7 Ways to Stop Your Business Blog From Crashing and Burning
The content marketing world is rapidly changing. More businesses are creating and publishing content than ever before. Unfortunately too many businesses overestimate their skills and underestimate the work involved. Indeed, more than 73 percent of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests, according to content-marketing company Kapost.
I've worked with dozens and dozens of companies -- both large and small -- and noticed similar blogging mistakes between all of them. Below I've compiled a list of the seven most deadly business-blogging sins and how repair them.
1. Not listing an author. I see business blogs failing to include an author more often than not. Blog posts should not be published by authors such as: "media," "uncategorized" or "unknown". Your business' blog should always contain a real, authentic author, as it helps build credibility, improves SEO and it just looks professional. Plus, people love connecting with other people.
2. Improper use of categories and tags. Categories and tags can be very tricky to new bloggers.
Categories are like book chapters. They should be somewhat broad in nature but relevant to your audience. Your categories should provide an organizational structure for both you and your audience. Your visitors should have a good idea of what each category means without an explanation. Remember the primary point of blog categories is to find information that interests them.
Tags are like the index within a book. They identify more specific content within categories. For example you may have a category titled, "Investing" with a tag titled, "family". As you can see the family tag helps users specifically find content geared at families within the investing category.
Unfortunately, there are many businesses who treat their categories like tags. Let me be the first to say that your blog should not contain more than 100 categories (or even close to that number).
3. Overuse of text blocks. Text blocks are blocks of text without any graphics, bullets, headings, and subheadings. They are extremely difficult to consume. To spice up the content, consider doing the following:
- Add media. Videos, images and graphics are excellent ways to break up text and display information easily. But keep in mind, media should be used to enhance your content's message rather than being used arbitrarily.
- Use subheadings. Subheadings are a great way to tell readers what to expect in each section of content.
- Insert bullets or numbered lists. Bullets and numbered lists help to share information in a concise (and shareable) manner.
- Add relevant links. Links help expand content and allow readers to check sources and dig further into certain topics. Consider including links to statistics, quotes, definitions and other related content pieces in your blog posts.
4. Self-promotional posts. There's a difference between incorporating products and services into a blog post and flat out writing a a self-promotional advertisement: one is engaging and the other is obnoxious.
Refrain from writing short blog blurbs relating to upcoming company conferences, events and even webinars. Instead, these types of content should be shared using social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus. That said, if you do decide to create a post that could be considered self-promotional, make sure you add value.
5. No effective call to action (CTA). I always like to consider blog posts as gateways to high converting pages on sites. Publishing blog content without effective CTAs is like sticking a key in a door handle without opening the door. Here are some CTAs to consider adding to your site:
- Form submission. Getting visitors on your site is half the battle. When applicable, push visitors in the right direction by placing a short, easy form submission.
- Related content. Related content CTAs are a great way to engage with consumers and get them deeper into your site.
- Social sharing. This may sound like a no-brainer but social sharing is an extremely effective way to interact with visitors.
- Lead generation. This type of CTA has consumers to act upon your service or product. This could include downloading, starting a free trial or entering their number for a call back.
6. No definitive goals. Goals are the foundation to any content strategy: Every piece of content published within a company blog should be connected to a goal.
Here are some goals I highly recommend considering when managing your company's blog: Increasing traffic to blog and site, brand signals, search optimization, leads and conversions, credibility and customer engagement.
7. Improperly sized graphics. Your site has specific graphic dimensions that will make your blog posts look clean and professional. Ignoring these dimensions can actually do more harm than just making your posts look cluttered.
Most people think they can simply upload an image and resize it within their content management system (like Wordpress). But what happens when people load large images, expecting them to be shrunk down to the size that fits is the page load time slows way down (the server still has to load the huge picture).
Pixelation. On the other end of the spectrum, people run into the pixilation issue (think mosaic style pictures). Pixelation occurs when an image is sized beyond its resolution capacity, which happens when people resize small images into larger images.
The fix: Simply, measure the width of your blog posts. One tool that can help with this is Firefox Firebug:
- Browse your website. Click theFirebug icon in the status bar or click the menu bar elections (Firefox, Web Developer, Firebug and Open Firebug). Firebug will open two panes with the style elements on the right pane.
- Click the Inspect an Element toolbar button in the Firebug console on the left side.
- Point your mouse cursor over the website until the full width of the blog is enveloped in a light-blue box. Usually the best area to capture is the header are near the top. (On most blogs Firebug will display a section such as:)
- Scan the style pane for information containing "width" in the property list. The width of the blog is defined by a number followed by the "px;" value. For example: "675 px"
After you've identified your blog's ideal image width use software like Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator or Pixlr to resize your images to their proper width dimensions. Also, always use high resolution photos.
Related: You've Got a Blog. Now, Get Readers.
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