A blog can be an incredibly effective marketing tool if it’s done right. The good news is, doing it right isn’t hard if you follow these seven rules of technical and artistic elements.
The bad news is, if you miss any of them, your readers won’t find your content engaging enough to want more of it. Without engagement, they won’t follow you on social media or opt-in to your email list (you are building an email list, aren’t you?).
Fortunately, the majority of companies out there are doing it right. 78% of B2C companies who have included a blog as part of their content marketing strategy say they are “moderately” to “extremely” successful with their efforts. 2 out of every 3 also say that their performance is better now compared to a year ago.
So what are they getting right? They are avoiding the following seven common business blog mistakes that can hurt performance. Read the list below to avoid the common pitfalls that hold content performance back.
Outdated SEO Techniques that Hurt Readability
If you’re still trying to make sure that your blogs include exact match keywords listed within a certain saturation limit, take a step back and consider changing your mind.
Loading as many keywords as possible into each paragraph is called “keyword stuffing“. Google hates it and so do your readers. Instead, include keywords naturally within the text, and don’t be afraid to vary how they are used or arranged. Google emphasizes that keywords should match user intent, giving the example that a long-time soccer fan will know to refer to important world matches under the “FIFA” acronym, while less-knowledgeable viewers may search for “football playoffs” instead.
Having your keywords appear naturally is key! Google recommends that you avoid “inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but users find annoying or nonsensical.” When you create content, try to create a piece that could get published on a popular industry blog. If it wouldn’t pass an editor’s keen eye for readability, it doesn’t belong on your blog.
According to an extensive study and comparison-based research from SEMrush, 18% of domains that rank for high-volume keywords don’t even have an exact match keyword appear anywhere in the body of the text!
Of course, that means that 82% do use exact match keywords, but they don’t “stuff” their content with them.
Make keyword use easier by creating lists centered around your concept. You can use the AdWords keyword planner for suggestions or use the Keywords Everywhere extension for Chrome. Your audience — and the search engines — will thank you!
Not Picking Topics That Have Value or Interest for Your Audience
Your company blog is not a place for ads! People will visit it only if it provides the same quality of content they would expect to find on a publication site. If they see that your “article” is actually a glorified pitch for a product, they will most likely hit the back button and never return.
Ensure that your topics could meet the interest of a casual reader. Your website visitor data can tell you this by revealing which articles get the most views and lead to the most time spent on site. You can also look to industry publications, mentions of your market niche in mass media, or your competitors’ blog views for guidance. Valuable content should make someone’s life better, help them accomplish something they want to do, or make them better at their job in some way. Before you hit “Publish” make sure it does that.
Social listening is another useful tool. Social media can be a vast source of new blog ideas. Looking for terms like “can I get a recommendation for…?” and other questions related to your product/service area is a great start. You can also source common questions your sales reps and customer service employees field. You can find lists of questions people ask about your niche by visiting answerthepublic.com
Missing Out on Opportunities to Engage
If you have a comment on your blog or someone sharing it with their added input, recognize that this is an opportunity! Someone who was interested enough to comment or share took time and effort to interact with your materials. Continue the conversation, address their thoughts, and at the very least offer a “thank you!” for their effort.
This tactic is especially important if your typical engagement rate is slim. If you regularly get comments and other feedback on your posts, then choose 3-4 of the most interesting or valuable takes to interact with.
Responding to comments rewards these interactions, but ignoring them can feel like a punishment! People may eventually stop responding or even reading, but you have the power to encourage engagement instead. People love attention online, even if it’s just a brief nod from a brand they care about.
Being Too Scattered With Your Topic Choices
News moves fast these days, and we are often inspired in the heat of a moment to cover a certain topic on our blogs. However, you should balance out these improvisationally chosen subjects with a regular body of ongoing themed, evergreen content.
For example, does your blog have a “101” series for your industry? If you are a lawyer, for instance, does your blog take the time to cover the basics of your area of practice? Then, does it answer common questions people have regarding a typical case?
Articles like these have evergreen appeal, meaning they can continue getting traffic long after their publish date. You can also link to this content within your other pieces, building strength for your SEO and domain authority. Using the lawyer example, a law blog can highlight the word “negligence” the first time it is used in each related blog and link that term to a “What Is Negligence?” intro post.
You can also structure your foundational knowledge posts into a useful section of your website. Intuitive navigation encourages additional page views per visit, and it can strengthen your domain authority to help you rank higher, according to Google.
Not Planning Out Careful Customer Journeys
Every blog you write should not only cover a relevant, interesting topic but also lead the reader to a logical next step — or a choice of next steps.
A strong example of a bad way to do this is writing an article that tells someone everything they need to know about your profession. Let’s say you are a pool maintenance company, and you exhaustively list every chemical test and piece of equipment you use in a comprehensive blog.
This article will no doubt get a lot of views, but then what would they need your company for? Instead, the company can give an example of pool treatments and note that “every pool is different” or that “doing it yourself is time-consuming and can lead to mistakes!” That way, the audience knows that even though they could DIY, they’ll get better results from you.
You never want to shoot your own value proposition in the foot, so to speak.
Similarly, guide the reader intuitively from their content view to the next step in their journey. That could be to “download our guide to winterizing your pool” by submitting their email, which gets them on your marketing list. Or, you can encourage them to “get a free estimate and assessment for what we can do for your pool” as a wrap-up call to action (CTA).
Steps in between your journey should be tempting and effortless to take. Keep your audience needs and expectations in mind, and when in doubt A/B test to find the most effective conversion methods.
Writing a Boring Headline
Your audience won’t want to click if your blog’s headline is too uninteresting or confusing. Focus a lot of your writing efforts on your headline, and regularly review data on article performance to see which headlines draw the most clicks.
Not Publishing Consistently
If people show up to a restaurant that’s randomly closed, they may stop trying to show up at all. Similarly, if your blog stagnates for months at a time, you are going to eventually turn off your readers altogether.
Make a point to post to your business blog a bare minimum of several times a month. 1-2 times weekly would be ideal. Having a set content theme for certain days can also work well at drawing regular audiences.
A consistent posting schedule will help you build audiences while rewarding regular readers with a steady stream of new content. Also, don’t neglect to promote your new blogs on social!
Getting Everything Right and Avoiding Business Blog Mistakes
The bottom line with all of these recommendations is to consider your audience. When you can write for real people from the perspective of something they would enjoy reading, you will reap the rewards of better content marketing performance.