Should your website have comments disabled?
To have comments or not to have comments? That’s the question when it comes to business blogging as part of a content marketing strategy. In the best case scenario, a high-quality business blog with a steady stream of high-quality comments makes the content of your posts more valuable.
With comments enabled, the reader gets to see not only what the content author things of a particular topic, but also what other readers think. Some may agree, some may disagree, hopefully by offering counterpoints, others may offer perspectives that otherwise would go unexplored.
But not all comment sections are created equal. Comments don’t fit into every strategy, a cacophony of hot takes isn’t always welcome, and some businesses just don’t have time to manage yet another website responsibility.
So which side of the fence do you come down on? Here’s our take.
The Case for Comments
For bloggers like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, the comment section is what it’s all about — the back and forth between author and audience, a real community of sorts. Flynn’s commenters often offer social proof for his expertise and products, quite literally paying for themselves.
Beyond that perhaps too-rare and too-perfect scenario, there are other good reasons to have comments on your website posts. For instance, consider the social proof a great collection of comments could offer your blog. Readers would understand your content to be of higher value, browsing through more of your content and further engaging with your web page.
Or say you’re running out of ideas for future content. Readers often ask questions or describe their own situation in comment fields. This is especially true if you present yourself as an expert in a field that’s outside of everyday knowledge, such as personal finance or technical services. Comments like those could tell you what your readers what to know about and what to write about next.
Lastly, as Pat Flynn points out, a reader entering their basic info on your page to leave a comment is one step removed from signing up for your newsletter or downloading your current white paper lead magnet. A reader who’s already engaged with your page at the comment level is more likely to engage with your page further.
The Case Against Comments
Still, blog comments pose two big challenges for businesses: it’s yet another a new business aspect you have to manage, plus most comments fall short of the enlightened, civil dialog we’d all hope our comment sections would be.
Time is a limited resource, a zero-sum game. If you’re spending time on responding to or moderating your reader comments, that’s time you can’t spend on other projects — a fact that caused Everett Bogue to disable his popular blog’s comment section.
Blogger Greg McFarlane writes that as he and his commenters got to know each other via their interactions, he worried new visitors would be put off by what seemed to be a private club of insiders. McFarlane also realized his commenters weren’t a representative sampling of his whole readership. Catering to the most active commenters wasn’t guaranteed to line up with his average reader.
Assuming you decide to enable commenting on your content, there’s still the matter of how to deal with subpar comments. It’s your house, so let your rules be known and enforce them. Your CMS platform can do part of the work for you, filtering out spam, letting you approve comments according to your own custom settings, and blocking problem posters. Still you’ll need to spend some time moderating your comment sections for quality and content.
Our Take on Comments and Content Marketing
If your comment volume is manageable, your readers have something valuable to say, and comments fit into your strategy, it may be well worth it to give a platform to your commenters. But if that’s not the case, feel free to disable them.
You’ll be in good company. Brian Clark, Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Everett Bogue, Greg McFarlane, and yes, even Kaleidico, have all disabled comments on their blogs and lived to tell the tale. Don’t get us wrong. Feedback, discussion, and engagement are great. Just don’t limit yourself to thinking such beneficial exchanges are only possible through a comment section.
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