Blogs provide an excellent platform to engage with customers. WordPress blogs reach more than 70 million readers, and Tumblr blogs reach up to 39 million
. With numbers like those, you can see how important a blog can be, both as an extension of a business site and as a stand-alone destination.
But many bloggers make basic errors that lessen their blogs' effectiveness. Are you making the same errors?
Review the following list of nine unforgivable blogging offenses to make sure you are not committing any of them.
1. Your posts are all dense text.
Problem: Your blog is a horrible dense block of text with no breaks, bullet points, headings or graphics.
Organizing your blog posts into sections and including bullet points, subheadings, numbers, and graphics not only makes your post easier to construct, but also makes for a much easier and appealing read.
Consider all the blogs you admire and follow. What do their posts look like?
Dense posts do not work. Headings and bullet points are your friends.
2. Even you don't care what you write about.
Problem: Your blog post is a rambling mess of inaccurate information and lazy writing even you cannot bear to reread.
How can you expect people to read content even you don't care about? If you are not passionate about the work you do, it will show in your posts.
Only write what you know and care about, and take time to get to know your field and write carefully. Your passion and care will shine through and make your blog a more interesting place to visit.
3. Your blog design isn't consistent.
Problem: Every time a visitor returns to your blog, its look and feel is completely different. You just can't make up your mind!
This sort of inconsistency is confusing, and confusion is the last thing you want when encouraging regular visitors and subscribers.
Though the content and tone of your blog may remain the same, the constant changes in theme (design template) will make people second guess whether this is the place they previously visited, potentially resulting in the loss of some valuable followers.
When you launch your blog and begin to promote it, take time to pick a theme and stick with it. If you decide to change your theme down the road, promote it as rebranding and make a show of it. This ensures your followers are aware of the change and are on board.
4. You cram your blog with advertisements.
Problem: Every bit of spare space on your blog is filled with an advertisement so you can make a little more cash.
A blog crammed with ads is an assault on the eyes; all the flashing and busy text causes visitors to click frantically away just to make it stop.
That's not to say you shouldn't include any advertising. Just be selective about what you include. Ensure ads are related to your topic and do not detract from the blog. That is the best strategy both for you and your advertisers. You get ad revenue without turning off readers, and advertisers get a target market for which their ads are appropriate and, in some cases, even welcome.
5. Your blog is like a ghost town.
Problem: You don't provide contact information or a bio, you have no apparent social media presence, and you do not respond to comments.
Hello? Is there anyone there?
Not connecting with your readers is a fundamental mistake. You want people to connect with you and your work—that's the point of a blog. Readers want to be able to ask questions and find out more about the person behind the writing.
Simply adding a contact page, including a little bit of information about yourself, and taking time to respond to comments and questions will encourage more engagement with your blog. And including those all-important social media buttons is a must as well.
6. You don't promote your blog.
Problem: Your blog sits on the Web, waiting for someone to stumble across it.
This is potentially the biggest and most catastrophic crime any blogger can commit. Writing excellent content on a beautifully laid out blog is all well and good, but if no one knows about it, you may as well have badly written, dense blocks of text on a blog that changes its theme daily.
Blog promotion is critically important. You must get the word out that you exist and produce good content. Join the conversation on social media, guest blog, and shout far and wide about your blog!
If you have something valuable to say, you need people to hear it. Promotion is the only way people will get the opportunity to do so.
7. Your blog is full of guest posts.
Problem: There doesn't seem to be a consistent blogger on your site.
Accepting guest posts is a great way to offer your readers valuable information and perspectives, but if you are not a consistent presence on your blog, then it really isn't your blog.
Ensure that for every three guest posts you publish, there is a post from you or another resident blogger. As much as I advocate guest posts, I also advocate that you be the key presence on your blog.
8. Your headlines are confusing or boring.
Problem: Your headlines do not clearly convey what your post will be about, or are so boring no one is encouraged to click on them.
Your headlines are the most important tool you have for getting people to read your blog. If they are misleading, people will click the post, be disappointed, and not return. If they are accurate but dull, people will infer that the post is dull, and will go look for something more interesting.
Headlines will appear in numerous places: on your blog, in search engine results, and on feeds. It's absolutely worth spending time to make sure they are perfect. There is a lot of good advice online about crafting great headlines, but this resource on writing "magnetic headings" is particularly useful.
9. You hide advertising in your blog posts.
Problem: You include links and implicit promotion within your posts to affiliate companies.
Not disclosing your relationship with affiliates is underhanded. If you have a relationship with a company, say it! Doing so doesn't make the information any less valuable. By being upfront about the relationship, you increase your credibility and that of the affiliate.
Lianne Froggatt is digital communications manager for Ideasbynet, an online UK promotional products distributor. Reach her via firstname.lastname@example.org or @LianneCai. A version of this article originally appeared on MarketingProfs.com.