Like it or not, blogging is now an essential part of doing business. Statistics show that companies whose websites include blogs get 55% more website visitors than their counterparts with static sites, and 57% of marketers have acquired customers from blogging (figures from Hubspot). Most of the UK’s biggest brands now have blogs, and SMEs are catching up.
However, it’s not just a case of rustling up an article and letting it sit in the Google archives. If you want to see results from your business blog, you need to construct, format and promote it correctly. Here is our take on the worst blogging errors – and how you can avoid them.
1. Bad spelling and grammar
Engaging, well written content is at the heart of any good reading experience, which is why there is nothing worse than seeing a blog post full of misspellings and grammatical errors. There really is no excuse – every modern word processor comes fully equipped with software to weed out spelling and grammatical errors, and you need to make use of these tools. It’s because these errors are so simple to avoid that the online population is so unforgiving. The odd typo is understandable, but if you make too many mistakes, your commentators (if you manage to attract any) will tell you so.
2. Not including visual content
A big, solid block of text looks uninteresting and time consuming, and many prospective readers will avoid them like the proverbial plague. Breaking up text with images or video content not only makes your post seem less dense, it also adds an additional dimension to your piece to engage your readers even further.
3. Poor presentation
Continuing the theme of making your blogs visually interesting, it’s important to ensure that your pieces are on a basic level, readable, and on a more sophisticated level, attractive. Be considerate with your font sizes and colour choices, and format your articles in a clear and easy to read fashion – think subheadings, columns, and consistent paragraphing. Always keep in mind the physical limitations of reading text on a screen: not being able to read a blog properly is a massive barrier to being able to engage with it. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you should focus on branding your blog to make it consistent with your company, and appealing to the eye.
It’s fine to use facts and statistics, or comment on a particularly prominent news story, but try to make your take on them unique. Readers value fresh, original content which takes an interesting angle on an existing story – and so does Google. Your blog is essentially a PR tool, so let your brand voice shine through and use it to voice your opinions and company values. It is not a good idea to simply cut and paste or copy ideas from fellow bloggers. It makes your piece redundant, because no one wants to read the same content twice.
5. Poor use of anchor text
Every company should be aware of the keywords that they are trying to target before starting a blog. Once you have identified these terms or phrases, use them and link them to relevant pages on your site. If you don’t, you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to optimise your content for search. However, the search engines are clever enough to know when you’re just linking for the sake of it: too many links look ‘spammy’ even if the terms are relevant, and this is off-putting for users as well. Find a balance and link relevant, useful terms when appropriate – your consistency will be rewarded.
6. Not linking out
It’s just as important to link to other blogs and websites as it is to link to your own, for two crucial reasons. Firstly, you should give credit where credit is due, and link to any surveys or organisations that you reference. This is a great opportunity to build positive relationships with other blogs or businesses in your industry. Secondly, it enhances your user’s experience, as they can see your sources and put their trust in your article – as well as having the opportunity to explore other interesting sites.
7. Unclear categorisation and tags
Wise use of categories and tags is an essential best practice measure of blogging. If your readers are interested in particular aspect of your content, well-positioned categories and tags offer them a quick, simple method of accessing material on their chosen topic. Consider using a tag cloud or prominent list of categories to make relevant pieces easy to identify.
Social media is a huge part of any modern marketing campaign, and there’s no reason you can’t use it to showcase your blog. Promote your pieces by posting links to them on appropriate platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and include easy to use sharing facilities to encourage your readers to do the same.
9. Ignoring comments
You’re writing a blog to engage with present and potential clients, so why ignore them if they leave a comment? Responding to those who have taken the time to read and discuss your article is essential to good blogging etiquette. Even if you get a negative comment, take the time to reply and address whatever issue has arisen. This will earn you increased respect from other readers, and perhaps even change the perpetrator’s mind.
10. Omitting a call to action
Let’s not forget, your blog is a business tool, and the ultimate goal for any business is to increase awareness, interest, and ultimately sales. Ending a valuable, advice-led blog post on an insipid note can have a damaging effect on this potential. Remind your customers why they’re there in the first place, and include a compelling call to action.
This article was written by Emily Hill and Eleanor Jones, editors at the digital copywriting agency Write My Site. You can find more of our thoughts about blogging and writing content for search engines on our blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.