Leaving comments to gain backlinks is always a hotly debated topic. Is it ethical? Is it spammy? Is it effective? If done in the right way, ‘tactful’ commenting can be an excellent strategy to boost your external links.
How does it Work?
Leaving a comment on a blog or forum can often provide a user with the opportunity to leave a link back to their site. In a web ruled by links, this can help boost your link profile with a range of topical resources. Typically you have the choice to use a link with your signature or in the actual text, if you’re really lucky you can sometimes tweak the anchor text.
Gaining a link from a topic related blog not only increases your chances of referral traffic but it shows search engines your site is relevant to the subject. For example, a greenhouse company may leave a comment on a gardening blog. This shows search engines that their company is relevant to the subject in hand. The more specific the topic, the better it will help your rankings. A perfect scenario would be for the greenhouse company to comment on a greenhouse blog post.
How to Pass Comment?
Just because there is a benefit to leaving a comment it doesn’t give you a license to leave spammy messages. A good strategy is to be proactive in your community, start by commenting on a range of topic related blogs and forums (but without leaving links). This way you build up the trust of the moderators and bloggers. Once you have a list of tried and tested sources you can work towards leaving the odd comment.
Comments are usually kept if they add value to the post. I would steer away from the ‘nice post here is a link to my great website’ strategy. This adds absolutely no value and can look very spammy – largely because it is. If you can pass a comment that provides additional information or a different angle this will benefit the post; essentially this shows that you have read and understood what has been written and are prepared to add your voice.
To start with I wouldn’t be too aggressive with your link building. Followed or nofollowed – a link in your signature can still add benefit in the eyes of the search engines. If your company name is search engine friendly it would be worth including this in your signature e.g. ‘Sunshine Greenhouse Company’. If not you could look at using appropriate anchor text. As previously mentioned 30% keyword 70% brand name tends to be the ‘anchor text sweet spot’.
Long Term Strategy
If you’re using comments as a long term link building strategy it’s important to gain the trust of the sources. Can you offer anything in return? You may be able to link back to their blog post from one of your different domains. Can you provide insightful comment to provide a healthy debate on the topic?
If you’re in it for the long haul it’s important to be proactive in your community. Five useful comments (over time) with one backlink will be greater respected than a quick link in each post. Even if you comment without a link you can still have the benefit of brand name citations (a factor which is taken into account by search engines).
As with any link building activity ‘variety is the spice of life’. Vary up the range of blogs and forums you look to comment on. Build up a list of tried and tested sources and be proactive in the community (with the occasional link). A successful list of forum and blog comments can significantly boost your link profile.
Working in new media for over 8 years, Oliver Ewbank has worked for a range of brands including eBay and SportBusiness.com on SEO, PPC and Social Media Management. He has won awards for his SEO work and been featured in a number of publications, including Virgin online.