It doesn’t take much to start a blog. All you need is some basic internet know-how and you can use a drag-and-drop CMS system to design a sleek blog and begin publishing content. Unfortunately, these low barriers to entry enable businesses to start blogs without much of an investment in learning the ins and outs of how content marketing is supposed to fit into their larger digital strategies. At best, this wastes time and creative energy. At worst, it negatively impacts brand image and erodes trust with customers.
The 7 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
For brands that want to excel with digital marketing, SEO, and website traffic, blogging is a powerful and practical strategy. Research shows that companies with blogs receive 97 more links and 55 percent more traffic to their websites than businesses that do not. But there’s a difference between having a blog and having an effective blog. If you want your blog to benefit your website and help you build a more successful brand, you need to do a few things right. More specifically, you need to avoid the following costly mistakes:
1. Making Your Blog All About the Brand
There’s no room for selfish intentions when building a blog. No matter how enthralled you are with your own business, the reality is that nobody else cares enough to read self-serving blog posts.
A blog is not the place to post press releases or articles touting your latest industry awards and accomplishments. You might be proud of these things, but they aren’t engaging enough to keep your audience’s attention.
The best blogs are ones that post customer-centric content that adds value to the reader. Most brands find that how-to content on evergreen topics tends to outperform everything else.
2. Publishing Thin Content
There’s a difference between quality and quantity. Businesses often make the mistake of assuming they need to publish a new blog post every day, so they scramble to write short posts. Unfortunately, this results in thin content that yields very little practical value.
Today’s internet users want high quality content that provides tangible value. You’re much better off posting one 4000-word blog post per week than eight 500-word blog posts. Not only will this connect with your readers, but it’ll also satisfy Google.
3. Writing for the Search Engines
In modern blogging, you have to develop content with two audiences in mind: human readers and search engines. And while both are important, you can’t make the mistake of writing for the search engines at the expense of your human readers. Doing so will make your content choppy, sterile, and disengaging.
“There’s no need to stuff your articles full of keywords,” Green Residential notes. “This is an outdated SEO tactic that can actually hurt your search engine rankings rather than help them. Simply using the keywords a couple of times in the article where they fit appropriately will help bring you search traffic.”
It’s also wise to think about content structure. Shorter sentences – 20 words or less – outperform wordy sentences. Try keeping paragraphs to a maximum of three to five sentences and use subheadings to break up the flow of the copy. All of these techniques help to keep readers engaged throughout the entirety of the content.
4. Lack of Consistency
“One of the strongest components behind building a reputable web presence is ensuring that everything you put out there—in social media, on your blog, on your website, in your emails—represents your cause in a consistent and unified way,” digital marketing expert Chelsea Alves writes. “When the voice of your Twitter account sounds nothing like your blog, you’ve got a problem. Your messaging should be recognizable to your dedicated readers across all your platforms.”
Producing and maintaining a consistent brand voice takes work. You’ll need to develop a style guide that clearly identifies your brand’s values, tone, word choice, grammar structure, beliefs, etc. The more detailed this guide is, the less likely it is that you’ll deviate in your content creation and messaging.
5. No Visuals
In case you haven’t noticed, the internet is becoming increasingly visual by the day. As the evolution of social media platforms shows, people crave images, videos, and graphics. They don’t want to read a 5,000-word white page with dense paragraphs and obscure footnotes.
As you develop your blog content strategy, make sure you’re accounting for visuals. The bulk of your blog can still be written content, but make room for multimedia elements. This will increase both engagement and shares.
6. Weak Headlines
Attention spans are shorter than they’ve ever been. You have five seconds – and maybe less – to grab a reader’s attention and convince them to read past the first paragraph. If your headline/title is off, you’ll sabotage the post from the very start.
A weak headline is non-descriptive, generic, and self-seeking. A powerful headline is specific, engaging, and value-adding. As a general rule of thumb, spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of quality content on the headline. In other words, if it takes you an hour to write a blog post, you should spend another 30 minutes on crafting the headline. If that seems excessive, consider that advertising legend David Ogilvy rewrote his famous headline for an automobile advertisement an exhausting 104 times before zeroing in on the right one.
7. No Sharing Strategy
A blog is useless without a readership. In order for your blog to deliver a positive return on investment, you need traffic. The best way to do this is through a documented sharing strategy.
A good blog sharing strategy involves elements of social media, link building, and paid advertising. Look for unique ways to partner with influencers in your industry and always keep an eye out for potential partnerships that put your content in front of your target audience.
Start Shaping Your Blogging Strategy
Blogging is a commitment. If you’re going to take the time to produce quality content and share it with your audience, you need a strategy. Hopefully the discussion points in this article have provided you with a clear look at what works. Use this information as you shape your brand’s approach to blogging in 2020 and beyond.