FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    Better Business Blogging - Quick Bloggers GuideOne of the key characteristics of a blog is the ability for people to comment on what you have posted there are some people who will even argue that it is not really a blog without them! Having this capability gives the blog its interactive element, opens up the opportunities for communications and can help forge the start of a real business connections.

    Hopefully, when looking at how to approach the question of comments, you won’t be deciding whether to allow them or not, but rather how to elicit comments and how to handle the ones you receive. As you are doing so, here are some points that you might want to bear in mind:

    a) How to allow comments
    Just because you open up your blog to comments doesnt mean that have to let anything and everything appear on your blog. You have control over comments which appear and, on most blog platforms, there are a range of options open to you these can range from readers having to be approved and logged in before they can comment at one end of the scale, through to an open policy of no moderation at the other. For most, the right approach lies somewhere in the middle and depends on you, your companys requirements and the aims of your blog. As a good default position, I recommend starting with a level of moderation (ie. you approve comments before they appear) and then develop it from there.

    b) Make sure you respond
    When people have taken the trouble to leave a comment on your blog then make sure you respond where appropriate – remember, in most cases, you are looking to engage with the people who leave comments, so if they respond and ask a question then make sure that you reply to it. This gives you the opportunity to develop the conversation and work towards establishing and then building on a connection with your readers.

    c) Consider a Comments Policy
    Not just appropriate for corporates, any business blog whether its run by an individual or a company can benefit from openly stating what their policy on comments is. If you moderate them, then let people know that there comments wont appear immediately – at the same time, if you are clear about what is acceptable on your business blog and therefore what is not, you can cut down the comments which contravene them.

    d) Encourage comments
    Dont sit back and just rely on the comments simply appearing actively encourage them! This could be in the way you write your posts or by posing open questions as a closing line in your blog inviting opinions from your readers or simply by asking for them. And if your template just says No comments when a posts is still waiting for its first reply, then why not change it to something like Come on – be the first to comment! You never know!

    e) “Reward” comments
    In most blog software, the comments just appear on the individual posts, so why not highlight the people who are commenting and encourage other readers to join them by displaying a Latest Comments list in the sidebar of your main pages which will give both them and you additional visibility. For WordPress users, the Get Recent Comments plugin makes this easy to do.

    f) Don’t simply block negative comments
    Dont simply delete critical comments which come in. At least on your blog you have the chance to respond to them, while elsewhere they will go unchallenged and unanswered. You will find that by allowing and responding to them, you are more likely to gain greater respect by handling objections with grace and tact in the eyes of other readers of your blog. Also, if you are able to answer their points and solve the issue they have, then you have the opportunity not only to keep them as a customer but also perhaps turn them into an supporter for your company again.

    g) Avoiding spam comments
    Youll find that you do attract spam comments but there are ways to avoid them appearing as well as taking up your valuable time. You could use CAPTCHA methods or registration but, for me, the method that has least impact on your readers will be to use specialist software. In my opinion, the leader in this respect is Akismet which identifies the comments that it believes are spam and impounds them – free of charge, except for commercial use and very good.

    h) Help people follow the conversation
    Using a plugin such as Subscribe to Comments, you can allow your readers to sign up for an email notification of when any further comments have been left on the post. It’s a good way to help keep the conversation bubbling away and of course encouraging people to participate more. You could also encourage them to use comment tracking services such as CoComment, Co.mments and Commentful.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Writing your Blog – BBB Quick Guides
    2. Business Blog Design: Comments
    3. Comments or no comments: that is the question
    4. Starting to write your Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
    5. Comments, comments, comments …

    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]


    Being able to open up a dialogue between author and readers by leaving comments is one of the key aspects of a blog and one of the elements that make them as effective as they are. They open a door onto the interactive side of the web and give the opportunity to engage with people, start conversations and create connections.

    However, just as in the real world, its important to show that you are willing to talk with people rather than turning your back on them (proverbially or otherwise) or give the impression that you are unapproachable and arent looking to engage with them.

    Allow and learn to love comments
    You should always allow people to comment on your blog, unless you have very specific reasons why not at the same time, you should make sure that you have the ability to deal with the comments that come back. I dont just mean in terms of time (for most that will not be an issue – and if it is, it’s often a good one to have!), but also in terms of responding appropriately.

    Whether the comments you receive contain information, praise or criticism, you need to deal with them openly and correctly. You can achieve a huge amount by doing this, gaining respect in the process, especially when responding to negative comments. You will also encourage additional comments by the way that you have dealt with previous ones, so take the time to do so.

    Actively encourage comments
    Creating dialogue through getting responses is a key element to a successful blog, so dont sit back and wait for comments help to initiate them, either on your own blog or on those of others. Dont be afraid to openly ask for comments you should feel comfortable enough to encourage or challenge people to reply, or ask them for information. Basically, start that conversation!

    You can also encourage comments simply by the way that you write, either through inspiring people to respond, goading them or by opening up a discussion on an area that you know people will have an opinion that that they want to express. Some other ways might include:

    • Asking for opinions in general or asking a direct question at the end of your posts;

    • Challenging people to put their point of view forward on the topic;

    • Writing in an open ended style which allows people to add further thoughts on the topic rather than consider you’ve covered all aspects of it;

    • asking for additional information to help build up a bigger collection of thoughts and ideas on the subject

    • Running a competition (prizes help encourage participation!)

    • Starting group writing projects such as a Metaphor for Blogging

    • Drawing attention to comments made either by referencing them or by displaying “Latest Comments” in your sidebar

    Make it easy to comment
    We want people to comment, so make it easy for your readers to do so and don’t put barriers in their way which may put them off. Probably the biggest barrier in this regard is where you ask people to register before they can leave a comment – while I recognise that comment spam is a very real issue, there are other ways around this which will not impact on the relationship between author and reader.

    How to deal with them
    You should try to respond to the comments that your readers leave where appropriate – in most cases, you are looking to engage with the people who leave comments, so if they respond and ask a question then make sure that you reply to it.

    Of course, there will be cases where the comments will not be favourable this is to be expected. You cannot please all the people all of the time. You should still try to respond to their points and present your point of view – its best not to ignore this type of comment because at least on your blog you have the chance to put forward your side. Elsewhere, negative comments will go unanswered. You will also often gain greater respect by handling objections with grace and tact by doing it this way.

    How to avoid Spam Comments
    Spam comments appearing in our comment section doesn’t give a good impression, but luckily there are a number of ways to avoid this. So what are our options – other than turning off comments all together, which I don’t advocate.

    The main ones you might consider are:

    • Specialist Software: like email, there are providers of specialist software which can help us and here, in my opinion, the leader in this respect is called Akismet. It identifies the comments that it believes are spam and impounds them – free of charge, except for commercial use and very good.

    • Comment Moderation: moderating out spam by looking at each comment which has been left and allow genuine ones to appear on your blog while deleting the spam comments. This can become very time consuming (not to mention frustrating!)

    • CAPTCHA methods: this is the distorted series of letters and numbers which appear on the page and that you have to type in to prove that you are a human and not an automated visitor. Good but a bit of a barrier to readers.

    • Registration: only accept comments from people that have already logged in to a registration system which you run on your blog secure but can dissuade people from commenting.

    Designing your business blog to encourage and display comments appropriately will hopefully help to develop more and more feedback, thereby developing an ongoing dialogue or relationship with your readers. This in turn should have a positive effect in terms of both reputation and trust.


    Learn to love comments (positive and negative), encourage readers to leave them and make it easy for them to do so!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    6 Comments 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Comments – BBB Quick Guides
    2. Business Blog Design
    3. Comments or no comments: that is the question
    4. Why negative comments are positive
    5. How to avoid negative comments on your blog

    Spam Comments and how to stop themIt seems that no matter what new online communication tools we come up with, there are going to be those who want to abuse them. Let’s face it, email has revolutionised the way in which businesses and individuals communicate (and the genuine commercial opportunities it offers) but has also been notoriously blighted over recent years by the avalanche of spam messages we also receive.

    Likewise, blogs are open to abuse from individuals looking to exploit them at the expense of others, primarily through the use of Spam Blogs (Splogs) and Comment Spam. For now, let’s concentrate on Comment Spam and see why it exists and how we can go about stopping it on our blogs.

    What is Comment Spam?

    Comment Spam is where a spammer leaves comments on blog posts that have nothing to do with the post itself but merely contain multiple links back to the spammer’s commercial website. Most Comment Spam is now carried out automatically rather than by individuals and its goal is simply to create links back to a target site (and so improve its Search Engine ranking), though it may also attract a small amount of traffic as well.

    If the contents of my Comment Spam filter is at all representative, then the subject matter will be familiar to all of us using email, since the same types of subjects and messages tend to crop up in both.

    How do we stop Comment Spam on our own blog?

    So what are our options when it comes to avoiding having comment spam swamping our blogs, other than turning off comments all together of course – something that I’m certainly not advocating!

    • Comment Moderation
      The most time consuming way is simply to moderate out all of the spam comments – that is to say, you look at each comment which has been left and allow genuine ones to appear on your blog while deleting the spam comments. This can become very time consuming (not to mention frustrating!) because once you are “found” by the spam commenters, you are going to be receiving a lot of these. Rule of thumb – the more successful you are, the easier you are to find and the more you will receive – I imagine with such a high profile blog, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger suffers more than most, as he comments here.



    • CAPTCHA methods
      CAPTCHA is actually an acronym (ok, since you asked – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – there, now wasn’t that interesting!) but you’ll know it as a distorted series of letters and numbers which appear on the page and that you have to type in. This is designed to prove that you are a human and not an automated visitor – or, in this case, spammer. Typed in correctly, it allows you to submit your comment, but will stop most forms of automated comment spam getting through.



    • Specialist Software Intervention
      Just like with email, there are also providers of specialist software which can help us and here, in my opinion, the leader in this respect is called Akismet. Here, the software identifies the comments that it believes are spam and impounds them – it’s also provided free of charge, except for commercial use, which is an additional bonus. Although it was developed by the company involved with WordPress, it has been modified to work with many other types of blog software so it’s worth checking out. Another plug-in for WordPress is Spam Karma which also comes highly recommended.



    • Getting commenters to log-in
      You can of course elect to only accept comments from people that have already logged in to a registration system which you run on your blog – this way you can be fairly sure that they will be leaving real comments because you have effectively “pre-vetted” them.

    Which method is the best?

    All of the methods above work well from a functional level and will help to avoid the vast majority of comment spam from arriving in your posts. Therefore, when deciding which method to use, I was personally swayed by the impact that it would have on readers wanting to leave genuine comments. Basically, I wanted to make sure that it was as easy as possible for them to do so.

    Therefore, I elected to go down the specialist software route which has no impact on readers leaving comments and nothing additional for them to do – I therefore use Akismet on my blogs and those that I set-up for the businesses and individuals I work with. The results? Well, so far so good. It stops 95% of spam and also learns from all the blogs using it, so keeps up with (if not stays ahead of) the comment spammers and their methods. Overall, a big thumbs up from me.

    BTW - to make sure that you have all the information at your finger tips to make your own decision, no matter which blog platform you use, I’ll be doing a second post on the subject of comment spam next week where I will try to lay out the different options available for each platform. In the meantime, any thoughts you’d like to share on what has worked for you, then please leave a comment – a real one preferably! :)

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Spam Blogs or Splogs: muddying the waters
    2. Business Blog Design: Comments
    3. Comments – BBB Quick Guides
    4. Help people to want to read your Blog
    5. Promoting and Marketing your Business Blog (Blog specifc methods)

    Spam Blogs or Splogs
    Following in the footsteps of other successful communication media such as email, Blogs have also suffered at the hands of spammers wanting to use them for their own ends without consideration of the detrimental impact this can have on others.

    As a result we have seen the rise of Spam Blogs (otherwise known as Splogs) which have partly clouded the real business benefits on offer from genuine Business Blogs. While not yet the menace that email spam has become, they are both annoying and potentially damaging as they clutter the blogosphere and search engines with valueless content. However, they do warrant further explanation as to what they are and why they exist at all.

    What are Spam Blogs and why do people use them?

    Spam Blogs or Splogs are generally created by automated software robots and are created solely to tap into a blogs appeal to Search Engines, rather than to provide new or even useful content for their readers. This is done for one of two main reasons:

    • to gain higher Search Engine rankings for the pages which then display numerous links to a target website in order to boost the target’s apparent popularity and Google PageRank;

    • to gain higher Search Engine rankings in order to then benefit from AdSense or other onsite ad based marketing and create revenue for the splog originator;

    NB This second sort should not be confused with the many thousands of real blogs which offer great information and insight which also contain AdSense to legitimately create potential revenue sources.

    The reason for using Blog technology is that, since companies such as Blogger offer free set up and hosting, they are both easy and cheap to establish. It should be said, however, that Blogger has cracked down strongly on Splogs (with unfortunately other genuine bloggers getting caught up in the fallout) particularly after a wave of splogging at the end of 2005.

    What form do Spam Blogs take?

    Spam Blogs, from what I have seen, take one of two main formats.

    • The first is simply a series of pages which are filled with keywords through a string of meaningless posts in order to achieve pages which are heavily focused on a small set of keywords.
    • The second is one which uses a series of randomly posted articles which have either been illegally taken from real blogs or websites (either via “scraping” or using RSS) or which use legitimately published articles from one of the many articles directories which exist.

    Why are they bad?

    From a Business Blogging point of view, they have a negative impact primarily because they add no real value and so muddy the waters by creating prejudice against real blogs. Over time, this has the possibility of devaluing the use of blogs as a marketing and communications tool, and alienating new potential users of the blogosphere.

    In addition, they can skew Search Engine results (which is in no-one’s interest), are likely to cause issues in the world of Search Advertising and may cause more general problems in blogosphere if the Blog Search Engines are not able to keep them out of their indexes. Clearly, there is also the issue of plagiarism and splogs which illegally using other peoples articles may well be contravening copyright law.

    Can we do anything to stop them?

    Well, as consumers, when we spot them we can avoid clicking on any of the Adverts which generally proliferate on the splogs if they are not generating income then they are worthless to the originator. If you want to take it a step further then you could click on the ‘Ads by Goooogle’ link and then ‘Send Google your thoughts on the Ads you just saw’ to make a spam report.

    A more active process is to report them to the Search Engine which has them in their index, but this is ultimately going to be a thankless task. It is really the Search Engines and the free Blog providers themselves which need to keep their own houses in order and close the loopholes which allow Splogs to be created automatically.

    Other types of spam on blogs

    There are two other ways of spamming on blogs, the most common of which is Comment Spam. This is where comments are left on the posts which merely contain links back to a target website or use the link embedded in the author’s name. The other is Trackback spam which has the same aim but using trackbacks rather than comments.

    Many Bloggers have negated this by making the comment links no-follow which means that the Search Engine linking benefit no longer exists. However, most comment spam is automated so this does not stop the comments some might also say that it penalises people leaving real comments by breaking some of the social linking which blogging is based on.

    Much more effective against this is to use comment spam software such as that which is provided by Akismet (free to non commercial bloggers) which is excellent. It will also save you having to moderate large amounts of spam comments if your blog is set up that way.

    At the end of the day, Spam Blogs offer no value to anyone except (possibly) the spammer – this is not the way we want things to go, so it is in all our interests to do what we can to help stop this from getting out of hand.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Stopping comment spam on your Blog
    2. Blogs and Search Engines – is the love affair over?
    3. Business Blog Design: Comments
    4. Blogs as Mat Making Machines
    5. Comments – BBB Quick Guides