By now, it is axiomatic that blogs are critical pieces of both the online and inbound marketing puzzles. However, for those that like numbers with their truisms, behold the following statistics per HubSpot:
- Businesses that blog get 67 percent more leads.
- Businesses that prioritize blogging are 1300 percent more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
- Businesses that blog receive 97 percent more links to their website.
However, although most businesses have hopped on the blogging bus — heck, even the government is on board — the fact remains that in my experience, a staggering amount of businesses are either failing to reap the full potential from their blogging investment, or they’re outright sabotaging their ROI by committing one, two or all three of the following three deadly blogging sins:
They’re not being consistent
Many business blogs follow a familiar pattern of self-destruction: they launch with a flurry of posts — sometimes several a week — but then within a month or two, fresh content is replaced by virtual tumbleweeds and crickets. After a while, the blog is relegated to the “out of sight, out of mind” list.
There are a few reasons for this chronic neglect. Typically, it’s because businesses wrongly expect that all they need to do is push out a few blogs, and Google as well as customers will beat a digital path to their door. Or just as tragically, they vastly underestimate the time and resources they need to create quality content. Yes, blog posts should be easy to read. But not, the good ones aren’t easy to write. They take time and skill, which means farming it out to the intern is a bad idea.
Regardless of the reason(s), consistency is a core part of a successful blogging strategy. It’s not a just-add-water or a set-it-and-forget-it thing. Blogging is about playing the long game, and the fact that some of the most successful websites have hundreds of blog posts isn’t a coincidence: it’s strategic.
Their content isn’t good (read: it sucks)
Blog posts don’t have to be life-changing, emotionally-gripping, intellectually paradigm-shifting gifts from the prose gods (but if they are, then hey, that’s great). However, blogs certainly do need to be informative, readable, intelligent and engaging. Otherwise, people simply won’t read them — nor should they.
The problem here — as mentioned earlier — is that writing good blog posts looks easy from the outside. It’s those folksy YouTube DIY home repair videos where Joe Everyman or Jane Everywoman tells you how to save money and feel brilliant by fixing a leaky faucet or replacing a busted outlet. Unfortunately, this effort is often followed by a frenetic call to a plumber or electrician (who in fact may be behind the videos and, if so, deserves an award for the most creative lead generation system ever!).
Basically, the moral to this story is indeed simple: blog posts need to be professional rather than amateur. A prime example of how to do this the right way is the blog run by Chicago-based office space planners Key Interiors. Their posts are a master class in consistency, quality and production values.
They aren’t paying attention to SEO — or they’re doing SEO wrong
This problem is trickier than the first two, because some businesses are indeed paying attention to SEO (or paying someone to pay attention on their behalf), but it’s being done so very, very wrong. And then of course, there are businesses that aren’t even aware that blogging and SEO belong together like Ernie and Bert, peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk…you get the idea.
Here’s the deal: blogs can’t be thinly veiled (or sometimes not veiled at all) attempts to score SEO points, because that doesn’t work. After all, it’s not enough to make Google happy. If posts are a mess of keywords (“cheap airline tickets are important for people who need cheap airline tickets”), then people will bounce away as fast as their mouse click will take them.
However, blogs can — and should — intelligently integrate proven SEO practices, because that’s simply part of good UX: people who search for stuff online click a link that takes them to a web page where they’ll learn more.
Now, it’s beyond the scope of this article to drill into all of the SEO boxes that businesses should tick. But with that said, here’s a quick checklist: put the keyword in the URL, try and put it at the beginning (or near the beginning) of the title, sprinkle it naturally throughout the article at a low density (2-3 percent), include 1-2 relevant internal and/or external links (to authority websites), have at least one image with suitable alt-tag, and of course: make sure that search engines can index the page.
The Bottom Line
On today’s landscape, having a blog that fires on all cylinders is not a best practice or a smart idea: it’s a fundamental requirement. Correcting and steering clear of the above deadly blogging sins will go a long, long way to ensuring that your blog is a profitable asset — instead of a costly liability.