Let me tell you a little story about how I came to meet John Chow and how we’ve grown to become pretty good friends over the years. Heck, I even crashed at his guest house in Washington at one point.
Learning to Make Money Online
Even though I’d be writing online for years prior, I didn’t really turn that into professional blogging and freelance writing until 2006. I started learning about Internet marketing, online advertising, search engine optimization and all the rest of it. Coincidentally, it was also around that time that John decided to run his little experiment to see if it was possible to earn a full-time income from part-time blogging. We all know how that turned out for him.
At the time, I didn’t really know him, of course. I only knew *of* him, but we just so happened to have a mutual friend who I knew from one of the local car forums… who was also getting into blogging around the same time. It’s one of those perfect storm kind of scenarios. My friend said I should check out John’s blog for insight and tips and advice, and so I did.
Understandably, John Chow dot Com looks pretty different today than it did over a decade ago. Back then, John had a widget in the sidebar that would display the top five or top ten commentators on the site each month based purely on volume. The five people who left the most comments would be “featured” in the sidebar with the count resetting each month. The competition was understandably fierce, because while all links in the comments themselves were nofollow, the sidebar links were dofollow.
Release the Hounds!
So, I did what any self-respecting new blogger would do. I spammed the site so hard with so many comments for so long that I consistently showed up in that top commentator list almost every month. Looking back, my time was probably better spent and I’m not completely convinced how much of a positive impact it really had on my SEO, but the net result was I got on John’s radar, we met over Dot Com Pho, we co-authored a book, and the rest is history.
Which leads me all the way back to today and the current state of blog commenting on the web. Back then, some blogs (I think including mine, but I’m not 100% positive) allowed for dofollow links in the comments as a means of encouraging people to leave comments. This worked, to some degree, but it wasn’t long before commenting bots and spam services showed up to take advantage. Blog commenting for some dofollow SEO link juice very quickly became an undesirable practice.
Some people say that even if the links are nofollow, they carry some SEO value from anchor text and relevance. I’ll leave that up to debate another day. What I will say is that, particularly since pretty well all blog comments are nofollow across the board these days, link building through leaving comments on blogs isn’t really going to work. But this doesn’t mean that blog commenting is worthless.
A Penny for Your Thoughts
The state of blog commenting now is the same as it was when I was spamming this blog some 12 years ago. It’s ultimately about curating relationships, attracting attention, and establishing expertise. If I had not been so active commenting on John Chow dot Com back then, I may not have ever met John in person and I may not have connected with so many other people through that relationship as a result. It’s because of John that I’ve had the opportunity to work with people like Zac Johnson and Nate Whitehill. It’s because of those comments, to some degree, that I’m blogging here today.
So what does this really mean for you?
Keep commenting, but do it with a purpose. Do it because you actually want to engage with other human beings in meaningful conversation. Do it because you’re adding value to the discussion, asking good questions and providing answers and clarification to your fellow readers. Do it to be personal, genuine, and approachable, so people know you’re actually a real human being who may have something to offer them.
Be relevant, be worthwhile, and you just might get noticed by the right people too.