As any blog owner will tell you, “Should I turn on comments on my blog?” is one of the first questions you will ask yourself as your content grows.
Enabling comments on your blog has numerous benefits, including the ability to connect with your readers, build a stronger community, and see what your readers think of the content you post.
But there are also many downsides – there’s a reason why many large marketing blogs, including Search Engine Land, SEMrush, and Buffer, don’t allow comments (and neither does HubSpot).
If you’re wondering whether comments make sense for your own blog, read on. We’re going to explore the pros and cons of blog commenting and see if they really offer enough SEO perks to make them worthwhile.
Blog comments and SEO
At HubSpot, we ran tests to see if blog comments were actually driving traffic or conversions.
In fact, a colleague of mine analyzed over 100,000 blog posts and came to the conclusion: “There’s no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post received … Nor is there any correlation between Comments and the number of links this post received. “
And as Aja Frost, SEO Head of Content at HubSpot, told me: “Many blogs develop thriving communities through their comment areas, such as Cup of Jo, Ask a Manager, the New York Times, etc.”
Frost adds, “A thriving community can be good for SEO as it increases your direct traffic (which affects bio), market awareness, etc. But only if your commentators are genuinely engaged.”
Frost says, “If you can build a robust community, organic traffic can follow, but I wouldn’t enable a comment section for SEO reasons.”
Additionally, it’s important to note that referring back to your website in the comments section of another blog will increase your website’s search ranking, although it may have been a few years ago.
Ultimately, Google took up the black hat technique of filling the blog comment areas with irrelevant links for SEO benefit, and Google has now given user-generated comments a much lower priority on websites.
All in all, ultimately, it’s not worth leaving a comment on another blog post that links to your website. There are many more legitimate, more powerful ways to improve your SEO that I would recommend instead.
Next, let’s look at some examples of businesses that have blog commenting enabled, as well as the potential benefits of including a comment section on your own blog beyond SEO.
Examples of blog comments
Brian Dean’s blog, Backlinko, is a popular and trusted source of SEO tips and expert advice. Backlinko is trusted by big brands like Disney, Amazon, and IBM, and offers actionable content on a range of SEO-related topics.
Dean’s blog also allows for comments – and his readers love to get involved. Check out the comments section for one of his recent posts, Landing Pages: The Definitive Guide:
It’s clear that Dean cares about the comments his readers leave – in fact, he usually replies to most of them. Best of all, the comments often contain actionable, tactical tips that readers can use to expand their knowledge on the subject.
In a world where social evidence matters, Dean has proven that there is a responsible way to use blog comments to increase the value and effectiveness of a blog.
2nd cup Jo
The popular lifestyle site for women, covering topics from food and style to travel and parenting, has an incredibly active community of readers, and I’ll be honest … the comments section is almost as exciting to me as the content of the blog itself.
Take, for example, the blog post about the timing rules for the parent screen. The short piece is only four paragraphs long – and yet there are over 400 comments on the contribution from different perspectives:
Ultimately, Cup of Jo has enabled a strong, vibrant community of people who want to share their own opinions on the topic at hand. The comment area is therefore a practicable and necessary part of the blog and in this case contributes to the added value? ˅.
As one of the most popular digital marketing and SEO blogs, Moz has built a community of experts eager to weigh and deliver industry insights to help digital marketers and SEO strategists.
That strong sense of community is probably why Moz decided to keep comments enabled on his blog:
The company also carefully includes a CTA that allows commenters to refer to Moz’s Community Etiquette Guidelines before posting a comment. While this doesn’t prevent all spam emails from getting through, it does help Moz explain the pros and cons of its public forum for well-intentioned commenters.
There are many other examples of commented publications including Neil Patel, Web Search Social, and even the New York Times.
Ultimately, however, the decision to enable comments on your blog largely depends on your own business goals. Comments can encourage a greater sense of community and allow readers to learn from each other.
Even with the help of spam filtering services, however, there is a risk that individuals will provide a place to post offensive or defamatory content, non-topic comments, or promotional content that points to inappropriate or irrelevant links.
If you think the benefits outweigh these risks, consider hiring a community manager or establishing a process to carefully remove content that is not relevant to the conversation at hand.
Should you allow comments on your blog?
It’s up to you whether the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to allowing comments on your blog.
For certain use cases and brands, comments are a necessary aspect of building a strong community and promoting friendly discourse.
On the downside, it may be more of a hassle to enable healthy discussions, clear spam, and answer both topic-related and non-topic questions asked by your readers.
If so, you may want to use one of your social channels as an alternate option to get reader engagement, like Buffer does:
For HubSpot, we decided to take these types of conversations into a more public forum. It is for this reason that we publish our blog posts on our social channels with questions to enable effective conversations, rather than allowing comments on our blog posts to enable marketers in various industries.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the decision will work for every brand. Brian Dean is a good example of this, as shown above – the comments in Dean’s blog posts are often as useful as the content itself, as readers can share personal experiences and help other readers grow their business through shared challenges and successes.
If you’re not sure whether or not to turn on comments, you can always include a comment section for a few months and then re-evaluate whether the comments are productive and engaging. If not, consider how you can get creative by driving engagement and growing your blog audience through other methods.