You pour your heart, soul, time, and energy into maintaining your blog and providing valuable content. Make sure you don’t doom all your hard work by making any of these six fundamental mistakes.
1. Ignoring or disabling comments. If people take the time to comment on your post, you should acknowledge their comments, even if it’s something as simple as “Thank you for stopping by.” Why? Blogging is most successful when it’s a two-way conversation. Oftentimes, the discussions that happen in a blog’s comment section can be just as rich (and sometimes even richer) than the points you made in the blog post.
As for disabling comments, we understand how tempting it can be thanks to the proliferation of spam (hey, we’re bloggers, too – we get it!), but disabling comments indicates to readers that you’re more interested in having your own voice heard rather than listening to theirs. Note: we’re not suggesting you need to keep comments open forever on all blog posts. But for fresh content, it makes sense to enable comments for a month or two.
Regarding spam and trolls, you can rely on ways to manage these two annoyances. For spam, install a plugin, like CAPTCHA, that requires people to indicate they’re human and not a spam bot. No, these sorts of plugins aren’t one hundred percent foolproof, but they can usually funnel spammy comments to a junk folder. For trolls or misguided commenters, use comment moderation. This especially makes sense if you’re concerned about etiquette, you’re writing about a controversial subject, or you work in an industry that may have some legal concerns with comments. Just be sure whoever is in charge of moderating the comments does just that. Don’t let days go by before approving legitimate comments.
2. Not allowing for email subscriptions. Actually, we’d like to go further with this point and say, “not allowing for complete and various subscription methods.” Some people will want to subscribe via email, some folks via RSS, and still others may want to follow your posts on Facebook or Google+. The bottom line: make sure your blog clearly outlines the options, and make sure email is one of them.
3. Dismissing SEO. Just as you need to optimize the pages on your website for keyword phrases, you need to do the same with your blog posts since each post is its own separate website page. Like anything else on the web, these pages are indexed and can come up in searches. The beauty of this? Blog posts can be a great place to focus on some of those long-tail keyword phrases, which are super-specific phrases relevant to your business but that don’t have the search volume that some of your other keyword phrases have. Write a blog post around a long-tail keyword phrase (just make sure it IS relevant to your business) and the post will stand a good chance of showing up in organic searches.
4. Thinking that if you build it, they will come. In other words, simply posting an article to your blog isn’t enough. Yes, you should make sure you’ve optimized your post for keyword phrases (see above) so that people can find it when they use a search engine, but you should also push your content to your fans, customers, and followers. This means tweeting links and sharing links on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. When you send out your email newsletter (you have one, right?), you can include a few links in the sidebar to some of your recent blog posts. You and your employees could include a link to your blog in your email signature. You get the idea. Let people know about your fabulous content.
5. Forgetting that so much of your content is evergreen. If you’ve been maintaining a blog for any length of time, it’s important to continue to promote older content that’s not out of date (also known as “evergreen” content). Why? Your customers, prospects, or fans may have missed it the first time around. For example, if you own a design/build firm and you offer tips for winterizing your home, this is a post you can re-share each fall (think of all the customers you’ve landed since the original date…now they’ll have the opportunity to see the post along with anyone else who happened to miss it). Where should you “re-share”? Same places as before: social media, newsletters, email signatures, etc. You can also share these posts within your current blog posts. For example, at the end of your current post, you could include links to posts that were popular a year ago.
6. Forgetting to ask for the sale. Sure, your blog is providing free information to customers and prospects, but it’s also a marketing vehicle. The goal is to compel those people who are true “hot” prospects (i.e. those who are ready to buy your products or services) to take some sort of action. Maybe you want them to download a white paper so that you can get their info and continue the sales conversation with them. Maybe you want them to sign up for a free demo of your product. Maybe you want them to register for a webinar. Whatever the action is, you need to specifically ask people to take it. So make sure you have a clear call-to-action, ideally in the form of a well-designed button. Here’s more info on how to optimize your blog for lead generation.
Can you think of other fundamental mistakes you see businesses make with their blogs? Do you blog? What tips do you have? We want to hear them! Share in the comments.