We’ve moved on from the days when comments on a blog post were the biggest indicator of a blogger’s success, but that doesn’t mean that comments are no longer important.

In fact, in today’s digital age where everything is done through a tweet or a Facebook share, getting people to comment on your blog has never been tougher.

Comments on your blog are a sign of good engagement – but it can be difficult to know what to do when someone reaches out in the comments section. Below, we’ve put together five ways that you can give back to people who comment on your blog posts.

Respond to their comments

If someone has taken time out of their day to comment on your blog post, then the least you can do is give them a response. Of course, some comments won’t warrant a reply, but if somebody is asking a question or attempting to start a discussion on the topics you’ve raised, then you should send them a quick message back and keep the conversation going.

In fact, responding to comments is one of the best ways of boosting engagement levels on your blog. One of our favourite bloggers, Ramsay at Blog Tyrant, actively encourages comments at the bottom of his blog posts by asking questions and running competitions. In fact, his latest post centres around ways in which you can get more people to comment on your blog if that’s something you want to achieve from your website.

Whether you’re blogging exclusively on your own website or you’re taking part in guest blogging, too, remember to keep checking for new comments for at least a few weeks after your post goes live. Attempt to respond to all new comments within 24 hours, and don’t be afraid of turning off the comments section after a certain period to make your job simpler.

Do the same on their blog

In the good old days of blogging, webmasters would hop from site to site leaving comments so that they could enjoy a backlink and the chance of a comment from another blogger. Several years ago, WordPress automatically made all links from comments no follow in an attempt to reduce spam, but schemes like CommentLuv were soon introduced to encourage people to leave comments and get a backlink in return.

Although this won’t be possible for everyone, especially if you have a popular blog that enjoys a lot of traffic, you should consider visiting your visitors’ websites and leaving a comment on their blogs. Doing so not only gives back to the visitor but opens the possibility of building a relationship between your two sites, which could lead to guest blogging or affiliate marketing as a result. You never know what you’ll be able to get from another website owner, so be prepared to spend a minute or two reading content and saying hello.

Mention them in your next blog post

If someone made an interesting point when you were discussing a topic in your comments section, then give them a shout out when you return to the subject in a future post.

Displaying the voices and opinions of your readers is a great way of interacting with them and humanising your blog, and it encourages people to leave more comments and enter into further discussions. This not only adds more value to your blog posts and comments section, but it can be useful when you’re deciding on what to blog about next.

In fact, it’s the variety of voices that builds a community and enables you to grow your brand. If one commenter discussed some particularly interesting points, then you could go further than mentioning them in your blog, and ask them if they’d be interested in contributing to your website. Accepting guest bloggers can bring various benefits.

Offer a free download or resource

Dangling carrots such as free eBooks is most commonly reserved for increasing mailing list sign-ups, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same for your blog posts. If you’re keen on getting a discussion started on your blog posts and want people to contribute, then create a free resource that they’ll receive when they submit a comment. You can doubly benefit from this by asking permission to add them to your mailing list, and that way, you’ll be able to inform them of new blog posts and special offers that you’re running.

Creating an eBook doesn’t have to be tough. You can simply bundle a collection of your best blog posts together about a particular topic, and then design your eBook cover and pages using a free tool like iBooks Author from Apple.

Thank people who comment on your blog with a freebie

Thank people who comment on your blog with a freebie

Have a ‘Top Commentators’ widget in your sidebar

‘Gamify’ your comments by adding a widget to your sidebar that directly rewards people who visit your site and contribute. This plugin from webgrrrl will list the top ten visitors who’ve left the most comments on your website during the week and gives each of those commentators a link back to the website they used in the URL field when commenting.

This technique is particularly useful if you have a large community, or you publish a lot of content and like to discuss things in your comments section. Remember, though, that by giving people the chance to get a backlink, you’re likely to attract spam comments. As such, you should use Akismet, the leading anti-spam plugin from WordPress that will automatically check new comments and filter them out if they look like they could be spam.

Wrapping Up

By giving thanks to the people who contribute in your community, you’ll be able to make them more engaged and encourage them to join in the discussions again – and even share your blog post on social media so their followers can discuss the topic, too.

As KissMetrics notes, 96% of people aren’t ready to buy when they first visit a website, so by giving them a reason to keep coming back and getting involved, you’ll be pushing them closer to your sales funnel and increasing the likelihood of converting them into a new customer.