What if I told you there was an easy and effective way to network with big blogs and big industry names without ever having to leave your house? Maybe you’re thinking “oh, I’ll just follow them on Twitter” and while that’s a good book promotion idea, it’s also passive. Good book marketing requires a more active approach. So, let’s explore how you can do that.
Have you ever posted a comment on a blog? Maybe a topic you wanted to chime in on, or posting a thank you to a blogger for covering a story you were interested in? What if you attempted to do this professionally, with blogs and people you really admire and want to connect with? Did you know this can also help you show up higher in search results, too?
We’ve been using blog commenting for years as a book marketing tool to help promote our authors, and while the structure of the blogging campaigns has changed over the years (as Google has changed), the concept has remained the same.
What is Blog Commenting?
The concept of blog commenting is not new, but using it for virtual networking is a solid strategy that a lot of authors don’t do enough of. As a book marketing tool, it’s a very solid way to connect to people of influence.
Blog commenting, however should not be confused with a blog tour, of which there are a variety of iterations. This isn’t an opportunity for you to place content on another blog, but rather to comment on an existing post. When it comes to good book promotion, a blog tour can be good, but blog commenting, in my view, offers a better advantage.
Why Commenting is Important for Book Marketing
People love comments on their blog posts. I know I sure do, but oddly enough so few people take the time to network that way. So, commenting, in and of itself is a great way to build on a relationship and get to know a blogger – also, to get the blogger to know you. And by connecting with a blogger over a period of time and offering thoughtful comments on their posts, it helps to bring you to the forefront of the blogger’s mind, when and if you should pitch them for your book. For many, book marketing is an uphill battle and much of this is because authors are lacking in the connections they need to gain more exposure for this book. Blog commenting is a great way to fix that and boost your book promotion efforts.
Is there Any SEO Value?
If you aren’t familiar with SEO, it means “search engine optimization.” Years ago, when blog commenting first became a “thing,” many SEO experts were using it to attract incoming links to their page. Why links? Because it can aid in your Google ranking overall. Incoming links from high traffic websites, can help to boost your overall website visibility and thereby, help you get found for your keywords. So, SEO is definitely a consideration, but moreover the comments help to foster your relationship with the blogger.
For those of you who want to geek out about SEO, here’s a basic overview of links (in case you want to check which links are coming to your website).
Backlinks are valuable to have, moreover backlinks from high quality websites with lots of traffic. This is one of the main factors by which Google measures Domain Authority. Formerly Google referred to this as Page Rank which was, as the name implies, the rank of various pages on your website. Google no longer uses this metric and instead uses a series of benchmarks to determine your domain rank.
Domain rank varies by industry. For example, our domain rank is 48, which is on the high end for our industry. You can check your own domain rank by visiting: https://www.semrush.com which will also show you how many incoming links you have!
Figuring Out Your Goals: Which Blogs to Comment on and Why
It’s maybe tempting to after big names and big news sites like CNN, Fox or MSNBC. And while those are all potentially good, I’ve encourage you to get a clear focus of your blog commenting and book promotion goals. What do you want to accomplish?
While it’s tempting to do this work just to get links into your site, it’s not the full picture. At the beginning of this post I talked about virtual networking, and that’s where your book promotion focus should remain. So, who do you want to network with?
Maybe you have a list of blogs you’d like to get featured on. Maybe the blogger reviews other, similar books to yours, or does author features, and you think you’d be a perfect candidate for that website. Or, perhaps they also accept guest post requests. You’ve emailed a pitch but haven’t heard back. This might be an opportunity to step up your game. (Want to work with a blogger on book reviews? Check out this recent article I wrote.)
Or maybe there’s a blog that doesn’t do reviews, per se, but could be a good place to get interviewed. There’s another opportunity to get to know the blogger, and that’s by posting thoughtful comments.
How to Find Great Blogs in Your Industry
You probably already know who you want to network with. But if you don’t, then you’ll need to get on Google to do some quick searches on your topic. You can use the same site I recommended previously to find other sites that are linked to yours. I’d recommend watching these sites for a while (maybe a week or more) to get a sense of the content they post, how often, etc.
Make a list of 10-15 blogs you want to follow, but don’t feel like you need to comment on each of these sites every week. A good pace is generally five comments a week on five different websites.
Writing Thoughtful Comments
Be sure when you’re posting that you’re saying something more than “Great post!” Because while that’s nice, it’s not very thorough. Give your comments more thought, offer your own perspective, maybe even (gently) mention something related that you address in your book. Don’t push your book too hard, though mentioning it is okay just as long as you don’t do it every single time you write a comment.
Your Website: To Link or Not to Link
Within your blog post, you can certainly link to your website via the login most sites have. So, for example, when you post on our site, the commenting system will ask for your name and website. Most commenting systems offer this, but always list the website as “optional.” This should never be an option. Always list your website when you’re signing into the comment portal.
But we talked about linking earlier and getting incoming links to your website. So, it’s sometimes prudent to list your website URL within the comment itself. But I’d only recommend doing this if it’s appropriate to your comment. So, if you reference a blog where you wrote about a similar topic, it’s okay to mention that in the post and link to it as well. But I’d use this sparingly and if you do this, I’d recommend dropping the “www” from your URL. Why? Because a lot of blogs now have no-follow rules, which means they won’t approve comments with full URLs linked in them.
Blogging on Your Own Website
We all know that blogging is a good book marketing tool, but in reality, it’s much more than that. Because in order to network with others in the blogging community, you need to also be a blogger. Even if you’re just blogging once a week. That’s enough to have a presence online. However, if you’re trying to build more traffic to your website, I’d recommend blogging twice weekly if you can. It’s a solid book promotion strategy.
Following up on Social Media
The next piece of this is to make sure you’re following these bloggers on social media. In most cases they’ll be on Twitter, which makes it pretty easy. (Here’s a recent post I wrote about connecting with influencers on Twitter.) But wherever they are, I’d suggest following at least one of their social links. And, if you’re on Facebook a lot, you may just decide to follow them there. The point is that you want to follow and also share or comment on things they post on social as well. Networking on blogs via blog comments is a great idea. But following this up with a social platform or two, is really helpful to your book promotion efforts. Not sure which social platform is best for you? Take our new quiz!
Just from personal experience, I can tell you that there is a lot of merit to this. I have “followers” on our blog and social platforms who are always engaging with our content. I don’t know them, per se, but I “know” them virtually. And their emails always go to the top of the pile when they write.
Connecting and networking doesn’t always mean meeting people in person. While it’s a great book marketing tool, it’s not always possible. Blog commenting is a great way to get to know influencers in your industry, especially when you follow that up with a strong social connection. And the cumulative effect here is that you can pull in more exposure for your book.
And, as I always tell authors, exposure is our ultimate goal as a book marketing company. It’s what builds a platform for all of your own book promotion goals. If you’d like to learn more about our new kickstart program, learn more about it here!
Do you have any positive experiences with blog commenting? Please share them in the comments section of this page! It might be just what you need to get started on this strategy!
(Sorry. I couldn’t resist. But it is an excellent post.)
I’d like to echo your advice about commenting on review blogs. As a long-time reviewer, I can confirm it’s a lot easier to decline a review request from a complete stranger than it is to decline a request from someone I know – even if I only “know” that person from their blog comments.
And don’t be afraid to be the first (only?) commenter on a blog that doesn’t get a lot of reader interaction. Your comment will stand out more if you’re one of a handful of commenters than if you’re one of dozens or hundreds.
Thanks for validating a big part of my link building strategy, but more than that, thanks for telling me about that SEMRush report. I used to use Moz, but they recently revamped their free tool to strip out most of the usefulness. You’ve given me its replacement. Oh, and thanks for this link. 🙂
Michael, thank you! 🙂 Glad that SEMRush is working for you now. Moz still has its merits, but I hope you’ll let me know how SEMRush is working for you in comparison!
Thanks so much for this excellent post! I’ll admit, I’d been putting more effort into Twitter, and feeling increasingly discouraged since it’s tough to make a good connection (no matter how good a post is). As a result, I’ve been finding myself feeling less and less motivated to even use that. Commenting on blogs seems like a much more active way to build relationships – plus it doesn’t have those pesky character limits that are so frustrating for all of us long-winded writers! I’m going to plunge into some research to find good blogs to target and I’m excited to see how things turn out. Thanks again!
Ben, thank you! I think Twitter has a great benefit, too, but I agree with you very much in that building relationships is key. And, as a result, I think that the best platform is one that is working for you, and that you can easily manage and use to build relationships. Please come back and keep me posted how this strategy is working for you!
Thank you very much for this helpful information. I am planning to release my memoir, Radical Shifts, on February 22, 2019. I am enjoying looking around your site and do plan to hire you for consultation when I am ready.
Pete, thank you so much – that’s a huge compliment! I look forward to working with you. If you’d like to explore some pre-release coaching, definitely let me know!