Have you ever looked at the comments of a WordPress site and found that commenters have pictures and images next to them? That’s an avatar.
That’s not a fluke and there’s no magic behind it. It’s actually done by something called Gravatar.
It sounds like a space age, highly technical way, but it’s actually incredibly simple.
What is Gravatar? Read on to find out.
The Debate: To Have Comments or Not
Before we get to Gravatar, we need to address on a question that’s central to the use of avatars on your website. Should you have comments on your site or not?
There are pros and cons to each. Having comments can make your site appear popular and you’re adding value to your readers. Responding to comments can also show that you’re building a community about a given topic.
Another notch on the pro side is that comments can assist with SEO. It’s well documented that posts that are about 1,900 words long tend to rank on the first page of search results. Comments are counted towards that word count.
What that means is that if you have a 1000 word article that has 900 words of comments, you improve your chances to rank on the first page of a given topic, especially if the comments have semantic search terms.
On the downside, having the ability to add comments could open your site up to spam or trolls who do nothing more than leave negative comments.
Another potential downside is that having comments available with no one commenting can appear that your content is falling flat with readers.
No matter what you decide, you have to weight the pros and cons of having comments on your blog. You may decide to start with no comments at first and then add comments once you get a good amount of comments and start to build your brand.
What is Gravatar?
If you do have comments on your blog, you want to make sure that people can identify themselves. This will avoid useless and anonymous comments and spam on your site.
Gravatar stands for global avatar. It’s a service that’s tied into your WordPress installation. It ensures that users can have the same avatar across sites when they comment on sites that use Gravatar.
It’s an easy way to comment on sites without having to upload a new profile picture and fill out profile information for every single site. You just sign up for a Gravatar account, and you’re all set.
If you want an in-depth guide about Gravatar and how you can use it in WordPress, you can check out this article to learn more about it.
Gravatar from a User’s Perspective
As a user, Gravatar is a wonderful tool to have. It’s very easy to use and ensures brand consistency across many websites.
You have a brand, whether you have a personal brand or you’re working with a company. The keys to building a reputable brand are to be visible, add value, and repeat the process. Over time, you’ll have a good reputation.
Think of an avatar like a profile picture. You want to have that same look and feel across social media accounts. You want to have the same look across sites that you comment on, too.
With Gravatar, you sign up once, add your profile picture, and it will automatically appear on sites that have enabled Gravatar.
There are many ways you can go about building a brand. One of them is to comment on industry blogs that are relevant to your area of expertise.
When you add thoughtful comments to blogs using the same avatar, that will stick in the minds of readers. That will be sure to build your brand up.
Gravatar for Bloggers
What is Gravatar for bloggers? It’s a way to protect your website, your brand, and a way to build community.
You know that you have to write content for search engines and for people. That’s a difficult task, but when you get it right, you’re adding value to your readers and helping your SEO.
Let’s say that one of your posts is a hit online. You’re getting a lot of social media shares and visits to your site. You’re also getting a lot of comments on the article.
You’re able to learn more about them through their avatar, or at least see who they are, and connect with them. You can get the same people commenting on your posts, which you’re able to see with Gravatar.
That enables you to have more meaningful connections because you’re familiar with them. Likewise, if you’re getting the same people commenting on your posts, you can ask them questions in return and build a community of readers.
You’re essentially building a community on your website as opposed to having to resort to Facebook groups to build a tribe.
Gravatar and Site Speed
Bloggers know that site speed is a factor in SEO and the user experience. One point to be aware of when using Gravatar is that is can slow down your site if you have many different people making comments on your blog.
The reason why is that WordPress will have to send multiple requests to Gravatar’s servers to download the commenters’ avatars.
One way to get around this is to use a caching plugin like FV Gravatar Cache, which creates a cache of those comments.
Gravatar Makes a Difference in the Web Experience
What is Gravatar? It depends on your perspective.
As a blogger, you want to protect the integrity of your website. To do that, you want to make sure that people who comment on your content can be easily identified. It also ensures that real people are commenting on your posts, which can make a tremendous difference in building your community.
As a user, Gravatar is a great way to build an identifiable brand as you comment on topics and make yourself a credible expert in your field.
In both cases, Gravatar can be used to build a better and closer web community.
Would you like more great tips on blogging? Check out these outstanding strategies to grow your website.