— November 30, 2018
How do potential customers find your business? Chances are they search online. Whether your target audience is across the country or in your own backyard, the internet is the top way consumers research brands, services and products before buying. That’s why blogging for SEO (search engine optimization) is so important to include as part of your company’s marketing strategy.
Studies show that including a blog as part of your website increase your chances of being ranked highly on search engines by 434 percent! In addition, companies that use blogs as part of their content marketing strategy receive 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
But simply having a blog on your site isn’t enough; it’s important you’re strategic about the way you use it. Keep reading for common blunders you’ll want to avoid.
17 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging for SEO
1. Beginning Without a Plan
Before you start blogging for SEO, you need to create a strategy. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are your blogging goals?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What types of information will help them?
- Which keywords will you use?
- How often will you publish new content?
- How will you promote it?
The answers to these questions will help you develop a plan to move forward in a calculated, focused way.
2. Publishing Inconsistently
While it may not seem like a big deal to skip blogging once in a while, the truth is that inconsistent publishing can greatly affect your results in a couple of ways:
- Search engines are constantly looking for new high-quality content. If you aren’t sharing articles regularly, they’ll visit your website less often and show results from your pages less frequently. You can bet this will affect your position in the results that the search engines present to your target consumers.
- If articles on your blog are dated, potential customers won’t have new, helpful information to inform them. With half of online shoppers researching online, it’s important they see the latest and greatest from your brand so they know you’re a thriving, up-to-date company.
3. Focusing on Quantity Rather Than Quality
While this may seem to counter my point above, there is something very significant here: well-written, quality content is much more important than publishing just anything to stay on schedule. Search engines want to get the best possible information to users, so they look for quality content. Make sure everything you take live on your blog will help, not hinder your content marketing efforts.
4. Writing with an Inconsistent Brand Voice
What is your company’s voice? Before you write anything for your company, you need to establish key branding elements – including the type of language you will use. Then, make sure anyone blogging for SEO is familiar with this voice and uses it.
What if your blog has multiple authors? If they each have their own byline it’s perfectly fine for them to include a bit of their own personality in their posts. However, if all your company’s articles are published under the brand, they need to use the same voice – even if there are multiple people writing the posts.
5. Forgetting Your Target Audience
What’s the point of blogging for SEO? Reaching your target audience. Therefore, it’s vital you keep them front of mind. For every article you write, think about what they’ll be interested in. How will your post relate to them?
Spend some time researching your target audience so you have a clear picture of who they are and how you can best connect with them. By understanding them better, you’ll be able to keep them top of mind when writing your business’ blog articles.
6. Selecting Boring or Irrelevant Topics
This relates directly to my point above. If you choose topics that your target audience will find boring or irrelevant, you’re wasting your time and resources. As you select your blog topics, think about ways to provide value.
- Do customers regularly ask you the same questions? Clearly this is something they’re interested in. Share the answers in a blog post!
- Is there new industry research that may affect customers’ decisions about which of your products or services they buy? Provide highlights for your readers.
- Is there something in the news that relates to your field? Share the article and weigh in with your expert opinion.
- How do your services or products make customers’ lives easier? Share them in a blog post! If you can include specific examples, even better.
- Is there a new product or service you’re offering? Write an article about it.
7. Making Poor Keyword Choices
Keywords are incredibly important when blogging for SEO. These words and phrases directly relate to how consumers will find your articles online. As I explain in this post about creating a content marketing schedule:
What terms will your target users search for when they look for a business like yours? Start by coming up with a list of your company’s most relevant topics, then brainstorm each topic with potential words or phrases users may search for. You can come up with even more ideas by just going to Google and typing in the words/phrases you already have. Then scroll down to the bottom and look at the suggestions of related topics and write down any that are a good fit for your business.
One really useful tool to use for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. When you search for a term on Google, it tells you the search volume per month, cost per click and competition. It also suggests a list of similar keywords that might be helpful to consider as well.
8. Ignoring SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization needs to be a focus when blogging for SEO. Otherwise you’re just blogging for the sake of blogging, which isn’t strategic and ends up being a waste of your time and resources.
What exactly are SEO best practices? As this post about blogging for SEO results explains:
- Consider frequency. For strong SEO, it’s important to be consistent – down to your posts going live the same day of the week and time of day. Active blogs engage readers better, which also translates into better search engine rankings. With this in mind, publish new blog posts a minimum of once per week.
- Incorporate keywords in these areas of your post:
- The title
- Sub-heads/section headers
- Photo captions
- Image file names
- The URL of the post
- The meta-description
- Title: Aim for 6-13 words.
- Body of Post: The most recent research is showing that it’s best to aim for at least 1,500 words.
- Meta description (the quick summary that shows up under the title): 150-160 characters, or about 1-2 sentences.
- Use header tags. The post’s title should be H1, but after that use header tags H2-H6 as often as you’d like. This is a great way to break up the content so it’s easy for the reader to use, in addition to the SEO benefit.
- Include internal links. These can help readers find other interesting articles on your website, plus they’re good for SEO.
- Use quality outbound links. By linking to other decently-optimized websites with information relevant to your blog post, Google will recognize your website as one with strong links.
9. Using the First Title You Write
The blog headline has an important role: it captures readers’ attention right off the bat and convinces them to click on the article or keep scrolling. After you finish writing your blog post, go back to your title and play around with it. Can you think of a more compelling way to capture your target audience’s attention?
How can you write a strong blog title? First of all, aim for 6-13 words; studies show this length attracts the highest and most consistent amount of traffic. This blog post about writing the best headline in the world shares helpful advice too:
- Draw on emotions
- Keep it short and to the point
- Use strong keywords
- Use data and numbers
10. Including Chunky Paragraphs
If you’re writing 1,500+ words for your articles you’re sharing a lot of helpful information! However, 43 percent of consumers report they skim blog posts. It wouldn’t surprise me if in reality, that number is actually higher.
Knowing so many potential readers skim posts, it’s important you make your articles skimmable! Break up chunky paragraphs however you can:
- Turn one big paragraph into two or three small ones
- Use bullet points or numbered lists
- Add visual elements like charts, graphs, images or videos
11. Forgetting the Visual
Speaking of visual elements, it’s important you include images and/or videos in your posts! As this blogging mistakes infographic explains:
- Articles with relevant images have around 94 percent more viewers than similar articles without pictures
- People remember roughly 80 percent of what they see and do; compare that to roughly 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read
How can you add visual elements when blogging for SEO? Add images or videos to your post to break up the text! Just make sure you only use visuals you have the right to use. Read about following copyright laws here.
12. Skipping the Editing Step
Writing a lengthy blog post can take time, but when you’re done writing, you’re not ready to publish yet. Walk away for at least 30 minutes (although overnight is better) and come back with fresh eyes to read over what you wrote. Do all your points make sense? Does the article flow in natural way? Are you missing any words or typos? Three Girls’ Publicist Anna Izenman shares some really helpful proofreading tips in her blog post about marketing advice from comic conventions:
- Read it out loud. Actually saying the words out loud can help you catch typos and hear the overall flow of your content.
- Come back with fresh eyes. After you’re done writing, take a break. Then, about 30 minutes later, pull it back up and read through it again with a fresh perspective.
- Print out a hard copy. Sometimes looking at the words on a physical page (rather than a computer screen) can help you notice mistakes. Of course, I always recommend using scrap paper to save the trees!
- Read it backwards. Starting at the end and working your way to the top makes you slow down and really look at the piece word by word.
- Ask a friend. If you have a trusted friend or colleague, ask them to take a look and offer their advice! They may have an idea you hadn’t considered that will make your content that much stronger.
13. Forgetting to Promote It
The point of blogging for SEO is to increase your online visibility, but waiting for search engines to find your article isn’t the only way to do this! Share your blog post on all your social media channels and in your email newsletter. If you really want to increase the number of eyes on your post, consider running a social media ad or Google ad promoting the article. The more you promote your post, the more people read it and the better it is for your website’s SEO.
14. Never Republishing Older Posts
Do you have a blog article you wrote a while ago you wish more people had seen? Republish it! Carefully review it to make sure all the statistics are still current, refresh any details that may be dated and then reshare it on your blog as a new post. When we do this at Three Girls, we add a brief sentence at the beginning about when the article was originally published.
In addition to saving you time and resources, republishing posts can also help your blog! Research shows, “Bloggers who update older posts are 74 percent more likely to report strong results.”
15. Forgetting to Check Analytics
Do you check your website’s analytics regularly? If you don’t, how will you know if your strategy is working? Install Google Analytics on your website and then look at it every four to six weeks. Ask yourself, which blog posts are performing well? Are there trends you’re noticing? Use the answers to these questions to help you develop new topics that are likely to perform well.
16. Rushing the Process
How long does it take you to write a blog post? Studies show that nearly half of those investing six or more hours per blog post report strong results. When blogging for SEO, you need to take the time to make sure your blog articles are well written and provide value for your target audience.
In addition to actually writing the post, you also need to factor in the time of editing, finding the perfect visuals to use within the post, uploading it to your website and promoting it. Instead of rushing the process, give yourself time to do a good job.
17. Expecting Results Too Quickly
Blogging for SEO, like other content marketing tactics, is a long-term strategy. Don’t expect to see a huge return on your investment right away. Anticipate it will take at least 12-18 months to start to see positive results from your blog.
As this post about content marketing expectations explains, “Three Girls’ clients that have sustained their content marketing for two years or more have reported that they began to experience the benefits of a robust sustained campaign after a couple of years.”
Research backs this up too. Hubspot reports, “One in ten blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time…compounding blog posts make up 10 percent of all blog posts and generate 38 percent of overall traffic.”
Blogging for SEO is an effective way to increase your company’s online visibility, but it’s important you do it the right way. Are you guilty of making any of the common mistakes I included above? Are there others you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!