An engaging and well-written blog (yes, it is still a powerful marketing tool) can be a really useful asset on a business’s website, helping to cement brand identity and open up a new medium through which the user can interact with them.
Many businesses have realised that user engagement is at the heart of performing well online, but there are still plenty of mistakes that we see time and time again.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the traps businesses fall into and show you some great examples of how to get blogging right.
Above all else, a blog must be relevant. Yes, we all found it hilarious/shocking when Madonna fell off the stage at the Brits, but unless you run a cape, music or Madonna-based blog (or one about all three, which sounds pretty niche), chances are you shouldn’t be blogging about it.
That being said, don’t simply blog about what you’re selling in order to be relevant. Take innocent as a great example: the London Marathon has little to do with smoothies, but promoting a healthy lifestyle certainly comes into their overall branding, so they could write a few blog posts about the Marathon and stay relevant.
2. No clear content plan
You can spot a disorganised blog a mile off. Having a thorough content plan will keep your blog slick and professional; it’s painfully obvious how many companies don’t dedicate time and research to preparing a blog roadmap.
Keyword research will help you stay abreast of which topics relate to your business and will aid ticking the ‘relevance’ box. If you also factor in big events coming up in your industry calendar, you can plan blog posts around subjects that are bound to attract a lot of search traffic, and hopefully keep you at the centre of online conversations. (This is where the relevance issue comes in, so keep in mind your overall brand persona when you pick which events to target!
3. Not proofreading
Speling and grammer misstakes really (and I mean really) irk me. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a rogue apostrophe – people who don’t use Oxford commas come close – so seeing a blog post full of “your’s” and “category’s” will just infuriate me.
Too many blog posts go live without thorough proofreading, demonstrating to your user that you don’t really care about looking professional. Taking the time to get your spelling right will make all the difference; it’s the little things that count.
4. Difficult to navigate
If your blog isn’t super-easy to use, chances are your reader will just switch off. They have to be able to find it, first of all, so give it a prominent position on your site, instead of consigning it to the bottom of your page along with the Terms and Conditions.
Many blogs don’t make life easy for users, giving them no opportunity to filter posts by date, category, or author. Providing easily accessible drop-down menus will help enhance a user’s on-site experience, making them more likely to stay.
It’s not enough to give the people what they want; you have to make it easy for them to find it, too.
5. Images, or a lack thereof
A picture tells a thousand words, and more often than not, the pictures featured on blogs tell the wrong words. Stock imagery is everywhere online, especially in blogs, usually bears no relevance to the content itself. Not all stock imagery is bad, but many blogs seem to adopt the ‘that’ll do’ approach.
Businesses would do far better to include their own imagery in blogs, taking photos just for that forum. This will inject far more personality into the content and enhance it rather than convolute it.
6. Wrong tone of voice
Getting the right tone of voice (TOV) is crucial and while not every blog’s TOV can be unique, they can certainly be recognisable. Sadly, many blogs are neither, because the team behind them haven’t taken the time to figure out how the blog fits into the brand identity.
The tone has to be consistent with both the brand and the rest of the site, creating a continuity from one page to another. Waterstones is an excellent example, since their blog perfectly sums up their brand’s personality – it is interested in literature and the wider world of language, which is exactly what makes it interesting to its target audience.
7. Subfolder versus subdomain
Hosting your blog on a subdomain (e.g., blog.example.co.uk) makes it harder for Google to make the connection between this and the main domain, which could potentially hinder both authority and link equity, as well as the performance of the content itself.
Rand Fishkin did a Whiteboard Friday about this exact topic just a few months ago:
“I’d really urge everyone to keep your content on one single sub and root domain, preferably in subfolders. That’s how you’re going to maximise your potential SEO benefit.”
It’s all about relevance; Google will typically consider content on a subfolder to be more relevant to the main domain than anything on a subdomain. Therefore, traffic to your blog on a subfolder will help the overall rankings of your site, whereas a subdomain is almost treated like a different site by Google.
Host the blog on a subfolder instead (e.g., example.co.uk/blog) and it will help boost the authority of the blog content by association with your main domain.
8. Not promoting the blog on-site/on social
Engaging content on your blog is one thing, but if your users don’t know you’re publishing it, you are just sending yet more content out into the ether.
Too many businesses unintentionally demonstrate a disconnect between their blog and social media, which will reduce how many users are aware of the content. Use social platforms to your advantage by sharing your content when it is written, as well as digging it back up in case of any newsjacking opportunities.
These platforms are a great means to keep your content in the public eye, making you relevant without always needing something new to post.
9. Not mobile-friendly
Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ update has emphasised the fact that whether or not a site is mobile-friendly is a huge factor for consideration when ranking sites in SERPs. Therefore, any blog that doesn’t translate well on a mobile device is likely to rank lower. Furthermore, it often creates a poor user experience and will send readers back to their search results.
Blogs must also write with mobile in mind. This means shorter, more digestible paragraphs and a font that is easily readable on a smaller screen.
Mobile consumption of content is always on the rise and is more salient than ever before, so not being mobile-friendly can be a pretty significant mistake! Review your content strategy to see if this can help your blog reach a much wider audience.
10. A disconnected user journey
The nature of blog posts means they are likely to have a high bounce rate; users arrive on the page, read the content and then, for instance, get back to Facebook or Twitter on the train. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be addressed by allowing the user room to progress on site should they wish.
Now, this doesn’t mean including links to every product on your site. Of course, if there is a relevant product, then by all means feature it somewhere on the page, but you might also find that linking to another blog post along a similar topic works just as well, keeping the user on your site.
Having your site content interconnected with your blog content will help the user create a connection between your well-written, dynamic blog and whatever you’re selling. By including the appropriate calls to action, you can turn casual readers into valuable visitors.
Blogging ain’t easy, but it needn’t necessarily be hard either. Any business can create a blog that really draws users in and, as a result, perform brilliantly from a search perspective – if you can get the basics spot on, (and you’re not afraid to apply a little bit of elbow grease!), everything else will follow.
Once more unto the blog, dear friends, once more!