Successful websites are the ones that strike a chord in their readers. They encourage debate and discussion, getting the audience involved in the topic of the article. But visitor engagement isn’t always easy, and many people find that their visitors leave the site without really engaging with it at all.
How do you get around this?
One of the most important ways is to engage people through your content and get them to interact within the comments section of your site.
There are a number of tools that can help with this process and my own focus has been on one specific tool called Disqus.
I was interested in finding out, does Disqus work and whether it would offer a good way to engage website visitors and actually get them interacting on the site.
Personally, I’m very happy with the tool and want to share some of my findings with you.
It’s easy to focus on getting people to visit your website, but unfortunately, this is only part of the battle. Once you have them there, you have to get them interested in what you have to say and get them to the point where they want to come back.
There are a few different ways of doing this, and they all have their uses.
The first is simply to post and post regularly. This is critical to so many different aspects of having a successful website, including getting it to rank – yet there are still people who don’t do it.
If you are posting regularly on your website, then you have something new for people to come back to. Even if you have a large amount of content on your site already, new content always tends to interest people.
Sites that don’t post new content frequently also tend to look stagnant and this can influence how much people trust what they have to say. So, posting on a regular basis helps your audience to connect with your site and also makes your site look better overall.
The second thing is social media.
With so many people on social media, it seems silly not to use social media at all. Interacting with potential visitors through social media and sharing posts can be a fantastic way of increasing audience engagement.
Another important approach to engaging your audience is through comments. As you’ve probably noticed, that’s really what I’m focusing on today.
Comments give your audience the chance to directly interact with what you say in a given post, interacting both with you and with each other.
People will often use this as a chance to ask questions, or to argue about a point you have made in an article. In fact, content that is very controversial or interesting will tend to spur a lot of discussion and debate. Sometimes this can even end up being longer than the original article.
Many authors choose to encourage comments. This often involves specifically asking for opinions or experiences within the content of a post.
By doing this, you can take the audience from being passive consumers of your content to people who are interested and engaged. Realistically, an audience who is engaged in your content is much more likely to be long-time visitors and to actually buy something.
Another important approach to using comments is to actually respond when people write comments.
Ideally, you want to pick responses that are going to further the conversation, and you want to avoid insulting your commenters whenever possible.
If people feel like you value their input and take them seriously, it will improve their experience and also increase the likelihood of them actually commenting.
Going Beyond WordPress with Disqus
WordPress offers its own comments section and many people do just use this.
While WordPress’s system is fine for just getting started, it is pretty limited. If you are wanting to improve the experience of your visitors and offer more options, using a plugin is essential.
There are a few different ones out there that can improve your comment functionality overall.
Disqus is one of these and it is an incredibly common comment system online.
Unlike many of the options out there, Disqus isn’t actually restricted to WordPress, so you can use it even if you are using another blog platform.
Disqus is a community-based application, providing commenters with the ability to interact with one another across your website and across a wider community. This includes providing notifications of replies to comments and allowing them to see all the different comments that they have made.
This means that visitors create a Disqus account the first time they comment under the system.
This can be a little frustrating for some website owners because it does have the potential to reduce the amount of comments received.
However, you do have the option of enabling guest commenting, which allows people to comment without creating an account.
Personally, I like the approach, as it gives you the ability to choose whether you want to allow people to publish comments without an account, or whether you want to force them to have an account.
Additionally, it may help to decrease the amount of spam comments that you get on a website.
This is particularly important because website spam can get really stressful and annoying. There are plugins that help to reduce this, but honestly, I prefer having people log on with Disqus rather than having to use a captcha.
The community aspect of Disqus is actually really cool, and it does wonders for audience engagement.
In particular, it gives people greater ability to go back to old discussions when someone replies to them and it makes it easier for the same people to interact with one another across multiple posts or even multiple sites.
One of the features I love about Disqus is the way that comments can be upvoted or downvoted. This gives users the ability to mark which comments are most relevant to the current discussion.
This means that your comment stream becomes sorted based on relevance, rather than which comments were made most recently. This is fantastic for encouraging engagement, as it places the comments that people are most likely to interact with right at the top.
Appearance and Functionality
I love the way that Disqus comments look. In general, Disqus makes it very easy for people to comment and to interact, regardless of whether they are doing so from their computer or from a mobile device.
The system is also easy to install – even for people who haven’t played around with plugins before.
Functionally, Disqus works well, and it’s pretty obvious to visitors, which is always a plus.
It’s also worth noting that Disqus has a lot of options. This means that you can tweak it based on your needs or use it just as it comes.
For example, there are different themes available and you might choose to specify the font that your comments are shown in or the size of icons that are used. Likewise, you could also choose to add moderation if you want to pay close attention to what is posted on your website.
All of these options are really good for people who are a specific about how they want their website to look and want to manage their comments.
The final thing that I really like about Disqus is that it is a free system. This means that you have the chance to try it out and figure out whether it works for you without losing anything.
As with anything, there are some downsides to Disqus.
One possible complaint is that it loads slowly. Personally, I haven’t noticed this, but it could be an issue if your visitors have slow connections.
Honestly though, the vast majority of people reviewing the system haven’t had an issue with this, so I suspect it is only significant in a small number of cases.
Another downside is the way that your comments are stored on the servers of Disqus, rather than on WordPress. This does make management easier – however, it means that if anything happened to Disqus, you could potentially lose your comments.
It doesn’t look like the company is going anywhere anytime soon, but this has been a reason that people have chosen to avoid third-party commenting systems.
Besides that, Disqus does offer a system for importing and exporting comments. This gives you the ability to create a backup of your comments, which means that you will still have them regardless of what happens to Disqus.
Audience engagement is a critical aspect of any website, and effectively using comments is an important component of this.
Personally, I really like the Disqus system (as you can probably tell) and I think the answer to my question of “Does Disqus Work?” is yes, it works very well.
What are your experiences? Have you tried a third-party comment system? If so, what do you think of it?
Now, one of the reasons for talking about Disqus is that audience engagement is so important on any website, especially if you are trying to make money from that website.
After all, engaging with your visitors lets people see who is really behind the site and helps them to connect with you on a personal level.
If you want to learn more about the value of comments or other aspects of building a website, head on over to Wealthy Affiliate and check out their training.