There are many great plugins available for WordPress users, but very few are so important that they should be used on pretty much every blog. The Show Top Commentators plugin is one of these that every blog that accepts comments should use.
Why? Last week, I eluded to the importance of this plugin for getting users to comment, but didn’t expand on the reasons why. If your site wants to get the readers involved, it is important to have this plugin because frequent commentators will be rewarded with a link to their site. Unlike WordPress comments (which by default all links are set as nofollow), the search engines spiders will count the links in your sidebar as an outbound link (the equivalent of buying a link from this site).
John Chow recently took this a step further, explaining a better way to take advantage of this plugin:
Looking at my Top Commentators lists, I can see that, from a SEO standpoint, three commentators are doing it right and the rest are doing it wrong. Getting a link on the Top Commentators list offers more SEO benefit than traffic benefits. It’s the same as buying a text link. The link sends you traffic but its main purpose to help you improve your Google ranking. Knowing this to be the case, then the anchor text for the top commentator link should be anything but your name (unless your name is very descriptive).
If you’re going to go after the top commentators position on a bunch of blogs, then it’s to your advantage to link back to your blog with something other than your name or blog name. Webmaster Labor is doing this correctly with Cheap Custom Content and Article Checker. Yes, he holds two spots on the Top Commentators list. Pretty evil, huh?
While it is great to have your name on a bunch of top commentators lists, you have to keep in mind that these links are more for SEO than traffic. Ask yourself what anchor text do you want to rank for and use that as your name. You’ll still get traffic, but your Google ranking will increase.
So, for example, if I wanted to improve my search engine ranking with the term “Technology Talk”, I would want to use the word Technology Talk as my name when I was placing comments on various blogs, so that it would read that way on that blogs sidebar when I was a top commentator. This may also draw more clicks over to my site as a little bonus.
As you can see, if you encourage commenting on your website, this is definitely a cornerstone plugin for WordPress bloggers. It encourages comments, as well as gives commentators an opportunity to reward themselves with a linkback to their site on the blogs sidebar. I also recommend editing the plugin to allow 10+ top commentators, rather than the default 5 it starts with.