A couple of weeks ago, we started a three-part series Common Blogging Mistakes That Can Sink a Small Business Blog. The first part focused on mistakes setting up your blog. Part two focused on blog writing mistakes.
Today, in Part 3, we’re going to cover promotion and optimization mistakes that can prevent your small business blog from succeeding.
We hope we can help you avoid making these common mistakes and give your blog the best chance for success.
1. Not optimizing blog post Title & Description tags for search engines (SEO)
Your small business blog will be more of a success if customers and potential customers can find your blog posts when they’re searching on the major search engines, such as Google and Bing.
The first step in making that happen is having good content, which we touched on last week. The next step is optimizing the blog page for search engines.
Start with the page’s TITLE tag. This is not the blog’s headline, though they may be similar or identical; rather, it’s the name that appears in the browser tab when on the page and the main link to the page in search engine results.
Best practices for TITLE tags:
- They need to be unique for each page on your website.
- They should be under 70 characters long (including spaces); any words beyond 70 characters won’t show up in most search engines.
- They should lead with the most important keywords for the post, the terms that will be most searched for and have potential to drive the most traffic.
- In most cases, don’t worry about promoting your brand in blog post TITLE tags; the relevant keywords are most important here.
You should also work to optimize the meta description tag for each post/page. These descriptions no longer have the SEO value they once did, but they often appear in search results and can either positively or negatively affect whether searchers will click to visit your site.
Most SEO experts think there’s no more reason to include meta keywords, though some still do. Sometimes adding meta keywords is a good reminder to you to make sure the post is written with a focus on certain keywords. If you are having trouble deciding what keywords are most appropriate you may need to edit your post a bit.
If you use WordPress for your blog, adding an SEO plug-in such as All-in-One SEO or WordPress SEO by Yoast will make it simple to add good titles, descriptions, and keywords if you want to keep using them.
2. Not promoting your posts enough
Don’t count on your SEO efforts to promote your blog. SEO is important, but it takes time. And even when you have good content and good on-page SEO, you won’t necessarily rank until you start to generate traffic, buzz, and incoming links.
So…you need to actively promote your posts.
Make sure you have a Twitter account that you work to get customers and other relevant people to follow. Then, when you have a post, make sure you promote it on Twitter. It is OK to promote the one post more than once a day, but don’t blast out the same Tweet over and over. You’ll lose your followers. Try tweeting the same link several different ways with some time between your tweets.
Other less popular but still important social media properties to promote on include StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious and LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be an especially good place to promote if you are active in groups related to your business.
Another good way to promote your blog is to do guest posts on other blogs. It’s a good way to help position yourself as an expert in your field and you’ll typically get a link or two back to your blog (which is good for both direct traffic and long-term SEO).
3. Not making posts easy to share
When people share your post, that’s like free marketing. What’s more, word of mouth marketing like that, is more trusted and effective than paid marketing since it’s coming from people who were genuinely interested enough in your post to want to share it with others they know.
So make it easy for your readers to share.
The first step, as we’ve mentioned before, is having good timely content. Having a clear keyword-focused headline for your post also helps in sharing since the headline is often what shows up in social media feeds.
But the next must-have is social media sharing buttons. If you want people to re-tweet your article on Twitter, Like or Share a post on Facebook, or pin a photo on Pinterest, you need to make it easy for them.
Inbound marketing leader HubSpot also published a great post called The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Creating Social Media Buttons which can walk you thorough your options for implementing these social sharing buttons one by one.
4. Not optimizing URLs for SEO and sharing
URLs or web addresses are often an overlooked opportunity to optimize for search engines and social sharing.
Make sure that URLs for your posts aren’t mostly numbers or codes that are meaningless to search engines and customers. If someone sees the web address of one of your posts, they should be able to figure out what the post is about from the URL alone.
That means you need keywords in your URLs. Some people favor replicating the entire, word-for-word headline or title tag in the url; others an abbreviated version. Either way, both search engines and people should be able to predict the content of your post from the words in your URL.
For example, our first blog post in this series on blogging mistakes for business blogs had this URL: http://blogs.earthlink.net/blogging-mistakes-that-can-sink-business-blogs. In this case “blogging mistakes” and “business blogs” are the most important keyword phrases, so they are included in the URL with “blogging mistakes” in the most important position at the beginning.
5. Never linking out, never linking back
Blogging isn’t really considered “social” media, as social networks like Facebook and Twitter are, but blogs often succeed because they foster a sense of community.
There is the community of readers (which may be apparent in you blog’s comments) and the wider community of people in your industry or area of interest.
Don’t wall yourself off from the larger community you blog should be a part of. Read related blogs and comment on them. Link to other blogs in your niche. Don’t worry about diluting your SEO or losing out to the competition if you mention them. Blogging can be a win-win rather than zero-sum platform when you link out to other blogs.
For different reasons, don’t forget to link back to your own blog (earlier posts) and your website when appropriate. When linking to sales pages, just make sure they are relevant to the post and don’t make the post seem overly commercial.
Linking back to your site and blog will not only generate more traffic for you but also help with conversions and long-term SEO. And remember, you probably have new readers who didn’t know your blog when you wrote the post you are linking back to.
So this is a way to leverage the hard work you did before to provide ongoing benefits to your blog and your newer readers.
6. Not monitoring analytics
To make smart decisions about your website and your blog, you need data. To get that data, you need to have website analytics installed.
EarthLink Web Hosting & Ecommerce customers have access to analytics in their Web Hosting Control Center. If you aren’t an EarthLink customer, the most popular choice is Google Analytics, which is free.
But installing analytics is just the first step. You need to regularly monitor the data being generated. Sometimes you’ll notice a sudden drop in numbers that indicate there’s a problem with your site, and you can fix the issue before it has a great impact.
Mostly, however, you are monitoring blog analytics to see what content is most popular. Don’t just guess what people like. Make sure the numbers back up your intuition. You’ll also want to monitor which kinds of posts drive the most traffic to your main site and, best of all, which lead to conversions.
Best of luck to all you bloggers. From our blog…to yours.
And if you’ve made (and corrected) any of these mistakes, let us know how it’s working out by posting a comment below. Thanks!