Once you’ve started to blog on a regular basis, you may notice people starting to respond to your posts. They may disagree with you on something, have a question, or just want to express how much they enjoyed your content. In this post, we’ll cover some best practices for managing and responding to comments on your blog.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
How to manage blog comments effectively
Here are a few things you can do to make managing blog comments easier:
1. Use a good spam filter and configure your comment settings
Out of the box, WordPress websites and blogs come with Akismet AntiSpam, which is a great free plugin for managing spam comments. With software like this in place on your website, you can set rules for how WordPress treats spam comments while you are away.
Spam filters often work in conjunction with your WordPress Discussion settings, where you can tweak a number of things, including whether comments must be manually approved before appearing in the comment section. Take some time to look through these settings one by one and configure them to your liking. Generally, we recommend requiring approval for comments to publish, along with requiring (at a minimum) commenters to submit their name and email address.
2. Have a detailed comment policy
Somewhere on your website, you should publish a comment policy that explains what you will and will not allow in comment sections on your website. Being transparent about what you consider acceptable helps defend you against claims of censorship from disgruntled commenters. And it can save you a lot of grief if you witness any harassment or other unruly behavior in your comment section.
3. Develop an internal strategy for managing blog comments
In addition to having an external document for your visitors regarding comments, you may also want to consider an internal strategy for handling your blog. Who on your team will be responsible for approving comments that come in? Who has the authorization to respond to published comments? How often will you check the blog to moderate the comment sections, and what are your guidelines for responding?
Having this written out ahead of time can help maintain consistency among your team and establish accountability. Even if you plan to manage everything for yourself, having guidelines spelled out in an accessible place can be incredibly helpful!
Five types of comments and how to handle them
Generally, people tend to leave five different types of comments on blogs. Let’s take a look at each type, and discuss how you can manage them.
We’ve touched on managing these types of blog comments a bit already. Sometimes, bots (or people with nothing better to do) post comments with questionable links or pure nonsense. If you install a solid spam filter on your site, you won’t even have to deal with these kinds of comments, except for emptying the Spam folder into the trash every once in a while.
In the Settings < Discussion section of your WordPress Dashboard, you can configure other settings to help finetune your spam filters. For instance, you can delineate words or phrases that will flag a comment either for moderation or deletion.
2. Positive feedback
Some commenters just want to express how much they enjoyed your blog content. These comments are also easy to deal with. Approve them, and then reply every so often with a personalized “Thank you” message to the commenter.
3. Negative feedback
There will always be people out there who disagree with something you wrote or who are unsatisfied with your product or service. And sometimes, they can be quite mean. These kind of blog comments are the hardest to manage.
Configure your filters to flag comments on your blog that contain harmful or indecent words, so these are automatically managed for you. However, if the customer/reader is dissatisfied and is behaving in accordance with your comment policy, do not ignore or delete their comments, as this could backfire. If they cannot comment on your blog, they will simply find another place to voice their complaints. And it will look like you are censoring them, which is never good PR for a business.
Try to respond to these kinds of comments on your blog. Try to find the source of their dissatisfaction, and ask them to get in touch by phone or email so you can help solve their problem.
Responding to questions on your blog is quite simple. If the answer to a question is short – and you know the answer – simply leave a comment in reply. On the other hand, more difficult questions you might not know the answer to are a great source of inspiration for new blog posts. You should still respond to that comment on your blog; just let your reader know that you will be writing a post about that topic and will link to it when it is published.
5. Off-topic comments
The final type of blog comments you’ll need to manage are the ones that are off-topic. These comments aren’t necessarily bad. But since they don’t relate to the topic of your post, it can be hard to deal with them.
Beware that off-topic comments might negatively affect your SEO. Search engines not only index the actual content of the blog post, but also the comments. So, if Google reads text completely unrelated to the topic at hand, it will have a harder time understanding the main topic. The page then falls to a lower position in the search results in favor of a better page.
In the short term, you can respond to the off-topic comment by redirecting the person to a blog post that addresses their question. Then, you can delete the comment later on, explaining why you did so perhaps privately to the commenter via email.
Are comments on your blog important for SEO?
On-topic comments add valuable content to your blog posts. And Google indexes all content on your website, including every comment in every blog post. Google does understand that comments are simply that, and will not give them as much value as the rest of your post. However, the appearance of focus keywords in those comments shows Google the overall cohesiveness of content on a page.
Therefore, responding to comments on your blog will not instantly improve your SEO. However, it will result in higher percentages of returning visitors.
Make time for managing blog comments
Responding to blog comments effectively takes time. Set aside some time in your daily schedule to check your WordPress Dashboard and moderate comments. You don’t need to respond to comments within the hour, but you should try to get to them within a day or two of them being submitted. This shows your readers you’re involved and you care!
Keep Reading: Getting To Know Your Audience