Promoting your web site with comments: should you?

(Last Updated On: September 9, 2008)

I recently had an issue with another blogger about my one of my comments.  I made a quick but relevant comment on his blog, which I really enjoy.  The host of the blog took exception to my comment and accused me of being a spammer.

I must concede that I had a few red flags in my post.  First, at the end of my post, I said, “thanks for sharing.”  If you have a blog, you know that many of the spam posts say, “thanks for sharing”.  My bad.   Second, as you may know, I often place http://www.newmediaphotographer.com under my name.   Three, having a short post with the elements above is a clear strikeout.

In my defense, I’ve been commenting and an active participant on this blog for a while.  I am mindful of the quality of my comments, especially when commenting on a new blog and using the newmediaphotographer link signature.

The blogger and I exchanged a few emails on the topic and all is well.

But, this situation brought up an interesting point.  What is the etiquette for commenting on a blog? 

I’ve inquired with other bloggers, read a number of posts on the topic, and have found as many points of view as there are blogs. 

My point is that blogging is about sharing information via the Internet. The foundation of the Internet is linking between pages.  Blog comments need to be sincere and related to the post topic. 

This is my definition of a spam comment: One that contains generic information, or a response or statements containing a link leading to an unrelated product, service, blog or web site.

As a photographer, artist, blogger or business owner,  a link to your portfolio, blog, Flickr page, web site or biography adds relevance and depth to who you are as a commenter and member of a blog’s community.  A link on the page is an invitation to readers to learn more about you.  This should be encouraged, not frowned upon.

A number of bloggers feel that such a link has elements of spam and a number of blogs have software running that will block and mark comments as spam that contain links.

I also run anti-spam software. But, in my opinion, link-blocking software, editing and moderating is “un-internet” and are counter to what the web is all about.  Yes, it is important be concerned about the integrity of your blog.   But, to not allow guests and community members to share personal and relevant links is extremely selfish.

It is true that often a link is attached to the commentor’s name within the title of the comment post.  But, knowing there may be a link attached to a name does not invite the reader to explore more about a commenter.   If you know anything about web site design, you understand that it is important to make the layout simple, easy, obvious and inviting. 

By placing my web site or blog link below my name I am inviting interested community members to learn more about me and visit my blog.  If you don’t invite people they will generally not take the initiative, even if all they have to do is move the cursor back to the top of the comment. That is still too much work.

Normally, I might receive five, ten, twenty referrals from a post if I place my blog address under my name.  The more relevant and interesting my comments, the more traffic.  That sounds fair to me.

I tried some tests on a few blogs where I frequently post comments.  In some of my comments I just placed my name. Within others I left my name and new media photographer (no link). I also put new media photographer rather than my name, in some cases, in the standard blog link.  All the posts had what I considered to be good comments that would normally generate traffic.  In the end all the posts offered the same result.  No traffic. 

I’m sure if I offered extreme views and controversy I might get some traffic.  But, those types of posts wouldn’t normally be authentic coming from me.  I just want to be a part of my favorite blog communities and offer quality responses, information and commentary.

Yes, we want people to visit our blogs and web sites.  If quality comments are offered within the blogosphere, we should also be rewarded with traffic. If our sites offer good content we will be rewarded with subscribers. 

What do you think?

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