrade the functionality of your comments section this is a great plugin to install. Not only will it encourage return visitors and increase the number of comments on your blog, it will also promote discussions and help your users become more involved in your community.
Use a Third Party Comments System
If you are looking for more advanced, vibrant and user-friendly features than the default WordPress comments section allows, then you should consider using a third party comments system.
The Disqus Comment System replaces your WordPress comment system, taking on the hosting and management of your comments. Disqus adapts to your site’s design, or you can customize it to your own liking, giving your comments section an attractive edge. Features include real-time discussions, photo and video support for adding media within comments, comment voting and lots more. Visitors can also sign-in using Google or numerous other social media channels.
As you can see, Disqus includes a range of features that will upgrade your comments section. Disqus makes it extremely easy for your visitors to make a comment. More importantly, it makes commenting a fun and interesting prospect, helping to create an engaged and active community.
Providing incentives to coax your readers to write a comment on your blog posts can be another impressive way to improve results.
Let Commenters Leave Links
Often, people who comment do so because they want to leave a link back to their own site. However, just because the main reason for someone leaving a comment is link building, doesn’t mean that their comment isn’t valuable or helpful to you.
Although other’s who have website’s in your niche may be your competitors, they can also be part of your community. Insightful comments by them may generate discussion or bring their own followers to your site. So providing the incentive of letting people link to their own site may help increase comments in the long term.
CommentLuv is a free WordPress plugin that rewards readers by automatically placing a link to their last blog post at the end of their comment. This encourages readers to leave a comment on your blog, as they can promote their own site’s content and gain a link back to their site.
Run a Giveaway Competition
A competition is a great way to get visitors to engage with your site – everyone likes a freebie! So try using a giveaway competition to get more people to comment on your blog. Simply offer your audience the chance of entering your competition if they comment on a particular blog post.
Rafflecopter makes it extremely easy to set up, manage, and run a giveaway competition. Simply sign up for a Rafflecopter account and then create your competition in a few straightforward steps. Your giveaway can then be added to your WordPress site via a widget code, no plugin necessary. Rafflecopter is free to use, but there are pro plans available if you want to upgrade to a premium service.
As a prize, offer one of your products or services, or if this isn’t appropriate, you could opt for something like an Amazon voucher. Choose to run the competition around an article that contains important content that you’d like your visitors to read. For example, use one of your most popular or controversial articles. Or an article promoting your most expensive products, or containing your best paying affiliate links. The competition will help drive traffic to this article and the comments will encourage people to carry on the discussion of the content.
Getting More Comments on Your Blog
Always make sure your articles are high quality, interesting and published regularly. This is the first, and most important step in building a community around your site. If you are struggling with content for your blog, consider employing a freelancer to write for you.
Once you have got a well-written, and consistently updated blog trial the different strategies mentioned in this article to see what works with your audience.
Which strategies will you implement on your blog to help increase the number of comments you receive? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…