A recently popular sales training book called No More Cold Callingâ„¢, by Joanne Black, has reopened the idea of sales without cold calling. As eluded by the title, the book offers tips and alternatives to avoid being that no name person calling and asking for someoneâ€™s business without some type of connection.
I imagine blog owners feel the same way about receiving new comments with links from strangers as business owners on the receiving end of a cold call. I call them cold comments. Below are some similarities between cold calling & cold commenting.
o The call recipient needs to be targeted, on subject, or relevant to your business or link.
o Value demonstration is needed before asking for the business or link.
o A common connection or rapport must exist before doing business with or a linked comment is accepted.
These are challenging tasks to do quickly, but the fact remains that receiving relevant links with optimized anchor text is a very important part of SEO for Internet Marketers, as is calling on new prospects to develop business for Account Executives.
So what is the solution?
Ideally, you want to have excellent online relationships with a fat blog roll so you do not have to make first time cold comments, or as a business development professional you have a network so large you have people calling and referring you without calling people you do not know. This is not a perfect world and when time is limited, you have to build rapport fast and get the job done.
You may have to ask Jon, Chris, or Jaime on no cold call prospecting, but as for comment links on blogs I have some tips to help you get blog links to your site (not your blog) without spamming.
That said, following these guidelines, I rarely get my first time comments deleted and am able to get some great relevant links from high PR blogs to interior pages.
Rules of Engagement
Two rules I go by when choosing a blog post to comment on are be relevant & don't be link greedy. I won't leave a comment on a post that is not specifically about a similar subject in which my link will relate . Secondly, I usually have no more than one link per comment, two if you count name/handle homepage link. Now that the general rules are out of the way, below is a formula of one effective method for structuring the actual comment.
Best Practices for Blog Cold Commenting
1. Address - The sweetest word to hear is your own name. When leaving a comment on a stranger's blog, address the blog owner by his/her real name if you can find it or least use his/her handle followed by a dash or comma.
2. Prepare Do not try and hide the fact you are a stranger, give him/her a reason* you are commenting. Make a statement similar to: I just stumbled upon your blog post, and this is a subject I have strong feelings toward so I had to say something, I hope you don't mind
3. Reflect Agree or disagree if any opinions are stated in the post by reflecting back a detail in the post and giving your opinion. It is probably better to disagree, because many people are jaded with yeah me too insert link comments.
4. Add value Truly offer an opinion or new perspective on what the author was saying in the post. Add value to the conversation.
5. Ask - End your comment with a rhetorical or question you are truly curious about to encourage further engagement even if you plan on never coming back.
(Editor's note: No, this does not form some cool acronym, but I tried to keep this formula simple.)
Now that we have covered the structure of a nice comment on a stranger's blog, here are some etiquette tips that make your efforts SEO friendly as well as a nice user experience for the readers of the blog.
1. Buffer Your Link Naturally fit your link in after a few sentences, followed by a few others. It is less direct than having it at the beginning or end of the comment.
2. Anchor Text Using three or four word phrases over calls to action like click here are much preferred. It is obvious those underlined or different color words are a link that can be clicked. Using keywords in the link help greatly with SEO.
3. Specificity - Use long(er) tail type keywords as the anchor text linking to an interior page verses using generic phrases linking back to your home page. It is much more natural, and as web pundits would like to say useful to the user experience.
4. Name Keyword Use a real name when the commenting engine asks for it on the name section, not your keywords just because it links back to your homepage. Have a blog readers can click back to by clicking on your name. If you don't have a blog, get a Gmail account so you can comment on Blogger posts.
* It is proven through psychological tests that if you give a reason why you are doing something or asking someone for a favor, no matter how illogical or ridiculous, the person is much more likely to comply. Politeness helps as well. Social psychologist & author Robert Cialdini proves this in his book.