Are you just beginning to build your own blog? Or one for your employer? It can be tricky business, starting a blog, especially when you aren’t fully aware of best practices. Mistakes can happen, but you’ll have better luck avoiding them by reading and applying the lessons in this article.
Many bloggers want to get their website at the top of search results right away. Some may want to build their subscriber list as fast as possible. Others may not know why or how to organize and measure their efforts. These are just a few of the common issues bloggers can have when they’re just starting out. It’s how mistakes can happen.
Let’s get going so that you can discover how exactly to avoid or fix these common mistakes…
— — —
1) Wrong Priorities
Business bloggers are often guilty of choosing the wrong goals and techniques when creating content. These are two of the most problematic priority mistakes I see…
Mistake One: Prioritizing the Sale
A business thrives off of sales, so you may think your blog needs to push for that. Bloggers with the wrong priorities may create content that’s pushing self-promotion with the single goal of making an immediate sale.
That’s not how blogs are meant to be used, and it’s not how you’ll bring in business.
Writing blog articles that are sales-y and overly self-promotional will be a waste of your time and effort. Instead, take advantage of this better way to get sales from your blog…
Solution: Build Thought Leadership to Convert Qualified Leads
With this approach, you’re creating content that attracts readers because it’s informative and helpful.
Thought leadership pieces won’t bring an immediate sale, but you can optimize your blog content to attract the right audience and give them a reason to convert into leads.
These are some of the best ways of using your blog for lead generation:
- Tailor your content to your target audience by creating and following set reader personas.
- Be strategic with what call-to-action you use and its design and placement.
- Create a formal strategy that is designed around one goal: gaining qualified leads.
Mistake Two: Prioritizing Quantity Over Quality
You have a new blog, so you’d think you need to build it as fast as possible. This way of thinking is flawed, in a way. Yes, you want to publish content regularly and as often as possible, but the priority shouldn’t be on how many posts you can produce. You don’t want to publish a bunch of subpar posts for the sake of quantity because it’ll only hurt your efforts (and your reputation).
Solution: Publish Articles Only When They’re of the Highest Quality
Instead of prioritizing quantity, put more emphasis on quality. You’ll end up with a lower bounce rate, more social shares, and higher authority in your subject matter. The priority should be on publishing consistently, following a set schedule, not on publishing low-quality content for the sake of building your blog presence. Even if it means you only get one article out a week, that’s okay as long as the content is high-quality and valuable.
2) Forcing SEO
The word “forcing” above should be enough of an indicator that there’s a certain way to do SEO, and it’s not by trying to trick search engines. There are many mistakes you can make when trying to rank in search results, but let’s go over one of the most damaging ones…
Mistake One: Forcing SEO via Keyword Stuffing
Search engines are smarter than you think, but you still find blogs that try to trick them. Keyword stuffing is the bad practice of finding your target word(s) you want to rank for and adding them all over your article in ways that aren’t natural. It makes reading your article harder for your human audience, and Google will notice and penalize you for it.
Unfortunately, there are many bloggers out there who think they should focus first on writing for search engines before their audience. This is the wrong approach – in fact, it’s backwards.
Solution: Offer Content of Value for Humans First
If you truly want to see your content rank higher in search results, don’t focus entirely on SEO. Focus on readability first. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress offers a clear indicator of your article’s readability, including many evaluation factors, and it’s a tool I highly recommend for both that and SEO.
When you’re creating content for your blog, consider offering longform posts. These in-depth articles are often the highest to rank because they give readers a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Just make sure you’re creating worthwhile content instead of just adding a bunch of fluff to make your article longer.
When your content is of high value and quality, it’ll rank a lot better than if it’s riddled with keywords and robotic language.
3) Buying or Manually Adding Subscribers
You’ve probably been the victim of this at one point or another – people adding you to an email list without your permission. It’s equivalent to spam, and it’s even illegal in the USA. Let’s think about this mistake a bit…
Mistake: Neglecting to Get Permission to Email a Recipient
Buying lists for your email campaigns won’t help you. The majority, if not all, of the email addresses will be fake or unresponsive. Adding people manually will just increase spam reports because those people did not authorize contact from you.
When you use a tool or simply Google target contacts’ email addresses, you don’t want to simply add them to your email campaigns. Your email marketing isn’t the same as your sales outreach, so be careful.
Solution: Get Clear Permission via a Signup Form
For the sake of your email deliverability and to keep your negative responses low, give people a way to opt-in willingly. Add signup forms throughout your blog content and website. Use tools, such as Sumo, to add optimized popups to your blog. Look for a tool that gives you lots of options for where and when these popups appear, and it should easily sync with your email marketing provider.
Some great tips for making sure your email marketing campaigns get sent to willing recipients are:
- Use clear wording in your calls-to-action and forms
- Offer something extra, such as content upgrades, with your blog articles to increase the likelihood of organic form submissions.
Organic email list growth is the only way to see positive engagement and follow-through from recipients. It’s how you’ll get the results from email marketing that you seek, and it’ll prevent the negative consequences of adding contacts without permission.
If you want to see a high unsubscribe rate or be marked as spam and reported, you’ll get that by buying or manually adding email addresses. If you want to see recipients engage and enjoy your emails, get their permission and be clear with them what to expect.
Say you want to still increase your list of subscribers as fast as possible, but you don’t want to cheat or break the law. How can you build your list quickly? These are some great techniques you can try:
- Guest blog on top-notch sites, and include a link to your subscribe page in your bio. If your blog focus is about marketing or relevant topics, this guest site list could help.
- Create eBooks, white papers, checklists, or other offerings and secure them behind a landing page form. That way, people have to provide their email address (and maybe other contact information) to acquire the file.
- Add testimonials to your calls-to-action and landing pages to further convince people that what you have to offer is worthwhile and trustworthy.
4) Not Researching Your Audience
Has anyone ever told you about the importance of buyer personas? They are fictional representations of those people who would likely buy from you. Reader personas are the equivalent, but instead of buying from you, they’re likely to read your content and even subscribe.
Many bloggers make a mistake with this when they start their blog, and it’s important we consider it here…
Mistake: Rushing Into Writing Without a Clear Understanding of One’s Audience
You have an empty or barely-started blog, and you want to fill it out as quickly as possible. Similar to earlier when I talked about quantity versus quality, you don’t want to rush into things. In this case, you don’t want to start writing when you don’t know who you’re writing for. Your content will either be ignored or reach the wrong people, so you want to ensure the right people find and appreciate what you have to offer.
Solution: Create Personas For the Target Audience You Want to Attract
When you think you’re ready to start writing articles, step away from your blog site or document. You have another crucial step to take first, and that is to create personas of the target audience you want to see visit and convert on your site.
You know you also need to find your target audience, but how do you actually do that? These tips are a great starting point:
- Ask yourself: what problems will my content help solve? If you have an existing audience, such as customers, who are they and what are their interests? What is my competition doing with their blog?
- Gather data about who you want to attract to your blog, using real data when possible and hypothetical data as well.
- Ask your social media audience for their input, such as using Twitter polls or linking to a Google Forms survey.
- Use social media analytics to see who is already interested in your business / brand.
Personas are never static, and so they will change over time. Make sure you’re regularly monitoring your blog content using Google Analytics to see what’s working and for whom.
5) Insufficient or No Strategy
A blog strategy isn’t optional. It’s essential for staying focused and organized. Without one, you’re taking risks you don’t want to take, such as losing track of your blog content schedule or not understanding the goal you have for your blog.
There are two types of mistakes you can make with your blog strategy, so let’s go into each one here…
Recommended for YouWebcast, June 6th: Achieving More with Less: How Grammarly’s Lean Growth Team Delivers Outsized Results
Mistake One: Not Having a Strategy At All
It’s absolutely essential that you have a blog strategy before you start writing. Without a strategy, you will be similar to a traveler roaming the land without a map or destination. Your efforts would be lost in the sea of content, and they will not be organized or effective. You won’t have a calendar to guide you, or you won’t know how you’ll determine your content’s effectiveness. You basically won’t know what you’re doing and why.
Solution: Take the Time Before You Blog to Create a Strategy
When you take the time to create a strategy, you boost content performance because that guide will optimize your blogging efforts based on your overall goal.
So, what should be in your strategy? Let’s go into a few blog strategy components:
- Include a short, 1-2 sentence mission statement, which states who your audience is, what content types you’re offering, and what benefits your content offers.
- Have one overall SMART goal for your blog, which should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound.
- Do thorough research on competitor blogs to see what they’re doing and how it’s performing.
- Develop a content calendar, which will allow you to organize your ideas and schedule.
- Know the exact topics you’ll cover, including the overall theme of your blog and each of its categories and tags.
Your blog needs a strategy. There are no exceptions. Every blogger needs an official document that they follow and maintain every time they write content.
You can create a document in Word or Google Docs for most of it, but I recommend using Excel or Google Sheets for your calendar. You can create a DIY content calendar or pay for a service, such as CoSchedule. The manual content calendar is helpful if you have a tight budget, but CoSchedule is a must-use service if you want to stay organized and make the entire blog process easier for you.
Mistake Two: Creating an Insufficient or Incomplete Blog Strategy
If you’ve already put some effort into creating your blog strategy, that’s great! However, if it’s not thorough and completed, it won’t be as effective when you start to blog. When your strategy isn’t filled out enough, it will be hard for you to follow and use it when you’re writing content. A strategy is meant to guide your efforts, but if it’s neglected, it won’t help you as much as it potentially could.
Solution: Finish Your Blog Strategy
Each part of your content strategy needs to be detailed enough that you can follow it effectively. It’s important that you take time before creating any content to refer to a completed strategy. That document should have everything needed for you to create the right content.
6) Not Measuring Content Outcomes
Performance measurement is critical for blog growth and success. If you simply publish content without any plans for measuring its performance, you won’t have the information you need to improve.
Mistake: Publishing Content Without a Plan for Measurement
Bloggers might think that the most important parts of content creation are writing and promoting it. Yes, those are two blogging essentials, but there’s another necessary step you can’t ignore: measurement.
Say you just published a content piece. If you’re not measuring its performance, you won’t know whether it was a success or flop. You won’t know why it did well or why it failed either. This is why measurement is so important.
Solution: Know the Metrics You Need to Measure Every Time You Publish Content
When you’re planning to measure content performance, you need to know the specific metrics to track as well as how you’ll track them. For example…
1)Your content goal is related to lead generation. This will require visitors to fill out a form that you’ve strategically included either on the content’s page itself or via a call-to-action that leads to a landing page. You want to track these metrics if you’re looking for whether your content is bringing in leads:
- The number of conversions vs the total number of page visitors / visits
- Time on page
- New vs returning visitors
- And more, depending on your content type
2)Your content goal is related to thought leadership. This is harder to track, but there are ways. This goal means you want your blog to have increased influence, so these are a few of the best metrics to measure:
- Social shares
- Article comments
- Domain authority
- Search engine ranking
- And more…
Measure your content’s performance every time you publish, even on a daily basis. It’s not just new content you should measure either. Evergreen content needs regular attention to remain of value. Sometimes your most popular content could be older, so don’t focus all your measuring on new pieces.
7) Expecting Immediate Results
When you decided to start a blog, were you expecting it to be an instant success? Business blogging is part of marketing, and it’s not a sales tactic. Yet, you’ll still see so many businesses shut down or misuse their blog because they’re not seeing the instant results they expect.
Mistake: Thinking Your Blog Can Bring In Immediate Sales
If you’re the marketer in charge of a business blog, you probably have leadership looking to you for proof that your efforts are worth their investment. They may ask you questions like:
“How long will it take to generate leads?”
“Why are we not getting hundreds of sales leads by now?”
These executives don’t have a clear understanding of how blogging works, so it’s important you prepare the best ways to explain its value to them.
If you’re an independent blogger, you may want to go viral or earn hundreds of subscribers after only a few articles or months. You aren’t keeping in mind the hard truth…
Bloggers rarely, if ever, achieve their goals instantly.
What can you do to convince your leadership and yourself that blogging is worth the investment? You have options, but these two solutions might be most helpful…
Solution One: Put Together Real-Life Blog Success Stories
Do a thorough search of blogs in your niche or industry. Using Buzzsumo can help you see which of these blogs is getting the best social attention. Don’t hesitate to include competitor blogs. In fact, you should examine those because you want to learn how to be better at blogging than them.
Some data you need to include in these real-life stories include:
- Their domain authority
- How their best content does on social media
- What topics receive the most social shares
- What topics rank the highest
- How long they’ve been blogging
- Any other data that describes the blog’s results and timeline
Did you notice the bold bullet item? If you’re getting questions on a regular basis about blogging deadlines, you want to make sure your stories talk about those blogs’ timelines. When did that blog reach 100,000 social shares for the first time from when they started? What topic was the first to rank on the first page of Google search results, and when was it published?
With enough data about why these blogs are successful, you can create your own “success stories” or even a comparison chart with your own blog. This can help you when you face your own doubts or those of your company’s leadership.
Tell executives what they can expect from the blog over time. Explain how you’ll calculate its return on investment. What is working compared to previous reports, and what is needed to bring better results in the future? These are all things to include in each report, and they’ll help you demonstrate that blogging is, in fact, worthwhile.
Don’t build your blog the wrong ways. It’ll hurt your results and make it seem like blogging is not worth it. These are just seven of the mistakes I’ve seen or done firsthand and learned from. That’s right. I’ve made some of these mistakes with my own blog, and trust me… They didn’t help.
If you’re building a blog for an employer, perhaps it would help to share this article with them to help them understand better. On the other hand, if you’re blogging for yourself, did this article help you be better prepared for success? Avoiding these mistakes will help you prevent failure, so keep them in mind with every step you take – every action you make.