I’m a big fan of Rand Fishkin. If you’re a marketer who touches any aspect of SEO, you’re probably a fan, too. I always look forward to his Whiteboard Friday videos.
Recently, however, I had a very visceral reaction to his video about comment marketing. If you’re wondering what comment marketing is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the practice of going to blogs or articles and leaving relevant comments. Often these comments would include links to your blog or site.
Comment marketing is the practice of going to regular blogs or publications and leaving high-quality, relevant comments. Often these comments would include links to your blog or site.
Rand says comment marketing has some notable benefits. The most obvious one is that it could lead to traffic to your website. If you do it well, leaving comments consistently could also build your reputation. If you’re trying to grow your social media following, this tactic could help as well.
Here’s a snippet of Rand’s explanation:
Commenting can also lead to indirect links through exposure and exposure itself, meaning things like you leave consistent quality comments, people start to recognize you. You sort of see that profile picture again and you go, “I know that brand from somewhere or I know that person from somewhere. I have some positive association with them adding value.” That can lead to a better chance of engagement with you, your personal brand, or your corporate brand in the future, which can mean a better chance of future conversion.
All that sound good in theory, but I’m not convinced comment marketing is a great idea. First off, the practice sounds spammy. My friends who don’t work in marketing like to joke that marketers ruin everything, and turning something that people do naturally (in this case, leaving comments) into a marketing tactic isn’t helping our industry’s reputation.
But more crucially, comment marketing simply is effective—at least not effective enough for marketers to get justify it as a tactic worth pursuing.
Comment marketing has three serious issues, in particular.
1. Hard to scale effectively
Crafting useful, insightful and interesting comment requires time investment. You can’t take a comment you’ve left in one blog and just copy and paste it into another article. If you do that, people can see through it and won’t click your links, defeating the purpose of your efforts.
Compared to other forms of marketing, comment marketing is hard to replicate and scale.
2. Not very authentic (usually)
The reason why you should comment on a post is because you’re sincerely interested or because you have insight to share. Turning it into a marketing tactic feels black hat and not very genuine. If you’re just trying to get extra traffic, people can usually see through it.
3. Effectiveness is hard to prove
Unlike other forms of digital marketing, this tactic is very difficult to measure. Yes, you could measure your social media followers (if growing social was your goal), but you wouldn’t be able to isolate your results to just comment marketing. There are other drivers of social media follower growth.
If generating traffic is your goal, I suppose you could use UTM codes to track those clicks. But I doubt you’d get enough traffic to really demonstrate positive ROI.
There are better, more useful ways to market
Ultimately, there’s an opportunity cost associated with comment marketing. I don’t think the practice of leaving comments is valuable, scalable or measurable enough for marketers to pursue. If we put focus on this tactic, we’re taking time away from SEO, content marketing, social media and other tactics. There are many other ways of more effectively building thought leadership, providing value to customers and building a brand.
Should you be leaving comments in your favorite blogs and articles? ABSOLUTELY. But do it because you have something unique to add. Do it to further the conversation. Do it to show your appreciation for the writer. But don’t do it for marketing purposes.
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