How to handle comments on your blog

When you’re blogging regularly, people will start responding to what you write. Maybe not right away, but as your blog is growing, you’ll have to deal with comments on your blog. Especially when you write about your world view or opinions, some people will disagree with you. You will, in short, have to deal with the responses and opinions of your readers. But how?

Are comments on your blog important for SEO?

Comments add content to your blog post. And Google indexes all content on your website, including every comment in every blog post. Do not get excited just yet, because Google will instantly recognize comments as being just comments. Their value for the search engine will be much lower than the original content of the blog post. Responding to comments on your blog will therefore not instantly improve your SEO, but it will result in higher percentages of returning visitors.

Five types of comments

The comments people leave on blogs can be divided into five types:

1. Positive feedback

First, the positive feedback. Some people just want to say that they like you, your company, or your blog post. That’s always nice to hear. Make sure to reply to some of these (even if it’s just a quick “thanks!”) or express general gratitude in an upcoming post, so the person giving the compliment feels appreciated.

2. Questions

The second type of comment are the questions your audience has after they’ve read your post. Perhaps something remained unclear or something you wrote triggered someone to ask you about your post or about your brand.

Responding to questions shouldn’t be that hard. If the answer to the question is short (and you actually know the answer!), you can just leave a direct reply. If a question is harder to answer, or if it needs some more explanation, you could decide to write a new post about it.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, we would advise you to still reply to that comment on your blog. You could simply admit that you do not know the answer, or you could state that you’ll dive into the matter and come back with an answer later (and don’t forget to!).

3. Negative feedback

The third type of comment is negative feedback. Sometimes, people disagree with what you wrote and sometimes people are unsatisfied with your product or service. Sometimes people are just plain mean about it. These kind of comments are the hardest to handle.

If comments on your blog are really hurtful and indecent (e.g. violent or racist) I would advise you to delete them altogether. Name calling doesn’t have a place on your blog. But, I wouldn’t delete comments from dissatisfied customers or readers. Not responding to these comments or deleting them could seriously backfire; if people are dissatisfied enough, they’ll complain about you through other channels, and you’ll look like you’re censoring their concerns. So, however hard it might be, you should try to respond to their comments and try to find the source of their dissatisfaction. If commenters are dissatisfied with your product or service, ask them to get in touch by phone or email to solve their problem.

Don’t be afraid of some discussion on your blog. A nice discussion in which there is room for several points of view can be a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to really show your audience your expertise and opinion about a certain topic. As long as a discussion is polite and respectful, it will attract readers and make them return to your blog.

4. Off-topic comments

While you’ll hopefully mostly receive comments related to your post, sometimes you might get the fourth kind of comment: off-topic. Off-topic comments aren’t necessarily bad quality comments, but, as they don’t relate to the topic of your post, it can be hard to deal with them.

Beware that off-topic comments might negatively affect your SEO. Imagine that someone leaves a very long comment on your post that doesn’t have anything to do with the topic of this blog post. Search engines indexing the content of this page will see that comment and may consequently have a harder time figuring out what the page is about. So, you should probably delete that comment. Not only for SEO reasons, but also for your own sanity.

How do you respond properly to off-topic comments? If you decide to delete an off-topic comment, you can reach out to someone and say, “Hey, you said this and this. I can respond to that, but it’s not really related to the blog post, so I have deleted your comment, but here’s my reaction.” That’s a friendly reaction to the person leaving the comment on your blog, but it’s also keeping your blog post intact and on topic.

5. Spam

And finally, some comments are just spam. People try to trick your readers into clicking on a link, often to something unrelated, or they just write nonsense. If your spam filter doesn’t filter these comments out already, you should delete and optionally block them as soon as you see them. WordPress by default comes with the plugin Akismet, which is made for this purpose.

Reserve some time for handling comments

Answering questions and providing correct responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Make sure you’ve got the time to monitor and respond to the comments you receive on your blog. You don’t have to respond to a comment within the hour, but make sure to respond within a day or two. This shows your readers you’re involved and you care about their responses.

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

Coming up next!

30 Responses to How to handle comments on your blog

  1. Birgit
    Birgit  • 8 years ago

    Hi, do you have suggestions about comment e-mail verification? In an old post of 2011 Joost suggested a plugin that is no longer up-to-date and I have not found another. But it seems like a helpful solution to reduce the anonymous (=fake mail-address) shouting comments. Thanks!

    • Joost de Valk
      Joost de Valk  • 8 years ago

      Hey Birgit,

      we do actually still use that plugin, plus our own Comment Hacks plugin. We’ve modified it slightly, I’ll actually reach out the plugin author and see if we can pick up development, as we would be going nuts here if we didn’t have that plugin.

      • Birgit
        Birgit  • 8 years ago

        Dankjewel Joost! I am on your mailinglist already, so looking forward to when you inform all of us about the new plug-in ;-)
        Prettig weekend!

    • Birgit
      Birgit  • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I tried to post to see if you still use something like that. And you do. Would you tell me the secret? ;-)

  2. Plengchart
    Plengchart  • 8 years ago

    What about the practices of handling in term of wordpress solution? Like the comments will be showed only after they got confirmed like we do at Yoast? How can we do that?

  3. Mary
    Mary  • 8 years ago

    Nice post!
    It’s kinda funny though that you’re not following your own advice: answering questions in the comments following your blog post ;)
    Good luck!

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      you are absolutely right, Mary. I am a bad responder to comments…. Joost actually does it really well, as does Michiel. You have triggered something though!

      • Plengchart
        Plengchart  • 8 years ago

        No you’re good as-is. Don’t worry! I don’t think it’s really make sense to give a response to any comment anyway. I mean just do your best :)

  4. tessabaeza18851
    tessabaeza18851  • 8 years ago

    You actually reported that very well!

  5. tessabaeza18851
    tessabaeza18851  • 8 years ago

    Thank you! I enjoy it.

  6. Asif
    Asif  • 8 years ago

    Please, can you suggest me any plugin from which I don’ get any spam comments in my comment box.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      Have you tried askimet?

  7. Sara @ Debt Camel
    Sara @ Debt Camel  • 8 years ago

    The Yoast SEO plugin says “Paging comments is enabled, this is not needed in 999 out of 1000 cases, so the suggestion is to disable it”

    could you say when it is needed? I have one post where there are nearly a thousand comments …

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      That is a lot of comments! I would say that that would be the 0,1 % case when it’s needed. Do all of your post have that much comments? And do they generate a lot of traffic? In the case of many many comments and a lot of people reading those comments, you could reconsider paging comments. It is hard to state an exact number though

  8. Olyray
    Olyray  • 8 years ago

    Nice article. The issue of spam is especially very disturbing.

  9. Charles
    Charles  • 8 years ago

    Perfect timing! We publish startup stories and informative articles that could be helpful to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and we were getting a lot of spammy comments lately. We just installed Askimet, we’ll see how it goes. Has anyone tried it before? Any other recommendation for WordPress plugins to handle spammy comments?

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      askimet is our favourite as well!

  10. Craig
    Craig  • 8 years ago

    Can poorly written comments with bad grammar, poor capitalization, text-speak and incorrect spelling cause a Panda Penalty? If so, should all comments be edited carefully or can the odd mistake be allowed? Similarly, if the comments go off-topic will the new multiple keywords in the text influence Google.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      One such comment will do not do any harm. If you have lots of those, you should be aware. I would not worry much about comments going off topic either (but same goes here, if it happens all the time, it could be bad for your SEO)

  11. Usman
    Usman  • 8 years ago

    I am using JetPack and it seems to be work good. Your article is also very informative.

  12. Suraj
    Suraj  • 8 years ago

    I just want you to ask you question that does Google indexes Disqus comment also? Whether I should use or not Disqus for commenting.
    Please help me.
    Open blocked site

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      Google does not always index the javascript Disqus uses. It is not clear whether or not Disqus will help in your ranking.

  13. Pappu
    Pappu  • 8 years ago

    Hi Marieke van de Rakt,

    Nice to read you again. Neil Patel wrote in his blog that he got penalty due to user generated content. I am still confuse to allow comment on my blog. Do you face such any problem because of comment?


    • Marieke van de Rakt

      I think comments are a great way to communicate with your audience. However, I sometimes forget to answer (I am so sorry). If comments are written by real people, there’s nothing wrong with that. We always allow (and encourage) commenting on every new post!

  14. Mahesh
    Mahesh  • 8 years ago

    Hey, Nice post, I have reserved a time slot of 1 hour daily for approving and responding to comments. I follow all the ways you have mentioned. it’s just that if someone replies with a word of appreciation or if they say we loved your blog then I usually don’t respond to them but from now on I will be saying thanks.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      I am not so good in answering comments myself (shame on me). Sometimes I am just too busy.. but I do appreciate your comment and nice words!

  15. Melonet
    Melonet  • 8 years ago

    Comments build for our sites Long-Tail, especially if they got questions. Before “Not Provided” in Google Analytics I saw many entries to my sites through keywords form comments. So I think it’s vital to our site.

  16. Thomas
    Thomas  • 8 years ago

    What Anti-Spam-System you are using? I use Si-Captcha Anti-Spam.
    Great article BTW.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      we use akismet!

  17. Mitesh Sanghvi
    Mitesh Sanghvi  • 8 years ago

    An impressive and informative information about comments that how to works and different kind of information which comments are suitable for us.