The Etiquette For Leaving Comment Links

Chris Garret asked Is it OK to Leave Links in Comments? earlier today. Chris was inspired to write his post by a question raised about the etiquette of posting links in blog comments on the Authority Blogger Forum. And as it happens that the forum thread was started by none other than Khalid who is a frequent commenter here it only seemed right to attempt an answer. Is it ok to leave links in blog comments? I think so, but with certain caveats.

I haven’t left many links in comments myself and I admit the few times I have I felt somewhat guilty about it. In every case there was an uneasy feeling as I clicked the submit button on the comment.

The guilty feeling used to keep me from leaving the links. However after reading a post at SEO Book where Aaron said

One of the biggest differences between top earners and those just getting by is a lack of shame … a willingness to ask for favor after favor.

and later

If you do not have much of a brand you can’t be risk adverse if you are hoping to build a brand or exposure. Shame is for sissies.

Aaron was talking about sending emails in search of links and not specifically blog comments when he made the above comments, but I started thinking there was nothing wrong with being more aggressive in marketing and some of that earlier guilt about leaving links in comments went away. Enough at least to let me leave an occasional link in a blog comment.

I had my first chance to test that slightly new aggressiveness on SEO Book itself when Aaron posted Get Your Blog Out of Google’s Supplemental Result Hell. Aaron’s post seemed highly relevant to my Problems With WordPress Posts Going Supplemental In Google’s Index and I left a link.

That link has been sending consistent traffic to my post ever since.

If you read my comment on Aaron’s blog you’ll notice I didn’t link and run. I left what I think was a helpful comment and actually provided the gist of my post and the essential information on Aaron’s post. I even apologized for leaving the link and mentioned to Aaron if he felt it was inappropriate to remove the link.

I stayed with the discussion attempting to help another commenter. While I did leave a link, I think it’s obvious I was there for more than just the link. It was also not the first comment I left on SEO Book.

Suggestions For Leaving Comment Links

As with most things in life there’s a right way and a wrong way to leave links in blog comments. And if you link the right way bloggers will probably leave your link and it may drive some traffic to your site. If you’re going to add a link in a comment here are some dos and don’ts in no particular order.

  • Don’t have it be in your first comment on the blog
  • Do add value to the post with your comment
  • Do make sure your post is relevant to the one you’re commenting on
  • Do acknowledge that the link points back to your site
  • Don’t optimize the anchor text
  • Don’t make your link the point of the comment
  • Do summarize the content you’re linking to and leave the link for people who want more information
  • Don’t link too often on any one blog
  • Don’t leave a lot of links in a single comment
  • Do spend time getting to know the community of commenters to see what is and isn’t accepted prior to leaving your link
  • Do know the blogger well enough to know whether leaving a link is ok with them

If the blog has a commenting policy by all means look through that first before even thinking about adding a link in your comment. The basic idea is to show respect for the blog, the blogger, and the community around the blog. If you do that then you should be alright in adding a link to your comments. Remember that blogs are conversations and anything that adds to the conversation is usually good.

To get more traffic from the link you’d want to follow some of the general rules for commenting. You’ll get more traffic from a link on a popular blog and you’ll get more traffic the closer you are to the first person commenting. The more meaningful your comment the more chance someone will click. The more familiar the community is with you in general the more likely someone will follow your link.

Can You Leave A Link Here?

I think you can guess that the answer is yes if you follow the points above and show respect for me, the blog, and those who comment here. If you don’t show respect your comment will be deleted. If you show respect and I think the link points to something germane to the post I’ll leave it as a resource for more information.

My policy is to give the benefit of the doubt, but I can be quick to delete comments if I think you’re only trying to promote yourself. Take a moment or two to add even a little to the discussion and the link will likely stay.

Do you leave links when you comment? If so, how often? If not, why not? Do you think comment links are spammy? Always? Sometimes? Did I miss anything when it comes to the etiquette of leaving comment links? How do you feel about people leaving links in comments on your blog?

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40 comments

  1. So, I am not the only person who felt uneasy about leaving links in a comment. Many times I simply decided against leaving links because I did not want the blogger to think that I am there to drop a link. I think the guidelines you outlined are excellent. We never had a comment policy on our blog before but are creating one today. I will be including some the tips you provided in that policy.

  2. Nope, you’re not the only one feeling uneasy. I feel the same way. I don’t want the impression I leave to be that I was there only for the link. I’m glad you like the guidelines. I think the key is showing respect. If you don’t then even if the link does stay you’re leaving an impression you’d probably rather not leave.

    I’ve been thinking that a comment policy might not be a bad idea either.

  3. Why is it worse to leave a link in the first comment than in others?

    I don’t hesitate to drop a link in a blog comment when it’s appropriate. In another post the book “The Tipping Point” came up … if books themselves were available on the net, besides the older ones in Project Gutenberg, I would have made that a link, so anyone interested in that aspect of the thread could find more information. On photography blogs, a lot of the links I put in comments go to Art Wolfe’s site, even though technically he’s a competitor, and even in my own city. A lot of them go to articles on well known and respected sites … maybe 1/3 go to my site.

    I tend to read, and occasionally comment on, blogs in areas outside photography. I’m not going to duplicate someone else’s post or idea just for the sake of pointing to a few other resources. If a person writes a post that’s good enough to “join the conversation” then I see links as just another part of the contribution, along with whatever perspective I have.

    There’s a lot of spam on the ‘net, and that makes everyone a little jumpy. But a link to a genuinely useful resource along the lines of what’s being discussed never bothers me … whether it’s my own site, Canon’s, the National Park Service’s or w3c’s I’m linking to.

  4. I agree Bruce, but I it also has to add something to the discussion.

    Forrest what I meant was the first time you ever comment on a particular blog don’t leave a link. Post a few comments without links before trying to drop a comment link. I didn’t mean not to leave a link in the first comment that appears after a specific post.

    Appropriateness would go along with respect for knowing when to leave a link. I think most bloggers won’t mind as long as it adds to the discussion in some way. Don’t forget that’s exactly what a trackback is doing as well.

  5. Since you brought it up … head over to http://seocog.blogspot.com/ and read the comments in the post about syndication. I just wrote #3, and put a link to your blog in it.

    I found the blog almost by accident, read an article that hinted at some questions I’ve been meaning to find the answers to, so asked her what she meant … the next day the woman had put together a long, detailed, and insightful post answering my question. Another post on the site talks about “SERPs real estate” and links to studies done by the Pew Research Institute, among others. So I left the woman a comment thanking and congratulating her for writing such a unique and helpful resource, and said it’s now one of two marketing and SEO blogs I read; yours being the other one.

    It’s a shame that spammers have brought things to the point that people feel guilty for leaving comments that have links in them … the two of you together would be a mean team that I would never want to compete against.

  6. I sometimes leaves links in comments. But I pretty much follow the rules you outline.

    My blog is dofollow, so I often see the overt attempts to gain stupendous SEO. The thing the people who do that need to realize is that depending on the blogger, you may get no link if you try to hard.

    The rule about not pushing it on a first post is sound for many reasons. One is that the blogger may not trust you and they may very well strip your links!

  7. I found this article from the link on Problogger. I’ve occasionally left links in blog comments and felt some of the same guilt as you described…wasn’t sure if the link would be seen as contributing to the conversation (my intention) or pulling people away. Your article gives me some peace of mind about continuing the occasional practice in the way I’ve been doing it. Thanks!

  8. I only do it once in a blue moon because I, too, feel a little guilty about leaving links in comments. However, I do understand if the link is relevant and points to helpful content. I’ve actually accepted comments with links in them on my own blogs.

  9. Thanks for the compliments Forrest. I added Melanie’s blog to my feed reader. I take it she’s the same person you mentioned in the thread on WT.

    lucia have you tried one of the plugins that only follows the links after the commenter has reached a set number of comments? I forget which plugins do that, but I’ve been thinking of using a similar system where after 5 or 10 comments that persons links are followed. That way the drive by spammers still would be nofollowed.

    Glad to help Tammy. I still feel somewhat guilty leaving links in comments even when I am following all the tips I listed, but I’m trying to get past that feeling. I think as long as you’re respectful and leave a link to something that adds to the discussion it’s ok.

    Thanks Michael. When I see optimized anchor text in any link it’s somewhat obvious what the motivation is for the link. In some places it makes sense to optimize that text, but on blog comments it does call into question why you’re commenting. And since most blog comments are nofollowed it’s pretty pointless anyway.

    I’ll leave links here too Maria as long as I feel the person commenting wasn’t only commenting for the link. Relevancy is important, but I admit if someone comments here a lot I’ll cut them more slack. It’s kind of funny though how we’ll let others add comment links on our blogs yet still feel guilty when we leave one somewhere else.

  10. My blog is fairly new so I leave comments made from almost everyone as long as they are not extreme cases.

    1 blogger commented and placed 6 links. You can see here I did not delete it cause all links are towards same page, and towards a tool useful and related to the post. Plus my blog is new.

    Also I think it shows I am friend and do not delete every comment I do not like. no one will like a comment with 6 links I assume :)

  11. I’m glad you enjoyed the post Karl. I saw the comment on your blog and I would have deleted the links. At most I would have left one of them since there really isn’t any reason someone needs to leave that many. Even if your blog is new you don’t necessarily want to let every comment pass. You could get a reputation for allowing spam and end up attracting comments from other spammers who aren’t really interested in reading, just leaving links.

  12. Thanks for reply. Actually I was going to delete the comment and then post it again myself – with just one link.

    But will that effect search engines – posting from same ip – I wanted comments from different IPs? I read something about that but not sure what it really meant.

    Thanks!

  13. I’m always happy to reply Karl. The IP of the comment shouldn’t make any difference as far as search engines are concerned. What you likely heard about IP had to do with incoming links. The idea is basically that the 10th link you get from the same site might not be worth as much as the 1st link you get from a second site. That’s a very big oversimplification on my part though.

    Again though it has to do with incoming links and not the outgoing links in comments.

  14. Following the rule secure your identity and presence online. I agree, leaving the links is helpful, but on the other-hand: the blogger may either remove your comment and sometime they may permanently put you on ignore forever. Therefore, I personally think, starting with what is going on in the discuession is helpful. While you are making sense and getting more friends there, then its okay leaving a link there.

    Do you guys agree on this?

    Regards:

    Tina

    • It’s really all about how much respect you show for the blog and the blogger. If you’re adding something to the conversation chances are your link will stay.

      If you make it clear that you’re only posting the link for the link there’s a good chance it won’t.

  15. Steven:

    Thank you for your post. Good one!

    People seems to be in hurry a little?

    They want things as early as possible. The websites are getting in-links fast are even considered those are using the black-hat techniques. And why not..?

    I think..There needs rules and regulations or a perfect indication in the each blog while submitting the comments, This way, maybe people could at-least spend a moment or two while studying it, and are being educated.

    Let me know what do you think on it?

    Regards – Tina

    • Thanks Tina.

      In this case any rules need to be set by the individual blogger since it’s really up to him or her what is and isn’t allowed on their blog.

      It’s not a bad idea to add your own comment policy and it’s something I should add here when I get a chance.

      Most of the time though, I think if you read a blog enough you can get a sense of what is or isn’t allowed. The keys are to always show the blog and blogger respect and to make sure your link adds something to the conversation.

  16. Steven, I cent percent agree to your post. From Blogs We may really learn a lot. That is true. Letsay, I am working in one of the TOP SEO Company in Asia, Right..and The blogs were something always helped me to learn more techniques, I followed hints and tips, and now I may say..I some-what know what SEO is about…

    However, as we are aware, most of the individuals are working in the SEO Companies, really do not take care a lot, either in the third world countries like where we are in Pakistan, India, Phillippines, China, Asia, Bangladesh. I have been thinking that this might do not happen in Europe, Middle East, USA and Canada, But I was wrong.

    I have recently seen some comments, that were other than the post and I feel, such individuals are just looking for the links only:)

    anyway. I think, Bloggers should add the terms and conditions to add in their blog :)..and They will need to install a Robot, or a machine, that auto-understands the physche of the user, accepts, and if no kicks out :)

    The SEO holyness is being tortured, Lets gather on a plat form and save it :)

    Ideas?

    Regards – Tina

    • I think the key when leaving a link in a comment is to show respect for the blog and blogger. It’s usually obvious if you’re only posting the link for the link and most bloggers will simply delete. I know I will.

      As long as you make a thoughtful post and the link is relevant and adds something to the discussion you should be fine adding it.

      But always get a feel for the particular blog or blogger.

  17. Hi there Steven:

    Apologize for not being in here for a long time, but we have been quite busy a loads with the SEO Projects of some clients as well as we recently shifted to a new bigger premises :). Anyway, I am back and will be particepating in discuessions the best I can.

    How are you guys, How is business and How are things at your place?

    Ciao

    Tina

    • No worries Tina for not being around in awhile. I understand how people get busy. Things are going well. Business as usual and I’m also working on some new ideas and projects.

  18. IMHO I believe that if someone leaves a comment that adds or actually shows the person did read the post its quite good for me.

    I’d like to know why sometimes I post a useful comment with my link but it doesn’t even post. If I was blackmailed that would be very unfair as I’ve seen some very inane posts that are definitely to leave a link and run. And if I was spamming that would be understandable. O_O

    • I agree Isaac. As long as your comment adds value and shows you read the post, the blogger who wrote it will consider it a good comment.

      I couldn’t answer why some of your posts don’t get published. As far as I know this is the first time you’ve commented here. Different bloggers have different rules in what they consider a good comment. Some never allow links.

  19. Great article!
    I think there is a culture of link spam for affiliate based marketing.. but with google giving less weight to link from formus that are off topic eventually it will become a think of the past..

    thanks

    • Thanks Potato.

      I’d like it to be true that the link spam will go away, but I don’t think it will. Those links are not always about the search engines. Some people will click on them directly and it becomes a numbers game. If the spammer can get 100,000 links out there with minimal effort and just 0.1% of people click on them…

      The thing is it’s software creating all the posts and comments so the effort and cost to spammers is very low. They might only need to make a handful of sales at most to break even.

      I wish that weren’t the case, but sadly I think it is and I don’t think comment spam is disappearing any time soon.

  20. i think the problem is more complex. Conditional searches based on Google Code, the Google Labs tool, return all those sites based on a predefined theme/CMS which makes it easy to spam websites with dofollow within the comment body, like those based on an out-of-the-box drupal.

    • All those things might make it easier for people to spam some websites, but I think it’s fair to say that any spam is going against common etiquette.

      There will always be a cat and mouse game when it comes to spam. Also one reason I don’t remove the rel=”nofollow” from the comment links. I get enough spam with it there and can only imagine how much I’d get if I removed it.

  21. It would seem to me etiquette-wise that when leaving an initial substantial comment to an article that it would perfectly fine to leave a link to your website below your name, especially if the site you are commenting on does link to your site from the name listed above the comment. But if you continue commenting then that link would be left out. What do others think about that?

    • I think as long as your comment ads something to the discussion and the link is to something that offers more detail on what you were saying it’s fine.

      Even if you continue to comment the link is ok as long as you don’t keep adding the link to every post.

      Sometimes it’s a judgment call about the intentions of the person commenting. I tend to look at it from the perspective of does it add value to people visiting the site. If it does the link stays. If it doesn’t the link and probably the comment goes.

  22. Thanks for sharing the ways on how to do it. I have a small business and I use social media. I’m the only one who maintains it, I do the blogging, the articles, etc. And I always seek for an online advise and tips. And I find your blog so useful and helpful.

  23. I always feel a bit uneasy leaving links, but at the same time, I know comments help SEO ratings and therefore I love them. So, if someone wants to leave a comment and it might help their SEO, I’m happy to help.

    • I feel the same. Self promotion often makes me feel uncomfortable so I pick and choose my moments.

      I think when commenting on any blog the best thing to do is read that blog for awhile to understand what’s ok and not ok. If you show respect for the blogger, the blog, and the community you should be ok.

  24. I agree with your views concerning leaving links in comments; however, what I am wondering is, anybody who leaves a comment and adds a URI in the form (not in the text area, but in the text input labelled “URI”) will automatically get a link to his/her site. Should search engines not pick that up as well? If so, there would be no need to add additional links in comments (unless more is better). I just started reading up on SEO and could not find good information on that so far.

    • It counts as a link. Many blogs including this one have the rel=”nofollow” attribute added to the link so in theory it shouldn’t pass any value, but it still counts on a link.

      People will add an additional link in the actual comment for different reasons. Ideally it’s because they’re linking to some page that adds something to their comment and the post itself. Perhaps they’ve written an article on a similar subject. The URL field might point back to their home page and the link in the comment might point to a specific pages.

      Others with less genuine intention might just be trying to gain a second link or promote a second site. Each link could use different anchor text (the words that become the link) and in that way hope to get a page or pages to rank for different keywords.

  25. Thanks for this great article. I recently started using social media as a way of building up my seo presence but I put off link building exercises as Im always worried I’m giving off the wrong impression. I’ll follow your suggestions of trying to leave a decent comment before I link. Appreciate the read :)

    • Thanks Paul. Keep in mind this post is 4 years old. Today with rel=”nofollow” added to most every link in a blog comment you probably aren’t getting much value in the link. I would look at blog commenting as a way to build links.

      However you can still add a link where appropriate. Real people do click them including the people who published the blog post.

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