We’ve been doing some blogging about blogging lately. We hope our recent Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners and Blogging for Small Business: How to Generate Ideas have gotten some of you started blogging and others at least excited about starting a blog.
Today, we’re going to start a three-part series entitled Blogging Mistakes That Can Sink a Small Business Blog. The hope, of course, is that we can help you avoid making these common mistakes and give your blog the best chance for success.
Part 1: Blog Set-Up Mistakes
1. Not choosing the right platform
You want to choose a blog platform that’s easy to use, offers a wide variety of templates, offers powerful plug-in options, and has a large user base that can offer guidance and support.
In other words, you probably want to go with WordPress. Most top blogs run on WordPress. EarthLink web hosting and ecommerce hosting customers: remember you have access to a free WordPress installer in your Web Hosting Control Center.
2. Not hosting the blog on your own domain
You can get a free blog hosted on the wordpress.com domain, but don’t do it if you want your blog for business. It’s the equivalent of opening a store inside someone else’s store. You want your blog at a domain you control.
And you shouldn’t publish your blog on a separate domain either, even if you own and control it. If you do, you won’t get all the SEO, branding, and traffic benefits for your main business website.
There are, of course, great stand-alone blogs, but if you want your blog to promote your business, publish it on your business website. The most common places are on a sub-domain (blog.yourdomain.com) or folder (www.yourdomain.com/blog/).
3. Not linking prominently to your main site
No matter where you end up publishing your blog, make sure it is prominently linked back to your main business website.
You want to make it as easy as possible for customers or potential customers to go from your blog to the areas of your website that pay the bills.
So your logo and/or Home link should link back to your business homepage, not the homepage of your blog. And you should look for other places where you can seamlessly add links back to your product pages. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and make your blog a billboard.
4. Not setting up analytics to monitor your blog’s success
Business blogging is typically hard work. So you should make sure you have the analytics in place to measure its success. Sure, there are other ways you can get a sense of your blog’s success, such as lots of enthusiastic comments after your posts, or Tweets and Likes in social media. But you’ll want to know more than that: how much traffic is your blog getting, how much traffic is your blog sending your main site, what the most popular exit pages are, which blog topics are most popular, conversion rates for blog referrals, and other insights only website analytics such as Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/ will tell you. EarthLink Web Hosting customers can easily access built-in analytics from the Manage tab in your Control Center.
5. Not creating an effective team to do all the work
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it all yourself – even if you’re an amazing multitasker. That can lead to burnout. Rope in others in your business to offload some work and leverage their expertise. If you don’t have any co-workers, consider outsourcing some of the work to freelancers (or at least getting some advice from friends). You want to make sure you have the resources to blog frequently enough, keep your quality high, and keep the blog going long enough to evaluate its success. So, get some help if you can.
6. Not planning for the long term
Blogs are rarely successful overnight. Many top bloggers report that they were writing for years before things really took off. But you should expect to wait at least a few months to start getting traction with your blog and then at least several more months to evaluate how you are doing. Try to stick it out for a year before you decide to pull the plug.
Some blogging benefits, such as search engine optimization, accrue only over time as you generate a greater depth and breadth of content that establishes your site as an authoritative destination for more search keywords.
We hope you’ll come back for part two, which will focus on blog writing mistakes, and part three, which will cover blog promotion and optimization mistakes.