Just like there is a success mantra shared by good blogs, there is a list of things that most unsuccessful blogs share in common. You know it when you see them. You don’t stay on the site for more than a few seconds but it is enough to identify the traits. And you instinctively bounce right off the site.
It is not that some people decide to wake up one day and decide to make a bad blog. It’s just that they haven’t taken the time to know better. After all, everyone starts a blog for the same reason – they’ve heard that content marketing will do a world of good and even bring a windfall of leads and conversions. But such blogs created with the wrong intention and half a mind, don’t go anywhere.
Sometimes, even the best websites are guilty of bad blog practices. They may do a lot of things right but miss a single step that pulls the traffic and engagement down and eventually their motivation to write too. And unwittingly, you may be guilty of a couple of such practices too. It’s time to break free and taste the sweet success of a blog that works for your business.
Here are the 10 things you need to change right away.
According to MarketingProfs, there are over 2 million blogs written everyday. Yet, less than 12% bloggers update their blog every week. Isn’t that an ironic statistic! What would happen if everyone actually started following the norm and publish one blog a week – or one a day. We can’t imagine how much the internet would explode. Would we have time to read anything beyond the headline and synopsis?
Would blog posts be limited to 140 characters?
What does infrequent writing mean?
What if it was updated six months back?
We would wonder if the business went kaput after and no one updated the blog. Or did the company stop doing something new and innovative?
It would make me question if the business is legitimate at all. For a brand that isn’t too well-known, this can pose problems on multiple levels.
The authenticity of the brand will be questioned. Besides, not enough fresh content means that you won’t have enough traffic coming to the blog. You won’t have subscribers, readers, engagement, leads or conversions.
Here’s the other side of the equation. ‘Rumour’ has it that the more you post on your blog the better. It isn’t exactly a rumour though. Hubspot has come up with supporting statistics with industry benchmarks. Companies that produced 16+ blogs a month saw 3.5x more traffic and 4.5x leads. So you decide to work as hard as a sweatshop worker and churn out blog and blog every day. More the better.
After a few months of blood, sweat and tears, your blog hasn’t seen much of a jump in traffic or engagement. Doesn’t hard work translate to rewards and revenue?
The critical mistake here is to take Hubspot’s advice at face value. It is not just about how frequently you blog but also the efforts you put in behind promoting each post that will lead to traffic and conversions. In the frenzy of writing hard, you may not have given enough time to promote a post.
Unless you are a brand who already has an existing readership, posting everyday will mean less time to promote a post. This also brings down the chance of ‘social proof’ for a post – that someone liked, shared or commented on it. The result – it’ll look like readers have abandoned your blog despite your best effort.
Posting too frequently is also detrimental to your follower count. If I get too many emails, I may just unsubscribe (even if they are good). Another thing is that people won’t be able to give time and space to all your posts. They’ll read one in a week when they have time but the other six will be lost.
3. Bad headlines
‘Headlines’ is our favourite topic. So much so that we speak about it in almost every blog we write about content guidelines. If your headline isn’t good, you’ve lost 80% of your readers. In the process of creating headlines, don’t get overly clever or cute because readers can see right through it. And the worst kind of headlines are those that confuse. Your reader unintentionally lingers around your article for a few seconds only to figure out what it is all about.
Take this one for example:
Would you believe, America?
Something unbelievable has happened… but where? In America or somewhere in the world?
Take another one that is trying to be funny:
Container carrying fruits crashes on highway, causes jam.
So the fruits got converted into jam or the cars stuck on the highway?
Some headlines end up being vague.
Man arrested for offences
With no details on the timeline, location, the man or the offences, people may not want to read any further than those four words.
4. Blogs with no images
Images break the monotony of text on the blog. It gives a breather in terms of space and a better direction to our imagination on what is written. Take two recipe blogs for example – one that simply states the ingredients and the recipe, the other offers step by step visual instructions to make the dish. It is but obvious that you’ll choose the latter if you are making the dish. There is a comfort in knowing what the dish looks like while making it which helps you know if you are doing it right or wrong.
No matter how technical the subject, breaking the pace of reading with images is a must. Charts, graphs, infographics and even videos can add life to a blog.
The key with images also is that you be consistent in size and presentation so that they actually look like they are a part of the same blog. In addition to this, using a featured image on the blog homepage also plays a big role in determining the viewership of the blog.
If you have a site about fashion and jewellery and are doing a blog on the latest trends, it is imperative that you provide a visual guide to your readers.
5. Missing the length
If you make it too short, it won’t be authoritative enough for Google to rank it well. If it is too long, chances are readers may not stick around that long. So, how do you get the right length for your blog?
There are some data-driven answers to this. There is a bunch of research out there that tells you how long a blog should be depending on its industry benchmarks. You can either follow that as your guideline or use another technique.
Think of what you are about to write on the topic as the last thing that’ll ever be written on it. Will you be able to say it all without boring your audience? An original 2-3000 word piece is great if it is authoritative and provides original information. If written well, this one blog can generate incremental traffic over the next few months. Since you can’t do that with every blog and many end up rewriting quite a bit, it is best to at least try and say the old thing in a new way or with a new angle.
Like the above article says, word count is relevant only if the article is good. If you keep writing a 10,000-word piece, it isn’t too good and will only create more problems in the future.
Content that is just about 2450 in length or in between 3000 to 10000 words forms a good reading material.
Dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. But it looks your blog unfortunately survived the apocalypse. In this day and age of smartphones, if your blog’s UI/UX isn’t great, it’ll come nowhere close to being read.
Big, readable fonts, good quality images and responsive design will all need to come together to make a blog successful. Getting mobile ready isn’t too difficult, if you consider the long term benefits. Google ranks responsive websites better.
Most blog readers are power skimmers. They want to read the highlighted bullet points and see if it is worth reading further. Blogs with shorter and structured paragraphs tend to do better. Links in standard colours and dark fonts against light backgrounds always work well.
7. No CTA
After all the efforts of writing a great blog, things will go down the drain if your blog doesn’t have proper inter-linking, navigation and call to action (CTA). At the end of each blog, you want the reader to do something for you – after all, you’ve given them a great read. This can be clicking to explore your products, buy from you, give you their information as a lead, subscribe to you, leave a comment, share your post, participate in a contest, sign up or navigate your site to read more. In some way or the other, you want the reader to take that one extra step to connect with you. That is the sign of a successful blog.
CTAs are not necessarily placed at the end of the blog. In fact, CTAs can be placed in between the write up too. You can also mix a couple of prominent CTAs so that the reader has options. For example, social share and comment requests go with all blogs.
The other important thing is to create strong inter-linking within your own site which is good from an SEO perspective too. Besides, it also gives new readers an option to discover your old blogs and keep the traffic flowing to them.
Also, having a tag cloud or list of categories on your blog navigation will help users dig deeper and discover more content on your site.
8. Plagiarism/No original info
There are the writers. And then there are the scrapers. The internet is made up more of the latter. They take original, well-written content and simply rewrite it well. Those who don’t do it well, plagiarise.
Let’s elaborate a bit on original information. Take a recipe site for example. If it is a simple, everyday recipe then there may be scores of chefs adding it to their site. Yet, Google uses clear ways to rank and differentiate each of them. You’ll notice that the top ranking sites present not only the recipe but a ton of background information about the ingredients and history of the dish. It may have additional tips and tricks on how to replace certain ingredients to give new flavours to the dish. It has several images of the cooked dish and instruction steps. It is also well-optimized title and meta tags. You’ll also see interesting user engagement on such recipe blogs.
Even if the standard recipe is exactly the same, you can present a lot of original information to keep your readers engaged.
As for plagiarism, it is a strict no-no. You’ll not gain anything and instead lose your ranking and credibility.
9. No social media presence/No share buttons
A blogger has to play a dual role. It is not just about writing exciting blogs but also promoting them with a good marketing strategy. Every blog is set to appeal a certain set of readers. It may be your 400,000 subscribers and some part of the rest of universe. To discover where the rest of your audience are active, what they like and how to get to them makes the rest of the marketing game.
A blog’s message can be tweaked for each social medium. Linkedin can have the business aspect of it. Twitter can have the influencer aspect. Facebook can have the entertainment value, g+ can have the SEO and Instagram/Pinterest can have the images. There isn’t one post that fits all. The idea is to first find different angles of your blog that can appeal on different media and then rewrite it a few times to ensure you have more than one way to promote your blog at different times.
You see, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to just promote one blog properly. In fact, your writing and promoting time ratio should at least be 60:40.
You don’t have to take the entire burden on your shoulders. Have tweetable tweets and easy social share buttons on the page so that your readers can help the blog go viral. They get to be the first in sharing with their circles giving them the ‘influencer’ status.
10. Prevent commenting
We all hate spam. We also dislike people who try to leave confusing or boring comments just to get their link in. Because of this, moderating comments becomes necessary for any good blog. But if you get too wary and don’t leave an option for comments at all, it’ll have a negative impact on your blog.
For one, comments can fuel a debate on certain topics. Genuine ones can tell you how your readers react to the blog. Some comments can even end up giving you ideas on what else your readers want.
Your positive (and preferably quick) reaction to comments also shows that the writer is active and cares about what people say. After all, someone has taken two precious minutes to craft a comment for you. Did you know that good and lengthy comments may help from an SEO perspective too? It keeps the latest updates on the article going, keeping it fresh. It also increases the overall quality of content on the page.
While you’ll continue to receive a ton of spam comments, you’ll just have to take the time to filter and block them as they come.
And here’s our CTA.
While this is a list of things not to do, we have an interesting to-do list that can get readers to stick to your blog like glue. Creating engaging content is an art. Here’s how you create better content and keep your readers hooked. Download the free eBook here. It’s a quick 7-minute read, so get going!
Meanwhile, if you have an interesting hack that has worked for your blog, do drop us a comment below.