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An engaged audience is more likely to spend more time on your site—and then come back and do it again. More importantly, engaged readers help ensure higher publisher earnings for sites with ads enabled. But how do you get your readers to start commenting in the first place? And how do you keep them coming back for more? Follow these steps for increasing reader engagement.
1. Establish community guidelines
Clear community guidelines are a useful tool for strengthening your commenting community. Create a safe and supportive space for readers to share their thoughts by setting straightforward expectations and rules of engagement. Let your readers know that, while you welcome heated debates, there are moments when moderators may need to step in. Use our sample guidelines to help you get started on your own community guidelines.
2. Reciprocity is key
Once you’ve outlined a few rules and regulations for your community, you’ll need to designate a moderator. Forum moderators should not only filter any harmful or unwanted content, they should also respond to comments on your page to let readers know you’re listening. If you have other writers and content contributors, go a step further and encourage them to chime in as well. Keeping your site’s voice active in the comments section is a great way to build longer, more meaningful discussions.
3. Always ask questions
Asking your audience a question is perhaps one of the oldest tricks in the book for increasing reader engagement, but remember, consistency is key. Make a point to include a question in every article, or add a call for comments to your author bio. Reminding readers that you want to hear from them is a great way to promote engagement.
4. Jump to comments
Posing a question to your readers can help boost reader participation—but don’t stop there. Provide your audience with multiple opportunities to chime in by including a link that jumps to the comments section. Doing so will encourage your readers to voice their opinions. Consider adding a “jump to comments” link at the top of the article and after every question you ask your readers, or include a comment count after article titles.
Tip: Getting more readers to visit your comments section could improve your ad viewability and earnings.
5. Highlight the best comments
If you have a comment that sparks a great discussion on your site (or just a comment that you think should get more attention), you can feature it at the top of your discussion thread. This will make the comment more visible to readers scrolling through your discussion section so that it won’t get overlooked. Get the how-to for featuring a comment.