This is a continuation of my series on Ultimate Guides (see past topics here). The goal behind these is to present various internet marketing topics in an all in one comprehensive fashion. If you like what you see please share it with others.

Recently I discussed how I got to my first 1,000 RSS subscribers and one area I covered in that post was the marketing strategies I used to reach that mile stone. Blog commenting is one strategy that I have used in the past for a wide variety of reasons beyond just a small spike in traffic and today I will outline everything you should know about blog commenting in this second installment of ultimate guides.

Why I comment on related blogs

I comment on blogs as an opportunity to connect with the blog owner, drive traffic to my blog from the people reading the comments and as a way to build free easy links. I’ll explain why each of these benefits are important later on in the guide, but first I want to cover where you can find various blogs to comment on in your niche.

How to Find Blogs to Comment On

Much like I said before in my ultimate guide on guest posting it’s important to know your niche. I know at least 30 other bloggers both large and small that I connect with on a regular basis. If you don’t know the other blogs in your niche one of the easiest ways to find them is with a simple search.

Google Search: Search Google for related blogs using the keywords you’re targeting on your own blog and look at the blogs that come up in the search results. Visit these blogs and subscribe to their RSS feeds. The goal being that if you’re the first to comment on an article, more people will see it and if your comment is good you’ll reap the rewards.
Follow the People Who Comment: Once I find the blogs to comment on then I go through and click through the people that commented on the blog to find more blogs to comment on. This is something you can repeat multiple times and is how I’ve found brand new blogs to comment on that I never would have found by doing a Google search.

These are the two main ways I find new blogs to comment on, but finding the blog is only the first step. The most important component is what you should write about in your blog comment.

How to Comment Effectively

This section may be reminder for you, but I still see people that fail to comment effectively and this component is crucial. First, always comment using your name and not a keyword (unless they have Keyword Luv WordPress plugin installed). Now as you write comments the key to remember is that to get the best results you must truly add something extra to the conversation. Read the other comments on an article first and if you find something that you don’t agree with start there with a response and tell them why they are wrong. Likewise, if someone shares a good comment or writes a powerful blog post try to reply with a comment that builds on the foundation they set out by adding in your own unique point of view or an additional useful piece of information. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself this question, “Does what I’m about to share actually contribute anything to the conversation or does it just add to the noise?” As I’ve said before many people do share great comments, but I still see numerous useless comments on blogs I read every day. In any case, now that we’ve got the fundamentals out of the way I want to dive into the deeper stuff with specific examples of why I comment on blogs and how I’ve done so effectively.

Connect with the Blogger

First and foremost I comment on blogs because I like to get my name in front of the blog owner. I know that if I contribute real value there is a chance they’ll stop by and visit my blog as well. From that point they may start reading my blog regularly and maybe even link to an article I’ve written from time to time or retweet something I’ve posted. I also use this as the first stage of my future guest posting proposal. If I provide great value in the comments I share on another blog there is a better chance they’ll publish my guest post as well. At the very least if you comment enough eventually they will learn your name which is incredibly important for future contact related to (guest post inquiries, interviews, joint venture opps and anything else that may benefit each person’s business). This is why it’s so important that you don’t look like an idiot when you comment on someones blog.

Driving traffic back to your blog

Generally speaking you should not include a link (other than for your name) in your comment on another person’s blog. You have to feel this out on a blog by blog basis as certain bloggers have different opinions. I believe that if the article you link to truly adds value and fits within the context of the conversation that it can work (see this example). If you look at the other comments in that article the author actually referred people to the article I included in my comment because she recognized my knowledge on the topic and the value it brought to her readers. I believe if you ever do include a link to one of your own articles in a comment you should never use keyword based anchor text for the article because that really shows you don’t have the best intentions in mind when commenting on a blog and instead are just trying to rank some article (it’s already a tough sell to include an extra link in your comment anyway).

Even if you don’t link to another article on your blog within a comment there is an opportunity to drive traffic back to your blog as long as you provide value with your comment. Readers will see what you have to say and if it’s intelligent they’ll probably investigate for more information. Another strategy to drive traffic via blog comments is to be among the first few people to comment on a popular blog. This has been said before, but if you combine all of the elements I’ve listed above when posting your comments it can drive substantial traffic when you’re among the first to comment. Subscribe to numerous blog RSS feeds and you’ll have opportunities throughout the day to be the first commenter on many different articles (watch for patterns on when they publish their articles i.e. I publish most often at 6:00 AM PST).

Commenting for Links

If you’re looking to build links from commenting than make sure the blog is using some type of do follow plugin (blogs that remove the rel=”no follow” attribute from comment links). I’ve seen numerous blogs that display do follow badges but if you look at their code they aren’t actually removing the no follow attribute from comment links (I use Firebug to determine this). From an SEO standpoint I don’t think Google provides much weight to the links in comments anyway (especially if you’re not among the first) so although I think that link building with comments can help a little I believe you should focus on more effective strategies for link building instead.

What not to do

You should not spam via comments unless you recently invented a miracle tooth whitening product. Because if you invented a new miracle tooth whitening product you should find a way to let everyone know about it. Beyond that, if you’ve been paying attention to any of the advice I shared above it’s safe to assume that doing the opposite of what I suggest would be unwise. Here’s an example on how to do everything wrong:

This is obviously a pre written comment as it doesn’t address the topic of the article (the new Amazon Wireless affiliate program), it doesn’t add anything new to the conversation and he tried linking to his blog with his target keyword anchor text within the comment itself. If he hadn’t used an a keyword based anchor text to link back to his blog I probably would have just published it despite the fact that it added little to no value. The worst part is that the offending party is actually trying to run a legitimate blog (if it wasn’t a legit blog I wouldn’t have cared that much because I would have just assumed it was a bot). I didn’t bother including any comments that were just straight spamming porn, San Diego divorce lawyers etc. because they are obviously bots.

Note: I was going to show the blogger in the comment but I am pretty sure he reads this blog and there is no need to embarrass him, so I removed the elements that would identify him.

Closing Thoughts

Taken by itself blog commenting isn’t my preferred strategy for traffic growth. It does help if you’re the first to comment on a blog, but if you had to break up the time you have available to grow your blog I’d focus less than 10% of that time on blog commenting (unless you’re launching a brand new blog). I prefer to use blog commenting first and foremost as a means to get on the radar of a blogger by providing a good first impression and to showcase my knowledge on a particular topic. I then have a better shot at going to the blogger at a later date asking to get my guest post published or to get their involvement in a future joint venture deal.

What do you think of my outlook on blog commenting and the way I like to use it? I’m looking forward to seeing your comments below.