17 Mistakes You Are Probably Making (When It Comes To Writing Blog Posts)
Content is everything, that’s at least what we’re told as marketers.
Think about it, how many times have you heard the words “content is king”? Too many I suspect.
You might be sick of hearing about it, but the all and powerful Google demands good, helpful, lengthy content for all online users.
But…. it’s quite rightfully so.
Content can really help you boost traffic and gain an audience, one that will eventually turn into customers and conversions. But you’ve got to work for it.
It’s been advised by Brian Dean at Backlinko that your articles should be only as frequent as once a month (contrary to popular belief), they should also be reaching around 1500 words or more to be useful for your audience.
But, we’re all human and all make mistakes along the way, including myself.
Below are 17 simple and important mistakes you’re probably making when it comes to writing content for your blog and what you should be doing instead.
You can see a summarized list of these mistakes (with tips) at the bottom of this blog post if you’ve only got 2 minutes spare. You can also share this post via Twitter if you’d like.
Alternatively, if you want to learn more about what makes viral content popular, check out an older post of mine called “Viral Content – A Close Look Into Popular Media“.
You’re not writing it yourself
I’ll say one word, outsourcing. So many marketers do it, even businesses, to save time and money. You might have a fuller wallet and you might have more time on your hands, but you certainly haven’t gained an audience.
Why? Because cheap outsourced writing just simply isn’t good enough.
You can buy articles on Fiverr for $5 a piece, which sounds great if you’re only looking at it financially.
If you really don’t have time to create your post then make sure you’re asking a trained professional to write one for you, someone who is an expert in your field.
At the end of the day, the blog post has your name on it, so you want to make sure it’s good quality content.
You’re alienating your potential customers
Many people forget or simply don’t know what kind of audience they’re writing for. It’s important to write content for potential customers, rather than other industry professionals.
Think about it, your already existing customers are there because they already know and like your service. Other companies, like yours, will only use your blog post to benefit themselves.
It makes no sense to write very specific posts that will only be understood by those in your industry. By doing that you can end up alienating potential customers.
Customers for life are the 20% who make up 80% of your revenue according to Social Triggers.
Write posts that answer questions potential or even existing customers have, then you can’t go wrong.
You’re not using appropriate headings
I will put my hands up and say that I have always been misguided when it comes to headings, they’re quite confusing to those who don’t know.
Headings are simply titles that go within your blog post to break up the text. They’re also a great way of adding in the odd keyword.
Don’t, however, make everything a H1. Header tags need to be in order, you also need to make sure you’re only using one H1 tag, followed by H2 tags within the text.
H1 tags are usually automatically pulled in as the title of your blog post, but you can check on a live post by right clicking and selecting “inspect element”.
You’ll see lots of code, but highlighted will be the code you clicked on. If it looks like this: <h1>Title of Post</h1>, you’ve got yourself a header tag.
Make sure your H2 tags are at least 100 words apart from each other and never start your post with a header (as your post title is likely going to be a H1, and headers should never sit on top of each other).
You can find out more about header tags with this great guide by Woorank.
You’ve got an ulterior motive
It can be hard as a business owner to see something from a customer perspective, after all you’ve worked hard to get your business off the ground and should know what’s best for your customers.
Don’t let this show in your blog posts.
It might seem crazy to leave yourself open to your audience, but nobody likes being taken for a ride. If you’ve got an ulterior motive, that isn’t simply helping customers, it’s going to show.
Make sure that your blog post has subtle calls to action, don’t plaster links and buttons everywhere saying “BUY THIS”.
B2B markters that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not according to Hubspot, so make sure you’re not making your blog uninviting.
You’re not using feature images
According to Skyword, text content with at least 1 image generated 94% more views on social media. If this wasn’t proof enough that images are important in blog posts Xerox then found that ‘colourful’ visuals made people 80% more likely to read a document.
Images within the post are clearly important, but it’s the feature image that has the most power.
Your feature image doesn’t just sit at the top of your blog post, in fact many features images are actually disabled by the website developer when in the physical blog post. A feature image is used both within the blog section of your website (as a small thumbnail) and in social media.
Social media? How?
When you add a link into Twitter or Facebook it automatically generates a post for you, this includes your feature image. If you don’t have one it will grab an image from within the post, which might not be relevant.
Make sure you choose a feature image that is crisp and clean, but one that is also relevant to your whole blog post.
You’re making your text too bulky
What do you think when you see a block of text? I personally think “I don’t have time for this”, I’m sure one or more of your will agree.
Blocks of text are bad for blog posts, if you want to keep someone reading you’ll need to break your text up into small bite-sized chunks.
A study by Dr Jakob Neilson revealed that “scannable” online content boosted the websites readability by a staggering 47%. In another study it was found that only 28% of a blog post actually gets read.
It’s because of this that you need to make sure your text is pleasing to the eye and not too bulky.
Short sentences can boost content readability by 58% according to Dr John Morkes, so start using that enter button on your keyboard.
You’ve got keywords on the brain
As a business owner you have been or will be told about keywords by marketers like us. Keywords are search terms that your potential customers use in Google to find you and/or your services.
It’s then very easy to misconstrue the use of keywords and think/assume that the more you use, the more you will be seen.
Well, yes. You will be seen, but you certainly won’t be trusted.
People who try to hard to add in keywords to their blog posts run the risk of being penalized by Google for keyword stuffing, no to mention how obvious it is when people overuse them.
You can use tools like the SEOBOOK Keyword Density Analyzer so test your text. Ideally, specific keywords should not show up in your text more than 1.5-2% of the time.
Any more than this and you’re using it too much, try to use variations of the same keyword rather than repeating it.
You’re not promoting your posts
What is the point in spending all that time creating a piece of content, only to leave it sat in your blog and not actively promote it?
Many will focus their promotion efforts towards products and services, but blog posts are a great way of catching customers as you’re offering help and guidance to them for free.
This builds instant trust in the first instance, if you link to 1 or more of your services pages (and the blog post does well) you’ll share the link juice across to those other pages.
In other words, cross-linking in blog posts is a fantastic way to gain natural, organic traffic.
To promote your post you need to take to social media. Shareaholic did a study that found that 27% of the worlds social shares happen between 8am and 12pm EST. The reason for this is that this is the only time slot where the whole world is awake, so use it wisely.
You’re not including any solid facts
Going back to a previous point, content that you order online is never really good enough. The reason for this is that a good portion of them are more observational, plain and just simply uninformative.
Facts are solid, nobody can argue with the facts and some facts have more impact than others.
These facts then need to be backed up with evidence, the way you can do this is by linking out to the sources where you found the facts. It’s better to include facts from studies and top influencers, rather than from your average Joe.
You also need to make sure these facts are shocking and relevant. I could tell you that banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour, but that’s in no way relevant to what I am talking about.
What’s more impressive to a marketing audience is to be told that, in a study of 1.2 million tweets, Dan Zarrella found that hashtagging in tweets boosted them by an astonishing 55%.
You’re posting too often
It’s true, I guarantee you you’re posting every week to every other week to keep your blog jam packed full of posts.
But you really don’t need to, especially if you’re creating longer more useful articles.
This video by Brian Dean at Backlinko looks at how Brian still managed to create traffic for his website without posting more often than once a month.
He proved in this video that decent content will gain you traffic for a longer period of time. He suggests spending a good few days creating your article, then spending the rest of the month promoting it.
Don’t rush yourself into making content and don’t force yourself to write something if you’re not in the mood, it will only reflect in your article.
Once a month is more than enough.
You’re not proofreading your article
Just because you might have English as a first language, doesn’t mean you’ll never make grammatical or spelling mistakes. We all make mistakes, but the article you write must make sense to those reading it.
Just leaving out a comma can leave you in some awkward grammatical trouble.
Getting your article proofread is not just a way of making sure the article makes sense, but it’s also a chance for you and other people to evaluate the relevance and helpfulness of the overall post.
In a study by Grammarly it was found that professionals who were given 1-4 promotions over their 10 year careers made 45% more grammatical errors the those who gained 6-9 promotions in the same time period.
Or, in basic terms, those who are better with grammar have a higher chance of achieving more success in their careers.
You’re not testing your headlines
Your headline is your hook, it has to be short and snappy to grab the attention of the reader. It’s one chance you get at getting someone to click your link, so the pressure is on.
It is, of course, impossible to test a title before you’ve posted the article. Or so you think.
There are tools and advice out there that can really help you to hone in on your blog post titles. The emotional marketing value headline analyzer by the Advanced Marketing Institute is a personal favourite of mine.
This infographic by Backlinko suggests using brackets, odd numbers and emotional words for your blog posts. As you can see from the title of this post, I’ve followed all of these. The emotion comes in when I mention you, the reader.
I made it personal, without evoking a specific emotion. You can of course use words to shock and awe your audience, but simply mentioning your reader can be enough to make them click.
You’re not being personable or open
This mistake is mostly made by businesses, not personal blogs. Businesses make the mistake of thinking that they should remain corporate and that everything written is the views of everyone in your team etc.
Nobody can relate to a business like you can a person, make sure that every member of your team has their own logins and author bio so people can relate to the person creating the post. You can see my author page for Surge Digital here.
We’re naturally drawn to images, so make sure you have a picture of your author at the top or bottom of the post too.
A study by Claeremont University revealed that images (any images) boosted content credibility by an incredible 75%. Seeing someone’s face helps us to better relate to them.
Also be sure to be open about any issues or hurdles your business has faced, don’t try and put on a poker face and claim that everything is fine if it’s not.
If you’re honest with your audience you give them the chance to empathize with you, perhaps they’ll even help.
You’re not making your posts long enough
I will put my hands up and say that I’ve previously written 500 word articles and gone “that’ll do“, but not a single one of those articles really did that well.
That’s because it’s impossible to guide someone properly in anything less than 500 words. Many marketers suggest 500 as a minimum, but we’re always trying to get people to exceed that.
Longer content is 76.8% more likely to go viral according to a study by Professor Dr. Jonah Berger, so try and aim for around 1500 words as a general rule if you want your posts to do well.
It might sound hard or impossible, but it’s actually not too hard when you’re breaking your post into several sections.
You’re comparing yourself to everyone else
At some point in all of our lives we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. It’s something that many do when creating content, they look to those doing the best and they try their hardest to be them.
You’re your own business, you need to separate yourself out from the crowd rather than follow it like a sheep.
Giving yourself that pressure, to be the best, stunts your growth. It’s almost like having a defeatist attitude to life, knowing that your posts will never do as well as your competitors.
You’ve got to push that aside, of course you can look to competitors for inspiration but don’t become a copy cat to try and match them.
Pressure can cause stress and stress can be bad for the body. In the UK 10.4 million working days are lost each year to stress according to Boots WebMD, don’t become one of them.
You’re recycling/rewriting content
It might make sense to reuse older content that didn’t get used, but in fact it’s one of the worst things you could do. Older content could have outdated or no longer useful information. In the time it would take you to check the whole post you may as well have created a new one.
You may also be tricked into thinking that rewriting content from other websites is a good thing to do, but it’s fraught with issues.
Rewriting content can be hard because you have a compelling need to repeat what they’ve said (if you like what they’ve written). It’s also not unique, it already exists and is serving a purpose to online users already.
You need to stand out, offer something that other websites don’t and use up to date facts and figures.
You’re not summarizing
If you are creating longer blog posts, that’s great! But, are you summarizing at the end of the post?
A summary or conclusion at the end of a post is a great way of reaching out to those who don’t have time to read the entire article. Having them placed at the bottom means they have to skip the rest of the post to get the shortened version at the end, but images along the way could hook them into actually reading the post.
Also, when you have such a long post, you might forget what the first few points were. A summary helps those who have read the whole post to remind themselves that they read at the top of the page.
Below is the summary to this post with the mistakes being made plus a small helpful tip on how to combat it.
Just in case you didn’t have time to read the full post here is a short summary to guide you.
- You’re not writing it yourself – don’t outsource your writing, if you must then make sure they are a professional in your field.
- You’re alienating your potential customers – don’t make posts that are aimed at your competitors, write to those who don’t know.
- You’re not using appropriate headings – don’t use lots of keywords and always make sure you’ve got a minimum of 100 words between headings.
- You’ve got an ulterior motive – the general public can see through you and your business, so don’t try and dupe them.
- You’re not using feature images – images are important, but feature images help when it comes to sharing your post on social media.
- You’re making your text too bulky – write no more than 2 sentences at a time, your audience will stop paying attention if paragraphs are too long.
- You’ve got keywords on the brain – you may have keywords you want to include, but you shouldn’t shape your content around them.
- You’re not promoting your posts – once you make your posts you need to share them, they won’t share themselves.
- You’re not including any solid facts – your post is only credible if you’re including interesting facts from trusted sources.
- You’re posting too often – once a month is more than enough if you’re creating long, rich, readable content.
- You’re not proofreading your article – we all make mistakes, so make sure you’re getting your post checked before posting.
- You’re not testing your headlines – headlines are what hook your reader, make sure you test various titles before settling on one.
- You’re not being personable or open – anyone can dig up dirt on you, be open and honest with your audience and they’ll be open back.
- You’re not making your posts long enough – shorter blog posts just don’t convert well, make sure you’re writing at least 1500 words.
- You’re comparing yourself to everyone else – stop trying to be the best in your market, think about your customers rather than competitors.
- You’re recycling/rewriting content – online users want to learn something new, they don’t want to hear the same thing twice.
- You’re not summarizing – it’s important to make sure that you recap on the points made in your blog post.
If you’ve managed to get this far, thank you very much for reading. Please feel free to share this post via Twitter or give us a heads up on our Facebook page.
What mistakes do you make, are there any I have left out? Let me know!
Feature image credit: ep_jhu via Flickr