SEO in 2013: How To Leave Killer Blog Comments and Get Steady Traffic
The fact that SEO experts were caught off guard by radical changes to Google's search engine suggests that the experts aren't that good at predicting Google's moves. Yet, predicting algorithm changes is implicitly why clients hire SEO firms - to make sure that rankings don't tank, traffic keeps flowing in, and visibility is consistent. To be fair, no SEO firm owns Google. No one really could predict the devastation of the Panda and Penguin tweaks, so how much blame can website owners really place on SEO firms? A little, but not a lot.
Why a little? Consider Google's constant updates to Panda. It was just last month that 'G' updated its algorithm for the 23rd time. Did any SEO expert call it in advance with preparations for clients? It's unlikely, and here's where SEOs can take the blame. They know that predicting algorithm changes is shaky, at best. In fact, the better firms disclose this and focus heavily on providing quality.
Jayson DeMers said it best in a recent article, "[in 2012] Google got much smarter, to the extent that it appears to be able to distinguish between content that adds real value and content that has been posted solely for SEO purposes. "Value" became an important subconscious factor — one that will dictate how Google perceives websites."
What is value? Value is largely found in content. Video is hot right now, but print is still the dominant form of content on a lot of blogs. While guest posting has been big in 2012, landing a guest-posting gig isn't always easy. In fact, if you're going after blogs that have decent traffic in the hopes that can siphon traffic from them, you've got a few things to learn. First, popular blogs know that they're going to be the target of content writers and bloggers, and they're a little skittish to hand their audience over to just anyone. If your think in terms of "link target," "post target," "siphoning," you're pretty much done before you even get started.
Even if you do view guest posting as relationship building, there's no guarantee that the blogger will accept your post. For one, the sheer volume of guest blog post requests can be overwhelming. Secondly, they be hesitant to post your ideas to their blog if they don't know you.
This is where blog commenting can benefit you and the blog owner you want to make friends with.
How Blog Commenting Can become The New Guest Posting
With guest posting, you need permission to post to the blog. With most commenting systems, you just post your comment and run. Sure, a lot of blogs have approval systems in place (especially if they've been the target of spam in the past), but it's a lot easier to get a comment approved than it is to get a blog post approved.
The way to make this work in your favor while benefiting the blog and its owner is to offer something valuable. Yes, it's that simple. No, it's not easy. Let's assume you're commenting on a post that's about the current value of anchor text. Maybe you have some interesting insights about citations. If you want to really offer value here, you need to figure out how to take what the blog owner has written and expand on it. Maybe he missed something you didn't. Maybe he covered something well, but you have complimentary ideas on the topic. Maybe you've noticed something that no one else has.
When you leave a comment, don't just leave a statement. End your comment with a question for other readers and possibly even the blog owner. Think about it. When you enter a crowded room of people, and you see a group of people having a discussion, would you just walk over and start making comments? Maybe if you're socially awkward you would. If you wanted to engage the crowd, you would probably make a short comment, something insightful about what's being said, and then ask a question that encourages someone else in the group to respond.
This is how you get noticed when you're a nobody. It works in the real world, and it works online - and for the same reasons. When you ask someone, anyone, a question, the natural tendency is to respond.
When To Post Comments
Have you ever left a comment on a blog only to have it buried under 100 other comments? Why did no one respond to your comment? Unfortunately, a lot of readers read only the first couple of comments before scrolling down to the bottom to leave their own comment. if you want your comment to be noticed, your best bet is to be one of the first few commenters. A distant second is to be the last few commenters (some people read the last couple of comments too). The worst place is smack-dab in the middle of 30 or 40 comments - especially if they're threaded and you're not already in on the conversation.
The Deal Sweetener
Commenting is not an excuse to drop a link. The reason, the only reason, you drop a link back to your site in the comment section is because you have something awesome to say on your blog that's relevant to the current discussion. Maybe you have an "ah ha" moment and say something like, "now that I think about it, I wrote about something similar on my blog just last week" or "I go into more detail on my blog here," and then you post a link to your post. Will it draw people to your site? You bet it will if the link is relevant and it feels natural to link out to your site.
Here's how it should feel: It should be like handing your business card out at a social gathering. It's OK to do so, but only after you've contributed something valuable to the group and you think it makes sense. You don't just hand out business cards like you're dealing a hand of poker.
Sometimes, it doesn't make sense to drop a link, even when you've left a killer comment. That's fine. There's plenty of other blog posts where it will make sense - and that's what matters. Valuable content, only valuable content doesn't always mean valuable blog posts. Sometimes it means valuable contributions to an existing post.