Understanding Website Comment Functionality to Optimize Social Media

By Ric Shreves, Michelle Krasniak

Adding a comments feature to your website gives you another route for optimizing social media and engaging with your visitors and brings the added advantage of generating that engagement right on your web page. Comments can also generate new content on your pages and create a richer experience for site visitors, which can translate into more time spent on the site and SEO benefits. The BBC News website provides a great example of how commenting can enrich the pages of a website.

An active comment thread.

An active comment thread.

Setting up comments is very easy. All the popular content management systems include comment functionality, either in their core packages or through the use of a plug‐in. Additionally, you can implement several commenting platforms simply by cutting and pasting a bit of code; no programming skill is needed. Some of the popular standalone commenting platforms include

When deciding which commenting system to implement on your site, look for one that offers visitors a chance to subscribe to the comment thread. That way, as other comments are posted, visitors who previously commented are notified by email about new comments. Comment subscriptions are extremely effective in generating repeat visits and also appreciated by users.

Although most people are used to seeing comments in the context of blog or news sites, don’t let that fact limit your thinking. You can implement comments with virtually any type of content, and they work as well for images and videos as they do for text.

The keys to creating effective commenting are common‐sense:

  • Make commenting prominent. Don’t bury the commenting feature. Keep the form visible, and make the posted comments stand out on the page.

  • Make it easy. The fewer steps it takes to post a comment, the better.

  • Make it immediate. If you want to moderate comments, make sure that you turn them around quickly.

Comment spam can be a problem. Whenever you open up a comment thread, you will get a certain number of spammers; it’s just a by‐product of the Internet activity. Although you should always moderate your comment threads to watch out for and delete spam, you might find a system like Akismet useful.

Akismet is from the makers of WordPress. It is a hosted antispam service you can use to protect your site from spammers. Akismet works on a variety of platforms (not just WordPress!). The system is free for personal websites. Business plans start at just $5 a month.