It seems wherever you turn these days, everyone is talking about the importance of blogging to brand your name and your business, draw in new customers and stay connected with those you already have. While it is true that blogging can accomplish many things to help strengthen your brand, that only applies if you blog the right way.
In fact, there are some things you can do that will really screw up your blog and maybe even your reputation.
#10. Copy Other Blogs
Digital Labs says it best, “No matter what you’re writing about, you can be sure there are other blogs on the subject. That means you need to really focus on providing something fresh and interesting for your readers.” According to Newswire, at the end of 2011, Neilson had tracked about 181 million blogs around the world hosted on sites. WordPress reports that it hosts 76,774,818 blogs (March, 2014). The numbers are even higher today. With that many blogs out there, more than likely, somewhere there is an article about the topic you are writing about.
It is your job as a blogger to do your research and see how you can add a fresh take, look at the topic in a new way or cover even more information than your competition. Simply regurgitating the same stale information isn’t going to impress anyone or the search engine rankings.
There is also the issue of actually copying another person’s work in an act of plagiarism. In addition to the legal and ethical ramifications of stealing someone else’s intellectual property, you run the very great risk of getting pinged by Google for duplicate content. This will make your ranking take a huge hit and could even cause you to get blocked from Google.
Business owners are busy people. Even if you have a mom blog or hobby site, you are likely a busy mom or working professional who is updating the blog in your spare time. It is easy to let time slip away and suddenly it has been weeks, months or even a year since you posted. Your readers will grow bored if they check back each week and never see fresh content.
To prevent this, set up a schedule for when you’ll post articles and perhaps plan out a few topics, so you don’t waste precious time planning out what you’ll write. In “An Easy Formula to Help You Write a Great Blog Post Faster“, I offer some simple tips that can help you put together a killer blog post in half the time it might otherwise take you.
While one post a day might be more than you can accomplish, try to post at least a couple of times a week to keep readers interested in your blog. Also, search engines spider your site from time to time and Google does look at how current a site is when ranking.
#8. Spam Your Readers
Don’t you just love visiting a blog where there is an ad every other paragraph, text links to other ads, ads in the sidebar and ad-type posts from various companies? Of course you don’t love a spammy blog and neither does anyone else.
It can be a difficult balancing act between promoting your own product, adding in a bit of ad revenue and not spamming your readers. A good rule of thumb is no more than two ads per page. If you want to place these ads in the form of links, then don’t add in a bunch of image ads as well. If you have ads in your sidebar, don’t add them in your text.
The Blog Tyrant offers some good advice about sidebars. He recommends using the sidebar to funnel your site visitors toward your conversion that you desire. Want to sell a book? The sidebar should funnel them to an information page. Perhaps you just want to get the reader to sign up for a mailing list or to read your very best content. Whatever your goal is, know it and stick to it while keeping it uncluttered.
#7. Don’t Moderate Comments
If you’ve been around the blogosphere for a few minutes, you probably know the importance of moderating your comments and using plugins like Askimet to filter out spam posts. There are trolls who go from blog to blog and post nonsense with a bunch of links to various websites. If your comments are unmoderated, these comments will show up on your blog as spam.
You will want some filters to keep these comments from coming to your inbox or you may grow quickly overwhelmed. Askimet is a simple WordPress plugin that comes already installed and will filter most of these posts into a spam folder. You can then delete all of the spam at once with a single click of the button.
If moderating comments seems like a time consuming task, you can also set additional filters in WordPress to reduce the workload. For example, you can automatically approve registered users with a set post that has previously been approved. Let’s say Jane visits your site every Friday afternoon and comments. You can set it so that Jane is not moderated after the first post is approved.
To set the moderation so that it is automated for Jane, or whoever, simply login to your WordPress dashboard, click on Settings/Discussion. Then, under “Before a comment appears”, check the box for “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. Click the blue box labeled “Save Changes”.
#6. Never Interact with Readers
Blogs are about interacting with others, at least to some extent. This doesn’t necessarily demand that you allow comments on your blog. You have the option to turn them off. If you don’t allow comments, though, then you probably should create a newsletter, respond to emails from readers or occasionally enable comments.
The very nature of blogs have traditionally been about being part of a community, giving and taking information and adding feedback. If you don’t interact with your readers, you may lose them.
Some blog owners prefer to disable comments on the actual blog, where people can post anonymously and take the comments to social media by including links. This also encourages readers to share links to your best articles with others on social media.
#5. Write Off Topic
Bill Gates once said that content is king and that saying stuck. It is still true to this day.
If your readers come to your site to read about relationship help, they aren’t looking for a post on how to hold a golf club.
However, your blog can also be weak if you are only touching on the bare basics in your niche topic. So, on the relationships blog, you might write about how to get along with your spouse but never dig into the deeper issues of what causes strife in a marriage. You might mention ways to know if your significant other is cheating but not talk about how to recover from infidelity or how to learn to trust again. Make sure you are digging down deeper than just the surface of the topic.
Another way that blog owners sometimes write off topic is by throwing in some personal news here and there. Perhaps that blog owner went on vacation, so she writers about the trip and includes photographs. Unless you are writing a personal or travel blog, this is not appropriate information for most blogs. Save it for a quick aside in a newsletter or monthly update instead.
#4. Never Edit Your Work
Google does penalize for what they consider poor content. If you never edit your work and you miss a bunch of awkward phrases, a Google rater may notch your site down for that. More importantly, your readers may find you less reliable and credible if you have a lot of typos.
Before publishing a post, try to let it sit a day or two. Read back through it carefully for any awkward phrasing or typos. Most blog publishing platforms offer a built-in spell check, use it.
Remember that you are putting this piece of work out representing your business and also yourself as an author. With features like Google+ Authorship, you’ll want to always put your best foot forward.
If you have a friend or editor who can read the work and offer suggestions, that might be helpful as well.
#3. Don’t Bother to Back up Statistics
99% of the people won’t bother to click on a link if you throw a statistic out there. I totally just made that number up. Don’t write like this. It makes your writing seem less credible. Instead, take the time to hunt down a statistic, credit it and link to it. For example:
See how that is much more impressive than just throwing a number out there and not backing up where you found it? Use your resources wisely to create an impact. Also avoid terms like:
Researchers find – What researchers? Who are they? Where was this info published?
Lots of people – This is too generic. Try to find a specific statistic when you can. Take the time to research and it will pay off in readers who trust what you write.
It is well known – Okay, by who? Why is it well known? Who first mentioned it?
#2. Accept Too Many Guest Posts
Matt Cutts at Google has been warning for a while that guest blogging is not something Google is encouraging and may cause your site to lose ranking. In January, 2014, Cutts released a post on his blog about guest blogging and why using it to gain links is no longer a good idea. He stated:
“If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”
Then, on March 19th, Matt Cutts made an announcement on Twitter that Google had “taken action” against a guest blogging network. He didn’t name the network, but as people noticed traffic falling and even some instances where their sites were blocked on Google, it became quickly apparent that the latest changes had impacted MyBlogGuest. If you search for their name in Google, it won’t even come up in the listing.
However, probably more importantly for your own blogs, site owners with posts from MyBlogGuest (publishers) were also penalized in the hit. According to Search Engine Land, some site owners are tweeting and reporting that Google has given them manual action notifications. What does this mean for you?
First, if you have MyBlogGuest posts on your site, take them down immediately. It isn’t worth the risk. If you participate in other guest blogging platforms that offer networking guest blog opportunities, do not publish anything from those sources as they’ll likely be hit as well. If you wish to guest blog, please line up your own guest blog opportunities by connecting with other web owners outside of a networking group.
Next, check and make sure your site is still pulling up well in Google. If so, you are probably fine. If not, check and make sure you weren’t hit with a manual action notification. If you were, you’ll need to request that it be removed.
Guest blogging is a great way to connect with new readers, but do it in a smart way. Post unique content on your blog and other blogs that is related to your niche. Don’t accept anything spammy or put too many links or spam in your own posts.
#1. Write Content that Is Only About Events Occurring Today
You’ve likely heard the term evergreen. This means that if I read your article today or in six months, it should still be relevant. If you follow current topics and post about something that is very specific to today, then your content won’t be evergreen. Instead, look at how you can make it evergreen. For example, whether you love her or hate her Miley Cyrus is a hot topic right now. The big trending news is that she’s canceled several of her tour stops due to an severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic.
Let’s say that I want to write a blog post about this. So, I come up with the title:
Miley Cyrus Cancels More Bangerz Tour; How to Spend Your Saturday
That is so specific to current events that it is going to be dated within a week or two. Instead, I would look at that title and figure out how to make it relevant today, tomorrow and next year. So, I might change it to:
Your Favorite Singer Just Canceled a Tour Date; How to Spend Your Day Instead
See how that is a title and topic that will work in the future as well? In fact, that title will work for years to come as singers cancel tour dates all the time. Are your titles evergreen? Do they stand the test of time? Unless you run a current events site, I recommend you make them so.
Already Screwed Up? How to Make it Right
Did you create a huge faux paus on your site? Did you insult your readers, lie or steal another writer’s content? Although some of your readers may never forgive you, most people will understand that you are human and make mistakes. Here is the catch, though…You have to admit that you made a mistake, apologize for it and do everything you can to make it right.
Be honest, upfront and fair to your readers and they will follow you almost anyway.
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.