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There are certain things about blogging that I don’t particularly enjoy, and it’s safe to say that handling comments is one of them. Typically, people only take the time to comment when they have a strong opinion, and many times, you don’t want to hear it.
That’s not to say there aren’t benefits to allowing comments on your blog. In fact, there are many that you should consider before deciding to disable them completely.
In this post, I’ll go over both the benefits and drawbacks of allowing comments on your niche site, then tell you where we currently stand on the subject.
First, let’s start with the pros.
Why You Should Allow Blog Comments
There are definitely some drawbacks to allowing comments on your site, but that doesn’t mean there’s no upside. Here are a few reasons you might want to enable comments.
Google Sometimes Treats Them as Content
What kind of content is the best kind of content? The kind that’s free, and that’s one way you can look at blog comments.
According to John Mueller from Google, blog comments are treated as content, at least to some extent. This means that they can potentially help your posts rank better, assuming the comments actually add value to your posts.
This is definitely one of the biggest benefits of enabling blog comments and one that should be heavily considered before turning them off.
They Help Drive User Engagement
Getting people to engage with your content can be difficult, but it can pay huge dividends. One thing that’s sure to increase your dwell time and the number of return visitors is comments.
People love reading comments. They’re drawn to them and have a hard time not looking at them.
I think it’s probably just human nature to want to know what other people think, and social media has likely played a role in this as well.
Whatever the case, having comments on your page will keep people on your site longer, and some of them will come back to see what others have said.
They Improve Your Credibility
One of the first things that make me think a blog post is trustable is seeing comments and responses by the author. The author may not have even written the article, but seeing those responses always makes me feel like there’s a real person behind the post that knows what they’re talking about.
Does Google put any weight on this? I doubt it. Does it affect the way your visitors perceive your site. Very likely.
They Provide Feedback
This is probably my favorite benefit of enabling blog comments, and it’s one I would have never expected.
At least once or twice a month, someone leaves a comment on a blog post on one of our sites that provides direct feedback about that post. The feedback is always negative, but that’s actually a good thing.
The types of comments that I’m talking about are things like “you contradicted yourself here and here” or “the image under the first heading is of X not Y.”
These types of comments are pure gold, because they specifically point out errors that you or your writers have made and allow you to quickly clean them up. We all make mistakes, so having someone point them out can actually be turned into a positive by using these comments to improve our content.
Why You Should Disable Blog Comments
Where there’s good, there’s usually bad, and blog comments are no exception. Here are a few reasons you might want to disable blog comments on your site.
They’re a Huge Time Suck
By far, the biggest drawback of allowing comments on your blog is simply the amount of time it takes to manage them. Not only do you need to read them and weed out the ones that are spam, but ideally, you should take the time to respond to at least some of them as well.
A lot of the comments that you get will be very specific questions tied to the article being read. To answer these questions properly, you often need to refamiliarize yourself with the post, then do some research to make sure your answer is accurate. After all, if you respond with an incorrect answer, your credibility will go out the window.
This is easily the biggest reason to disable comments on your site, and believe me, we’ve considered it many times because of this.
They Can Be Discouraging
Another drawback to allowing comments is that you’re likely to get some negative ones from time to time. Some of these can be really bad with people throwing insults at you left and right.
Depending on the type of person you are, this might not bother you. However, it’s pretty easy to get discouraged about your blog when you see a few of these comments roll in.
Sometimes, people are being mean to simply be mean. Other times, there is a true, and possibly legitimate, motive behind these comments. In these cases, you can usually pull out some useful feedback that you can use to improve your post.
What We Do
So now that you know about the pros and cons of allowing blog comments, let me share our current approach with you. I say “current” because we do tend to shift our strategies over time and have done so in regards to blog commenting.
In my opinion, the pros easily outweigh the cons when it comes to blog comments, so we do allow them. We also don’t set a maximum numbers of days to allow comments on a post, which is an option in WordPress.
While we do allow comments, we try our best not to spend too much time on them. Afterall, spending an hour creating an article is far more productive than spending the same amount of time responding to a comment.
What we do is publish all of the comments that come in that aren’t spam or pure hate, then we respond to a small portion of them. By a small portion I mean roughly 2-4 per week per site.
By responding to at least a few of them, you show people that there’s a real person behind the blog. By not responding to all of them, you cut down on the amount of time it takes to allow and manage blog comments on your site. We’ve found this to be a good balance.
This has actually been a recent shift in strategy for us. Prior to this, we simply posted all comments (again, not spam or pure hate), but didn’t respond to any of them.
Prior to that strategy, we responded to pretty much all comments. While that approach was really time consuming, I think it can be worth the time and effort early on in a site’s development.
The more you know about the topics on your site, the easier it is to manage comments. With that being said, there’s no denying that comments can be super time consuming.
Nonetheless, there are clear benefits to allowing blog comments on your site, and depending on your niche and article topics, your visitors might even expect them.
Like most things in life, it’s all about finding the right balance that brings in as many benefits as possible, while limiting the drawbacks at the same time.