5 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Every Comment

By Guest Author

This is a guest post from Pat Flynn. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

If you enable comments on your blog (which I’m sure most of you do), then you obviously want your readers to interact by leaving comments after your post. Then why, I ask, does it usually end up being a one-sided conversation?

It’s like giving a presentation to a group of people and not responding to questions and comments from your audience. It just seems rude, but for some reason it has become standard for bloggers not to reply to comments made on their post.

So much for “interaction”.

For big-time bloggers with several comments on each post, it would obviously be tough to respond to each and every single comment. But you have to admit that it is nice to when the big names take the time to respond to some of the comments, right?

The truth is, most of us are not “big time” bloggers and we do have the time to respond. And yet – we don’t.

In Step #6 of 6 Steps To An Effective Guest Post, it mentions:

“If you are fortunate enough to get your site published, the work is not over yet. All your efforts should go into promoting that article and taking part in any comments that may be posted.

Why is this something that only guest posters should do? Every blogger should be doing it on their own posts too.

For the past several months, I’ve been doing my best to respond to each and every single comment on my own blog, just to see what would happen. The response has been nothing less than amazing. In fact, people have pointed out that they love that I respond to almost every comment, and some of my readers have even emailed me just to say thanks.

So what’s the real benefit? Why should you invest a few extra minutes to respond to your readers? Here are 5 reasons to do so:

1. It Encourages People To Comment

People don’t leave comments just so they can be left unread. By replying, you’re not only letting people know that you’re actively involved in reading the comments, but you’re encouraging them to come back and comment again later.

Furthermore, people who don’t normally comment may be happy to do so knowing that their comment will indeed be read.

2. It Adds to the Quality of Your Posts

A reply can often lead to side conversations within the commenting area that add to the content and overall quality of your post. Your points will be explained further, new points will be brought up, and questions that people may have get answered.

Also, new people will join the side conversations and add their own comments that they wouldn’t have normally made otherwise.

3. It Helps With Search Engine Optimization

Comments on your blog posts do in fact help with search engine optimization, although admittedly in a minimal way.

More comments, including your own, usually mean more instances of the keywords that you used in your blog post, which means you’re more likely to be found in the search engines for those terms.

Additionally, new terms that you did not use in your blog post will be brought up and discussed, which could potentially help you for those terms as well.

4. It Adds More Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people’s decisions are influenced by making the assumption that surrounding people know more about certain situations than you do.

For example, if you’re at the mall and you see a huge crowd of people around a particular store, chances are that you’re going to walk over and see what the big deal is. In a similar way, you might be more inclined to follow a certain blogger in a niche just because they have more subscribers and followers than others.

In most cases, your own comments will count towards the overall comment count of your post. Respond to 15 comments, and you’ll have a total comment count of 30, which looks more far more impressive and interesting to your readers and any new visitors to your blog.

5. It Helps You Build Authority and Credibility

Finally, by responding to each comment, you’re establishing yourself as a go-to expert in your niche. You become more “real” and are seen as someone who actually takes time to care for your readers, which adds value to you and your blog.

Because responding to comments is abnormal, you’ll stand out of the crowd like no other. And if you can leave thoughtful, meaningful comments, you’ll make that much more of an impact on your readers.

It doesn’t take very much extra time, and the return on investment can be phenomenal. So why not give it a shot?

Try responding to every comment and see what happens.

So What Do You Think?

How do you feel when a blogger responds to a comment you left on his or her blog? Do you think it’s worth the time and effort to do so, or are we just wasting our time?

Please leave a comment below, and tell me what you think.

Cheers!

About the Author: After getting laid off back in 2008, Pat Flynn has since created an online empire, starting multiple online businesses which earn him well over 6-figures a year in passive income. He writes about online business and blogging on The Smart Passive Income Blog.



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124 Responses to “5 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Every Comment”

  • Alexandra

    I’m wondering how this is possible? I am a small blogger, but when I do post something that does well, and I am thankful for it, I can get about 100 comments.

    If I visit each commenter’s site, and email them, and leave a comment for them at their site…I am up all night. I know, I tried it. And I was no good as a mother to my 3 children and I was falling asleep at my job.

    I suppose that the thing to do is just turn off comments, but I don’t want to do that.

    Is there an easier, faster way? I am so behind on comments right now, that I’m getting a headache when I see the numbers. It creates a negative reaction in me now, b/c I see it as work.

    If you have any ideas, please let me know. I’m thinking of posting only after I get back to all the commenters from the previous post. What do you think of that idea??

    I love your blog, and am subscribing to it now.

    Thank you.

  • The Corner Girl

    I would if I got comments. ha-ha.
    No really, though. I think that what you say has a lot of weight. It’s very important that the blogger always responds to every comment that is not hostile or spamming in nature.
    Blogging is unique in that you get to orchestrate your posts however you want, and you get to hear directly from your readers! This is a priviledge that even magazine and book authors do not get the majority of the time!
    This means that we should take this advantage and use it well. We get to have the readers interatcing and being a part of our posts and maybe even changing our thinking for the future. It’s exciting to both the commenters and the blogger!

    • Pat

      Very very well said. Thanks so much!

  • Duane

    Especially just starting a blog I think it is very important to reply to all the comments left by other readers. Organically I can see the benefits of making this a priority in operating a blog site.

    • Pat

      Duane, i think when starting the blog, that’s the MOST important time to leave comments. Why shouldn’t you? I mean, the quantity isn’t so many that it’s impossible, so why not?!

  • Vicki

    Pat, I’m in total agreeance. If I take the time time to comment on a post, I expect some sort of acknowledgement, even if it’s a summary “Thanks everyone” type reply.

    I’ve actually stopped commenting on blogs where the author doesn’t reply to any comments.

    • Pat

      Vicki, I’ve done the exact same thing. I don’t want to talk to a brick wall. Thanks VIcki!

      • Pat

        Thanks everyone for your comments, and helping me prove my point!!

  • ThousandMonkeys

    I agree it makes a reader feel appreciated if you reply to their comment, and I admit to being disappointed sometimes if I comment (particularly on a blog which doesn’t seem to have many comments) and don’t get a response, it’s like I’ve been ignored. However, sometimes I just can’t think of anything relevant to say (and want to avoid the banal) and sometimes it’s a case of ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything’ – the commenter has missed my point perhaps, and I’d rather not point that out but also don’t feel like I can say ‘thanks for that’. I can’t do small talk in person but I can do deep impassioned debates; responding to questions or insightful comments can spark a good debate or further elucidation of my point, but the brief non-specific comment leaves me lost for a response.

    On the social proof side, I confess I feel cheated when I go to read the long list of comments on someone’s post and discover that at least half of them are their own! Maybe that’s just me…

    • Pat

      Could be just you πŸ˜› Nah just kidding – I’m sure a lot of people may feel that way, but a lot of people see the number, and immediately forget about it when starting to engage in the post.

  • stylo

    First of all every comment is not a reply able like any other person share his experience/thoughts but some people want conversation so you must need to respond to that comment but the result in my point of view is to check & read your every comment everytime you got comment or after logging into your wp dashboard. It will engage your visitors and its mean alot for visitor if blog owner reply to him.

    sTyLo’s comment πŸ™‚

    • Pat

      Thanks Stylo! I think setting up a schedule for when to respond to comments is the best way to go, definitely.

  • John

    Well, now you got me commenting on this article just to see if you will respond πŸ˜‰ Great stuff though, I agree with the general consensus.

    • Pat

      Hey John – here I am! Hehe. Cheers dude!

  • Dave Higgs

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the great info.

    I think comments are important, but replying to them shows not only the “love” but that you have thought about it as well. Often there are “many correct answers” to any given problem and admitting that you don’t necessarily know (or have stated) everything also gives you credibility.

    I try to reply to all the comments on my blog – but akismet seems to get more spam than I get comments πŸ™

    Thanks again,
    Dave

    • Pat

      Don’t worry about the spam numbers, I have the same issue. πŸ˜›

  • jamal

    This is a fantastic post Basically replying to comments is good for organic relation and get return visitors.Nice post

    • Pat

      Yes indeed, Jamal. it’s great for keeping good relations with people online. Thanks!

  • Liposuction side effects

    Replying to all comments really encourages your readers to leave their own comments too. It proves them that you are real and not a robot.

    • Pat

      There are a lot of “robotic” blogs out there now, and replying does make us stand out and become more personable.

      I hope you’re feeling better from your lipo. Hehe.

  • Alan @ Work From Home

    “More comments, including your own, usually mean more instances of the keywords that you used in your blog post, which means youÒ€ℒre more likely to be found in the search engines for those terms.”

    This is very true and I’ve experienced this benefit lots of times. It helps to know some of these small things that add up to getting more traffic to our blog. Responding to a comment is the least we can do to show our appreciation even if it is just so say thanks for your comment, appreciated or thanks for dropping by.

    • Pat

      Thank you Alan, and like you said, it does show appreciate but also helps for SEO – what more can we ask for?

  • Eric

    There’s a lot of comments already here but I felt like I had to leave my own anyway. I feel it’s important to leave comments and to respond to those comments as it shows you actually care about your readers. If you show you don’t care then why should they come back just to be ignored some more? They shouldn’t and probably won’t.

    • Pat

      Thanks for leaving a response, Eric. I think the question you ask is probably the most important thing people should ask themselves as bloggers, especially those who are wondering why they don’t get as many commenters on their posts as others in the same niche.

  • Brad

    You make good points, but I often feel that I just have nothing to say to certain comments. I guess I could say, “I have no comment on this comment”, but that might be a little superfluous. πŸ˜‰

    • Pat

      Haha – yes, that would probably be a little much πŸ˜›

  • SEOP

    I agree 100%. Bloggers definitely should start recognizing their readers, and they can do that through the comments section. A simple thank you can actually do good.

    • Pat

      I think bloggers who don’t recognize their readers shouldn’t really be blogging in the first place. Your thoughts?

  • Mike Cloutier

    You make interesting points. I have always felt that responses to comments were just efforts to get the last word in and I have made a point to not respond to allow readers to have the last word. I’ve had my say, and the comment boxes are for them. When I have responded, it has sometimes generated more comments.

    • Pat

      That’s interesting Mike – I never really heard anyone put it that way before: “…just efforts to get the last word in”.

      I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on that. For me, that is never my intention, and I don’t think anyone else sees it that way either, besides you…hehe.

      Like you said in the end, when you responded, it has sometimes generated more comments. That’s good, because that’s part of the point of responding to comments, to get people to converse and go into more depth than the article had.

      Anyways, different strokes for different folks, and I appreciate your honesty and opinion. Cheers Mike!

      • Mike Cloutier

        I edited my comment before I submitted it — I did the cut, but not the paste — and truncated it too much. What I left out was that I would try your advice because I have noticed that replies to comments do generate more comments. Essentially, I agree with your point, but I didn’t communicate that.

        My thoughts about the “last word” are a hold over from print, specifically newspapers, where letters to the editor (and that’s what I consider comments to be) are published without comment by the paper. There’s a few reasons for this.

        The main reason is the letters column is the readers’ space. The editor has all the rest of the paper to make his point. Not commenting on letters builds the sense that the newspaper is a forum for reader opinions. A well-written story or editorial should not require clarification (my last comment is an example).

        Building relationships with blog readers by responding to comments is a good idea, but I would do it in a way to avoid building a sense that I always must have the last word on something.

      • Pat

        Ahh – gotcha. Thanks for the reply Mike. I definitely agree with you on the “last word” for letters to the editor. It can be tough to read those because they are just reiterating what was said in the article sometimes. Cheers!

  • Roshan Ahmed

    Hi Pat,

    You’ve got some great information in the post and you’ve just showed us how to apply it practically in this comment section.

    Great Work!

    • Pat

      Thanks Roshan – I made sure to respond to most, if not all of the comments here just to show how powerful it can be. More people comments, and it’s the top post on the front page for comments, which shows the power of social proof. Cheers!

  • Julius

    I’d like to add that when we respond to every comment, we’d encourage more people to join the conversation, and the great result is new ideas. Often we find new ideas to write about when people ask questions and give their opinions through their comments.

    • Pat

      Julius – yep. I mentioned this specifically in the article, and it adds to the overall quality of the content of the post as a whole.

  • Richard Scott

    Excellent post Pat. This is what makes you so personable. You reach out and communicate with others. It makes you down to earth and real. Some other bloggers ignore and don’t even care about the comments they get. It surely makes me never want to comment there. Plus, I go out of my way to communicate and give great points. But, like you said, to each their own.

    Answering comments makes you such a likeable person. It really does make one want to spread the word and retweet the post. Good stuff as always and nice to see you here as well. πŸ™‚

    • Pat

      Thanks Richard! Indeed, we all have our systems of what we do and don’t, but like you said something like this, so simple, can make a big difference. A lot of people fail to see that.

  • Robert Bravery

    I’ve been saying this for a long time. But keep getting stomped out by some of the so called A-listers because they can’t possible answer every comment. It’s too much.

    Hey it’s a blog, that’s life get over it and do your job. If you don’t want to answer comments, turn the thing off.

    It’s like having a call centre and only answering 1% of the calls, if you have the time

    • Pat

      “If you donÒ€ℒt want to answer comments, turn the thing off.” – nice! I like the analogy too – it just doesn’t make sense!

      Honestly though, I think what it comes down to is laziness.

  • John Sherry

    Pat can’t disagree with any of your thoughts, all seem sensible ‘whys’ to me.

    Only question is when do you stop replying? Eventually it’s not worth your time just replying if you have lots and lots of comments. What’s your recommended benchmark figure before you think it’s umanageable?

    • Pat

      Great question John. I usually wait one or two posts (depending on the volume) until I only answer questions or respond to really insightful comments. On the first day or two, however, I make time to respond to as many as I can. For the social proof aspect of it especially (i.e. if people see a large # of comments on the first post when they get to my homepage, they are more likely to read it.

  • Deena

    Pat, sort of funny that this blog post has disproved itself! I innocently left a comment and subscribed to follow-ups in order to be made aware if/when you answered me.

    Since then, I am receiving so much mail because of all the comments on this post! And you answering all of them means I’m getting double the amount of messages to my inbox.

    I still agree with you that it’s great and important to answer people but there has to be a balance. Like someone else said here, you really need to choose which comments need an answer and which ones are OK without one. Otherwise the blogger and the commenters could go crazy. πŸ™‚

    • Pat

      Hi Deena – as you can see above, I did respond to your comment. I don’t think anyone should limit their blog comment responses just because they are worried about how many emails comments subscribers will get. People know when they click on the subscribe to comments button there is a chance for a lot of emails to come through, and clicking on that button is there own choice. I’m sorry you’re getting all that email, but that’s a side effect to being respectful and answering other peoples comments.

      Like I responded to the person you mention in your comment, if people took the time to read my post and comment, I think they deserve at least a few seconds of my time to respond.

    • Pat

      Oh, and I wouldn’t say thhat this blog post disproved itself – you’re just not happy with getting all the emails. Everything I mentioned in the article, however, is being proved as we speak. Already almost 80 comments on this post, by far more than any other of Daniel’s posts on the front page at the moment, so that’s some good social proof right there. Also, I’m sure many of the people who I responded to here are quite thankful that I have, and some probably left comments too just knowing that they are being read and that I’d respond, which again add to the social proof aspect of it.

      I appreciate your opinion though. Thanks!

  • ElizOF

    Great post!
    Not only do I respond to comments on my blog, I visit the blogs of people who comment and leave comments on their posts. Sometimes, the comments are from people whose blogs I visited so I always post a general “thank you!” on my posts to my visitors. From time to time, I check old posts to make sure I didn’t miss someone.
    I am flummoxed by the disregard I have seen in the blogging world. I was under the impression that as a community of bloggers, we want to build camaraderie and support other bloggers as much as they support us. We are all busy so a blog visitor who leaves a comment should be acknowledged with a reply or return visit.
    Lately, I find that some bloggers send emails thanking you for your visit; a truly lovely gesture no doubt but a blog post comment in return would be ideal. We all appreciate comments on our blogs and when someone makes the effort to click on a link, land on a blog, read a post, write and submit a comment, it behooves the recipient to respond with some modicum of interest.
    Sure, I understand that bloggers who get thousands of comments a day couldn’t possibly respond to everyone but what some of the star bloggers do is great. They respond to random comments and give general feedback to the group.
    Be rest assured that if you visit my blog I will not ignore you. Fortunately, life has taught me the value of God’s grace and people’s grace; we all need some.
    Cheers,
    Eliz

    • Pat

      Eliz, that’s a great practice that goes one step further than what I’ve outlined here, that I’m you’ve seen the benefits from already. Small things like that, which don’t take much time, really do make a big difference in the long run. Blog karma does exist πŸ™‚

  • Gretchen Saathoff

    Hi Pat,

    I agree that every comment merits a response. In fact, the other day something really great happened!

    Someone wrote a guest post for me a little while ago. Then, several weeks later, a writer reposted it on her blog. That surprised me, since I’m a musician.

    Other writers then clicked through from her blog to mine….

    And one of those writers commented on a later post on my blog, connecting my music post to the writing process…. she put my URL on her blog roll, too!

    That’s what happens when people talk to each other, even if they’re in different fields.

    • Pat

      Great, inspirational story, Gretchen! I love how the small connections we make with people often lead to something bigger and better for us! Kudos to you!

  • kevin

    To respond the comment that is my habit.

  • jessica

    I want do anything when i read your article, i think it is polite! ItÒ€ℒs a major part of the reason I do what I do.

    • Pat

      To me, I definitely think it’s the polite thing to do. I mean, if you were making a presentation in real life, and someone came up to you afterwards and said “Thanks!”, it would be so rude to just not say anything. Why should doing this online be any different?

  • Jean Sarauer

    I can’t imagine not replying to a comment, just as I can’t imagine not responding to someone who speaks to me offline. There aren’t two sets of rules for me on how to treat people. Plus I love the interaction and the privilege of getting to know people who take the time to read my blog and share their thoughts. It’s a major part of the reason I do what I do.

    • Pat

      I’m the same way as you. I think just the fact that we’re doing business and building relationships online doesn’t mean we should forget about how we treat people in person.

  • Robert

    Hey Pat, just wanted to see if you respond…j/k. As I prepare to launch my blog, I plan on scheduling time to respond to everyone’s comments. One reason is to help them out with stuff I know (or point them in the right direction), and of course, the other reasons you list above. Plus, I know how it feels to not know something, and have other people think it’s “obvious”. It just seems like a good thing to do.

    Do you respond to comments to previous blog posts that you’ve written, say, a week or more ago? What do you think?

    • Pat

      Hey Robert, I do respond to comments on older posts, but not every single one. On posts a week old, I usually only respond to those who have added great additional input, or those who have questions. The social proof aspect is less important because the posts are then below the fold or hidden in the archives.

  • Jamie Barclay

    I guess commenting in every comment made by your readers sends out the message that you wanna have a real connection to them. It is like adding extra points on you. Making you stand out on the crowd. It encourages your reader to follow you more. πŸ™‚

    • Pat

      All additional valid points Jaime – especially standing out from the crowd for going an extra mile for their readers.

  • Tony

    Add to the list: It artificially increases the number of comments for your articles. πŸ™‚

    • Pat

      Yep – I talk about that in the post Tony. Social proof right there.

  • Hal Brown

    There was a post on this blog not long ago – 10 Ways to Get Your Comments Blocked or Deleted – that was opposed to what you are saying. I thought it was regrettable that any blogger could be so arrogant he would ban someone for saying thanks. This sends a message to the social media world, and the real world that saying thanks is a bad thing.

    I despised that message so much I wrote a post about it, and other blogs that have warnings about comments.

    Even if I have something useful to say, I won’t say it on a blog where I could be banned if I make a mistake.

    I unequivocally agree with you. The goodwill you incur by responding cannot be understated. I understand that some cannot answer 127 comments. On the other hand, do the best you can, just don’t threaten commenters with banning for simply saying thanks. It ain’t nice to screw with your readers.

    • Daniel Scocco

      Hal, my post had actually nothing to do with what Pat is saying here.

      My post was about things you may do while comment that will make you look like a spammer. Things like using a keyword as your name, leaving a comment with just two words, or leaving pointless comments.

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