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11 common blogging mistakes to avoid at all costs

11 common blogging mistakes to avoid at all costs Blog Feature

Kevin Phillips

Lead Content Marketing Trainer, 10+ Years of Content Marketing Expertise, Content Marketing Trainer

January 13th, 2020 min read

“I’ve been blogging for months now and haven’t seen any impact on my traffic and leads. Does this mean content marketing doesn’t work, or am I doing something wrong?”

Does this question sound familiar to you? Because it’s one of the most frequent pain points I hear from new clients. 

These businesses heard blogging was the best way to stay relevant and competitive in the digital age, so they fired up a blog on their website, started adding content to it for a few months, but never saw much of an uptick in traffic to their site. 

Some of these businesses found their way to IMPACT or other agencies for help. But unfortunately, the majority of these companies dropped content marketing and quietly went back to their old ways.

Whenever I visit a website for the first time, I always go to the blog, and it’s disturbing how many of them are graveyards of forgotten content. 

Scrolling through their most recent articles, I’ll see blogs that were once published monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily come to an abrupt end.

Looking closely, I can even see the date on the toe tag for these deceased blogs: All you have to do is look for when they published their last blog article and count the weeks and months since. 

Often, I’ll even look at the last article’s title, and it’s something like Join Us August 8, 2018 for the 5th Annual Downtown 5K. 

Yup, with content like that, it’s no surprise their blogs didn’t have much of a heartbeat and why they pulled the plug shortly after their race.

But I don’t want to see that happen to your blog. 

It’s not too late to get it into the ICU, breathe new life into it, and see it make a swift recovery.

All you have to do is stop making these common blogging mistakes.    

1. Choosing the wrong topics

Easily the most common mistake I see in business blogging is companies not writing on topics relevant to their audience.

They’re not using their blog to answer questions their prospects have as they navigate their way through a purchase decision.

Instead, these companies use their blog to talk about themselves. 

They write content that is more fitting as company news than as educational content. And for the most part, your audience doesn’t really care who got promoted to VP of Sales, or what local sports team you sponsored, or who won your annual three-legged race. 

They’re trying to solve problems of their own, not watch you high-five yourself.

So what’s the fix?

Talk with your sales team. What questions are prospects asking during sales meetings? What are their primary concerns they want addressed before they buy?

Nearly every question a customer asks is a potential blog topic.

In fact, over the years of looking at the top-performing blog articles from hundreds of companies, I’ve identified several blog article types that customers actually read spanning across all business types. 

For inspiration, check out 17 Business Blog Topics Your Audience Wants You to Write.

2. Not publishing frequently (or consistently) enough

If you’re going to blog, you ought to do it right. 

And a big part of doing it right is doing it frequently and on a consistent basis.

If you’re only publishing once per month or sporadically with quick floods of content followed by long droughts and the occasional sprinkle, you’re not going to get great results.

For clients that work with IMPACT, we promote a minimum of one blog article per week with two to three articles per week as the norm.

Why should you publish frequently?

For starters, every blog article you publish casts a wider net in search. 

Your prospects are researching purchases online and have lots of questions. The more questions you answer, the more likely you’ll bring them to your site.

More content also means more opportunity to keep them engaged on your site as they continue to learn from you.

Regularly publishing content also shows search engines that your website has a healthy pulse. 

Search engines will send their bots to crawl your site more frequently to check for new content if they know you’re cranking it out at a consistent cadence. 

Therefore new content will get indexed faster and able to rank higher more quickly than if you only publish every couple of weeks or intermittently.   

3. You don’t have a content manager

Putting out high-quality blog content frequently isn’t an easy accomplishment. 

For best results, you need someone in your organization to truly own the content.

And that’s why you need a content manager.

In general, a content manager has many duties including creating the editorial calendar; researching, writing, editing, and publishing blog articles; posting to social media sites; developing premium content; and reviewing analytics.

Too often, companies try to get by on an “everybody pitches in” approach, and while I applaud any company that can get buy-in for their content marketing, you will still need a centralized person whose sole responsibility is to hold it all together. 

Without this role, your efforts will undoubtedly unravel.

4. Content not user-focused

The first three mistakes are ones that affect getting started or the content strategy. 

However, the majority of blogging mistakes I see occur on the page.

The most egregious of these is that the content doesn’t have the reader in mind.

Instead of using the content to answer questions and truly help buyers make a purchase decision, the article instead turns into a promotional piece.

And, as consumers, most people’s defenses are up. If they land on an article to get answers and instead get a company chest-puffing piece, they’ll leave and find the article that is right for them.

So what’s the solution?

We’re not saying you can’t promote yourself at all in your articles, but you do need to tone it down a bit. 

We ask our clients to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of a blog article should be educational and only 20% should be promotional.

Really consider the question from the buyer’s point of view. 

Why are they asking the question? What is their intent when searching for answers? How can you answer the question without constantly referencing yourself?

In some instances, like that of a review article, we suggest that you introduce yourself in the introduction of the article to establish why you should be trusted for the answer, make the body mostly educational, and then remind readers in the outro that you sell the products and services you discussed.

5. Articles aren’t comprehensive enough

I’ve had many clients tell me, “we’ve been answering questions on our blog, but we’re not getting any traffic to those articles.”

But when I review their blog articles, I often find them very short and lacking substance, but it’s not all about length here.

Rather than focus on length, you should focus on answering the question at hand fully.

People shouldn’t finish your article and be left unsatisfied with the answer because if they do, they’re going to leave your site and continue their search.

On the other hand, it’s clear search engines prioritize blog articles that are fairly lengthy. 

And there are statistics to back this up. 

In two separate studies by SERP IQ and Backlinko where they reviewed the average length of copy for the top 10 results for millions of search queries, they both found that the top answers were close to or over 2,000 words long.

backlinko word count position study

There’s an assumption that a longer answer is a more complete answer.

So what length should you shoot for?

There’s no perfect answer, but I can at least give you a minimum: we tell all of our clients that their blog articles should be at a minimum of 750 words long. 

When I receive content shorter than that, I’m quick to send it back and ask for more copy.

When I get articles between 750 - 1,200 words long, without even reading the copy, I can assume the article has a fair shot of ranking.

However, when I get content 1,500 words and up, I feel confident that the article has a good chance of being first-page quality.

And if it’s over 2000 words, it’s rarely a question of if it will make it to the first page, but how quickly can it get there.

My recommendation is to write until you feel confident that you’ve answered the question completely.

6. Poorly formatted content

Let’s say you really strive to answer a question fully and comprehensively and end up with a very long blog article. 

Your blog article might very well be the best answer to that question in the world, but if it’s poorly formatted, nobody is going to read it.

So how can you fix your content to engage readers?

  • Clear sections with headers
  • Whitespace
  • Bullet points
  • Bolded text

You need to display clear sections in the content, and this is best handled using headers that act as signposts letting readers know what the next group of paragraphs is about.

Use lots of whitespace and don’t have big blocks of text. 

You may have noticed in this article there are very few lengthy paragraphs. Most are one to two sentences long and very few over three.

Doing so makes it feel as if the article is easier to read. 

When readers see giant blocks of text, the copy appears dense and harder to read.

Simply adding more paragraphs and adjusting your line-height in your CSS styling can give the copy the appearance of being easier to read, therefore keeping your audience engaged.

Use bullet points and bolding to draw attention to key points.

Many people skim content instead of reading or before they decide to read in full. If you want essential information to pop off the page and grab their attention, bullet points and bolded text can help achieve this.

7. Not linking to other content

Let’s say someone finds your content through search. They read the entire article, feel that it answered their question in full, but now they have other questions around the topic they want to explore further.

Do you have those answers somewhere on your site?

Do you know of any sources that do have those answers?

Putting the SEO benefits of linking aside, linking is especially great for you and the user.

They want to keep researching, and if you have more content on your site that’s relevant, links are the perfect way to move them from one page of yours to another.

Bringing the SEO benefit back into play, linking to internal content helps search engines better understand your website architecture and what important pages you have.

Linking to outside resources helps establish you as an expert in your field that puts the reader’s needs ahead of your own.

8. No next action

When you write an article, always keep in mind what the next logical action your audience should take.

Are there other articles they should read?

Do you have any premium content that would be of value to them?

Is there a webinar or trial they can sign up for?

All too often, blog articles end without having the next action in place.

Unless they can make a purchase directly from that page, it shouldn’t be the end of the journey.

Keep them engaged. Keep them learning from you. 

You can list out a few articles they should read next and/or include a call-to-action for a relevant offer that can take them further down the funnel.

9. Not updating content

How often do you revisit older content to tweak, update, or revise it?

If you’re like most bloggers, I’m guessing that once you hit publish, you quickly move onto the next article and forget the previous. 

It’s one thing to get your content to the first page, after that the challenge is keeping it there.

That’s why it’s important to revisit older pieces of content (especially high performing ones) and update them with new information to keep them ranking.

If an article consistently generates new traffic and converts leads for you, you’re not going to want those results to slip.

How do you decide when to update content?

You could set a reminder to update articles a year from their publish date so you don’t forget. 

The beginning of a new year is another great time to sit down and revisit older content (especially articles that have the year printed in the title).

And any time new information emerges or old information is disproven is the perfect time for an update.

For example, I recently updated an article I wrote of a review of SEMrush when they made tweaks to the interface. I also updated my Google My Business Tips article when new tools were added.

10. Not repurposing content

Let’s say you have a great article that gets lots of traffic and helps convert leads. What else could you be doing with that content?

How could those same ideas in long print form be converted into new mediums to reach a larger audience?

There’s a good chance people are searching for similar answers on YouTube (the second largest search engine).

Why not shoot a video on that topic?

If you’re a bit camera shy but could easily talk about that subject to anyone wanting to listen,

Why not turn it into a podcast episode?

You could also try boiling the information down and putting it into a neat and tidy infographic.

And, if you have several blog articles around a topic, you can package them together and create an awesome downloadable ebook.

When you limit your content to text only, you limit your ability to reach a larger audience.

11. Terrible titles

Titles serve two important functions to readers and search engines:

  1. They tell people (or at least they should) what the article is about
  2. They’re enticing enough to get people to click on them to read the content.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of companies put painstaking effort into writing their blog articles, but then casually tack on a lackluster title almost as an afterthought.

Once you’ve written a blog article, sit back down and take the time to craft a winning title.

Tips for creating titles:

  • Use your target keywords
  • Title should give context to what the article is about
  • Be enticing without being clickbaity (don’t mislead)
  • Use interesting adjectives and superlatives
  • Use questions to target exact query

Next Steps

If you can avoid making these common blogging mistakes, I guarantee you’ll revitalize your content marketing efforts and finally start seeing some positive results.

But what next? Where can you learn more?

In addition to perusing all of the helpful content on our website, I highly recommend you start by reading the following blog articles:

blogging-tips

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