Here’s something the majority of us have done before: “I love your blog and I bet you’ve love mine, too! [URL HERE]”
This is a big one with newbie bloggers, but I catch a lot of seasoned ones doing it, as well.
Even though it’s a huge no-no with the majority of bloggers, it still happens pretty much constantly. The biggest reason: Traffic. Which I get…we all want traffic. If we didn’t, we’d make our blogs private.
However, there is a right way and there is a wrong way of getting traffic. Leaving a “follow me back!” comment is, unfortunately, filed under “the wrong way.” Here’s why you shouldn’t add links to blog comments:
- It comes off as insincere. No matter how positive and glowing your comment may be, if you end it by adding a link back to your blog or asking that the blogger visit your page, it just seems like you’re commenting to get other people to pay attention to your blog. Which means most people will just ignore you out of spite. What you think you’re saying: “Thanks for writing such an insightful post! I wrote about something similar. [URL HERE]” What the blogger is seeing: “I DON’T ACTUALLY CARE, I JUST REALLY WANT YOU TO VISIT MY BLOG.” Whether or not this is your intention is irrelevant–it’s the message you’re sending, especially if it’s the first and only time you comment (and bloggers do notice that!), and the only way to avoid it is to not add a URL to the bottom of your comment.
- It’s redundant. (This was tied into the first point, but I feel it should be its own.) On most blogging sites, your name is already linked to your blog or your profile (which also links to your blog). And, yes, everyone else is perfectly aware of this fact. The only time I ever have trouble linking my name to my blog is when I comment on a Blogger site (I have explained the reason for that in Why You Are NOT A No-Reply Blogger). Even then, I can link back to my Google+ profile, which links to my blog. If people want to visit me, they can click on my name. So leave the link out of your comment and if someone is interested in you, they’ll visit you on their own. Don’t try to force the issue.
- It actually hurts you. Ask just about any blogger, if you leave a link at the bottom of your comment, it will either be ignored, deleted, or both. Some bloggers even mark these comments as spam, which could automatically set Askimet (for those of us who use it) to flag your name all the time…meaning none of your comments on that blog will ever see the light of day. Other bloggers, such as myself, have set their spam filters to automatically flag any comment that contains even one link. Suddenly a link you thought was harmless caused you to inadvertently alienate other bloggers. Most bloggers will just send spam to the trash. I do that sometimes, but other times I just delete the link and then let the comment through (oh, yeah, did you know bloggers have the power to edit your comments?). Deleting links has actually helped me see WHICH comments were centered around getting me to visit their site, because with the link removed the comment made no sense. Now I realize you may think this is all mean or unnecessary, but there is a very good reason for other bloggers to do this. For instance….
- It hurts the other blogger, too. Something I discovered quite recently is that Google penalizes any website that it views as spammy. That includes blogs with links in the comments. (Here‘s another post from Google, explaining further.) Moms Make Money published a more detailed post about this back in July called Why Google Thinks Your Blog Comment is SPAM, that I highly recommend checking out. What it comes down to is this: Leaving a link back to your own site could undermine all of the hard work that other blogger has put into their site…even if it wasn’t your intention. The commenter can get around this by adding a rel=nofollow tag to the HTML, but a lot of people don’t know to do that (or how to do that). As a blogger, I’m more likely to disable links than I am to just sit and hope my commenters know about the no-follow tag. This is why a lot of bloggers have comments sent to moderation before they get posted. One question, though, is whether or not Comment Luv is exempt from this. In case you’re unfamiliar, Comment Luv is a plugin that Blogger and WordPress users (possibly others) can install on their blogs. Instead of the commenter adding their link, Comment Luv does it for them. As for whether or not Google marks this as spam, my initial reaction was, “No.” Mostly because Blogger is run by Google, and if Blogger allows Comment Luv, then why would Google consider it spam? But just to be sure, I contacted them and asked. It’s been a few weeks and I’ve not received an answer…but I’m still going to assume no. (And I’ll let you know if they ever get back to me.) Edit 10/1/14: They never got back to me and I’m still assuming no.
In the end, if you want more visitors to your blog, then try to form real relationships with other bloggers. If there is one attitude that sums up the blogging world, it is this: “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” If you’re not willing to do a little of the scratching (meaning anything that helps other blogs get exposure), you can’t expect other people to do the same for you and you certainly can’t expect readers to just magically find you without a little help from a supportive community.
Some ways you can do this are:
- Ask other bloggers to guest post for you or even see if you could guest post for them. There are some bloggers who simply won’t, and you can often determine which ones they are by reading their profiles/about/introductory pages. If the page seems more like a sales pitch (often I see this with people who do a lot of work with advertising and product reviews), then they might not be interested in a blog that’s smaller scale than theirs is. Though it doesn’t hurt to ask! But, for the most part, other bloggers are perfectly happy to do it! Especially if you want to guest post on their blog…that’s one less blog post they have to come up with and everyone who follows them will see your name. Win-win! Just make sure you come up with something really special.
- Participate in link parties and blog hops. I actually participate in quite a few of these a week (you can view a list here).This is an incredibly easy–and fun!–way to increase your traffic. You don’t really have to talk to anyone (though it’s recommended), most people link drop and leave and there’s really nothing to stop you. But I fully recommend looking through the list and commenting on some blogs–it will increase your own traffic and some bloggers post really cool stuff. Some of my favorite bloggers were discovered in link parties.
- Use social media to your advantage. Follow other bloggers, start conversations with them, post your own stuff on your media page. Just don’t send people links. (Even if Google doesn’t penalize it on social media platforms, it’s just as annoying to get a million Facebook messages asking me to follow your blog as it is to see them show up in my blog posts. Plus they look like viruses when they come from someone you don’t personally know.) FYI, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and Bloglovin are my most lucrative sources of traffic. Twitter and Google+ don’t do much for me, but they’re not completely useless. Use as many platforms as you possibly can to reach a broader audience.
- Just start wordlessly following your favorite bloggers. I have all of my social media sites set to alert me when I receive a new follower, like, retweet, etc. I notice and I usually check them out (this is partially out of interest and partially to make sure I’m not being stalked by some creepy stalker dude. And, no, that hasn’t happened yet :P). If their blog seems interesting to me, I follow back. The reason I’m more interested in bloggers who just click that “like” button without saying a word is, as I explained above, they seem sincere. They’re following me because they enjoyed my blog. That means we have a common interest. And that could mean that they blog about the same sort of things I blog about (assuming they blog). I blog only about things that interest me, so finding other bloggers who like the same things I like is pretty awesome.
- Leave a comment that says something meaningful and adds to the conversation…not just a generic, “Hey, I love your blog!” While everyone loves positive feedback, and most of us hope other people will enjoy what we have to say, leaving those types of comments isn’t going to do you any good. Leaving a comment that really says something is more likely to interest, not just the person running the blog, but other bloggers who see your comment. If that means you have to lurk until something truly interests you, then so be it. The worst that can happen is you’ll meet some great new people in the process.
- Link back to a blog post you loved. In most circles, this is called a Ping Back. I get inspired by a lot of posts other people write, so if I try something they did, I like to give them a little shout out. When you do that, believe me, they see it. Every once in a while it goes ignored, but 9 times out of 10, they stop by. Sometimes they even wind up sticking around. I frequently find myself linking back to the same blogs over and over (that’s how you know you’ve found a really great blog) and I’ve made some pretty cool bloggy friends this way.
Most importantly: Don’t get discouraged. Some people just aren’t going to be interested in your blog. I’m not a mother; therefore, I’m not very interested in blogs dedicated to mommy-ing (sorry, moms). Just as I’m sure there are a lot of people who aren’t interested in my blog because they don’t like to cook or knit or because they have special dietary needs that my blog doesn’t address. That’s just life. The best thing you can do is shake it off and try to find someone who is interested in what you have to say.
So stop leaving spammy comments and start making relationships! You’ll be surprised by how much further it gets you in the blogging world.