Must Bloggers Comment to Get Visibility?

Feb 092010
 

overloadThanks to all for the stellar conversation about the value of “Looks delicious” as a comment in food blogs. Let’s continue with a related subject that came up in the comments: the idea that it’s necessary, when you’re a blogger, to comment on other people’s food blogs.

According to Blogging 101, we’re all supposed to comment to build traffic on our own blogs. First of all, I’d like to know whether that’s true. Have you found that you have more visibility as a result of leaving comments? Do you stake out certain blogs? Do you set a minimum number of comments per week?

A related issue is how to comment with sincerity. One “A list” food blogger insists he can tell when a blogger comments for visibility versus sincerely commenting on his post. Are we truly so shallow? Perhaps this is where “Looks delicious” came from –this frenzy of leaving a mark, with a link, without putting much thought into it.

I’d like to know: Have you seen any¬†discernible rise in traffic from commenting on other blogger’s blogs? Or is this just one big circle jerk, where we all create more noise and data in search of marketing ourselves? Did this strategy work a few years ago, when there were fewer blogs, but is not a worthwhile approach today?

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  57 Responses to “Must Bloggers Comment to Get Visibility?”

  1. Okay – just to be clear. I am leaving this comment as an answer to your questions, not to draw attention to myself or my blog!

    I usually only comment on blogs when I feel that I have something valuable to contribute, some honest praise to give, or to answer questions that have been asked. I haven’t seen a spike in traffic after leaving comments on blogs. When there is an increase in traffic to my site, it is usually because someone has linked to one of my posts on their own blog or in their twitter / facebook banter.

    I am pleased to discover new blogs, however, when their authors leave comments on mine.

  2. You do like to challenge us, don’t you!

    I can’t say that I’ve noticed a discernible rise from comments, but I know that I do get traffic from comments I made on specific blog posts. That’s the joy of site meters, you can see where your referrals come from.

    If you aren’t interested in blogging for at least some acknowledgement of what you do you should just be journalling. The nature of the beast is being in public and that search for some form of external validation. Yeah, yeah, there is creative expression and self promotion (for other career aspects) too.

    I do find bigger hits from sites like tastespotting and foodgawker. And when someone else actually references you.

    At this point, sure I would like more traffic, but I’m not a comment slut. And I only have so much time for my own blog reading so I choose to read and comment on blogs I know I enjoy. I’m happy to be on that sort of list for so many as well.

  3. “circle jerk” – wow, I haven’t heard that one used in a long time…and not in the context of self-marketing. Self-somethingelse maybe…

    Anyway, I think that commenting to build traffic does have its place. You hit the nail on the head though – too much noise, and not enough signal. “Looks delicious” type comments nowadays won’t get any attention, but a well thought out post showing that the person is of like mind on the topic will get a click through from me.

    I already spend too many hours working on my blog, cruising other blogs, and keeping up with FB. I don’t have much time to follow every single commenter. I’m sure I’m missing out on some really good blogs, but oh well.

    Your recent “ask the reader” type question posts have certainly engendered great and thoughtful responses. But yours is a blog about writing. How do you structure a post or a question on a *food blog* post to cultivate signal and reduce noise, without resorting to editing or deleting the odd “looks delicious” comment?

    • Yeah, I always ask my husband to read my posts, and he was a little taken aback. I hope I haven’t stepped over the line.

      Good questions, Nate. I will figure out the answers and write a summation post. You are all helping me get there, and I appreciate it.

  4. If it’s blog promotion you’re after, a single contribution to tastespotting or foodgawker will yield a lot more clicks than a hundred “looks delicious” comments.
    Comments are just the blogosphere’s cocktail party small talk. Most of the chitchat is unremarkable but just sometimes you’ll meet someone memorable and have a stellar conversation.

    • So that is your strategy too. I see a theme developing here.

    • Re: TS and FG, yeah right – IF you have the magical photos that get accepted!!!! I have only had ONE photo accepted to this site but yes, it did increase the clicks remarkably.

      Re: meeting memorable people, I have made a lot of really good (virtual) friends through people commenting thoughtfully on my posts and doing same, at the end of the day, I consider this more important in the long run than clicks.

      Also, I tend to look at time spent on site and bounce rate – if ppl spend a long time on my site (2+ minutes) and the bounce rate is pretty low (anything under 60%), I am happy. If they are just clicking through from Stumbleupon or TS or FG and don’t spend long and don’t look at many pages, well those clicks are not worth counting, in my humble opinion..

  5. I can relate to this. Since September I have had less time to spend visiting other blogger’s blogs – between family problems and having taken on several blogging responsibilities all at once I have neglected (as I am well aware) other bloggers. And many of those bloggers whose blogs I was visiting regularly no longer visit my blog, so I can say that visiting blogs does indeed increase traffic. On the other hand, I have increased my visibility by being more active (as a food blogger) on Facebook, Twitter as well as several of the “Food Porn” photo sites, all of which have increased my traffic, so it is a give and take if you are strictly out to increase your traffic. Personally, I have been trying hard to get back to visiting a bulk of those blogs that I have recently neglected because I have grown to like many of them and really enjoy “visiting” them like a friend.

    Personally, I avoid leaving comments on “Big A-list” blogs, as you call them, for the reason that I don’t want to be or seem to be one of those people who leaves a comment just to be seen by “the popular guy or girl”. Some of those big bloggers, on the other hand, I have gotten to know through twitter, find them wonderful, kind, interesting people and have started leaving comments on their blogs now that I consider them “friends”.

    As far as sincere comments go: in real life I am a terrible liar. I just can’t. It is so obvious that I am not being sincere. And in writing, whether a letter or a comment on a blog, it is the same. If I don’t like a blog, have not been inspired by either what I consider to be either a lousy recipe or a messy or lazy blog or blog post I just don’t leave a comment. Period. I can’t say “looks great!” or “fun post” if I just don’t feel it. There are only a couple of blogs that I’ll try and say something nice only because I know the person behind the blog is a really sweet person and makes an effort to visit my blog regularly.

    • Jamie, your commenting policy makes a lot of sense. I guess in the old days, it was enough to comment on blogs, but now we have all these other outlets as well. It can be overwhelming, eh? Hence the photo I chose.

      • I love that photo!

        And I have to say one thing that is frustrating about FB and Twitter is that people will leave comments on one of the other after reading a blog post rather on my blog. It’s fun on FB because it does stir up a discussion, but I would prefer to have all the comments and discussion in one place. Oh well. Give and take…

        • Yes, I go through that too. In fact, a former colleague emailed me yesterday asking if he could cut and paste comments from Facebook onto his blog. I said no. People comment there for a reason. He’d have to ask their permission.

          • That’s interesting. Why would you object to his copying the comment back to where it was on topic? Assuming, of course, that the original comment was public.

          • Because I assume people commented on Facebook because they chose not to comment on his blog. I hope that’s what we’re talking about.

          • Moving a comment is forbidden but editing it is allowed?

            I’m sure I’m not the only person who sees that as mildly contrarian.

          • I’m an editor, so I’m fixing typos, grammar, spelling, etc. No question about that. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I left them. I think typos etc. reflect poorly upon me, just as I thought they did when I ran the editorial departments of print publications. I take responsibility for them (I don’t always catch them all, though, and am always grateful when someone points them out in an email).

            If I don’t understand a comment, I email the person and ask about it, then straighten it out to make it more clear. If iI need to line edit it, I show the commenter the revised comment and get his or her approval to publish it. I don’t want readers to be confused, just as I didn’t when I worked in print.

  6. I vote for ‘one big circle jerk’. And I don’t particularly care for comments left on my blog that are obviously intended as publicity for the commenter (sometimes you can tell — especially when it’s obvious from the comment that the commenter hasn’t even read the post).

    In this day and age a new blogger’s — or old blogger’s — time would be better spent tweeting smart stuff and useful/interesting links than leaving comments on popular blogs in the hope of being noticed by other commenters. Just my opinion.

    • Okay, so that’s how you can tell. It’s obvious the person hasn’t read your post. Excuse me for being so naive. I don’t seem to have that problem very often! Maybe no one is commenting here to be seen.

  7. Commenting on other people’s blogs is more a way to be polite. We all read each other’s blogs and elaborate on our ideas directly or directly from them. They are useful to our “blog policy” and to transparency (as well as others’ post mentions in our posts).

    Leaving a comment is way to say: I read you, I found your efforts valuable, I give time to read you and I’m interested in maintaining a connection with you, even if occasionally.

    About the web traffic that comments could generate, results are not astonishing, not in the short run, not completely monitorable. At least according to my experience.

    Comments respond to a policy focused more on the long-term run. Short run is just a quick traffic impact and immediate visibility.

    With so many blogs around, the difference and selection “of the best” could be made only by time, persistence, and passion.

    • Rosella, so for you, it’s all about building a community, and if you keep at it, visibility will result. Fair enough.

  8. Looks Delicious!


    Kidding! I was just kidding!

    I’ve been food blogging for a year now, and I’ve found that commenting on other blogs, when I leave comments that actually mean something, does get me some traffic on my blog. It’s not a huge bump, but it is there.

    I was a blog reader for years and years before I started my own blog, and like you mention, I can smell an insincere comment a mile away. But, the sincere comments lead me to check out who wrote it, to see what else they have to say. That was my goal when I started commenting on other blogs and leaving links back to my own; only write comments when I have something that adds to the conversation.

    Now I view commenting on other blogs as being part of the community. I follow a ton of food blogs in my RSS reader. On most of them I rarely leave comments, unless they ask something that really catches my interest. (Like this question).

    Then there are the dozen or so blogs that I can’t wait for new posts from. I think of these blogs as my friends that I just haven’t met in person yet. I comment on their blogs frequently, and that tends to be where the regular return traffic comes. If I’m interested enough in the writer to follow what they’re saying on a regular basis, then the other readers of that blog will probably be interested in mine.

    • ..oh, and now that I do have my own blog, I’m much more forgiving of the “Looks Delicious” comments. I’m glad I motivated someone enough to leave a comment, even if there isn’t much to it.

      One of my success stories was about a comment like that. My sister-in-law’s mom was so happy with how one of my recipes came out that she left her first comment ever on a blog. My brother and sister-in-law had to walk her through how to do it; she’s completely new to the whole blog concept. But I treasure the fact that she made the effort to write that comment, even if there wasn’t much in it.

      • I guess when you know the backstory behind the comment, it makes it so much more valuable.

        Plus, it’s occurred to me that the LD comments do not necessarily come from bloggers. I guess I’m holding bloggers to a higher standard.

    • This is straight from the heart, Mike. Your sincerity comes through. I can see that other bloggers would come to your blog when you are all involved in a conversation. That’s how it’s supposed to work!

  9. Initially, when I first started blogging, I did see a rise in traffic as a result of leaving comments on other blogs–it allowed people to know I existed. However, I’ve found that no one tends to click on a link to your blog from a “looks delicious” comment anyway, so that type of comment is really just a way of saying, “Hi, I was here–will comment more next time!” or whatever.

    Lately, I tend to get more exposure from blogs that post about re-creating one of my recipes, or from sites that feature a recipe of mine. I do find, though, that the number of comments on my own blog correlates fairly well with the number of comments I leave elsewhere–at the peak of my own commenting last year, I was receiving almost double the number of comments I now get, even though my page views have since increased.

    As to being able to tell how sincere someone’s comment is, if the only thing written is, “I have a recipe, here!: [link],” well, yes, that does seem a bit disingenuous.

    • Hmmm. So you’ve found that tons of good comments on others’ blogs led to an increase of traffic on your own. Makes sense but sounds very time consuming.

  10. Oh god, Dianne – as a new blogger, I have such ANGST about this! Like Mike, I have read food blogs for years and then launched my own because people were asking me all the time to send them recipes or asked how I would actually put a recipe together.

    When I comment on other blogs, I make sure I have something to bring to the table in terms of a tip or trick I’ve discovered, an ingredient swap, etc. But I just cannot bring myself to make comments on other blogs just to be ‘seen’ and I really have no idea whether I’m seeing this from the right angle.

    Which is exactly why I subscribe to your blog; It’s incredibly helpful to read the other comments and see what ‘those who’ve gone before me’ have learned through the process.

    Thanks for the conversation everyone!

  11. I find commenting on other people’s sites (just like you swinging by mine today), can also work as a kind of “tap on the shoulder” to an author. Commenting reminds the author of your own blog and gives them an easy way to swing by and check out what you’ve been up to.

    Not everyone checks back on their comment writers, (it’s hard to keep up with lots of reading) but when it does I think its a great opportunity for everyone involved to see what sort of content is being created on a daily basis.

    • Well, this is convenient! I left two comments on your site so you came by mine to see what I’ve been up to and to leave comments as well. I like it! We should keep meeting this way.

  12. I read a post on foodblogalliance about the importance of leaving comments, and so I started doing it. I try to comment only when I have something interesting to say (not too many “looks delicious”, though I am fine with those on my blog). I do see a return – not huge traffic, but some, and I like to think that bloggers I admire, or people who read them, are checking me out. At Food Blog Camp recently, a big topic of conversation was community – that food bloggers need to support and share with each other, and I think commenting is a way to do this.

    And conversations like this one are interesting and helpful!

    • Hey Perre, nice to hear from you. It sounds so friendly when you talk about commenting this way.

  13. This is a tough one. As a blogger I know that other bloggers like comments, so I make a point to say something if I’ve made it to the end of the post, sort of like waving across a crowded room. I figure it’s the least I can do since they took the time to write the post.

    I have left comments that equate to “Wow, that looks great!” but I never thought of them as superficial – it’s a compliment that I’m always happy to give (and receive!).

    If I truly have nothing to say, though, I won’t be fake about it. I don’t have time for that.

    • Oh yes, we all love comments. When I first started this blog I was such a baby. I couldn’t stand it when my work was met with silence. I beseeched people to post (including you, if memory serves). So yes, I was happy when you wrote something…anything.

      But now (a whole 7.2 months later) I’m enjoying such meaty discussion. I have received a few comments that said “Interesting. Thanks,” and to be honest, I thought they were spam. I went to the sites to see. If they were not, I posted them, but a few, I’m still not sure about.

  14. I love this post for so many reasons, not least because of your pointed and risque analogy. You may feel like you crossed a line, but you had reason, so it works.

    I used to spend a lot more time commenting on others’ blogs than I do now. I frankly can’t — if i have time to write, it’s time better spent on my own posts. This means there are regular visitors to my blog who are extremely loyal commenters to whom I have not shown the same courtesy. And I do feel bad about it, but blogging — which, for many of us, is work, not play — is about more than just about courtesy.

    People who leave “mark”-type comments on other blogs would be better off honing their own posts. Good content, great writing are really what drive traffic — or, at least, they should be.

    • Glad to hear, Cheryl. This form is still new to me, so it’s nice to get a reality check.

      Are people commenting on your blog because they hope you’ll come comment on their?. Maybe a little bit, but I don’t think it’s the main reason. At least I hope not. I’ve been curious about the people who comment here, and sometimes I go check their blogs out. But most of the time they don’t know I’ve been there because I can’t think of what to say other than the now-infamous “Looks delicious.” So I don’t say anything.

      But I have to agree with you about what drives traffic. I’d add: a subject that strikes a chord with people.

  15. I try to comment when I feel moved to comment on a blog. Like another commenter noted, I am also a terrible liar–and wouldn’t feel right if I commented for reasons other than I had something to say about the post.

    I agree that another commenter that we are all part of a food-blogging community. In this spirit, I try to make comments on other’s blogs to be sure they know I was there and was reading their blog. I don’t do this so much for “A-list” bloggers, unless they’re already my friends, but I try to do this for folks who make an effort to come to my blog and make comments there. I feel like it’s a reciprocal and friendly thing to do. But, that’s just my approach.

    For me, I think commenting is great for creating relationships and showing support. And, it doesn’t feel right as a marketing strategy for me to engage in it. I don’t mind if other people do it as long as they’re respectful and not annoying.

  16. If anyone comments on my blog I will visit their blog. So leaving a comment on my blog will increase your traffic. However if I received a huge number of comments I would not have the time. When I comment on another blog I try to make it interesting and a contribution to any discussion. Sometimes, in the past, I would leave a relevant link to someone else’s blog, or my own, if I felt it contributed to the conversation. I no longer do this as I discovered some people consider this a way of increasing your traffic. In my early days of blogging leaving a link within a comment was a way of sharing and expanding the knowledge. As blogging has increased and people have monetized their blogs it is no longer considered acceptable.

  17. I fully agree that comment does produce traffic. However, I would also suggest that it’s ridiculous to simply post something for the sake of traffic – at least make it worth while! I have found some fantastic blogs and I like to let them know I appreciate what they’re posting.

    • Yep, we bloggers need to hold ourselves to a higher standard if we’re trying to drive traffic. At least come up with something worthwhile.

  18. I am so glad to have found your site. I have been frustrated by this “Looks delicious” subject lately since I see the same people on some A-list blogs leaving these vapid, obsequious comments every time. And yet I feel like a comment slut myself sometimes in the hopes of getting traffic, though I would never write anything that banal. I try to contribute something either valuable or clever, and I know the “clever” wreaks of self-serving to get them to visit my blog. But like you in the early days of your blog, I feel so underappreciated when I’ve gotten no responses for my hard work. I keep hearing that leaving comments is how to build your audience, so I’ve been attempting to do it, but frankly, I’m exhausted! I would much rather be putting that energy into my blog. I’m still trying to figure this all out, but it has been very insightful reading other people’s thoughts on the subject.

    • Yes, it sounds like you’re in the same place as a lot of the commenters here. Cheryl SR would advise you to put the energy into your blog instead, as she is doing.

  19. In my experience, tweeting, stumbling, and link loving, generate more traffic than commenting.

    But I think commenting serves a slightly different purpose. It builds community. That’s what you’ve done here, Dianne, where you often initiate lengthy chats — like this one — in your comment section.

    So, kudos to you for building a network of followers — and fast — in blogland.

    I love getting comments from fellow food writers, other bloggers, family, friends, sources, and subjects. My all-time fav commentors, though, are folks I think of in the old-fashioned sense as “readers.” People who don’t know me from a bar of soap, as we say in the old country, but who found me on the ‘net & decide to chime in for whatever reason. That gets me jazzed.

    Comments also help you find other like-minded souls in cyberspace. Like you, Adair Seldon. When I saw your blog title — Lentil Breakdown — in this very comment thread I knew I was probably going to like what you had to say. And I do. I’ve bookmarked you and am following you on Twitter now. You just found yourself a new reader…by commenting. And so it goes.

    • Thanks Sarah. Lovely to get this breakdown of who comments and why you value the ones from strangers most of all.

      I loved the name Lentil Breakdown also. Sometimes all you need is an intriguing name to get people interested.

  20. I’m late to the conversation (but I have a good reason!) I just realized your blog posts were not updating in my blogroll. All this time I thought you hadn’t posted anything since that lobster post 1 month ago!

    As for “looks delicious” – those comments annoy me on my own blog and on other people’s blogs as well – the only time this is acceptable is if it is just a photo and standard recipe (no story, crazy ingredient or interesting technique) and there’s really not much to say.

    In my latest post I wrote about my husband suddenly having to go to the hospital and someone (who always leaves “looks delicious” type comments on my blog) left a comment that clearly told me she hadn’t even read the first sentence. That made me sad for her because everyone else who left a comment wished my husband a speedy recovery and she just looks like a heartless person in comparison.

    However, a comment is a comment and I don’t delete anything unless it is obvious spam. Comments are there for people to express themselves, and if they are too boring to write anything interesting, that is their problem.

    Commenting on other blogs has brought traffic to my blog, so I think it is beneficial if you have the time and you are genuine. I tend to leave ridiculously long comments on blogs (like this comment right here), even the popular ones. If I come across something that doesn’t interest me I won’t leave a comment at all. That’s really how it should be, shouldn’t it?

    • I love your ridiculously long comments and feel fortunate to receive them! I don’t know why your blogroll had that problem. Will have to ask my tech guy (husband).

      Yes, it’s sad when someone has not taken the time to read the post and has made it so obvious in the comments. I don’t know what you can do about that other than roll your eyes.

      Sometimes a post does interest me but all I can think of to say is “looks delicious” so I don’t say anything! Especially if there are already many comments that say that. I figure I’m not adding any value.

  21. This comes a little late but it ties into the whole commenting conversation. Yesterday, I saw someone respond to a blogger about a post via twitter. The blogger responded and asked the person to expand in the comments section. And he didn’t ask just to get a comment, I think he asked because the person made a valid statement in her tweet that could probably be expanded and would fuel discussion had it been written as a comment on the blog and not constrained to 140 characters. It made me think that because so much activity happens on Twitter nowadays we often get comments in response to our posts there, losing those comments on our actual blogs. This isn’t bad. It’s nice to get responses on Twitter but readers who don’t use it could miss out on the conversation. It’s almost like when we discussed here that RSS feeds have somehow replaced blogrolls.

  22. I’m late to the party, but here goes: I like getting comments, even if they just say “nice recipe!” Only a small fraction of my readers actually leave comments, and I’m sure that’s true for everyone. Blogging is in many ways like sitting on the wrong side of a one-way mirror, and I’m happy to know who my readers are.

    I’ve also been guilty of leaving comments on along the lines of “oo, looks good!” It basically means: You’re my friend and I want to let you know I’m listening to what you say; or, I just discovered your blog, you and I seem to have similar interests, and maybe we can strike up a friendship. Often, if the post is a recipe you haven’t tried and not an essay on life, there’s not too much more you can say.

    • It’s true that I often can’t think of anything else to say. In those cases, I don’t leave a comment. Maybe that’s wrong but I expect more of myself.

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