1. rogupta

    Disqus Research: How Comments Drive Traffic

    Posted on September 8, 2011 by rogupta

    Disqus has been in the commenting game for almost half a decade. In that time we’ve seen plenty of isolated or anecdotal evidence that active, growing comment communities tend to yield higher page traffic. It wasn’t until relatively recently that we noticed a number of third party studies supporting those observations or the reasons behind them.

    We were inspired to conduct some more structured research of our own this summer to see if Disqus data produced similar results. Given the growth and breadth in the network these days, we felt we were in a unique position to draw out meaningful insights, and maybe learn a thing or two about what more we can do to help publishers gain traffic from their communities (stay tuned for more on that soon).

    Take a look at the report, summarizing both external and internal findings. We noted three main ways by which comment communities tend to drive increases in key visitor and engagement metrics:

    • Network Cross-Pollination: Disqus blind sample analysis shows an average 339% comment increase, 23% time spent per visit increase and 13% page view per visit increase for pages with Disqus’ networked commenting within 3 months of switching from a basic, insular system, even while overall traffic decreased 4% on average for those sites. These results support an earlier academic study that revealed a relatively strong correlation between comment volume and page views. 
    • SEO Benefit: Comments can have extensive impact across the signals that search engines use to rank results. Research showing how comments can improve search accuracy as much as 15% due to added descriptive content on the page, and how higher time spent per page help improve engagement signals, demonstrates positive effects on intrinsic (on-the-page) SEO. The generation of new inbound comment links on global activity profiles and the fact that search engines are taking more social signals such as commenting, liking and sharing into account show the benefit to extrinsic (off-the-page) SEO.
    • Social Hooks: Automatic notifications, mentions and shares continually drive users back via email and social links, even after the initial conversation may normally have run its course. For Disqus-generated links, click frequency on Twitter is particularly high with a 2,160% click-to-link rate, vs. 8% for email and 7% for Facebook.

    Let us know what you think. Anything we missed? Have you seen supporting or contrary evidence from your own sites?

    And finally, what other topics would you like to see featured in Disqus Research in the future? We hope to do more of these and would love your input on what would be most interesting and useful.

    View the full report here: How Strong Comment Communities Drive Site Traffic.

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