When we decide to start a WordPress blog site, we will periodically publish our posts with topics that, based on the knowledge we have from our audience, will be of interest and attract more visits to our website.
We can use web analytics tools to evaluate the behavior of users and detect which are the areas that produce more interest. It can be by a number of visits to a post or the length of stay, among other metrics. In this way, we can learn a little more about them.
However, this method is indirect, because it is based on numerical values we must deduce (suppose) that a certain topic is of interest to users.
Without comments on the blog, the user adopts a passive attitude, and we have no way of knowing if he has other concerns.
So, when we allow a user to comment on a post, we are giving him a greater role.
With comments, readers can adopt a more active attitude, by interacting with us and lengthening their visit time on our page. Fundamentally, they can leave their opinions and doubts, allowing us to get to know them better and help us improve our publication strategy.
In this article, we will see how we can improve the comment system that WordPress includes by default, with a selection of the best comment plugins to manage comments that make it easier for users to leave their comments and improve our relationship with them (and, therefore, get more engagement).
Table of content:
Why do we need a comment plugin in WordPress?
As we have seen in the introduction, a comments section adds real value to our blog posts, and WordPress facilitates these comments with a default system.
However, its functionality is quite limited and the comment plugins improve or replace it to get even more user participation.
We should not underestimate the importance of comments. Not only for users, but for ourselves.
It is discouraging when we put effort into creating quality content but we don’t get the recognition we expect. Therefore, comments are a kind of confirmation of the quality of the content, expressed directly by users.
Comments can also improve content, as users often leave comments that delve into a particular aspect or provide another point of view.
In fact, many readers often find the comments section as useful as the content itself, for all the additional information it provides and the ability to exchange opinions with other users, not just with the author.
However, for a blog to receive many comments, it is not only necessary to publish quality content, it is also necessary to offer a comment system that facilitates this interaction and that offers more functionalities than WordPress’ default comments.
Next, we will review the advantages and, yes, it also has, the disadvantages of comments in WordPress, so that we are clear about what they bring us and what it means to have them on our blog.
Advantages of comments in WordPress
- SEO positioning. We put it first because the impact that comments can have on the positioning is rarely taken into account. When users make useful comments (that are not spam, as we will see later), they expand the information of the article, using keywords related to the main topic, which reinforces the positioning of our post for those keywords and that niche.
- New content. Again we refer to useful comments (yes, we insist a lot on this concept, but you will see that it is transcendental). With their comments, users can refer to the content, either to expand something or ask a specific question. This can help us to choose a topic for a new post, to delve into points that have generated more interest or to address other related topics that users have asked the most about.
- Community feeling. Through the comments, users create a link not only with the website but with each other. Regular users of a website, who leave comments with a certain frequency, end up interacting with each other, through the comment threads, discussing the subject of the post. We can energize that with our own comments. This feeling of community increases the loyalty of the user, who will tend to visit us more times.
- Post evaluation. A post with few comments usually means that this topic, or the way it has been raised, is not in the interest of users and that we should not repeat too much. On the other hand, a post with many comments means that it is a topic that has greatly interested users or that it has been exposed in a very attractive way. This allows us to determine if certain formats are more suitable for our audience than others (for example, if we have included several short videos and the comments are triggered, we should consider making posts with that provision).
Disadvantages of comments in WordPress
- Moderation of comments. This is perhaps the part that many bloggers don’t like: spend time reading and answering comments. It is not necessary to answer all of them (although we do have to read them), but we must maintain a fairly active attitude in this regard. There is nothing more demotivating for a user than leaving a comment with a very specific question or doubt but that the blogger does not read or answer. Having a comment system implies a commitment on our part: interacting with users.
- Link “searchers”. Many, many, users leave comments that contribute nothing to a post only in order to leave their name and a link to their website, in a vain attempt to get some benefit in their positioning through that link (as if Google were fool). These are comments that do not provide any of the advantages of having comments and that can even discourage other more committed users from seeing too many comments that do not contribute anything. The blogger can moderate them, of course, but at the cost of spending valuable time.
- Spam comments. These are comments that contribute absolutely nothing to the post, that have nothing to do with its content or a clear commercial nature. They are usually generated automatically by bots and are relatively easy to distinguish (a plugin like Akismet can help us control them). Link “searchers” could be considered spam, but there are some that do, that search for a link, but do not do it automatically and at least try to leave a useful comment.
The comment system in WordPress
WordPress does not need a plugin to include comments in the posts since it includes its own comment system. It is quite basic but it allows comments and many WordPress themes include it with the default configuration.
The biggest advantage of the WordPress comment is its ease of use system. To leave a comment, visitors only need to leave their name and email address and, optionally, the URL of their website. In this way, users will be more likely to leave a comment.
However, there are quite a few drawbacks to using this system which, on the other hand, has hardly changed since its first versions .
For example, users who comment are not notified of responses, user comments cannot be voted, and cannot be shared on social media. The spam filter is also not very effective.
Despite these limitations, it may be enough for small blogs, so before we see what are the best comment plugins for WordPress, let’s see what the WordPress comment system is like and how we can use it.
The commenting system is activated in WordPress through the option “Allow people to submit comments on new posts”, within the Settings-> Discussion menu in the control panel:
Once activated, we can configure various aspects of its operation, related to user registration and comment moderation, such as:
- Whether or not the user is required to register to leave a comment, as well as leave their name and email (this measure usually limits spam a little).
- Receive email notifications when someone leaves a comment on our posts.
- The possibility that the posts of the known users are published automatically, without the need for us to moderate them.
- Indicate some conditions for the moderation of the comments; for example, limiting the number of links (to avoid link “searchers”) or including a blacklist of words that should not appear in a comment (such as “sell”, “viagra” or “bets”).
When a user leaves a comment in any of our posts and we must moderate it, either to publish it or respond to it, WordPress indicates it in the menu with the number of comments pending moderation:
To moderate pending comments, WordPress offers us the following possibilities:
For each comment, we can do the following:
- Approve or reject it, depending on whether we consider it relevant or not for that post.
- Reply. If it is still pending publication, it would be automatically approved after we replay.
- Edit the comment, for when there is an error or we want to delete a word (for example, it is blacklisted but it is not a spam comment).
- Mark it as spam, so that subsequent posts by this user will be considered spam.
- Delete it, when the comment does not contribute anything but we do not consider it to be spam.
We cannot do much more with the WordPress comment system, but if you consider that it is enough for your blog, you can see a much more detailed description of how to configure and manage comments in WordPress .
Best plugins to manage comments in WordPress
Perhaps you are wondering if the WordPress comment system is sufficient for your blog and you are not clear what a comment plugin could offer you that you do not get with the default installation of WordPress.
So you do not go crazy reading and comparing the main characteristics of the comment plugins for WordPress, here you have a selection of the 6 best comment plugins for WordPress, with a list of their most outstanding characteristics, so you can decide which one best suits your blog.
Disqus is a commenting platform that is hosted and operated on an external server system; that is, not on our server or WordPress. Therefore, it works externally to WordPress and, using the Disqus API, it can also be used on other sites and systems, such as Blogger, Tumblr, etc.
This makes it one of the most comprehensive commenting systems, offering many more features than WordPress comments.
It has a very friendly and easy to use design, with very useful display options that make it more pleasant for users.
Features include nested comments, social login, comment response notifications, or including images and videos in comments. Its spam control is also very effective.
Users can also comment through their Disqus account, in addition to the blog, which increases the feeling of community and collaboration , since Disqus users can follow other users and see their comment history, including those who have done on other blogs.
This makes it a great way for like-minded users to come across new resources relevant to them.
From the blogger’s perspective, you can moderate comments from the website itself, the Disqus dashboard, and even from your email inbox, directly from comment notifications, without having to login and identify yourself.
However, all of these benefits come at a cost: by default, it requires visitors to log in before commenting. Although there are many options for quick logins (for example, with Twitter, Facebook, or Disqus itself), this additional step may inconvenience some users, who choose not to comment.
Although it is a free plugin, Disqus monetizes it by selling user data, which can also be inconvenient for many users and desist from leaving their comments.
JetPack surely has the widest functionality of all WordPress plugins, with a suite of modules with all kinds of features and functionalities, which includes Jetpack’s own comments module: JetPack Comments .
Unlike most comment plugins, Jetpack Comments is not a comment system per se, but an update to the default WordPress comment system.
As a result, Jetpack addresses several of WordPress’ most obvious shortcomings, while retaining all of its strengths, making it one of the most widely used plugins.
For example, users should only leave their name and email address (and the optional website) to comment, streamlining the commenting process as we had with WordPress.
However, Jetpack also offers the ability to log in to social accounts, such as WordPress.com, Twitter or Facebook, to access with a single click with the same account.
Users can choose whether or not to receive email notifications of any follow-up comments, giving the opportunity for the comment to evolve into something more meaningful, as part of a conversation between users, further enriching the post and their comments.
It is very easy to install: it only requires synchronizing it with a WordPress.com account and then activating the Jetpack Comments module. By integrating with WordPress, you don’t have complicated configuration options.
However, the main drawback of Jetpack is that it is a suite of modules, more than 20, which means that if we are only going to use the comments module, we will be including a lot of unnecessary code. Therefore, it is a good choice if we are already using some of its modules for other functions.
ReplyBox is a comment system independent of our website’s hosting server (like Disqus), but very easy to configure with WordPress thanks to its integration plugin.
As it is an external platform, comments are stored and managed on ReplyBox servers.
Now ReplyBox also synchronizes comments with the website in WordPress, to avoid connectivity problems, and also allows to import comments to WordPress from ReplyBox. In this way, if we stop using it, we will continue to have the comments.
Unlike Disqus, ReplyBox doesn’t monetize user data, which means you don’t have to track users, making it more palatable for users to use who are especially careful about their privacy.
This is not the only advantage over Disqus. According to the plugin developer, it has a much lower impact on page load speed than Disqus.
For spam filtering it uses the Akismet plugin, but it also reduces spam by requiring users to sign in to a ReplyBox account or log in with Google to leave a comment.
Additional options users have are the ability to edit their comments after sending them, subscribe to new comments, or use markup language when writing comments, highlight text snippets, and receive email notifications of responses to their comments.
ReplyBox is free for up to 10,000 monthly page views. For a greater number of visits, it offers payment plans for visits, starting at $ 10 per month.
The wpDiscuz comment plugin tries to offer almost the same functionality that we can achieve with an external service, like Disqus, only in a solution hosted on our server, not in an external service.
It has all the standard features we expect from such a plugin: an intuitive user interface, nested comments, and various methods for sorting comments (newest, oldest, and most voted). In this regard, we will not miss anything.
A highlight of this plugin is its speed. The plugin uses the lazy loading technique, so the comments section only loads when necessary; that is when the user reaches the end of the page, where comments are usually placed.
wpDiscuz is compatible with the main anti-spam plugins, such as Akismet, and allows users to obtain user profiles of plugins such as BuddyPress, in addition to logging in through social media accounts, although it also allows the possibility of anonymous comments.
Along with the Postmatic plugin, wpDiscuz allows users to reply to comments from their email inbox by sending an email, helping to encourage conversations between users, and have a more active comments section.
CommentLuv comment plugin is an update to the basic functionality of the WordPress built-in comment system; that is, it does not work independently, but rather expands its functions and configuration options.
The developers of this plugin start from a premise: users must be given an incentive to comment. When a user enters their website address in the comments section, CommentLuv automatically adds a link to the latest blog post.
For registered users, the plugin offers an additional incentive: choosing which publication they want to link to.
Since many bloggers comment only to get an external link, this measure can make the comment section of our blog much more active. This will also make many users go the extra mile to get their comments to attract clicks to their blogs.
However, this incentive is also a double-edged sword. We can have a comment section with a lot of activity, but with the risk that most of them are self-congratulating.
Therefore, we will have to put a little more effort into moderation to avoid this excess behavior and encourage to leave relevant comments.
All the comment plugins that we have seen previously, are free or have a free plan. To cover all the possibilities, we will now see a paid comment plugin: Thrive Comments.
This comment plugin replaces the WordPress comment system, with its own interface, so it is hosted on our own server.
Thrive Comments adds an option for visitors to vote for and against other users’ comments , as can be done in most forums.
Depending on the votes in favor, you can choose to show the best comments in first position, although you can also manually select which one to show.
To encourage users to leave their comments, you can assign badges to identify and recognize users that are more involved. Another measure that encourages interaction between users is the possibility of interweaving responses between them.
Thrive Comments is specially designed to make it as easy as possible for users to leave their comments, with measures such as:
- Include a ‘Leave Comment’ button at the top and bottom of the comments section, so you don’t have to search for the form at the end of the entire list of comments.
- Login through social networks.
- Subscribe to comments to receive email notifications of responses.
- Respond to other users’ responses via email.
Thrive Comments offers a unique feature, compared to other plugins: the ability to generate conversions by interacting with users after they leave a comment. It allows us to:
- Show a personalized message.
- Redirect them to another page.
- Ask them to share on social networks.
- Give personalized attention according to the activity level.
As it is a substitute for the WordPress comment system, all comments are stored in the WordPress database itself, respecting its structure.
If we decided to stop using Thrive Comments, comments would still be available with the default WordPress comment system, although without the plugin functionality.
User comments on our blog posts allow us to assess participation and interest in the content we publish.
Therefore, we should always allow our users to leave their comments, but with the WordPress comment system or with a much more powerful plugin?
For bloggers with little WordPress experience and who do not want (yet) many complications with comments or want to lose among multiple configuration options, the WordPress comment system works perfectly.
The next step would be to extend the default WordPress system functionalities with comment plugins like Jetpack, wpDiscuz or CommentLuv, which keep the same operation, but with more options to edit and manage comments, without having to use an external hosting service.
For even more advanced functions, which includes interaction between users and different blogs, comments can be hosted on an external platform (and therefore, reduce the workload of our hosting server), we can choose between Disqus (very powerful but which uses user data to monetize the service), or ReplyBox (somewhat less powerful but does not monetize with user data).
There is no “perfect” choice. Each blog has its own needs and each blogger its priorities.
Therefore, you have to evaluate each comment plugin, consider how the features fit each need, and then decide on one or the other. If we are currently using a feedback system that we find insufficient, we must identify where it is falling short and then choose the plugin that addresses the limitations we have encountered.