Blog Comment Maintenance

One of the beauties of a blog is that it provides user interaction.  One of the curses of a blog is that it subjects you to “user” interaction.  Comments are a great way to get feedback and have a conversation with your readers but there will be . . . SPAM.  Maintaining blog comments is vital to making it a dynamic communication tool.

So let’s deal with the positive aspect first, reader comments.  Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches can frequently write about something that not everyone will agree with.  Whether the comments are supportive or critical, it is always a good sign if your readers are taking time to comment on what’s written.  It’s the most direct indication that your blog is connecting with readers.

But comments only fill in one side of the conversation.  Many bloggers treat comments as the “reader review” section.  It has the potential for much more.  If a reader has a question or needs clarification, write a comment that provides the information they need.  If a reader criticizes a point in the article, either acknowledge the criticism or provide follow up clarification.  The point is whether good or bad, don’t ignore your readers.

Now for the negative aspect of comments, SPAM.  SPAM is unavoidable.  There are ways of minimizing it like captcha apps or more in depth SPAM tools like the one I use, SPAM Karma.  However, these are just a first line of defense that will miss some of the craftier comment bots.  The ultimate decision on what comments get approved and what comments get marked as SPAM comes down to the blogger.

We’ll tend to give the commenter the benefit of the doubt.  If there’s a chance that the comment is truly from a person then we approve it.  If you review some of our past posts, you’ll see examples of comments that are likely from a bot, but we’d rather allow a few bits of SPAM rather than mistakenly deleting a reader comment.  Here are our guidelines for approving or denying comments

  • Is it written properly?  Some misspelled words or inarticulate grammar is OK but if it’s so poorly written that a viable point is hard to decipher then it gets rejected.
  • Does it have a message that’s on point?  We just deleted a comment from a “reader” about becoming a creative writing teacher.  Nothing wrong with creative writing but it had nothing to do with the article on SEO.  If it doesn’t relate to the topic then it gets rejected.
  • Is it overly promotional of a product or service?  A lot of comments will come with hyperlinks in the comment or user name.  It’s a ploy by SPAM bots to generate a lot of incoming links to their site.  If we see comments that read as ads, it gets rejected.

Maintaining your comments section by replying to reader comments and scrubbing SPAM shows readers that you intend to have a dialogue with those that engage with you.  This interaction allows for more and better insights about your field of expertise and a feeling of community with your readers.

Blog Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Considerations

One of the most powerful benefits for a blog is its SEO capabilities.  Every single post can provide content to the search engines on a topic catered to your product or service.  This is extremely valuable to trainers, consultants, and professional coaches because it provides a platform to illustrate their knowledge and how they help clients.  However, a plan needs put in place so that the right content is being fed to search engines.  Setting desirable keywords and page structure is critical to maximizing the SEO benefits.

Keywords are phrases that you’d want to rank highly on search engines for.  Make that list and have it handy.  The more you can work those phrases into your articles the better.  Using those keywords in titles or links can add an extra boost to the importance search engines place on it.

A word of warning not to get carried away.  Using the same phrase every other sentence is annoying to read and first and foremost we want to ensure that the posts are valuable to our readers.  Also don’t try to cover every topic all at once.  For instance, in my case, if I write a post about blogging, I shouldn’t be looking to sprinkle in a lot of email marketing keywords.  Mix in the appropriate phrases where it makes sense but don’t force it.

After a post is written with identified keywords, an often overlooked aspect of blogging is incorporating search engine optimization features.  Truly, there is no reason to skip it as there are plugins for blogging platforms that make it easier than ever.  For wordpress, I use All in One SEO Pack  but if you are less familiar with SEO, YOAST provides a visual dashboard to rank how well the page is set up and provides suggestions to improve.

Whatever plugin you use there are 4 major areas that should be filled in.

The first is a category.  These are your overarching topics for the blog.  Using categories serves as a general keyword and on most templates will function as a navigation link that readers can use to sort articles.   Assign a category to every post, nothing should be left on the default “undefined”.

The second is tags.  Every keyword or phrase that is in the article should be tagged in your blog.  This insures that the code includes those keywords directly to the search engine so that it’s sure to be incorporated into the listing.

The third is URL name.  It’s more advantageous to have the URL include the title and/or keywords rather than be a random string of numbers, which is usually the default setting.  Most plugins will do this automatically or let you define it manually.

The fourth is a title tag.  This is an unseen section of the site but very important for search engines.  Most plugins will use the title by default but can usually be modified.  The title is a good start but if you can work in a couple extra keywords here, so much the better.

SEO is often a part of blogging that trainers, consultant, and professional coaches struggle with but it doesn’t have to be daunting.  Once you set up the tools for SEO it’s just the follow up step to writing an article.  The advantage being that it will be visible to more people via search engine and drive targeted traffic to your site.

Blog Custom Layout

Is your business the same as every other business?  Every trainer, consultant, and professional coach I work with would suggest it isn’t.  They work in specific geographies, on specific topics for specific industries.  So your blog shouldn’t look just like other blogs. Customize your layout to sync your blog with your website, social media, and/or email marketing.

The first objection I always hear to this is, “I don’t have a budget/expertise to custom develop a blog.”  Customizing a layout isn’t about reinventing the technology.  Use what’s available.  Blogging platforms can be custom designed.  You don’t even necessarily have to start from scratch with the layout.  There are thousands of templates that can be installed on platforms like wordpress.

The caution is stopping there.  Many people install a template, look it over, and say, “The blogs ready to roll.”  That’s fine for a personal blog that’s unlikely to be seen by anyone but the author.  It’s not up to professional standards for trainers, consultants, and professional coaches.  You can use the template as a guide but shouldn’t leave it as your end design.  At minimum your logo, photo, or identifying marks should be added.  In most cases, design tweaks will need made to match the layout up with your other materials.  Things like contact information and interlinking between your communication channels (social media) should be added.

In a perfect world, the blog is part of the website.  It’s always much easier for users to find and use your blog if it’s integrated with the website.  As an added bonus, it makes all the content of your website, including calls to action, immediately available to people that visit the blog.

If it’s not immediately feasible to host the blog directly on your website you can use a third party hosting platform (i.e.  This will allow you to do the required customization but won’t be integrated with the website.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be interlinked.  If you have a blog hosted on a third party site then it requires more linking to communication channels (social media and the website) so that visitors have easy access to your information.

Your blog should look like it belongs to you.  If you’re going to the trouble of creating the content, invest the time in getting full credit for it.  Over time, the customized design provides a visual cue to readers that content with your layout are credible. It’s an old branding stand by but one that applies to the new digital world as well.

Web Marketing: Stay Up To Date

Liking an idea and executing it are two very different things.  Many consultant, trainers, and professional coaches want to leverage their knowledge into an online marketing campaign but struggle to put it together.  This is especially true if they see or hear an idea they like but don’t think through steps for executing and maintaining the campaign.  Online marketing campaigns are timely and if there’s no sustainability plan then the effort can cause more harm than good.

The most common example of this is an online blog.  Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches will see a blog they like and then haphazardly set up a blog of their own.  This frequently is thrown up on a blog service website.  Those a little more dedicated might find suitable templates, customize a layout, and/or have the blog set up on their site.  This shotgun approach typically creates subpar results.  The blog can come off as disjointed or may never be properly promoted at all.

Creating content consistently takes time and if there isn’t an agreed upon system for creating the content then the blog will stagnate.  This is the most common fate of hastily done blogs and reflects poorly on the individual or company who created it.  It’s a clear sign that projects go unfinished if a blog is found stagnant.  Our blog is an example that it takes commitment to maintain.  Though we’d like to post more regularly we are committed to a new post at least once every other week and maintain that schedule regardless of other demands on our time.  At minimum, if you have a blog and find that it’s not being updated; remove it from your site.

A blog is just an example of how web marketing needs maintained.  Other common offenders are social media pages or news/press release sections of the site.  If you identify an idea or channel you’d like to use, then a sustainability plan should be top priority.  An even higher priority than design or technical details because if the content isn’t current, then it won’t generate results.  Keep up to date with your online campaigns so they are relevant and add new touch points with clients and potential clients.