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Commenting on blogs gets you involved in conversations, expands contacts in your niche and brings traffic back to your blogs and sites.

Comment on blogs relevant to your niche. When you focus on your niche, readers are more likely to visit your blog or site.  (And highly relevant back links have a greater SEO value.)  Concentrate on maybe 5 or 10 blogs in your area.  See this great ReadWriteWeb post on how to determine the top blogs in any niche.

For maximum impact, choose blogs with good page rank in Google and large numbers of RSS subscribers. (Check the page rank of any blog here.) Popular blogs, with high numbers of RSS subscribers, show up in the blog aggregator Alltop.com.  And the free Google Reader lists the number of subscribers to any blog feeds (Subscribe to the blog feed in Google Reader, click the blog name and then click “show details,” upper right, to see the feed count.)

Make the comment relevant and substantive. Read the post thoroughly and contribute something meaningful.  This might be your own experience, an answer to a question raised, even a further question the post suggests.  If you’re tempted to write “great post,” try instead to mention one idea you strongly agree with or something new you learned.

Be careful with negative comments. Saric recommends that you only comment positively: “Only write a comment if you like the post and if you have something relevant and interesting to say.”  On the other hand, LeadsExplorer says you can make negative comments:  “A comment is just another opinion that can have the opposite opinion from the blog post or the general opinion of the readers of the blog.” Sarah Perez agrees that negative comments are part of intelligent conversation: “Blogger and reader don’t always have to agree with each other, but being able to at least constructively debate the issue brings something to the table that straightforward reporting does not.”

Comment quickly on popular blogs.  Saric says, “The earlier you are, more exposure you are going to get.”  Set up Google Alerts for your main keywords on your target blogs.  (The blog-specific format is “URL  keyword”, i.e. “http://www.scorechicago.org  commenting”.  Set type to blog, and how often to “as-it-happens.”)  If you’re on Twitter or a voting site like Stumbleupon, maybe also reTweet or Stumble the post after you comment, to get maximum visibility from social media activity.

Check back and follow up on later comments, to participate in the conversation.  If there’s a box to check to be notified of further comments, check it.  Network, learn, interact.

Use a consistent media profile. As Saric suggests, “Brand your comment by using same name, same avatar, same URL and same signature.”  Use your full name in the comment field to increase trust and promote branding.  For those who don’t know, most blog templates hyperlink your name to the URL you provide, so you don’t have to add your web address to the post.

In essence, do think long-term. Do make comments to build relationships, not to generate short term bursts of traffic.

Commenting Don’ts

Don’t cut and paste generic comments. They add nothing and you ruin your reputation for possible short term gain.

Don’t be rude. This networking world is small and you don’t want to burn bridges.

Forum Comments. Online or internet forums are online discussion sites.  Some allow you to set up an online profile and others permit you to include a link to your website in your signature.  It’s an excellent way to get your name out on the internet and present your knowledge and expertise.  Popular social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Myspace, as well as many niche sites, have such forums as a site feature.  Be sure to read the forum’s rules and regs.

Big Boards has a list of forums on numerous topics, in both directory and search format. Of course, post in forums related to your blog or site.  Choose a couple forums and become known in them rather than spreading yourself too thin.   Sometimes you have to be a member for a certain number of days before you start posting.