What You Comment Upon Now Echoes in Bar Crawl Commentary

I’m getting separation anxiety, community peers.  Since when did the ‘band’ break up?  You know, the merry band of SEO community brothers and sisters.  Perhaps I’m being a bit sensitive of late.  We the people have lightened the load by at least two in the last week  (Tom CritchlowJonathon Colman).  Maybe I’m overreacting.

However, I have noticed a trend within the last six months.  I stroll the online streets often.  Visiting several blogs was like bar hopping.  It was groovy to ‘hit up’ one blog for some insight and comment convo, take a bow, then groove on down the cyber road to another peer’s blog establishment. And so on..like a bar or blog crawl.  It was jolly ole’ fun!

Now  #bloghopping has gone the way of the dodo.  Let’s use Gianluca’s recent State of Search post as an example of community-comment atrophy.  Plenty of good twitizens shared the post; yet, as of right now (6:50 pm central mountain 7-10-12) only 35 people have commented.

Thanks to Moz’s nifty post analytics tool, we can see that the post’s stats are nothing to be ashamed about.  It’s got over 2,800 page views thus far.  People are visiting; but, a small percentage is commenting.  What gives?

Anthony Pensabene  Why do you or don’t you comment at the end of blogs? I feel it’s a great personal branding/relation tool underutilized.

I went there today…

Out of 438..no wait. 39. Oh, spoke too soon.  Out of 437.5 followers, one chap was gracious enough to offer thoughts.  Thank you, Brett Snyder (and Chris Dyson for encouraging me to write this post).

Brett Snyder  Sadly I think a lot of times it’s either laziness (“don’t have time to comment”) or don’t see the value-add of a comment…

I will say I’m much more likely to Tweet out strong article vs comment & feels redundant doing both since tweet has my comment…

I kinda see it as 6 vs. half dozen…tweeting helps spread post to more people & commenting builds convo for current visitors…

 I do try and leave comments for posts that I know others will find on their own though (ex. – Eric Enge’s Cutts Interview)…

I appreciate Brett’s replies and can wrap my head around the sentiments.  I would like to utilize our Twitter interaction to strengthen the validity of my position regarding blog comments.

Laziness

We all know John Doherty, right?  He’s made a name for himself.  We see him all over the community.  Even when locked in his building he still participates haha.

John cites ‘getting your name out there’ as one tactic leveraged, securing the rise to 10,000 visits per month.

“Another big part to my success, I think, was personal branding.”

Um, I know a way to accelerate and facilitate personal branding- read the thoughts of others, reflect, and offer your own opinion, experiences, and any actionable suggestions.  At worst, people read over your comment (much like the millions of tweets they see per day).  At best, you may make an impression…

as well as leave tidbits for others to reflect upon and potentially learn from…  There are other examples; but hopefully you get my point.

Anthony Pensabene  @BrettASnyder thanks, Brett. I see your point re redundancy, yet I’d rather maintain your thoughts on the post for later readers..adds value

Commenting helps with personal branding and exposure.  As Doherty suggests (as well as I in a guest post), get your name out there.  Be seen.  Be heard.  Be cogitated upon.  Don’t be lazy; be relevant.

Redundancy

I understand Brett’s point relating to redundancy.  It inspires a distinction regarding observed levels of participation.

Twitter allows for 140 characters.  In perusing a Twitter Search of Gianluca’s post, I couldn’t find anything exceptionally stimulating.

Joel K. does use the adjective, “rad,” which is always welcome in my world; other than that, I didn’t really extract any ‘gems’ from the process.

However, when people comment, it’s much more enriching for the entire community.    We learn together, creating a lasting sentiment of commentary.  Remember how much fun commenting was?!

Remember Gianluca’s “Wake Up..” post?  It was awesome.  That currently has 163 comments (a considerably larger number than today’s).

If you dig into that post’s comments, you’ll find useful information/resources:

There are other examples; but hopefully you get my point.  I am making a distinction between sharing content and adding to it.  Tweeting is sharing.  It’s great and beneficial.  But could we take things a step further for the betterment of the community?  Commenting strengthens and adds to the community.

Commenting on blogs further ignites, engages,and enriches the community.

92 thoughts on “What You Comment Upon Now Echoes in Bar Crawl Commentary

  1. Anthony,

    One point you made that kind of gets missed is the actual value in the comments. Sometimes the comments can be worth more than the actual article itself. In fact, once upon a time, there were websites where I would read the comments first (before I dove into the article) because the collective conscious of the community would yield more insight than the author….well, that’s not entirely true…the better way to put it is they would expound on it to the point where the article became a living, breathing, thing that complimented the original thought.

    “Tweeting” something is great but I have to agree with you. What’s missed is that collective “let’s figure it out” mentality of the masses. The insight of one is good. The insight of several dozen though….wow.

    • Thanks for your read and comment, Leo. Good point- I remember numerous posts where I actually made it a point to tweet the comment section. Gianluca Fiorelli is also good about targeting good comments.

  2. Comments are great way to add value to the post for sure.
    In fact sometimes in SEOmoz I’m looking for comments about people I know are there to add value, like Gianluca or you, or Chris.
    Sometimes I don’t comment because I don’t have nothing to add compared to the already-there 1000 comments, sometimes I add something because I feel it, sometimes I want to add but then I forgot.

    Anyway, as you see, here I’m adding a comment.

    thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for read and comment, Alessio. I too look for you and others in comments to extract more value. I can’t help but notice a waning trend. I’m not sure if Gplus is a factor or not..

  3. Commenting to enrich and therefore increase the value of any blog is a lost art, so to speak. I read a lot of great stuff everyday where the doors are open for people to comment and discuss, yet they refrain from it. All the while the new YouMoz post on SEOmoz gets comment after comment of useless “Great post guy” and “Awesome stuff,” which doesn’t lead to adding any type of value at all to the authors thoughts, opinions or topic.

    You strike some firm points with this post, yet too many people just don’t have the time to get involved. I encourage people to comment. I also try to comment as much as I can, yet time restricts me from doing so, unless I feel that what I contribute will benefit others.

    Always good reads Anthony. I almost felt “obligated” to comment after reading it. :)

    • Thanks for your kind words, Michael – it’s always appreciated. I really do make an effort to make more comments. I hear you on the ‘time’ sentiment; yet, hopefully some of my thoughts here convince the time invested in worth it personally and for the benefit of the community.

  4. Hey Anthony,

    I’m really glad you took the time to write this post after our email exchanges a few weeks ago.

    I really have become a “lazy” blogger, I’ve taken the easy route to read & tweet and like many have got into this habit. I promise to take the time to drop my 2c’s worth more often :)

    • I do think the number of posts coming out per minute…hour..day..when you leave to fill up your coffee cup.. does facilitate the ‘laziness.’ Perhaps we can’t comment on all, but maybe we should be more mindful of adopting an ‘all or none’ mentality.

      “I promise to take time…” haha Yes! The Italian-mother-guilt tactic prevails again! Thanks, mom :)

  5. I think you could have added one more reason to your list: OVERWHELMED. I really do appreciate the contributions that our industry peers make via blog posts, but at times, I get overwhelmed when I look in my inbox and see 48 messages from all the RSS I have subscribed to! If I could comment on EVERY blog I regularly follow, I would be a satisfied person…..with very little time left for other things. I do believe that people do not take advantage of being able to voice their praise, concerns, rebuttals, etc. for the blog author to acknowledge. I think were are starting to see a “Blog Overdose” in our community, and you made the first step towards awareness and intervention.

    • I sympathize with your point, Candice. I think we can all agree on a saturation of information on an hourly basis. And of course, commenting should not be an obligation. Exploring the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of “Hey you’re awesome” type of comments that are nice in sentiment but don’t add any value.

      However, I do highly celebrate commenting, especially for a practitioner such as myself, who works remotely at the moment. I don’t have direct in-house peers. I really do want to engage the community. 140 characters on twitter is not enough. Additionally, I get paranoid about bothering others by openly having one-on-one discussions (and the twitter DM is awful). Commenting allows me to make better connections and offer more of myself..

  6. Fantastically interesting thoughts here, Anthony. It’s funny that you just published this post, because Tom Critchlow and I were just chatting about this at lunch. I was wondering why more people don’t comment on SEO blogs, or on inbound.org as I was lamenting on Twitter the other day.

    Tom made the great point that maybe it’s because a lot of stuff put out in the SEO community is informational or tactical, and not really able to be engaged with in comments in a meaningful way. It’s not thought provoking, but rather presented as facts or tests or case studies. And there are so many unknowns with the algorithm and what Google knows/doesn’t know or categorizes/doesn’t categorize that all we have is conjecture.

    However, it is THIS kind of post that makes people comment (as you are already seeing :-)

    I’m seriously thinking about what kind of content gets comments, and how it is presented, and then how to have a healthy balance of the tactical, instructive stuff (which doesn’t get comments) and also the thought-leadership stuff (like this post, or Tom’s content marketing post on Distilled from a while ago).

    Thanks for getting this conversation started.

    • Thanks for the read and comment, John. I’ve been meaning to write this for some time. I have definitely traced a decrease in commenting overall but really intrigued by the observations of you and Tom. Perhaps it is the ‘variety’ of content that warrants particular participation. Right, so a case study could elicit other references to case studies or perhaps questions about how to engineer a case study to fit a different vertical. More of a theoretical post would seemingly spark more conjecture, yet those who champion more practical posts may see little value in engaging the conversation.. I look forward to more discussion and analysis into this.. Thanks again.

      • Right, and it is also hard to refute or discuss case studies. Plus, as Tom pointed out, a lot of posts involve so many unknowns. Also, a lot of SEOs are not very transparent, presenting real data and case studies, so it’s hard to really engage with it and pick through what else might be going on.

        It’s all very intriguing to me as well.

        • I would like to see more real data and case studies. I think those are embraced by particular readers as being more practical and actionable. Personally, it’s a topic I struggle with because I work for an agency and wouldn’t use agency clients in my personal posts. Many of my posts are of a theoretical, catchall nature. Dan Shure gave me a great piece of advice, suggesting getting more technical, even it that means writing practical suggestions for a non-clients or doing some ‘pro bono’ work, which might bring new meaning to ‘for the good of the public.’ Actually, that last point was something I thought some of us could do collectively to promote a better image of the industry.. which we saw a lil taste of when your blog post went first page on Hacker..

  7. Great post, Anthony. Twitter is seemingly becoming the faster way to respond or share information or links to blog posts, but the character limits make it hard to cram in something insightful to go with the link. With blog commenting, you can have more of a stream of conscience discussion that can be however long you feel it should be.

    Sometimes I’ll find myself focusing more on how to structure a tweet than worrying about the message itself and before I know it, I’ve spent 10 minutes dubbing down words into condensed phrases and it just doesn’t read well.

    I especially enjoy blog comment streams where there’s constructive criticism because it adds more layers and more participation. As long as the person who lobbies the first argument isn’t doing so for the sake of trolling :)

    Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks for the read and comment, Kyle. Being one who attempts to wax creative, I too find myself toying with the 140 characters… haha. Your closing statements touch on something I want to hit upon next actually. I think the give and take of blog commenting (how quickly, diligently an author responds to commenters) is a huge factor. If an author doesn’t respond, especially to a direct question, it definitely gives a don’t-y’all-come-back -now sentiment rather than a gregarious one, which blows my mind. I especially see this with some ‘influencers’ which to be fair I guess need to evaluate whether someone is ‘trolling’ or not, but generally not responding is like staring at someone blankly in the face that just spoke to you.

      • Exactly. It’s better to be in a position where you’re struggling to respond to every comment rather than having no one comment at all. Even if it’s to retort someone arguing your stance. The more involved the author becomes, the more likely they’ll have commenters tagging your blog, more RSS feeds and so on.

        • Thank you, Kyle. I recently saw a tweet or in-article sentiment from a peer, who relayed the reminder that ‘blogging’ is a ‘social media’ implement. Different in nature from Twitter, yes, but still social… We’re all likely to critique those who don’t use social handles ‘correctly.’ Yet, I’ll observe experienced vets who don’t reply to tweets, blog comments, etc (earnest ones too!) Sure, they can get away with it because they already have the ‘brand’ name, but let them go ahead and treat their ‘customers’ like ‘big businesses’ do. Let’s see how that goes. Dan Shure is exceptional regarding this topic. His very first post on Moz, he ‘promised’ he would respond to everyone. I remember thinking ‘I’m going to see if this cat keeps to his word..’ Shure is a man of his word. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/are-your-titles-irresistibly-click-worthy-viral

          • Holy Moses! I counted 67 or so comments that he responded to. Not to mention the timeframe was from Feb. 2nd to the 20th. That’s a great example and shows that a little dedication and a short reply goes a long way to getting a good fan base, both to the blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  8. Love this post.

    To John’s point in his comment above I have begun testing types of content on one of my sites to see which drives comments. Now our audience and demographic is very niche, but posts that pull in thoughts and reactions from many channels and sources and also play against those points of views both using the authors perspective and others in or ‘around’ the community seem to drive the most audience engagement and the best comments.

    It’s been said in your post and several times already in the comments (not to mention the line RIGHT above this comment box) but comments really add value when they provoke thought by exposing the underlying conversation within the post, taking it further than it ever could have gone on it’s own. Cheers.

    • Thanks for your read and thought-invoking comment, Nick. “..taking it further than it ever could..” fuck yeah, dude – exactly.

      “posts that pull in thoughts and reactions from many channels and sources and also play against those points of views both using the authors perspective and others in or ‘around’ the community seem to drive the most audience engagement and the best comments.” That combined with Kyle’s thoughts above makes a lot of sense to me.

      From a pure aesthetic perspective, one would think hosting more comments begets more comments (Maybe lessens participation anxiety. Like if you’re unsure anyone else will comment or respond, perhaps one would be less likely to participate?). I would think a brand/person would want to inspire the ‘WELCOME!-HAVE A SCOTCH or BEER or BOTH!” kind of atmosphere on the blog. It only heightens user experience, right? Anyone reading this is probably additionally that much more stimulated from reading the number of comments. I know the comments of my peers always sparks new ideas for me…

      • Dude. Totally.

        I think the social anxiety aspect is probably a pretty accurate psychological barrier for many, and the ability for any content property/author to be able to impart on their readers “have a scotch, or a beer, or BOTH” hits the nail on the head in terms of creating content experiences conducive to encouraging commenting.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with this. I started out commenting and engaging with blogs and others through twitter and other accounts that were branded for my job and I was hesitant to express any strong opinions in case they reflected on the company and the higher-ups were displeased.

    More recently I’ve tried to switch completely to my own personal twitter and comment using my name and I feel it has been quite liberating. There’s still a sense of hesitancy at times, wondering if I am saying something stupid or worthless, but more often than not I go ahead and say what I have to say. I tweet @ people who won’t know who I am because I know they’re people, mostly nice people, and if I were in their position I’d be happy for people like me to engage. If I don’t get a response it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean I’ve been judged and found unworthy, even if that thought had played into any initial trepidation.

    Many of the most valuable exchanges I’ve had with other SEO folks have been in blog comments, so I’m all for supporting them and trying to say something worthwhile when I can. Hopefully people may read this and be spurred on to do likewise.

    • Thanks for your comments and adding to the community. Your thoughts and concerns are perfectly plausible :) – depending on your position with an employer, one definitely does have to mind positions and reflections on others. Going with a personal account is a sound approach. That way you can better participate as an individual. Ah, ‘stupid’ ‘worthless’ are mostly subjective sentiments… If you are genuine in your position or inquisition, no respectable person would look down upon such a notion. You’re right. People should be happy others engage. Otherwise, if it’s just for my own vanity, I could just adopt a bunch of online personalities and have a good ole solitary time, but that’s not my route.

      Feel free to stop here any time, connect on Twitter, and enrich the community with participation.

  10. Great post Anthony. I’m completely guilty of not being an avid commenter on blogs :)
    For me it’s more about saving time. I know that’s a horrible excuse, but I already struggle to keep up with all the SEO content being pushed out.

    Also, as John said, a lot of articles are data driven. These can be a little harder to engage a conversation in.

    Posts that are heavily biased or opinionated tend to stir up a larger conversation in the comments. Anyways, great post! Looking forward to your next one!

    Cheers,
    -Peter

    • Thanks for the read and adding to all of this goodness, Pete. See what you did there? You encouraged me, added to the convo, and possibly sparked some thought in others. Now it’s a party! I understand the balance of time.. hey, you could always ‘favorite’ then later comment… Thanks again, Pete. Been meaning to relay that your posts have been mucho impressive (to go along with the new name) lately..

  11. Yo Pensabene! Smart post, bro. I think Bill Slawski said it best with: “Leaving a comment on an article is less about the link you get and more about the relationship you forge”. That was in reference to using commenting as a link strategy, but it applies to #blogcrawling too. I have been a lazy blogger and an even lazier twitter participant lately. I try to make it a point to comment when I feel it’s necessary to object, but as stated in above comments, many times there is nothing to refute or add value to convos. Although I do still troll the trolls when time permits…. which is never. Expect my next comment several months from now :P

    • Don, no comments on commenting would be complete without your representation… :) Thanks for the read and gonzo thoughts, which are among my fav in the community. On another tangent, I have not forgotten the Monday Meltdown and look forward to possible discussion of multimedia (Two-way video post).. “One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats.”

  12. I am horribly guilty of rarely commenting but being happy to tweet or discuss something on Twitter…I think it’s because doing so on Twitter is easier as it’s a one-stop-shop, but I do think that blog commenting is more valuable. I also really hate it when I read a fantastic piece and no one has commented on it. I feel admonished for my behavior too. Well done.

    • Jules, I had to think about responding to you for some time… No, don’t be silly. Actually, you kind of inspired the “bar crawl” portion, so thanks :)

      Exactly- I too get super disappointed, like someone else found out about my secret thrift shop- DAMN!, when no one comments on an awesome post. For instance, this was awesomeness:

      http://www.linkfishmedia.com/blog/swimming-pools-death-and-link-building.html

      I made a comment from the bat mobile. Who does that? Would’ve loved to have seen more of the same.. :)

      In all seriousness, I really do hope the message has an impact. More participation makes the space more enjoyable and educational. Thanks for commenting, Jules.

  13. Becky Naylor summed up this frustration the other day on Twitter: “Why can’t people comment on blog posts these days … so disheartening when you write a post and get no response to it” and just like your post (haha!) it made me feel like crap. Anyway, great post and food for thought. It really is depressing to produce work that you think will get comments, then you get nothing. Glad our office pissup could inspire someone. (and yes DAMN that post you reference was amazing…Nathan is an incredible writer. I’m going to tweet that again.)

  14. I frequently have the “well… I can’t just say that, that’ll sound stupid” conundrum when commenting on posts. Often, when I feel like I don’t have anything to add, I’ll just share the post without leaving a comment.

    Frequently, leaving a post “unfinished” in a way can spark conversation, but then you run the risk of looking less-than-thorough. On the flipside, if your post is TOO well constructed, you get a bunch of fluff “wow gr8 post!” comments.

    It’s a delicate balance to strike.

    (PS Protip: Want more blog comments? Blog about not getting any comments.) ;)

    • I get the shyness or reluctance factor – I rocked Clark Kent glasses and headgear in the late 80s.. I almost feel like it’s not totally up to you to judge the worth of your thoughts.. if that makes sense.. What if you say something and it sparks an idea for a post of mine. You just served me gold. If you happen to come upon some tweets of mine from time to time, they are really ideas for other people.. I got from thinking about thoughts coming from other people… Still with me?

      I also see your point with a loose or tightly-wrapped post. As discussed above by Doherty, I do think the nature of a post’s content plays a role in comment reception and engagement. Thanks for the read and your thoughts, dude. Well appreciated.

  15. Sadly I think there might be another reason. We’ve all gotten heard already. I believe a lot of comments out there a few years ago came from peoples need to been seen. After a few years of commenting we don’t have that need anymore. Of course new generations of commenters are born all the time but it was a whole population in that first wave.

    I do try to comment when I read someting interesting though. As I like getting comments on my posts as well, I’m trying to be a bit proactive in the thankfulness :)

    • Thanks for participating, Magnus. Well, I understand the want and need to be seen to become better ingrained. However, the latter portion of your comment is getting at what I desire- proactive participation. If you really have nothing to add, so be it. But I believe people are being a bit more modest here.. as an excuse. There are many intelligent people in the space. Participate to better the community. If you ‘don’t need to be seen,’ already ‘popular,’ people respect your opinion. It would be more interesting to see it more often.

  16. Personal branding is just like to build an authority on the subject you are talking more on the web. It’s not simple as it seems. The way and places where you communicate like conferences, forums, discussion, commenting to a blog will help search engine to know you and your efforts. It’s like building a reputation on the web, on the search engine and on the social media. To be expert, you have to share your views, opinions and comments like experts.

    • Nice closing sentiment. Yeah “experts” love their work and subject matter. “Experts” share knowledge and pass it on, also looking for the thoughts of others to add to their acumen. Participating is an inextricable portion of personal branding and engaging your community.

  17. Great post – I was also surprised by the lack of comments on Gianluca Fiorelli’s post. In that particular case, I actually think it was because it was so long that people got half way down and planned to come back to finish it later. That’s what I did – but I also left a comment to say that’s what I was doing! [Pats own back] :)

    I do however totally get the whole shyness and “I might sound stupid!” thing. Particularly if you’re either newer to the industry, or simply haven’t built up the confidence or knowledge yet. My biggest regret is not reading anywhere near enough blogs and participating more when I first got into the industry two years ago. I was busy doing managing admin for 50-100 clients all day, had no time to learn proper SEO, and I had no idea at that point just how valuable the information in blogs such as these could be. I totally regret that I didn’t discover this or get pointed in this direction earlier – I essentially wasted 2 years doing customer service rather than SEO. But now I have resolved to get involved more often, and any SEO worth his salt must have his own blog. So I’ll be kicking that off in the next couple of weeks… it’s going to be pretty poor / average at best to begin with, but I’m sure it’s going to be one of the best things I’ve done. I hope that I’ll be able to motivate people to get involved, when I’m creating content worth responding to!

    Anyway, cheers Anthony. You’ve given me that extra push to get involved.

    • Awesome- thanks for adding to the conversation, Mark. I too spent my first years well ‘behind the scenes,’ working on client projects and not participating much in the actual community. Find your comfort level of participation but don’t get too wrapped up in being shy or feeling stupid. That’s silly. If you genuinely want to learn and participate and better the community, you’re on the right track. I look forward to your increased participation. Do your thing!

      • Thanks mate – it’s a case of have some balls and getting involved. I made that resolution yesterday, so funny this post came along today!

        One thing that I think it pretty cool about the SEO industry is the amount of conversation that goes on – there can’t be many industries that are quite so sociable. But I’d like to become a contributer and perhaps in a year or two, I might actually be able to contribute some valuable stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time consuming what other people write, and it’s only right to a) give them credit and b) give something back when you can.

        I look forward to reading more of your stuff and following what you write on Twitter. :)

        • it is a pretty sociable and awesome industry. Well don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember what you think is not so valuable could be very valuable to the community. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep learning. Thanks again, Mark.

  18. @Anthony – Really great post and a post that couldn’t have come sooner. I started blogging in about 1997 and was possibly one of the first bloggers in Cape Town, South Africa to create a very engaged audience and go on to win some great local awards. I’ve been practicing SEO for going on as many years as I can remember and I’ve traveled the cyber streets more than most people, commenting when I can add value.

    So, I’m quite familiar with blogging, baiting comments and such, and I must agree with you that the number of commenters have decreased considerably over the past few years. Interesting, a lot of people feel that microblogging has hindered blogging and the commenting, however, I disagree as statistics reveal that people are reading posts, so it’s deeper than that.

    I like what @Leo says, a blog post is written by one person, the comments are written by many, and in a lot of cases the comments are greater than the post as the crowd sourced opinions from many minds are greater than one. It’s things like this that make me upset with the lack of comments.

    Alright, so there is one point I’d like to make. In the International SEO industry (just like our local industry) there are circles of people who fuel each other, we call these circles “circle jerks” and I believe that sometimes people don’t comment as they feel that they won’t get any recognition or response from someone who’s more “in with the crowd”. This isn’t something I’ve purely cooked up for this post, it’s something I’ve watched closely for many years and I’ve engaged with a lot of people to ask of their opinion on this and it would appear that it has value. I get it though, it doesn’t matter what industry (although the digital alludes to the right audience through its easy access) you’re in, there will always be circles, breaking into the circles in near impossible and people realise this and thus hold their comments back. It’s a great shame, it’s something that I’m not sure will be fixed, but it’s certainly something I feel plays a bit role.

    Just my 10c :)

    • Thanks so much for your great comment, Mark. Before I paddle in, I gotta remark on how jealous I am of your Cape Town locale. How stoked do you get on those waves as I inquire from Colorado mountain tops :) ? Anywho.. You’re right, people are sharing (I hope they’re reading) but not commenting as much. Leo’s comment is totally on point. The post really becomes a living organism of the community once live and commented upon. So much potential to discuss with each interesting post..

      I get the whole ‘in crowd’ thing. Could be so many reasons why people who are ‘influencers’ decide not to engage.. That’s their issue. Mine is sharing and participating. I’m still participating if they don’t respond. I can still place my thoughts on the blog for others to read and engage with me. If a ‘big fish’ ignores or decides not to engage, they aren’t taking any wind from my mind’s and progression’s sails. Sure, I’m a person and sensitive, and get a bit thrown off when someone doesn’t respond, but I don’t let it ‘break my stride.’ No one should. If you’re participating for genuine reasons, you’re golden on your own terms. Gravitate toward like-minded peers and people who want to engage. Keep in touch- if not for SEO, for me surfing vicariously through you! :)

  19. Anthony, the sweet irony in you getting my name wrong in this context is absolutely brilliant – that made my day and forced me to engage even more! :)

    Indeed, Cape Town is truly gorgeous and I’m so fortunate to have grown up here. Did you know, there’s a movement called Silicon Cape (Silicon Valley style), you might be curious, perhaps a visit to Cape Town is in order, we’re a thriving bunch! ;)

    I think when it comes to guys like you and I, and many others, our ego’s don’t necessarily take a beating when a “big fish” doesn’t responde, but you’d be amazed at how many people are far more sensitive. Nevertheless, I don’t want to really argue this point as I don’t think it will add value, but I think we’re on the same page none-the-less.

    Perhaps I should challenge everyone to head over to a blog that isn’t well known and leave a comment – make someone’s day and start a discussion, after all, it’s often the unknowns who will fight hard to reply to their readers in the best way they can, which in more cases than not results in great conversation. Interestingly enough, I joined a big discussion on blogging today on a fairly unknown blog called Serperture and it was awesome to see the engagement, in fact, I even dropped this post into the mix! Ref: http://www.serperture.com/blog/blogging/why-your-small-business-needs-a-blog

    I’ll keep in touch, I love conversation like this!

    • Thank you for pointing out my error, Chris. I would say I responded to Mark right before you, but I don’t like excuses either :) . My apologies. Thanks for tipping me off on Silicon Cape. I’ll do some research. Dude, I’m an extremely sensitive person. Actually, I experienced an industry ‘low point’ a little time ago, somewhat asking an ‘influencer’ for advice. He pretty much told me “keep doing your thing.” It’s so simple.. but it really changed the way I was thinking about the give-and-take of the community. If you’re genuine and want to contribute, if you’re doing your thing, you build momentum. I just compete against myself, wanting to be better than me yesterday. It works well for me.

      I REALLY like your “blog mob” idea (you can have the name :) ) Actually, if you’re doing something like that, I would really like to be involved. Thanks for the link and referencing my post. I’ll check out Serperture. For sure, let’s keep in touch in the blogosphere and Twitter! thanks for your reply, Chris!

      • Haha, no problem at all, it was a good laugh and I knew it wasn’t intentional. Well done on rising up from a tough time, that’s very commendable!

        Awesome, I’ll connect with you on Twitter shortly. I must warn you though, my Twitter account isn’t strictly business, it’s quite personal so I’ll understand if you don’t choose to follow back :)

        Take care and have a great Friday!

        • Thanks for being understanding, Chris. :) ‘Strictly business’ is for the “suits” haha. I believe I have already began following you. :) I appreciate the participation and look forward to conversing more. Be good, Chris.

  20. Really great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Just kidding, but this is what most people who actually do comment on blogs leave behind. In any case, I am guilty of not commenting much, mostly out of being somewhat time starved and finding it so much more convenient to just send someone a tweet saying I liked the post. If I disagree with a post I’ll take it to task, but if I agree, to me, sharing equity has been pushing the “tweet” button. You make some strong points here though, and in honesty I’ll be taking them to heart – especially since I’ve been adamantly telling clients that “likes” and “tweets” matter much less than comments. Time to eat my own dog food.

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading, Joel. I was beginning to feel neglected. Right, my intuition tells me some people really do things for vanity purposes. Maybe they need a hug. Maybe they feel hesitant about writing their thoughts down for all to see (potentially) forever.

      I’m writing a followup to this based on the great conversation that has taken place here. A tweet is cool and appreciated, but kind of like being at a party and getting the upward head nod from someone. I’d rather ‘get into it’ with them, shoot the shit, pick their brain, you know, ‘hangout’ and get to know them. I recently moved to a new place and really see how being proactive opens many more doors than being less active. I think commenting is the same. The more I share thoughts with someone, the better I get to know them. It really helps in tearing down the ‘online wall.’ I enjoy people and thoughts. Comments are a better doorway for me.

      I believe more commenting is beneficial for all involved. Let the “really great post” comments occur. Hopefully, those who do realize they can offer a lot more or they get over the shyness of participating. Thanks for the read, Joel.

      • Anthony is good people. Enjoy our liltte chats which have become seemingly often as of late. Good addition to the series Alessio!BTW Alessio Point out to me those who criticized you on the long intro. I will make them see the light the correct way. Your last intro rant was awesome! It really added to the interview.

  21. Tremendous post Anthony! I think the mere fact that you’ve encouraged over 50 comments in the first day is a testament to the value of the commenting mentality. I will say that although I offered somewhat contradictory opinions in our Twitter convo, I actually do agree with you over the value of commenting as a form of engaging with the audience which was the basis for my “laziness” argument. I almost think of it like eating at McDonald’s…I know its a much poorer alternative to cooking a healthy meal but laziness and (I hate to say it but) apathy often wins out.

    I saw a few comments above mention Google+, but I actually think this comment-driven thinking is what inspired the design of that network. Full disclosure: I rarely (if ever) use Google+. However, I’ve always tried to understand what Google was going for and that was to encourage conversation at a deeper level…much like the commenting system for blogs and other websites. We have the opportunity to share our thoughts and build on the thoughts of others. The problem with G+ is the same as I think you’re seeing with the decrease in commenting…it’s only as good as the community. Comments add exponentially more value as the commenters increase so I will say you’ve inspired me to get back to the commenting roots! :-)

    Great job sparking the conversation here man!

    • Thanks so much, Brett. Your interaction with me (and you being cool enough to extend on 140 characters, providing several tweets) helped craft the post and the ensuing conversation. The level of interaction is an observable testament to my post’s roots on not just sharing but adding and inspiring.

      “Comments add exponentially more value as the commenters increase”

      Exactly. Getting back to the bar crawl metaphor, it becomes so much more enjoyable as the quality of company and contribution increases. It’s kinda cool to see a number of industry personalities ‘get down’ in one spot and exchange ideas.

      • “It’s kinda cool to see a number of industry personalities ‘get down’ in one spot and exchange ideas.”

        Amen my friend! Thinking about this even more I think another issue with commenting is people don’t intuitively think to read the comments all the time. There are obviously people who are reading and adding to comments (you being a prime example!) but half the time you get as much if not more out of the comments than you do from the actual post. The post is really just the first step in the conversation…encouraging ongoing engagement in the comments (both reading them AND commenting yourself) is where we can really take off.

        • Hey Brett – you’re the man. Thanks for helping inspiring this and adding and best of all, understanding. Definitely, one of my fav parts of being a college student was the conversations, not the sole lectures from professors. I loved when professors prodded us, introduced a topic, (like training wheels), ran along side of us, then let go, allowing the community to make the topic something completely new and dynamic.. That’s what I love about participating in the community and exchanging ideas and views with my peers. Thanks again , Brett!

  22. I think it may take awhile to break the habit of one-way communication that television has bread into us. I find that people who did not grow up with facebook are very reluctant to put themselves out onto the internet because of privacy concerns.

    Interaction is relatively risky. Any number of scary things can happen. People can think you are an idiot. Your information might be scraped and you receive yet more junk mail. You may pick up a stalker. And nobody likes being targeted by a hater.

    It is just easier to ghost around the internet. But your post has inspired me, for one, to try to break this habit. Internet is greater than TV! Lets use it as the revolutionary technology it is rather than as another version of television.

    • Thanks for coming by and adding, Jesse. I can understand the reluctance. My first year or two in the industry I hardly commented everywhere, feeling odd about this type of communicado that was new to me. But to me, it’s just like talking to someone in person. Actually it’s not as anxiety-ridden or intimidating because you can cogitate on your thoughts and write them down. I expressed this somewhere in the comments above, if you have something genuine to say, no one on this earth has the right to make you feel ‘stupid’ or question yourself for wanting to participate.

  23. I’m a firm believer in blog comments. I try to keep up with the community whenever time allows me to and whenever something sparks further thoughts and ideas in my head, I like to comment and share those ideas (which I hope I’m doing here?) with the rest of the community.

    If it sparks a thought with you, share that thought with everyone. You potentially share that new thought everyone that then reads your comment, hopefully helping that person moving forward – which is why we’re (internet marketing industry) an awesome community, we’re so vocal. I don’t want to lose that, because you learn so much from comments.

    Hope I made sense! :)

    Thanks for this Anthony.

    -Matt-

    • Thanks for the read, Matt. Your comments are gems. Yeah, a real ‘community’ is comprised of all its members, right? I’m not saying e all have to comment all the time. That’s silly. Comment when someone strikes you, even if it is a sentence. You never know how your presentation and association to material may help spark ideas and understanding in others.

      • Exactly! Even if you add just that 1 line, you could potentially spark a whole new topic of interest for a reader. Normally, it’s that 1 extra line that normally ties the knowledge to the idea, so it could be really important to someone!

        It’s also great to see a blogger responding to every comment. Along with your study above (re: John Doherty conversation), I’d like to know whether lack of response affects future comments. It can be a real bummer if you think you’ve added a real nugget of knowledge or insight and nobody acknowledges it!

        So if you do work on a study or you know anyone that will, it’d be great if you could include that. If you do (someone you know does), let me know – I’d love to be involved or at least hear of the results!

        -Matt-

        • Yep – one line could and HAS sparked new convos. My intuition tells me that a lack of author diligence does influence the number of comments. Matt, if you came into my ‘bar’ and the barkeep just did the bare minimum in making you feel welcome (got your drink, took your money) then went next door and got the red-carpet treatment, where are you gonna go next time you wanna hang out? I know where I’d go…

  24. Do you have ESP?

    The other day I tweeted an article – and later looked at bitly – I was THE ONLY ONE who re-wrote the text of the tweet. Not saying this in a “bragging” way at all – but in a microcosm, this is “adding value” right? I may rarely tweet something with the generic text (if I’m on my phone, or if the article hasn’t been shared much).

    Here’s a screenshot: http://screencast.com/t/0nLiQR3p

    In general, I think if you can take literally an extra minute to come up with something thoughtful to say, even when tweeting, this does a few small but hugely significant things;

    - adds your own commentary/opinion
    - differentiates YOU tweeting something vs. anyone else.
    - can increase CTR
    - gives you endless opportunity to PRACTICE writing titles/headlines – or your microblogging writing skills
    - forces you to really know what the article is about, in order to add your own intelligent comments
    - shows the AUTHOR you have actually READ the piece – this establishes a connection between you and the original author. they’ll notice YOU sharing their content, and feel complimented you actually read it.
    - shows you’re a human being, not a robot :)

    I’ll never forget when I wrote a personal piece on my blog called “The Wall”. When Rand tweeted it, he used his own adjectives like “brave” to describe the piece. This went beyond “oh cool Rand tweeted this” – and was more like “oh wow, Rand GETS this and actually read it!” I wonder if things like that actually have more do to with “success” than people realize?

    I think you, Anthony, have gotten a mighty good conversation going here – glad to see some people finally having a discourse with your and your blog :-)

    -Dan

    • I think this is pretty much spot-on. Even a small piece of encouragement can be a big deal to the blog author. Particularly if it is coming from a respected source.

    • I knew you were going to ask me that ;) Again, this comment section is now that much more glorious. You bring up many solid points above.. pretty much its own Nolan-esque blog post within a blog post.. haha. And brings up another awesome point for my post.. just added that much more value to the community.. maybe you would have said all this out loud.. maybe in tangents.. but now all of us can read and meditate, bookmark as reference, ‘cut/paste’ into your own blog tips resource.. etc.

      You bring up cant-deny point regarding author/reader, and as you know and helped me with :) , is a topic I would like to explore next.. Thanks for adding, Dan, and as always, your encouragement (tips gentleman cap)

  25. I think commenting is a great thing and I’ve used it in building my personal brand and recommend it to clients as a way to engage with their community.

    But I do a lot less of it today and here’s why.

    Time

    It takes a fair amount of time to comment on a post. Why? Because I’m not just going to write some piece of drivel. If I’m going to engage I want to do so with something of substance.

    In addition, I’m not going to reach. I’m not going to think hard about whether I have an opinion on that topic or not just so I can comment. To be honest, not a lot of blog posts deserve comments. Similarly, I don’t always have something of substance to say that would add value to that post.

    Finally, Akismet thinks I’m a spammer so a lot of the time all my work goes right into the spam folder.

    UX

    The UX on comments is pretty uneven, particularly when you get to over a handful. So, even on this post I scanned the comments and maybe I’m just saying the same stuff that’s already been said (see Time) but it’s also difficult with threaded conversations that often might go sideways pretty quick.

    Because most comments aren’t scannable. They don’t have a font hierarchy and can I use bold or italic? Why can’t I use a freaking LOLcat in my comment! Seriously, why are comments given such short shrift when it comes to readability?!

    Zombies

    Because the UX is usually so miserable it’s more difficult to wade through the Zombies. There are many varieties. There’s the ‘nice post’ Zombie who seemingly thinks that this is contributing value to that content. There’s the ‘prove it’ Zombie who will quickly call your position a crock and require that you provide citations.

    There are other types (I swear I could think of them if pressed) but the point is that on many blogs there’s just not a lot of meaningful dialog going on. Not only that, but even if there is the Zombies start to overwhelm things – as Zombies are wont to do.

    The question for me is whether the commenting on the content elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr) is just as valuable?

    • Thanks for coming by, reading, and commenting, AJ. I agree with you on time though wherever/whenever I choose to contribute, I’m always glad I shared. I see your point with UX and same comments; but, in a way, I find that useful. If multiple people are seeing things in the same way or bringing up comparable points, it probably illuminates a worthy angle. I would like to read more of your Zombies in a post… haha. Lastly, is commenting elsewhere just as valuable? Hmmm, I think it’s valuable, not as. Here are some quick reasons..
      -As mentioned above, Twitter is too short -140 characters
      -Facebook/G+ – some are not ‘friends’ with others.. even on G+ to comment on someone’s post that doesn’t ‘circle’ you is likely to be more awkward than commenting on their blog post (just my opinion)

      I really like having the comments in the same place as the original post.. I also like the ‘message’ it sends, making the act of blogging more communicative and an agent of learning/peer relating.

  26. In general, I don’t comment unless I think I’m genuinely adding to the discussion. I don’t leave comments like “great post” as some do & would rather share it as my endorsement that I enjoyed the post. I’d love to comment more often but if I can’t spend the time to leave a useful/thoughtful comment, I’d rather not leave one personally – at which point we come full circle & I’ll share it.

    • Thanks for reading and adding, Alistair. I see your point about time. It is an investment. It’s not a must, but often I believe commenting is a wise time investment and I’m pleased to see so many have chosen to invest the time here. It’s well appreciated and I have gotten a lot of ideas and things to think about due to it.

  27. Another thing I see a lot of in comments is a tendency for them to become a series of one-to-ones with the blog author and not a coherent discussion between all parties and the placing of comments treated as a referendum on the initial blog.

    I’m sure a lot could be achieved and many new ideas considered if more comments were more than ‘I Have Read What You Had To Say And Now Here Is What I Have To Say’.

    • Thanks for that observation. I guess as the host, the blogger need be mindful of the flow of comments and how they are positioned/leveraged as conversation pieces/augmentations and not just ‘reactionary’ implements…

      • That’s true, but I don’t think it’s all on the host. Blog commenting doesn’t just have to be commenting on the blog. Comment on the comments too.Everyone can do it.

        • Very true… the host or any commenter could even help ‘spark’ conversation by sharing a link to someone’s comment rather than the actual post URL.. This actually gives me an idea of maybe making a Tumblr page of great comments I see, which warrant further discussion… Thanks for that.

  28. Anthony – I think the SEO community is generally quite comment happy on certain places, yes of course many SEO posts are read and not commented on despite being shared lemmingly via twitter. I used to comment almost everywhere I read but rapidly gave up on vanity posters who did not engage with the comments – it’s like if I can be interested enough to comment, why can’t you as the author be bothered to respond? – especially when the comment is not a “great post” but a challenge or additive observation. Anyway, here’s the real challenge that afflicts not just SEO practitioners or other disciplines of online marketing: comment in lateral disciplines to your own speciality: so if you breathe SEO, take a moment to read a PR article and add your expertise/conversation to it. You may not attract the attention of other SEO ppl but you will probably do more to extend the virtue of your trade to another one and a byproduct of that is all sorts of karma. Grow the inbound pie instead of trying to eat it all the time.

    • “Why can’t you as the author be bothered to respond?” I think that is a fair question. I’m going to explore that in an upcoming post. I also think you make a sound point regarding stepping out of the direct sunlight of one’s niche, and reading posts related in lesser immediate degrees to “SEO.” Being a good citizen of the community should extend outside of it. Thanks for your additions, Paul, and for the blue markup arrows, which go nicely with the gray and crimson :)

  29. I think a big part of it has to do with the context in which readers are introduced to the piece of content.

    If I’m a regular reader, it makes sense to leave a comment because I’ve probably consumed your content for a little while and feel at least a bit of a connection.

    However, a good chunk of content today is shared out over social networks and that’s how people come across it. In that context, I don’t really know you… I know the person who shared it with me. And, I’d much rather have a discussion with them about the article than with you.

    In fact, looking at my habits, I only follow a few blogs (less than 5) on a regular basis… and I do comment on those. However, I follow a much larger number of people who “share” lots good content. So, I’m regularly exposed to content from people I don’t know, but shared by someone I do. And, in that context, I’m much more likely to discuss it with the person who shared it with me.

    In fact, that’s exactly what I did with this post. I first commented on Facebook on the post of the person who shared it with me. Normally, that’s all I’d do. However, since this post happens to be about commenting, I figured I had to leave one for you. :)

    You do make good points about comments benefiting the community and personal branding. However, from a purely selfish perspective… I, as the casual reader, am more concerned about my already-established community on my social networks of choice than I am about your community on your blog.

    And, personal branding isn’t always a good enough reason for me to leave a comment… for me anyway.

    That’s my 2 cents anyway.

  30. I have to admit to over-sharing, under commenting. I’ve tried fixing that lately. Then I ran into another problem. Some webmasters can’t tell the difference between a genuine comment and spam. So if you get put into the spam bin by Akismet, you can’t comment on other people’s blogs. So commenting on SEO blogs can be akin to putting your commenting “life” in someone else’s hands. If they mark you as spam, you can lose a LOT. I feel gunshy from the experience, honestly.

    I do enjoy comments but since I rarely get them, I don’t feel like commenting is something “people still do” even though I see blogs that get tons – and I know it’s from time, history, audience building, relationships, all the stuff I have started doing but obviously don’t do enough. I also don’t like spam so I get scared about ticking that “notify me of follow up comments” button – which seems like a good way to get on a list somewhere.

    So … yeah. No real answers, just thoughts. I’m going to tick the button. I hope I don’t explode.

  31. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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