Theoretically, the more content you have on each page, the more keywords you rank for, which should increase your overall traffic.
That should mean the more comments you have on each of your blog posts, the more search traffic you should receive, right?
Do comments actually increase your search traffic? Download this printable data-driven answer.
Although it sounds logical, I am not convinced it is actually the case. With Quick Sprout, I get 176 comments per post, but are those comments really helping drive more search traffic? Let’s look at the data.
Word count comparison
As of today, Quick Sprout has 560 published blog posts. Excluding the guides and the university videos, each blog post on average contains 1,481 words.
I am also averaging 176 comments per post with 22.6 words per comment, which means the comment-generated word count for each blog post is 3,978.
If you combine the word count for each blog post with the comments, you have a whopping 5,459 words per page. The blog post itself is responsible for 27% of the words on the page, while the comments make up the other 73%.
Now that we’ve determined the post/comment word count ratio, we have to ask: are these 3,978 extra words on each page driving more search traffic?
Do more comments mean more rankings?
Data provided by Google Analytics makes it tough to answer this question, but Google Webmaster Tools provide you with a list of all the terms you rank for and the traffic you’re receiving for each of these keywords.
The search traffic numbers within Google Analytics are substantially higher than those reported in Google Webmaster Tools. But in this case, some data is better than nothing.
To move forward with the analysis, I enlisted the help of 23 Quick Sprout readers.
First, I downloaded a CSV file that contained 10,269 keywords I rank for.
Then, my helpers and I Googled each keyword. What we found was interesting.
We weren’t able to find Quick Sprout’s listings for 2,852 of the 10,269 keywords.
The remaining 7,417 terms fit into one of 4 buckets:
- The keyword was mentioned within the title of the blog post.
- The keyword was mentioned within the body of the blog post.
- The keyword was mentioned within the comments.
- The keyword wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the page.
Here’s the split:
As you can see from the pie chart above, 1,048 keywords were mentioned in the title, 3,054 were mentioned within the content of the blog post, 1,983 were mentioned in the comments, and 1,332 were not mentioned anywhere on the page.
When we dug deeper into the keywords that weren’t mentioned on the page, we found that Google seemed to have used its latent semantic technology. That means the keywords it ranked Quick Sprout for, although not on the page, were relevant to the page… Google was acting more like a thesaurus, matching what people searched for with what they were actually looking for.
Now that we’ve figured out that text from blog comments does rank within Google, let’s look at how much traffic it drives.
Do rankings equal traffic?
Just because your website ranks for a specific keyword, it doesn’t mean people are clicking on your listing.
The cool part about Google Webmaster Tools is that it breaks down both how many impressions your listings receive and how much traffic you receive.
The 7,417 keywords, for which we found corresponding listings on Google, received a total of 5,295,506 impressions. Out of those impressions:
- The keywords mentioned within the title received 695,282 impressions
- The keywords mentioned within the body received 2,596,663 impressions
- The keywords mentioned within the comments received 1,308,788 impressions
- The keywords not mentioned anywhere on the site received 694,773 impressions
But that data isn’t very interesting because you already know that long tail terms drive the majority of traffic. So let’s dive into the actual clicks:
Although comments brought in 24.7% of the impressions, they didn’t bring in as many clicks as I would have thought. They only brought in 27,713 visitors, which is roughly 16% of total impressions.
Keywords located within the title brought in 22,517 visitors (roughly 13% of impressions). Keywords from within the blog post brought in 107,310 visitors. And the remaining 15,669 visitors came from keywords that weren’t mentioned on the page.
I would have expected the keywords mentioned in the title to bring in more traffic, but when I dug a bit deeper, I noticed those keywords didn’t rank as well as long tail phrases.
Those long tail phrases tended to rank on the first few pages of Google, while some of the head terms ranked on page 19.
Comments didn’t drive as many visitors as I wanted, but considering that it’s user-generated content, it’s not that bad. It could be that Google may not be placing as much value on text created through comments or words appearing lower on a page (since comments are located below each blog post) as it does on the post itself.
When analyzing the Google Webmaster Tools data, I also noticed that the keywords found within the comments didn’t rank as high in Google as keywords found within the text of the blog post. This explains why keywords found within the comment section had a click-through rate of 2.1% versus 4.1% for keywords found within the text of each post.
All in all, bringing 16% of all search traffic through comments isn’t too shabby. I know text from comments makes up the majority of the words on the page, but you have to keep in mind that many of the comments just say “good post” or “thanks.”
So, has this post convinced you to focus on encouraging more comments? If so, what are some ways to encourage your readers to comment?
P.S. If you need help getting more traffic from your blog comments click here.