We started this site on Google Sites (as lifestoogood.co.uk which now also points here).
This was great because it was very easy to get something up that I could play around with quickly – bearing in mind I have no internet design or development experience at all Google Sites lets you do quite a lot of customisation and has a pretty good interface. As I got more advanced I did start to run into quite a few restrictions but these were for a time outweighed by the fact that Google Sites is completely free, our site looked pretty good and all the hosting etc is free too, in fact you don’t even need to know anything about hosting, your site just sits there somewhere in Google.
Comments on our site
Then Isabelle asked me if we could have comments on our site. She pointed out to me that whenever she does a search and gets information back from the most popular sites, it’s normally because the search firm was found in the comments rather than the site content itself. A good example of this is moneysupermarket.com – a lot of searches return content from this site but mainly because it has a fantastic amount of discussion attached to it.
Google Sites unfoortunately doesn’t do comments very well.
So I added a facebook comments facility. It worked quite well but had to be manually added every time we added new content to the site. It also didn’t look particularly slick.
WordPress had always been an alternative platform along with many other systems so we switched the site to WordPress. This as you probably know has comments out of the box. We got lots of comments initially and some of these were tremendously complimentary. I was so happy. It took me a little while to realise that they were nearly all spam.
We now block spam comments but still get some genuine comments. We also have CommentLuv installed on our site so if anyone leaves a comment they get a free backlink back to their site promoting their latest post. I think this seems like a great plug-in and a win-win for everybody.
Comments on other people’s sites (Blog Commenting)
The other thing I’ve been doing more of recently which seems to work really well is commenting on other people’s sites. Just the ones which actually interest me or I have something of value to add – I’ve found this is a great way to get exposure whether in terms of credibility in a certain subject matter (via what I actually contribute with the comment) or whether it’s just a link back to our site. The great thing about it is that it’s a kind of traffic generation technique which has 3 effects: the potential credibility, a backlink and a direct link back to our site which could bring direct traffic if anyone chooses to follow it (3-in-1, not bad).
The thing I like the most about it is it’s genuine, if a little time consuming.
I still don’t know much about SEO but I have (recently) learned what a backlink is and this seems like a good way to start building backlinks to our site.
Backlinks, spinning and article marketing are all on my list of things to look at and I’ll get into each of these in more detail as I look at those topics. I do know a little about each (like, what they are) so far but not enough. What I do know is there seems to be an awful lot of very dodgy ways of building backlinks out there which some people may be very successful with but personally we’re not comfortable with for our site.
For example, there are programs out there which will do what I’m describing here about commenting on other’s websites automatically (or as most of the marketers selling these products seem to put it ‘on autopilot’). They will auto-submit blog comments for you – to me this is clearly unethical and spam. If it’s not a human being making the comment, then it’s not a genuine comment, is it?
Though it’s quite time consuming, blog commenting is a great way to get your site in front of people for little to no financial commitment (just your time and energy). It also gets pretty instant results.
The last point is about building engagement. If people read my comments and feel like they see some personality behind our site then I would imagine they are more likely to respond than if they don’t know who is behind the site at all. That’s the hope anyway. Personally I’d far rather have a smaller group of engaged readers than a larger group of accidental tourists.
As part of the MDBP project I plan to add some comments to as many of the sites as I can taking part in this project – hopefully others will do the same and we’ll all help each other.
So I now have a decent commenting facility on our own site (thanks to WordPress) and a strategy for blog commenting on others sites. What I actually do is look out for blogs that I like and each time I come across one I subscribe to their email list – then if I get a title come into my inbox which inspires me I go and read it and make sure to comment. This I find easier than hunting around for blogs all of the time, it feels like a more natural process.
There may be a better way than that (perhaps using RSS – I still don’t understand too much about RSS but it’s on my list of things to look at and learn more about) but for the moment this is working quite well for me.
Ah, one last point – a lot of the blogs I’m reading and commenting on are about how to blog, how to get more traffic, internet marketing – etc. In fact all this stuff I don’t know much about, so I have the added advantage of learning stuff into the bargain (technically I think I should be commenting on blogs in my niche to build credibility so perhaps I’ll add a few of these too but I like reading stuff that I need to learn about anyway, it seems more efficient).
I would definitely recommend this as a great traffic generation technique – it’s not about mass volumes but it is about building genuine links, engagement and networking and hopefully learning along the way.