Lead Content Marketing Trainer, 10+ Years of Content Marketing Expertise, Content Marketing Trainer
January 13th, 2020
Common blogging mistakes
choosing the wrong topics
not publishing frequently/consistently
not having a content manager
content not user-focused
articles not comprehensive enough
poorly formatted content
not linking to other content
no next action
not updating content
not repurposing content
“I’ve been blogging for months now and haven’t seen any impact on my traffic and leads. Does this mean content marketing doesn’t work, or am I doing something wrong?”
Does this question sound familiar to you? Because it’s one of the most frequent pain points I hear from new clients.
These businesses heard blogging was the best way to stay relevant and competitive in the digital age, so they fired up a blog on their website, started adding content to it for a few months, but never saw much of an uptick in traffic to their site.
Some of these businesses found their way to IMPACT or other agencies for help. But unfortunately, the majority of these companies dropped content marketing and quietly went back to their old ways.
Whenever I visit a website for the first time, I always go to the blog, and it’s disturbing how many of them are graveyards of forgotten content.
Scrolling through their most recent articles, I’ll see blogs that were once published monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily come to an abrupt end.
Looking closely, I can even see the date on the toe tag for these deceased blogs: All you have to do is look for when they published their last blog article and count the weeks and months since.
Often, I’ll even look at the last article’s title, and it’s something like Join Us August 8, 2018 for the 5th Annual Downtown 5K.
Yup, with content like that, it’s no surprise their blogs didn’t have much of a heartbeat and why they pulled the plug shortly after their race.
But I don’t want to see that happen to your blog.
It’s not too late to get it into the ICU, breathe new life into it, and see it make a swift recovery.
All you have to do is stop making these common blogging mistakes.
1. Choosing the wrong topics
Easily the most common mistake I see in business blogging is companies not writing on topics relevant to their audience.
Instead, these companies use their blog to talk about themselves.
They write content that is more fitting as company news than as educational content. And for the most part, your audience doesn’t really care who got promoted to VP of Sales, or what local sports team you sponsored, or who won your annual three-legged race.
They’re trying to solve problems of their own, not watch you high-five yourself.
So what’s the fix?
Talk with your sales team. What questions are prospects asking during sales meetings? What are their primary concerns they want addressed before they buy?
Nearly every question a customer asks is a potential blog topic.
In fact, over the years of looking at the top-performing blog articles from hundreds of companies, I’ve identified several blog article types that customers actually read spanning across all business types.
In general, a content manager has many duties including creating the editorial calendar; researching, writing, editing, and publishing blog articles; posting to social media sites; developing premium content; and reviewing analytics.
Without this role, your efforts will undoubtedly unravel.
4. Content not user-focused
The first three mistakes are ones that affect getting started or the content strategy.
However, the majority of blogging mistakes I see occur on the page.
The most egregious of these is that the content doesn’t have the reader in mind.
Instead of using the content to answer questions and truly help buyers make a purchase decision, the article instead turns into a promotional piece.
And, as consumers, most people’s defenses are up. If they land on an article to get answers and instead get a company chest-puffing piece, they’ll leave and find the article that is right for them.
So what’s the solution?
We’re not saying you can’t promote yourself at all in your articles, but you do need to tone it down a bit.
We ask our clients to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of a blog article should be educational and only 20% should be promotional.
Really consider the question from the buyer’s point of view.
Why are they asking the question? What is their intent when searching for answers? How can you answer the question without constantly referencing yourself?
In some instances, like that of a review article, we suggest that you introduce yourself in the introduction of the article to establish why you should be trusted for the answer, make the body mostly educational, and then remind readers in the outro that you sell the products and services you discussed.
5. Articles aren’t comprehensive enough
I’ve had many clients tell me, “we’ve been answering questions on our blog, but we’re not getting any traffic to those articles.”
But when I review their blog articles, I often find them very short and lacking substance, but it’s not all about length here.
Rather than focus on length, you should focus on answering the question at hand fully.
People shouldn’t finish your article and be left unsatisfied with the answer because if they do, they’re going to leave your site and continue their search.
On the other hand, it’s clear search engines prioritize blog articles that are fairly lengthy.
And there are statistics to back this up.
In two separate studies by SERP IQ and Backlinko where they reviewed the average length of copy for the top 10 results for millions of search queries, they both found that the top answers were close to or over 2,000 words long.
There’s an assumption that a longer answer is a more complete answer.
So what length should you shoot for?
There’s no perfect answer, but I can at least give you a minimum: we tell all of our clients that their blog articles should be at a minimum of 750 words long.
When I receive content shorter than that, I’m quick to send it back and ask for more copy.
When I get articles between 750 - 1,200 words long, without even reading the copy, I can assume the article has a fair shot of ranking.
However, when I get content 1,500 words and up, I feel confident that the article has a good chance of being first-page quality.
And if it’s over 2000 words, it’s rarely a question of if it will make it to the first page, but how quickly can it get there.
My recommendation is to write until you feel confident that you’ve answered the question completely.
6. Poorly formatted content
Let’s say you really strive to answer a question fully and comprehensively and end up with a very long blog article.
Your blog article might very well be the best answer to that question in the world, but if it’s poorly formatted, nobody is going to read it.
So how can you fix your content to engage readers?
Clear sections with headers
You need to display clear sections in the content, and this is best handled using headers that act as signposts letting readers know what the next group of paragraphs is about.
Use lots of whitespace and don’t have big blocks of text.
You may have noticed in this article there are very few lengthy paragraphs. Most are one to two sentences long and very few over three.
Doing so makes it feel as if the article is easier to read.
When readers see giant blocks of text, the copy appears dense and harder to read.
Simply adding more paragraphs and adjusting your line-height in your CSS styling can give the copy the appearance of being easier to read, therefore keeping your audience engaged.
Use bullet points and bolding to draw attention to key points.
Many people skim content instead of reading or before they decide to read in full. If you want essential information to pop off the page and grab their attention, bullet points and bolded text can help achieve this.
7. Not linking to other content
Let’s say someone finds your content through search. They read the entire article, feel that it answered their question in full, but now they have other questions around the topic they want to explore further.
Do you have those answers somewhere on your site?
Do you know of any sources that do have those answers?