One of the best things about having a blog is the comments section. That’s where all the action, drama and intrigue happens.
Visitors give you feedback about your blog, comments range from good and bad to ugly, readers exchange views on the topic (sometimes these discussions are more fun than the blog itself!), and most importantly, they contribute towards your blog’s page views, and the loyalty of your readers.
If no one is commenting, it could be that no one is reading your blog or that nobody is impressed enough to leave a comment. Ensuring that the comment experience is great is, therefore, vital. As blogger Preston Bailey puts it, “When I turned commenting “on” in 2009, and I started getting real, honest feedback and questions from my blog readers, the experience became so much richer.”
Let us show you how to improve your site using a few amazing WordPress comment plugins.
It’s in your hands
Being a WP user, you’re allowed full customization. You can customize everything right from the basic theme of your blog to the style sheet. Turning your blog from something that looks like this (left) to this (right).
What can you possibly do with that comment bar at the end of the page to make it awesome? What can you tweak to ensure that the comments section of your blog is one of the coolest places to hang out and share views? We’ve got some good ideas for you!
First, let’s take a look at the default WordPress comments.
A little bit of server code ensures that every subsequent comment appears in a nice straight line, along with options to view who commented, and a nice little navigation bar. Simple. Elegant. Efficient. But is it enough? Does it look appealing on your blog? Is it possible to tweak it to look cooler? Let’s dig deeper and find out how using comment plugins.
Here’s what the default WP comments can do.
- The default comments on WP can help you prevent spam (to a certain extent). There are several options like, allowing a user to comment only if they are logged in, not allowing a user to comment with multiple links (which spammers generally do), moderating all comments or even blacklisting comments as spam.
- There are a few nice basic display options too, like the thread/nested view, which allows users to reply to one another, setting the order in which the comments appear, and how many comments you’d like to view per page.
- Other basic admin options like enabling and disabling comments on older and newer articles are also available.
(Threaded comments FTW!)
Take it to the next step
Okay. Now, you have a picture of what the WP comments can do. And like other parts of your blog, you want to make your comments section look cool too. And that’s not enough. Comments can make or break a blog. An influx of spam in your comments section might scare away potential new visitors. Bad comment etiquette on your blog is also a huge no-no.
Now that you are fairly comfortable with this, it is time to add some spice. With thousands of plugins available on the WP repository, surely some of them will do the trick? But then again, finding the right one is the key. That’s why I’ve listed out what I feel are some of the best comment-related plugins that WP has to offer. A few of them concentrate on style, some on substance, and some do a bit of both. But at the end of the day, both serve the same purpose. They make your blog look awesome, and feel awesome.
Akismet is one of the most popular anti-spam filters on WordPress, and one of the first plugins every blogger installs on a WordPress site. Once a visitor submits a comment on your blog, it is moderated via the Akismet Web Service. Akismet then tells you whether the comment is actually relevant, or just someone trying to spam your blog. The Web Service is centralized, and so it is very efficient and spammers are caught before they overwhelm you.
A problem that a lot of bloggers face is that some commenters never come back to see where the conversation in the comments box is going, so that they can once more join in on the fun, adding to page views and loyalty. Subscribe to Comments is a unique way to inform commenters about subsequent comments on the post. It is a must-have for every WordPress blogger, and it is one I highly recommend.
Want to increase the influx of comments on your website? Do you want to reward your readers for commenting on your blog? WP has a plugin for that! CommentLuv allows your readers to post links to their own blogposts along with their comments. This helps them promote their blog, encourages more readers to comment, and also increases the popularity of your blog. Your blog becomes the go-to place for useful links to other bloggers’ pages! A win-win situation that deserves to be on your WP site. Be careful though. Sometimes, the blog links may congest your comments section, and draw attention away from the comment itself.
Does the above dialog box look quite familiar to you? That’s probably because you’ve used it a gazillion times while submitting forms, to prove that you are human and not a bot. Installing this plugin will greatly reduce the amount of spam on your WP blog, and save you a lot of time moderating comments, looking for spam.
Some more for you…
Thank Me Later is this nice little plugin that sends a ‘thank you’ e-mail to your blog’s commenters. It helps to be polite, and this plugin strikes the right note to ensure that your commenters keep visiting your blog for more.
Greg’s Comment Length Limiter is another handy plugin that doesn’t make your comments section look too congested. This plugin limits the length of the comment that can be posted by the user, and also has a neat little character countdown when the user is entering a comment.
Besides amazing plugins like these (which are generally free), there are other premium blog comment systems such as Disqus, IntenseDebate and LiveFyre. But I’ve gone on long enough and I’ll save that for another day.
To make your comments section look as cool and as awesome as your blog, use the plugin that is best suited to your needs. Look out for spam, encourage discussions and make sure you respond to as many comments as you can… most importantly, tolerate no inflammatory comments. Be nice, and play nice.
Go on, say something!
Leave a comment and let us know what commenting plugins you use.
This is a guest post by Aravind, who is with blogVault, a Premium WordPress Backup Service.