I did some analysis of my blog this weekend to look for a correlation between my search engine results, my most popular blog posts, the posts with the most comments, and the posts that actually resulted in revenue due to consulting or speaking engagements.
There was no correlation.
Reviewing my most popular posts, you'll find WordPress Contact Form, Huntington Bank Sucks, I left Basecamp, and the length of an Email Address carry the most traffic. Those posts lead the way for Search Engine Results. Those posts also carry the most comments. However, those posts have only provided a trickle of dollars (and a couple cups of coffee) to my pocket.
IMHO, utilizing comments as the sole measurement of success is common, but leads to the majority of corporate blogs failing.
About 1 out of every 200 visitors comes to my blog and leaves a comment. A small percentage of those are snarky, the majority are folks I have personal relationships with… and very few, if any, do I do business with. In fact, one of my largest contracts this past year was from a post that showed my proficiency in a specific technology (and ranked well), but had no comments whatsoever.
The problem isn't blogging, of course. I've got plenty of readership on my blog – but I lack the continuity to consistently write content on subjects that drive conversions to me. As well, I have no call to action on my sidebar.
I've always measured my success by the number of RSS subscribers and the engagement (through comments on my blog). I'm rethinking that strategy! If I wish to drive revenue and utilize this as a business blog, I need to target my content to win in search on terms relevant to what drives income. I also need to provide a path on my site to capture and measure those conversions.
I do not believe that comments equal conversions, nor should they be a measurement of your blog's success.
Unless you can somehow align the activity to a business result, it's simply a vanity metric. That's not to say I don't want comments… it's just that I'm not going to utilize comments as an indicator of how well my blog is performing.