Okay, so your business has (finally) decided to start up a blog.
That’s an excellent decision! And if done correctly, it will bear some serious SEO fruit in the form of higher rankings, more qualified organic traffic and potentially more leads for your business. There are many great reasons to start a business blog.
But the if done correctly qualifier is important here.
Any number of missteps can derail your bold initiative. Below, we’ve provided a list of the most common blogging mistakes we’ve seen businesses make in the last 20+ years as a search engine optimization company.
These mistakes can be generally grouped into 4 distinct categories:
1. Common preparation mistakes
“Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.” Those words were first uttered by Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese general and have been repeated by everyone from military leaders to football coaches, down through the centuries. This wisdom can also be applied to blog optimization.
Here are 3 mistakes that are often made before the content is even produced:
Expecting results too quickly
If a blog has been greenlighted with the expectation that phone calls and lead submission forms will come pouring in by the end of the first month, then you’re going to be discouraged when it doesn’t happen. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. SEO is a long game. Assume it will take 6 months before you see any significant traction in your search engine rankings, to say nothing of generating actual conversions.
Not having Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Committing to a long-haul process for your blog is easier if you establish some metrics that will tell you if and when the effort is starting to pay off.
One common example is that the addition of a blog can start to result in increased traffic to your home page. Maybe the visitors don’t click the blog article per se, but the fact that it’s there shows that this is a vibrant and frequently updated website. Look for these areas where a rising tide can lift all boats.
Treating the blog post as something to get crossed off the list
We know you have a thousand and one things to get done, and this blog post you’re supposed to write seems like the least important of them. The temptation is to rush into it with a mindset of just getting it done. Throw up a few hundred words and call it done. Suffice it say, no quality content has ever come from that mindset. Before you start writing, take a deep breath and get your head in the right place.
2. Common content (copy) mishaps
Not updating the blog regularly
This is a major no-no. If you put up a post once every few weeks or months, it’s simply not going to generate the traffic you want, unless it’s a major article with several thousand words of valuable content and clearly marketed as a monthly feature.
For the typical blog post, you need to be updating at least once a week. Readers have many choices when deciding which blogs to follow and read. They aren’t going to bother with one that can’t be counted on to post consistently.
Putting up “fluff” posts
Almost as bad are the blogs that keep a consistent schedule, but do so by putting up posts that offer no real value to anyone. Sure, an occasional post with pictures from the office Christmas party can be fun and help “humanize” your business. But a steady diet of content like this makes it look like you have nothing substantial to say and offer.
Length that doesn’t work
What’s the ideal length for a blog? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends. Blogs can be either too long or too short.
If you are blogging for a law firm and writing on an academic topic, you might want to produce a few thousand words to ensure that your content is more valuable to readers than anything your competitors are offering. But if the same firm offers rapid reaction to a legal case, most readers aren’t ready to digest that many words on a news story.
Paragraphs are too long
Regardless of how long your article or blog is, the paragraphs should be short. For writers who are accustomed to reading long-form articles in print, this will be hard to get used to. But online is a wholly different way of consuming content. Break up long paragraphs, even if you have to break them at a spot that might seem unnatural.
Not a keyword to be found
To gain the full SEO benefit of a blog, you need to have one clear keyword that generates a respectable amount of search engine traffic. And know what the keyword is before you start writing. While it’s possible to pick a keyword after your article is complete, there’s no guarantee that the keyword will have anyone searching for that term — meaning the article you wrote may interest no one but you.
Inconsistent brand voice
You might have multiple writers working on your blog. If one of them is cheery, upbeat and uses colloquial everyday expressions, while another one is very academic-minded and writes every blog post as though it’s for The Harvard Law Review, make sure they each have their own separate bylines. Everything posted under generic author names like “Admin” or just the name of the company should have the same tone and feel.
Writing for search engines
We’re giving you all this advice about blogging for SEO and now telling you not to write for the search engines? Well, sort of. The search engine focus comes in selecting the right keyword, as well as the post-writing actions that we’ll discuss in a moment. But when you’re actually writing the article, try to keep the search engines out of your mind. They are a means to an end, and the end is an actual person who could become a client or customer of yours one day. Write like you’re talking to them.
No internal linking strategy
If you write something that’s a natural reference to another page, article or blog on the company site, then link to it. It’s beneficial for the reader, and internal links are also viewed in a positive light by search engines.
On the flip side, avoid internally linking to irrelevant pages that aren’t related to the topic you are addressing. This will only confuse readers and search engines.
A plagiarizing mindset
We trust that you know not to blatantly plagiarize someone else’s content (like a cut-and-paste of their entire article onto your blog). Also, make sure you avoid a mindset of taking what someone else wrote and only modestly reworking it. You might be on safe ground legally, but it’s certainly not valuable content.
Saying what everyone else says
Many industries have trending topics, stories and issues that everyone is supposed to get on board and talk about. The thing is, they all say roughly the same thing. Don’t waste your time. The reality is that every individual can look at a situation and see something a little bit different. Write about what you see that’s different from what has already been said.
As the legendary entertainer P.T. Barnum said, “No one ever made a difference being like everyone else.”
3. Common publishing blunders
The content is written. Now it’s time to get it published to your blog.
Here are 4 ways that business blogs can make a critical mistake during this phase:
Haphazard editing that lets simple grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes slip by can make for content that looks unprofessional. This reflects poorly on your business. Don’t simply rely on running spell-check; try to make sure there’s more than one set of eyes editing the content before it gets published.
No call to action
A blog post should fit into your firm’s overall marketing strategy. Your ultimate goal is not just to get people to read an article, but also to click on a landing page or explore your website further to check out a service or product you offer. Or you might want them to pick up the phone and call. Before publishing, review the article and find out how to insert these calls to action to give the reader a “next step.”
This is another massive no-no. You need a meta title and description with every blog post. Keep in mind that these tags should be slightly different from the main title of your blog post. Most CMS platforms have a plug-in that allows you to add a short title and description, which is what will appear in the search results and help tell the algorithm what your post is about.
Not optimizing images
It’s easy to overlook this, but image optimization is an important step to take before publishing. Your image should have an image title and image alt tag. Make sure to take advantage of this vital “real estate” and work your primary keywords in.
4. Errors in the aftermath
You have a nice article that’s fully optimized for search with a strong call-to-action. It looks great on your website or blog.
All done, right?
There’s still a few more ways you can slip up:
We aren’t suggesting that you need to launch a massive outreach campaign for every single blog post, but certainly your blogs should be shared on your company’s social media accounts at the very least. It only takes a few minutes, and it will be immensely beneficial from both a content marketing perspective as well as your social media presence.
Remember when we talked about setting KPIs? Now’s the time to check and see how your blog posts are having an impact. Even if you aren’t focused on direct traffic to each individual blog post, you can still use that data to see what your readers are interested in. This will help you plan for future topics.
You worked hard on this content, so don’t let it be one-and-done! If it’s a popular post, bring it back to the top of the blog a year later, with updated commentary. Maybe turn it into the basis for a podcast and reach a whole new audience. Or create an ebook of your most popular posts that you give away to readers in exchange for their email addresses. Then start a monthly email newsletter using that subscriber list.
This list of blogging mistakes that businesses commonly make might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just take your time and prepare in advance, follow good SEO practices and then promote and track your post.
Pretty soon, you’ll be benefiting from higher rankings and more qualified organic traffic and leads for your business.
What are some other common blogging mistakes businesses make?
Post a comment below or on Facebook and let us know.