A blog lives and dies by the traffic it attracts.

You can use various techniques to get traffic, but the best way is to get it through search engines. This traffic is free, and they are already interested in what you have to say. Search engine traffic is largely driven by your content.

And your content includes the comments other people leave on your blog. Comments can cause your blog to get traffic you never expected, and attract readers from new audiences. As an example, Online Opportunity recently had a visitor who was searching Google looking for ways a 14 year-old could make money online. They ended up at my post about how to make money blogging.

That visitor wasn’t due to the content I put into the post, but due to a comment left by Carl Ocab. In the comment Carl shared that he was 14 and made money blogging.

These trickles of traffic add up over time to a steady stream. Comments give you content that is different from what you normally write, and help you to attract visitors you might not otherwise have attracted.

Also note that comments on old blog posts make it seem to search engines that the page’s content has been updated. Search engines like pages that update their content regularly.

In the early days of a blog, it can be tough to get people to comment. Later, when a blog has a thousand visitors a day, every post will get some comments. New blogs need to be a bit more creative, though.

One creative approach is being taken by Mr. P over at Cash for Comments. You can find the full details here, but the short of it is that in exchange for 5 comments on his blog and a review, he’ll return the favor and give you a review and five comments on your blog. The scheme seems to be working out well for him.

Other approaches to increasing comments include closing posts with questions, or holding contests for comments. An example of a contest for comments is over at Pure Blogging’s $200 contest. Basically, $100 is awarded to whoever submits the 1,000th comment on the blog. So go comment on Pure Blogging, and maybe you can make an easy $100!

Pure Blogging is also giving $100 to a random blogger who helps spread the word about this contest. This post doesn’t count, since it isn’t in a post of its own. So if you want to enter that portion of the contest for a chance at $100, click the link above and check out the contest rules.

However you do it, increasing the number of comments on your blog is a great way to increase the amount of traffic you’re getting. What are your favorite ways of getting visitors to comment?

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