What is The Best Blog Comments App for Shopify?
Shopify is one of the most widely-used platforms for running an online store, and with good reason. Much like WordPress, it's a solid platform with an easy setup, low overhead, and a ton of plugins – called Apps for Shopify – to give it more functionality above and beyond what it comes with.
Today, I'm interested in looking at what plugins or Shopify apps are available to give an associated blog the ability to use blog comments.
What Makes a Good Blog Comments System?
Before we get into looking at specific blog comment plugins, we need to figure out what's important, right? After all, if you don't know what you're looking for, you'll never find it.
There are a few things that, in my mind, are essential for any blog comment system. If a plugin is under-featured or is poorly made, that's one thing, but if it lacks some of the critical features I need, I won't even consider it. So what are those crucial features?
The ability to moderate blog comments. Pretty much every comments plugin will have this, these days. I'm looking for something a little more robust than just "you can delete a comment" though. I'm thinking about features like holding comments for review, flagging comments as possibly abusing, adding URL blocking or banned word lists, and that sort of thing.
The ability to change aesthetics to match a blog. I want my comments to look like they're naturally part of my site. If I can't do that, I want them to have a strong internal aesthetic. Typically, comments need to look like they're part of the site so people are more inclined to read them and participate.
Any built-in anti-spam features. This has some overlap with moderation, but I want some automatic moderation and anti-spam as well. This can be as simple as Disqus's style of requiring an account (so anonymous bots aren't allowed), or as something as complex as everything Akismet does for WordPress sites. Auto-flagging possible spam for moderation is the core feature here.
Accessibility for SEO purposes. A huge benefit to using blog comments on any blog is that they add content to the site. Sure, it's user generated content, but it's still potentially good content. Spur on conversation, add value to your replies to comments, and you can quickly spiral out thousands of words worth of additional bonus content. This should all be available for Google to index and include as part of the overall value of the page.
If a comments plugin has those essential aspects, I'm willing to look at it. The only one that might be up for debate, IMO, is the aesthetics one; the Facebook comments plugin for blogs, for example, maintains all of Facebook's aesthetics, but at least they're strong aesthetics and they don't always disrupt a blog's look. It really depends on how deeply you've customized your blog, and thus how much a non-tweaked comments plugin stands out.
So what comment plugins are out there, and how do they stand up?
First up, we have this plugin for adding Disqus comments to a Shopify blog. You might notice that it's not published by Disqus themselves. So what's the deal?
Disqus is a notoriously tricky comments platform to work with. I've experienced a number of different issues myself, from it not working to it not saving comments to it being opaque to Google. I've also read about all manner of other issues. For Shopify in particular, it can be difficult to install. Moreover, installing it clean will wipe existing comments, rather than import them into its system.
Now, if you want to install the Disqus plugin manually – and you're not afraid to manually edit template code in your Shopify installation – you can feel free to do so. You'll end up with the same result, as long as you don't mess anything up along the way. This post even has some instructions you can follow.
The only downside I can see to this plugin, beyond linking you to Disqus specifically, is that it costs you $4 a month to run it. That wouldn't be bad if it got you the premium Disqus features, but it doesn't; it's just a payment to a third-party company that makes the Shopify app.
Much like Disqus, Facebook operates a comments system that works very well with stand-alone websites and with WordPress blogs, but isn't quite as easy to use with Shopify sites. It's relatively easy to install, if you can handle tweaking code yourself, but this plugin does a little more than just add comments to a Shopify blog.
One of the best features of this particular Shopify app is that it adds a comments feed to product pages as well as to blog posts. This serves as a Facebook-integrated way for your users to leave reviews and comments on products, as well as testimonials about your site in general.
Facebook isn't hugely customizable, but this plugin gives you some tweaks to colors and sizing, and you can do some manual edits if you like. It's also a responsive design, of course, so it fits on your site for any viewer.
The Facebook Comments app has moderation support, and since it uses Facebook's authentication system, it cuts down on a lot of the spam automatically. Anyone looking to spam your site needs to put in a lot more work to do it, and it's easy to fight.
One of the best features of this particular plugin, as well, is that it's part of Facebook. That means you can add in your developer ID and link it right up to your Facebook Insights via Facebook Pixel tracking.
Again, though, much like the EasyDisqus plugin above, this one costs you $4 per month. You get the developer's support and some of their easy usage features for that price, but it's still more than you'd need to pay if you handled it manually.
Update 12/17/2020: Growave no longer has a blog comments feature. We're leaving them on this list for posterity and for their other engagement tools, but it no longer serves as an add-on that allows users to leave blog comments.
A more stand-alone comments plugin for Shopify, Growave has a whole lot of features above and beyond just adding blog comments to your site. In fact, rather than just adding blog comments, they give you a microcode snippet you can add anywhere. Add comments to your product pages like the Facebook plugin above, add them to category pages, add them anywhere you want.
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Growave comments work in a threaded style similar to Facebook or Reddit, where people can respond to the post in general or to each other, and it maintains comment threads. They are also able to integrate with a mailing list plugin if you want, to encourage the people who comment to also subscribe to your newsletter while they're at it.
Growave actually has a handful of other plugins you can use as well, all of which play nicely together. These include a loyalty and rewards program, wishlists, Instagram integration, social sharing buttons, notifications, and more. The various apps all have integrations with other platforms you might be using, like PushOwl, Ampify, and Tobi.
If you're a Shopify Plus user, you can also get Growave's Plus version. This gives you API access, checkout points, POS integration, customer Q&A, and a bunch of other advanced features.
Growave does have a free version, but unfortunately that free version doesn't have access to the Comments plugin, just basic, pared-down versions of their reviews, wishlist, and social login apps. You get Comments with any of their paid plans, which start at $60 per month.
I know, I know, it's a huge increase over the $4 per month the other apps are charging, but you get a hell of a lot more for that subscription. Give it a look, maybe it'll work for you.
POWr is similar to Growave, in that they're a single company that makes a variety of different, interrelated plugins and apps for Shopify. Their range of offerings is somewhat different, though.
It's slightly hard to tell just how many plugins POWr has available, because they list them by category and have quite a bit of overlap, and there are some plugins they don't list. They have at least nine, though, one of which is a comments plugin.
I'll say one thing: POWr's comments plugin is easy to install and start using. They have a config menu to customize your comments section, but it's pretty basic. You have background, border, and color choices, but not a lot beyond that. On the plus side, you can see the preview of your changes live, so you don't have to go through tedious cycles of save and reload to check.
The actual display for the comments is relatively simple. There's no threading, there's no reactions or other advanced features, it's just simple, linear blog comments. You can even see them on their page; they have an open comments section full of spam as a demonstration.
It's not without its downsides, unfortunately. They have four tiers of paid plan, including a free plan which has POWr branding on it. You don't get manual comment approval, voting or reply options, or custom CSS until you're on the middle tier at $10 per month. Thankfully, the highest tier plan – at $71 per month – is only valuable if you're using all of the POWr plugins, since it's a full-company plan rather than an individual plugin plan.
POWr also claims their comment plugin has been installed on over 12 million websites, which I find a little hard to believe, but hey; maybe it's true.
Rounding out the list is the fact that Shopify has a blog integration on its own, and that blog does come with comments. I've seen a few people who didn't know they already have the ability to enable comments, due to one quirk of the system. You can't enable comments until you've published at least one post on the blog. So, if you're trying to set them up without a test article ready to go, you can't.
Shopify comments have one benefit, which is that they're already installed. You don't need to slow down your site with a third party comments plugin, and you don't have to worry about maintenance and updates any more than normal.
Native comments look fine; they're part of the overall Shopify template, so editing your blog theme means editing comments by default. They also have some basic auto-moderation settings. You can choose to auto-publish comments, or hold them for moderation before publication.
Unfortunately, there's no context sensitivity, filtering, or other advanced features for moderation. It's basically an all or nothing choice between all comments, no comments, or manual review of comments. There are some basic spam filters in place for very obvious spam, but compared to something like Akismet, it's not a lot.
Which Comments Plugin is The Best?
So, which of the comment plugins out there is the best one for your blog? I have a couple of opinions.
One of the more popular choices is Facebook comments. The flexibility of using Facebook comments for both blog posts and as product comments and reviews is pretty great. Practically everyone these days has a Facebook account, so it's a pretty low barrier to entry to get people to "register" to comment. You can also go and implement them manually to avoid the fee of using that particular app.
On the other hand, Facebook has some problems. It's slower than native comments, and it isn't very search engine friendly. Some people really don't like Facebook these days, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the social network dropping out of favor more and more amongst certain demographics. Plus, if your store sells the kinds of items your customers might not want their friends to know about, you'll see a depressive effect on the comments you get.
My second recommendation would be Growave. They have a good selection of features, and if you can make use of more than just the comments plugin, you can get a lot of value out of their system. Unfortunately, if you already have other plugins set up to do some of those things, it might not be easy to switch. The cost can be a little daunting as well, so I don't blame you if you want to skip it for something cheaper or something free.
My third recommendation is really just using native comments. They're lightweight, they're free, and all you need to do is click a button or two to get them up and running. It's extremely simple, and it's already formatted to look good with your site, unless you've done some very strange things with your theme. Really, my only gripe with the native comments system is the lack of more robust moderation options, but that's understandable, really.
What about you? Do you have a particular comments plugin you'd recommend? Leave your review in the comments.