Sometimes a lot of bloggers ran a poll on the forums asking members where they link to when they leave a comment on other blogs.

The results were that about 83% of people link to their home page.  The other 17% link to a specific page on the blog when they leave a comment.  Some of those people use one single landing page while others will link to a variety of different posts depending on what they are commenting on at the time.

link-strategies-chart

We comment on other blogs for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes to add to the discussion, sometimes to simply say thanks, and for some people even just to pick a fight.

One of the other common reasons for commenting on other blogs is to attract traffic to your own site.

If that is part of your commenting strategy then there are two things you will want to do to make sure your strategy is getting you the best results:

  • Measure the quality and volume of traffic you are generating
  • Maximize the effectiveness of the traffic you are generating

How you link back to your own site plays a role in each of these.  There are three linking strategies you can use in your comment linking strategy:

  • Link to a specific page
  • Link with a specific campaign code
  • Both at once

Linking to a Specific Page:

This strategy involves linking to a specific page for all comments you leave on other blogs.  Some bloggers create a special landing page just for this purpose, while others might choose to just use their About page.

This technique lets you measure both the volume and quality of the traffic you’re getting from comments simply by looking at your web stats.  It also gives you the opportunity to maximize the traffic by sending it to a high quality page.

For example, my About page has a 45% bounce rate, compared to my home page which has a 72% bounce rate.  So sending traffic to my About page could have better results than sending them to my home page.

You can also choose the page or post you link to in your comments to make it most relevant to the site or blog post you are commenting on.

However, the stats you see will be inaccurate because there is a good chance that traffic from other sources is also landing on that page or post.  So if accurate stats are your goal this technique isn’t the perfect choice.

Linking with a Specific Campaign Code:

A campaign code is a set of tags that you can add to URLs for tracking in your Google Analytics.  Google has a helpful URL Builder tool that you can use to quickly generate a URL for tracking a campaign.

I simply use “comments” as the source, medium and name of the campaign.  If you wanted to get very specific you could use a separate campaign for each blog you comment on.  It is a bit of extra work, but you usually only need to enter it once when you first comment on a blog and then your browser cookies will pre-populate the comment form on that blog for future visits.

With this technique you can get more accurate statistics about how your comments are performing for traffic.  For example, my Comments campaign tells me that 136 visitors arrived at my home page in May from comments I left on other blogs.

That isn’t a big percentage of overall traffic but the quality is high.  These visitors had a higher average time on site, higher than average pages/visit, and lower bounce rate than overall traffic that lands on my home page.

With stats like that in front of you it is easy to see whether or not comments are working for you.

Combining the Two Techniques:

With a little extra effort you can get the best results by combining the two techniques above.

If you are going to link all of your comments to a specific landing page such as your About page then take a second to create a campaign URL for that page.  Keep it handy in a text file so you don’t have to generate it every time.  You can then separate out your normal traffic to that page from your comment traffic and get the most accurate results.

Alternatively, when you leave a comment on a blog choose a specific page or post that is closely related to the post you are commenting on, and then add a campaign code to the URL.  This would probably add about 30-60 seconds to the time it takes to leave a comment, which is not that big a deal.

If you’re leaving dozens of comments a day this might seem like too much work.  On the other hand the point of the exercise is to measure whether or not all that commenting effort is actually converting into good quality traffic to your site.  So you could just try it out for a month or so to verify that your time is being well spent and then go back to leaving regular links after that.