Blogging is an inherently social activity, just one that happens to be done with millions of other people all across the globe.
As with any social activity, there are social norms that develop and pertain to the way that bloggers interact with one another. These aren’t necessarily laws (though there is some relationship when you look at copyright) but they are general guidelines to help ensure that bloggers don’t needlessly injure one another and work together for the betterment of the larger community.
What exactly those standards are is up for debate. Often times, what one sees as the norm will depend as much on other factors as it does their role as a blogger. But still, there are a few generally-agreed upon norms out there, but they also happen to be very easy boundaries to cross at times.
So what are some missteps you might be making in your interactions with other bloggers? Here are five of the more common ones.
1. Commenting When You Should be Emailing/Vice Versa
When you run across a post you like on the Web and you want to reach out to the blogger about it, you are faced with a tough choice: Do you comment on the post publicly or send an email directly to the blogger.
Generally, the question to ask yourself is: Would this, if posted as a comment, further the conversation or make the post better?
If you’re highlighting a point in the original, adding information or putting something up for broader discussion, it’s probably best to put it up as a comment. If you’re just wanting to say “Good job” or point out a typo, you probably should send it via email.
Also, anything that might be disruptive to the conversation should be sent via email as well. If you have reason to believe that your conversation could get heated or is simply a tangent to the original post, it’s probably best to send it via email to keep the on-site conversation more focused.
With blogging, there’s still plenty of times where a private letter is a better choice and it is important to know when to use it.
2. Spammy Comments and Extra Links
While we’re on the subject of blog comments, blog commenting can be a great way to promote a site, especially a new one, but it is important to realize that comment marketing means much more than simply posting wherever and whatever you can.
It’s important, with every comment you post, to make sure that the comment is both relevant to the post and, as mentioned above, adds to the conversation.
However, equally important is the issue of linking. If the blog provides a link to every commenter, as most do, it’s considered poor form usually to put a link to your site in your comment itself, unless the link is extremely relevant to the conversation.
Many bloggers, often without realizing how spammy it is, will post a short “Good Job” comment and follow it with their name and URL.
Always remember, make your post relevant and that you get one link per comment (the automatic one usually) unless there is a drastic reason to break that rule.
3. Providing Bad Anchor Text
Bloggers, generally, love it when you like their content enough to write about it and link to it. That’s what every blogger strives for to some degree.
However, a big part of that linking isn’t the direct traffic one gets from the original post, but the SEO benefit from having another site “vote” for them via an outbound link.
For better or worse, a lot of that SEO benefit comes from the keywords used in the anchor text. For example, if, on a post about widgets, you say “This great post on widgets” it is better than simply linking to the original article with the word “Source”.
If you want to list the original article as a source link in the footer, consider using the title of the post as the anchor text instead of “Source” or “Original Article”.
4. Editing Your Post Without Clear Explanation or Credit
No blogger is perfect so, if you blog enough, you’re probably going to have to edit at least a few of your posts to put corrections in. While most corrections are minor, a typo here or a missing word there, sometimes you might get a fact wrong or state something in a way where the reader gets the wrong idea.
These things happen but how you correct them is important.
If your correction materially changes your story, you need to make it clear in your post that you made a change (probably using strikethrough rather than actually removing text) and explain why.
Equally importantly, if you got the correction from another blogger or commenter, it’s best to give credit and thanks for the help. The last thing you want to do is seem bitter about being told you were wrong when you were, that’s a great way to ensure that no one ever helps you again.
5. Unnecessary Pingbacks/Trackbacks
Perhaps surprisingly, pingbacks and trackbacks are still very much around. They are tools used by blogging platforms, including WordPress, to track when other blogs create inbound links so they, in turn, can link back.
Many blogs have disabled this feature because it’s become a popular tool for spammers, but other bloggers, realizing the potential, have taken to adding unnecessary links to their posts to get trackbacks on other sites. In fact, there are actually plugins and tools that can do this automatically.
While a “related posts” addition to your site may be appropriate, sending trackbacks and pingbacks to sites and entries you aren’t actually referencing in your post is a pretty big annoyance to other bloggers, especially those who have to clean out dozens of such notifications every day.
Most of these missteps are merely annoyances to other bloggers. It may result in a deleted comment here or a mildly disgruntled blogger there, but those are the exact things that undermine any blog promotion and growth effort.
In short, the best way to grow your blog is to become a part of the blogging community and that means learning to respect and follow the rules/guidelines that are a part of that community.
While some bloggers manage to do well breaking the rules, remeber that you violate them at your own risk and, if you do it too much and do so intentionally, you’ll likely find that there are many bloggers with negative opinions of you and some who are actually very angry with you.