Rock Star Comments in WordPress – in 12 Steps!

Posted by jtpratt |08 Jan 08 | 37 comments

get Rock Star comments for your wordpress blog in 12 easy steps

Give your wordpress blog better comments by making them stand out, look more professional, and using WP plugins that encourage people to comment more often! I will show you exactly how to customize your default WordPress theme installation and turn bland comments in a world class comment system!

One of the key features of a blog is the interactivity, the ability to comment on every page. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get people to comment, especially to comment regularly. You should already be encouraging people to comment at the end of each blog post, but what else are you doing to enhance and encourage comments throughout your blog?? If your answer is nothing – you are missing out on a great opportunity. Comments can be a huge driving factor for getting repeat visitors and building community around your blog. The biggest blogging mistake you can make is not taking full advantage of your commenting system.

You have to change the comment process from the default WordPress standard which is this:

  • Visitor submits somment
  • Blog owner approves comment
  • Comment is displayed on post page

To something better looking, more professional, and interactive like this 12 Step WP Comment Process:

  1. Visitor is encouraged in last sentence of post to comment
  2. Appealing graphic encourages them to comment – including dofollow info
  3. Smilies are available to customize the comment
  4. Visitor has ability to “subscribe” to comment thread
  5. Human interaction must be proven with captcha form
  6. Visitor submits comment
  7. First time visitors are emailed with courtesy thank you
  8. Admin approves comment
  9. Comment is posted “dofollow”
  10. Visitors with URL’s that have a feed will have their last post title parsed and linked as a byline at the end of their comment automatically
  11. Top Commenters are displayed in sidebar widget
  12. For updates to comments, those subscribed will get notification when new comments are added or theirs is replied to

Now I’ll describe exactly how to customize your default wordpress install and theme for professional WordPress comments!

Step #1: Visitor is encouraged in last sentence of post to comment

You should already be doing this. In the last sentence of your thank you visitors and solicit a comment – “if you liked this post and have a question or something that would make it even better, please comment now!”

Step #2: Appealing graphic encourages them to comment, including “dofollow” info

This is one that I think most blogs miss. If there’s something special about your comments – be sure to let your visitors know in a way that will encourage them to comment. I edited my comments.php in my theme folder and placed a new div just below the H2 header with a nice animation and reasons why they should comment. You can see this in action at the bottom of this (or any) page on this site. If you need some css styling info to create a box like the one I use – visit this page on CSS drop shadow.

Step #3: Smilies are available to customize the comment

People love to add a little emotion to their blog posts and content – and everyone loves little custom smilies and emoticons. Just install the custom smilies WordPress plugin and you’ve got this one covered. The cool thing about this plugin is that once you install it, you can add your own custom smilies to your library and make your site different than anyone elses! You can also enable the docking bar and add your smilies to your posts.

Step #4: Visitor has ability to “subscribe” to comment thread

Before blogs were uber-popular most of us posted in web based forums. When you posted you could “subscribe” to a thread and get email updates anytime someone replied to the post. If you were an avid poster, this was the only way you could keep track of which posts had new responses. If you expect interactivity on your site and people comment – how can you expect any interactivity beyond that initial post unless they can get a notification when they have a reply or there’s a new comment? I have seen some of the biggest sites on the web not have this ability – and it’s a shame (and also why I don’t return to them that often). This is easy as pie to enable – just install the subscribe to comments WordPress plugin.

Step #5: Human interaction must be proven with captcha form

I know you’ve filled out a captcha before – that’s a text field where you have to type in some words displayed before you can submit a form. WordPress comments don’t have a captcha, and there are many automated programs all over the web that allow people to bulk submit comments just to try and gain links. If you had a captcha in your form a human would have to fill out the captcha field before the form could be submitted. This also cuts out almost all spam. Askimet is great, but it only gets 98-99% of the spam. You still have to delete 1-2% of it by hand, and if you get a lot of comments this can be time consuming. So a captcha cuts out spam – but what if you could implent a captcha that also served a good purpose outside your blog? Read about Re-Captcha and how you can help digitize books by using it in your WordPress blog. All you have to do is download and install the Re-Captcha WordPress plugin to have a professional looking captcha in your WordPress comment form today!

Step #6: Visitor submits comment

Wow – you get a buy here. I didn’t notice that for this (necessary) step there’s nothing for you to do! A Visitor has to actually submit a comment.

Step #7: First time visitors are emailed with courtesy thank you

The majority of your visitors that submit comments will do it once and never again. That’s because there’s so many sites on the web they may never find (or need) yours again. So why not send them a complimentary “thank-you” courtesy email for submitting a comment? It’s so easy, all you have to do is download and install the Comment Relish WordPress Plugin – and it does all the work for you! If you thank someone in person they are usually genuinely touched because of the infrequency people do it nowadays. I think most peope that comment are surprised and grateful to get a response back.

Step #8: Admin approves comment

This one is of course self-explanatory. The best advice I can give you is to be sure and approve comments as soon as they come in. The faster you do, the faster they’ll be read – and the more comments you approve and reply to, the more you’ll get. Some larger sites have so many comments coming in they have to designated people just to handle them all.

Step #9: Comment is posted “dofollow”

You probably already know how valuable links are, and that google follows the links on your site when the search crawler comes. If you have a bunch of links leading to irrelevant content or sites of ill repute you could be in trouble (visit bad-neighborhood.com). Good links are great, because when relevant sites link back to you normally that’s how you get google pagerank. But you can add a tag to your links, the rel=nofollow tag to tell google not to follow those links. Many blogs (like WordPress) have automatically added the rel=nofollow to comments, so when people add a URL they don’t get a credited link back. You’ve probably seen the “You comment, I follow” graphics on sites (like this one on ours) that tell patrons – if you comment I don’t use the rel=nofollow tag and you will get a credited link. Why not? If you’re moderating your comment appropriately this shouldn’t be a big issue and really encourages people to participate. To do this all you have to do is download and install the dofollow WordPress plugin, and you’re good to go!

Step #10: Visitors with URL’s that have a feed will have their last post title parsed and linked as a byline at the end of their comment automatically

commentluv here CommentLuv is a newer WordPress plugin that I hadn’t seen before. Once a comment is submitted, it uses the URL field of the comment form to grab the commenter’s last post from their web site and leave it as a byline at the bottom of the comment. This of course encourages more people to visit the commenter’s web site and it’s great because it’s automatic! It starts working once installed, so of course it’s not going to go back and do this for all the previously submitted comments, just the new ones submitted after it was installed. There are no options, so if you want to test it you have to logout of WordPress and submit a test comment yourself using another valid URL (that has a feed to parse), and then approve your comment to see it. An awesome way to encourage visitor’s to comment!

Step #11: Top Commenters are displayed in sidebar widget

This one seems pretty popular on quite a few blogs – especially the bigger and busier ones. When people submit commets, the “Top Commentators” are displayed in a sidebar widget. The stats reset every month so someone can’t dominate forever. It gives the most frequent visitor’s that comment a link to their blog in the sidebar in addition to the number of comments they’ve made. I’ve used this WP plugin for quite awhile and it works nicely.

Step #12: For updates to comments, those subscribed will get notification when new comments are added or theirs is replied to

This is of course automatic now – thanks to Step #4 and the Subscribe to Comments plugin you enabled. Visitor’s also have the ability to “manage” their subscription anytime in the future for any or all posts, including choosing not to receive email anymore at all.

There you have it – Rock Star WordPress comments in 12 easy steps! If you did everything now your visitors will have much greater reasons to leave a comment, you’re encouraging them to come back time and time again with notifications, and you’re helping to stomp out comment spam on your blog all at the same time! You have successfully conquered the blogging mistake of a bland default WordPress commenting system with world class comments! The only additional things I can offer is if you want to tweak the appearance of your comments, two very popular ways are by using the nested comments WordPress plugin (like I do), or the fancier Collapsible WordPress Comments Plugin.

If this post helped you, or if you have a question or contribution to make it even better – please comment now and share with everyone!!


37 Responses

  • Reward Rebel/ 09 Jan 08 @ 1:40 AM

    You’ve listed some very good points, and I’ll be referring to them as soon as I’ve figured out what’s wrong with the comments function on my blog! Thanks for Entrecard recommendation ;)

    Reward Rebel’s last blog post..An Invitation To Qassia

  • admin/ 09 Jan 08 @ 9:04 AM

    sounds good! Just wondered – what’s wrong with your comments function? I’ve had many problems with WP and comments – including this blog. But removing all the files (except theme and plugins) and upgrading to the latest WordPress version AND obtaining the latest version of all my plugins always solved the problem.

    If that doesn’t fix it – just disable all plugins and test your comments as you enable them back one by one (you can delete the comments later). You’ll find the source of your troubles pretty quick!

  • Ariel/ 23 Jan 08 @ 3:03 PM

    This was very useful! Thank you! =00

    Ariel’s last blog post..You Are Not Your Mind

  • ksevin/ 22 Mar 08 @ 11:22 PM

    Very useful information. Especially about dofollow. Thanks a lot.

  • Blog for Beginners/ 11 Jun 08 @ 10:56 AM

    It’s amazing that there are so many things we can implement to attract more comments. Step #1 is one of the easiest thing to do and yet overlooked.

    Very detailed step-by-step tutorial. Thumbs up.

    Blog for Beginnerss last blog post..Yet Another 8 CSS Tips For Your Blog

  • sudoku/ 15 Sep 08 @ 5:43 PM

    Thanks for the great info and for the Comment Luv! I’m sure I speak for most when I say it’s very appreciated.

    sudokus last blog post..Sudoku World Champions

  • Lucia/ 26 Sep 08 @ 10:36 PM

    Hi, it is my first time visit here but I’m really impressed with your tutorials. I already bookmarked the 30 days WordPress steps as this looks very promising. Keep up the great work, I’m going to hit thast orange button now up the top.

    Lucias last blog post..Dominican Republic A Top Nation for Business

  • Emma Plumber/ 16 Oct 08 @ 8:11 AM

    =)r
    Hi,

    I have just started my first blog. Believe me, at the moment the last thing I need is any comments. I would have to spend all day apologising for the rubbish I had written…lol

    In future I will come backn to this post and follow the advice you gave.

    Thanks (in advance)

    Emma

  • Leo/ 17 Oct 08 @ 2:59 AM

    These tips are awesome but it seems so technical when you are a noob like me. I’ve been blogging for two months now and I had to quit using wordpress because it was so complicated. I couldn’t figure out how to edit the css stuff. But almost all the tips I see about how to get more comments involve using plugins and they only work in wordpress if I am not mistaken.

    Seems like I have so far to go but blogs like this help us noobies out and I appreciate that! Thanks.

    Leo

    Leos last blog post..The History of Fiber Optics

  • Sebastin/ 12 Dec 08 @ 1:02 AM

    hey.. This was exactly what I was googling for. This was a very entertaining and informative read. I enjoyed it very much. Keep up the good work and Happy Holidays and Happy 2009!

    Sebastins last blog post..Great Plains Software | Accounting Only?

  • Chris Freunde/ 15 Dec 08 @ 5:21 AM

    @Leo: you are totally right. wordpress is fine as long as you just use what you get. but as soon as you want to modify the layout a little bit you will get stuck. there is no good and easy way to extend wordpress themes as a simple designer. you need to be able to understand PHP. and if you want to use another template you have to do all the adaptions again and again.
    on the other hand wordpress comes with great functionality and cool plugins which you can’t get with other blogging software.

  • tats march/ 28 Dec 08 @ 6:58 AM

    I am a very old user of the word press i like it as it is easy to use and work you have describe very good steps exactly how to customize your default word press install and theme for professional Word press comments i love your post thanks.

  • Blog Shot/ 25 Jan 09 @ 1:51 AM

    Comments are a very neglected aspect of blogging. If the comments add value, then the more the better. Most commenters subscribe to comments which means more traffic as they get an e-mail and see the latest update.

    I love the leaping girl in the We Reward Comments box. Well done !

    Blog Shots last blog post..Master List of Article Directories and Blogs

  • ask web directory/ 25 Jan 09 @ 9:43 PM

    Wow, those were some great tips. I’m still new to blogging and your article helped me immensely to understand how to get comments flowing in to my blog with less trouble. And I do agree with Chris, I find WordPress much better service than any other. I was cycling through few services before I came to WordPress and it really showed the difference. Anyway, thanks for the awesome information.

  • Sevierville Real Estate/ 27 Jan 09 @ 8:36 AM

    I love the commentluv and top commentator plugins. I had problems with them though once I upgraded to 2.7 I think that it might have something to do with the threaded comments feature in 2.7

    Sevierville Real Estates last blog post..Real Estate Foreclosures in Sevierville, TN | Short Sales

  • Press Release Services/ 28 Jan 09 @ 11:53 PM

    Great stuff. Never knew so much things could be done to attract comments. And you’ve mentioned some simple but effective ways. Brilliant work. Ideal post for newbies. Cheers

  • Nadeesha @ ROCKFUSE Blog Resources/ 08 Mar 09 @ 4:42 AM

    Great set of tips there. Comments are such an important part of any blog and it does really show the popularity and gives you a good idea about the blog. These tips would definitely help gets some comments in. DoFollow will really boost the comments flowing in. Keep up the good work. Cheers

    Nadeesha @ ROCKFUSE Blog Resourcess last blog post..I moved to HostClear! Probably the best blog host I’ve been with.

  • Paul Myatt/ 10 Mar 09 @ 2:21 PM

    Without doubt some of the most useful WP blogging tips I’ve come accross. Many thanks.

  • Antivirus/ 24 Mar 09 @ 7:20 PM

    Cool. Just what I was looking for. I really have a bad time with blogging. This certainly would help me get some comments in :) Never knew so many aspects would contribute to get comments. Thanks

  • link building campaign/ 31 Mar 09 @ 7:55 PM

    Hey, Thank you so much for the information. Do-Follow will certainly help boost the number of comments. it’s really awesome to see you too have do follow on your blog. Anyway, thanks for the information. Cheers

  • blackdog/ 09 Apr 09 @ 6:35 PM

    Nice post dude. I’ll be making some of these changes to my blog right away. I want to be a rock star like you. =)~

    blackdogs last blog post..Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony: Metallica and Jeff Beck Report

  • Casa/ 15 May 09 @ 1:23 AM

    Thanks for the ideas, your ‘we reward comments’ box is definitely worth implementing.

    Casas last blog post..Ommobili di prestigio

  • Clark Smith/ 15 May 09 @ 2:56 PM

    Great Article =0 I like the reward comments box, it makes people want to leave comments to your blog. Thanks!

  • salliserp/ 11 Jun 09 @ 10:00 PM

     It’s good to catch some comprehendible guidelines for a change. I really appreciated the part where you’ve mentioned about including smilies. It just showed that you’re attuned to your visitors’ emotions thus making them feel very important. =)]

  • gambling security/ 25 Jun 09 @ 12:20 PM

    Really show the popularity and gives you a good idea about the blog. These tips would definitely help gets some comments in. DoFollow will really boost the comments flowing in. Keep up the good work. Cheers

  • Facebook Proxy/ 05 Jul 09 @ 10:39 AM

    Sometimes it can be a struggle to get people to comment, especially to comment regularly. You should already be encouraging people to comment at the end of each blog post, but what else are you doing to enhance and encourage comments throughout your blog??
    .-= Facebook Proxy ´s last blog ..Five Essential Online Gambling Tips for Beginners =-.

  • Imfashion/ 31 Jul 09 @ 4:25 PM

    very good information, thanks for sharing. and I am eager to learn more from you in the future
    .-= Imfashion´s last blog ..Studs – from top to bottom =-.

  • cufflinks/ 12 Sep 09 @ 4:48 PM

    Quite interesting!

    I never realised the importance of blogs and especially commenting until recently and your posting explains it very well.

  • deodorant perspirant/ 10 Dec 09 @ 3:03 AM

    DoFollow will really boost the comments flowing in. Keep up the good work.

  • Ruben@OurBlogLog/ 10 Jan 10 @ 8:09 PM

    Having new visitors commenting on your post increases chances or a relationship to be built between the bloggger and reader , I guess Step 1 is commenting Step 2 is to have them subscribe to Rss

  • Cheap car hire/ 12 Jan 10 @ 12:13 PM

    Comments are such an important part of any blog and it does really show the popularity and gives you a good idea about the blog. These tips would definitely help gets some comments in. DoFollow will really boost the comments flowing in. Keep up the good work. Cheers

    Cheap car hire

  • luxury car hire/ 14 Jan 10 @ 9:47 AM

    This is one that I think most blogs miss. If there’s something special about your comments – be sure to let your visitors know in a way that will encourage them to comment.

    luxury car hire

  • What the bleep/ 21 Jan 10 @ 1:53 AM

    It can be a struggle to get people to comment sometimes, especially to comment regularly. You should already be encouraging people to comment at the end of each blog post. Nice post!

  • Ruben@AutoShipping/ 02 Feb 10 @ 2:13 AM

    Top Commentator Widget drastically brings in random commentors

  • Jadeslair/ 17 Feb 10 @ 6:33 AM

    Obviously the tips work because you get a lot of comments. But the question remains, what do you do about smilies spam?
    .-= Jadeslair´s last blog ..Battlefield Bad Company 2 Land Vehicles =-.

  • Shredder Oil/ 22 Feb 10 @ 11:48 AM

    I really have a bad time with blogging. This certainly would help me get some comments in :) Never knew so many aspects would contribute to get comments.

    Shredder Oil
    .-= Shredder Oil´s last blog ..How to Oil Your Paper Shredder =-.

  • admin/ 01 Mar 10 @ 11:40 AM

    I’ve never had this problem.

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