We’ve discussed how to respond to negative comments, and how to use comments effectively for social media, but we’re never really talked about the basics of handling comments at your website.
As more business sites are built on the WordPress platform, even sites without blogs may encounter comment issues. WordPress sites give you the option of allowing comments on pages.
The first image you see here is what you might see at your blog: comments following a post. The post in question was about using the Kindle e-reader in the classroom. The first comment is relevant to the post and helped spark a conversation. The second is a question about weight loss, stuck in here randomly in order to give the commenter a cheap link. We call these “spam links.”
As the blog owner, you want to keep the spam links off your blog. They make your site look uncared for, like weeds in your garden, and they can choke out real comments and good conversations.
Like weeds, too, this kind of comment can spread — once spammers see that you leave these links, they’ll swoop right in and add their own.
First, install or accept any anti-spam software your platform offers. The most obvious spam comments will be filtered out and you won’t have to spend lots of time deleting junk.
Your blogging platform (and, if you use a WordPress site, your site admin) will also have a place where you can manage the comments. Typically, you’ll find it under “comments” on your dashboard.
Here you can see the page for this on a WordPress site, and below you will see the page for a Blogger blog. Some platforms have more options (you may, for example, be able to edit a comment to remove a spammy link but leave the insincere praise) and others look a bit different, but all of them work about the same way.
You can see the comments and will have the option to accept them, reply to them, delete them, and perhaps to flag them as spam so that your spam filter will recognize future comments of that kind more easily.
Blogger also gives you the option “remove content,” which replaces the content with a “removed by administrator” notice while leaving the commenter’s signature. This might be appropriate in cases where a comment was not spam, but violated the rules of your site in some other way — perhaps by using personal abuse toward another commenter. This way, if the commenter returns, he or she will know that the comment was read and rejected.
Read through the comments, or at least skim them, watching for these signs of spam commenting:
- A signature using keywords instead of a name.
- Repeated identical comments from different names (often gmail accounts).
- Links to irrelevant sites.
- Odd word choices, such as “pursue you on Twitter,” that show the use of software that replaces words with synonyms in order to escape duplicate content filters.
As a general rule, I just keep the ones that add to the discussion.
Here’s where it gets subjective. Usually, if I get a comment saying, “Best written post ever!” or “I love your blog!” I’ll delete it, because I know that this is one of the favorite methods of spam commenters. If it says “This is a wondermous blogg cheap payday loans,” then I know for sure that it’s spam. If it’s less obvious, though, it might just mean that there’s some spam technique I haven’t yet heard about, and my quick “accept” will lead to unwary readers clicking on something and being taken to bad neighborhoods.
Once you’ve accepted some comments, you should reply to them. If you want to encourage the use of your site as social media, develop a community, and increase the popularity of your blog, you should also get your friends and relations (or at least the people who work for you) to join in the conversation and reply to those comments.
You can also encourage comments by asking questions at your blog, asking directly for comments, giving prizes for commenting, and recognizing your commenters. I don’t really work to encourage comments (though I am interested in what you have to say), but I’ve had quite a few comments that led to blog posts, and of course I acknowledge the source of the question or idea. I usually link to their blogs, too — another good reason to write interesting stuff when you comment at other people’s blogs.
If you receive comments that are actually about your business, as in “I just bought a wrench from you guys, and it slips all the time” or “Please contact me — I’m interested in having you cater my wedding,” then you may want to respond privately. WordPress gives you the commenter’s email address so that you can do that. Blogger doesn’t. However, for the sake of your readers, you should reply with something like, “I’m emailing you” or “Email me and I’ll be happy to help you,” if you don’t care to conduct the discussion in public. Otherwise, it looks as though you ignore your customers.