There is a common theory that you must go out and comment on blogs and forums so you can get more links to your site and this will somehow increase your PageRank or rankings in SERP’s. While this is not completely untrue, it is not a main factor that you should be worrying about.
I used to think this was the way to get PR and higher rankings in the SERP’s and would continuously work on getting backlinks in this manner. It even got to the point that I was spending more time commenting than I was writing my own content. I have been testing and re-testing ways to get better SERP’s for my products and services sites over the last two years, and my findings are that these links, while they are not useless, serve a different purpose.
Traffic Generating Links:
I comment on a lot of blogs in many niches on a near daily basis. This started because I thought that these links were the end all of getting PR. It became a habit, and then later something I just enjoyed doing because I like to write and I like to express my opinion (yes I can be opinionated).
Through lots of research, I realized that these links I would “drop”, whether in forums or on blogs were actually of great benefit to me, but not necessarily for the reasons I thought. I was generating traffic though these links, and gaining regular readers, but it was not helping my SERP rankings very much.
Before I started this site, I went out and found a bunch of blogs in this niche and started commenting regularly on them, leaving value added comments, replying to other comments, and returning to reply to those that replied to my comments. I was building up to the launch of this site, and I was building a community around it before it even launched.
By doing this, I immediately had traffic when my site went live. I also immediately began getting comments, from day one. That is not something I had been able to accomplish with my past site launches because I would go live and then go and promote it.
Links For SEO:
There are many theories about links for SEO, I personally don’t think of anything that happens off page to be SEO, so I don’t consider links to be part of SEO. I look at them as advertising, because when I drop a link on your comment section I am hoping that my comment will be good enough to get a click through not just from you, but maybe your readers too.
Please don’t misunderstand me, links are an important part of building and maintaining your website, but linkbuilding is another topic altogether. I have seen people write that links are what gets you ranked, but I have seen those same sites have 50k backlinks and still be a PR3 or 4, so I don’t believe that a link is a link, and I don’t think that links in comment sections or in sidebars are valued by Google at all, but they do represent a good amount of traffic, to be more specific, referral traffic.
Kelly at FMSSEO wrote a great article on Links For SEO, and she refers to the links that are surrounded by text in the body of the article having greater value. I agree with this 100%, and it is why when I write Link Roundup articles anymore, I changed the format to be more natural reading and not just a list of links. I think this type of article will give more weight to the sites/articles I am linking to, in essence show more trust.
Yes you should be commenting to get links, but I prefer to look at it as site promotion rather than linkbuilding or SEO. I truly believe if you change the way you are thinking about this, your comments will add more value because you are trying to compel readers to click through to your site.