Hello, and welcome to the exclusive content for this month's new subscribers!
As I mentioned in the last email, I've created this post by reviewing several blog posts from all of this month's subscribers with blogs and made notes about what I've found.
On different months, there are different numbers of subscribers, but numbers are still low enough (dang!) that I think you can all get some real value from it. Obviously, not all issues will apply to every blog, but they are all real, live issues I've found in the last month on your blogs - so have a look before assuming it's not yours! Don't take these points as criticism - they are all easy places to really get started on turning your blog into a real star of your industry - and becoming a great business tool in the process.
So, without further ado, here are the top 11 issues that could be impeding the growth and success of your content. I found them while I was spying on your blogs!
#1 You’re not using grammatical aids
Even the best writers make mistakes, and if you’re not among the best writers, then you definitely are! It’s not always easy to catch grammatical and spelling issues on blog posts, especially when you’re the only one reviewing them. You might think your posts are fine, but for someone who cares, your mistakes look bad for a business. Don’t risk losing their respect - just make use of a few free tools to keep the worst of the mistakes at bay.
Grammarly - checks grammar and spelling as you write
Hemmingway - checks for problems on a stylistic level
After the Deadline - might catch things the other two missed
Do a bit of research into writing for the web. At the very least, read this old-school guide. It's ancient (in internet terms), but the advice is still rock-solid.
You’re not making the most of your formatting options #2
Writing for people online is all about breaking information up into digestible chunks. Do this with headings, bold text, numbered lists, and chunking. This is the classic document (from 1997!) and you should read it. It’s laid out according to the recommendations it makes, so you can see how easy a well-formatted piece of writing is to read. Give it a go and implement the basics. Once you’re familiar with that, you can get fancier (if you want!).
#3 Your header game is weak
People use header or hero images for lots of reasons. Exactly how they appear on your blog depends on the way it’s set up or the theme you are using, but they work really well to…
- Set the tone for the article
- Another bit of SEO real estate (in the name and/or description of the image)
- Create a theme or style on the posts, visible from the blog homepage (when all the header images are linked in some way)
When you use a header image - or any prominent image in your blog post - it’s important to find out what size the image SHOULD be and try to stick to that. Try looking in the help section of your blog provider, the information on the image upload section itself, or find other blogs on the same platform/theme and have a look at how they implement it. On Wordpress, featured images vary by theme, so bear that in mind when looking for information.
You'll find more information about this here.
You’re neglecting the blog homepage #4
True, on most blogs, people will click on a specific post and not the homepage. There's always someone who is going to care, however, so make sure all images and links are displaying ok.
While you’re here, check where you have to click in order to open a blog post. On many blogs, you can only click on a small link that can be difficult to see, let alone click.
See where it says "view post"? Don't limit your readers to just this real estate. Talk to your IT person or find out how to allow people to click anywhere (image, title, excerpt) to actually open up the article. It’s easier for them, and website visitors LOVE easy.
#5 You’re forgetting about a CTA
Calls to action are essential and you should use them in every post. Even if you don’t have a grand plan yet (or even a little plan!), ask readers to share the post, sign up to your mailing list (even if it’s not yet in use - get those email addresses now!), or perhaps contact you for a booking or appointment - whatever always makes sense for your business. Don’t forget to include a clickable CTA even on posts that are just video or audio. You can use a verbal CTA in the content, but always give people something to click too.
You can find out more about CTAs here.
You've forgotten how people read online #6
I'm sure you've heard it before, but it doesn't make for reassuring reading. People read differently online and, generally, pay a lot less attention to what they're seeing. They also skim, as we mentioned above, and one thing you need to do to overcome this is front load your posts with information and context.
Ideally, you'll do this by neatly summarizing the gist of your article in the first paragraph. That's right - the whole article. Don't worry about "giving away" the information. It's just a summary, and if people are truly interested in the subject (and they'll know if they are or not after reading that summary!), they'll take the time to read more carefully. By not summarizing the whole article, you risk losing the skimmers who didn't take the time to really find out if they wanted to read or not in the first place.
#7 You’re stuck in 1998...
...and treat the blog as a company newsletter! If your company is very busy, it can be tempting to use all the news it generates to fill your blog (a.k.a. news, right?!). Some of this news is interesting and blog-worthy, sure, but for every post you put up, you really need to have a long think about whether or not it’s likely to help, educate, amuse or inform a potential client. That’s the basis of business blogging and although you can sometimes deviate, your blog is unlikely to get the traction you want if 90% of posts are about local bake sales and company Zumba classes (unless you make foldable tables or brightly-colored leggings, in which case you’re probably onto a winner!).
You’re not letting people share #8
Interestingly, this is a problem that I see more often with larger companies’ blogs, presumably because the person who blogs is not the same person who looks after the website backend, and therefore doesn’t feel empowered to make or request the change.
Social sharing options are important (again, people like things to be easy - having to copy-paste a link to share is “hard” in internet terms!), so make the effort! Sharing isn't the be-all and end-all it seems to be for promotion, but it does have an important role to play, which you really don't want to miss out on!
These social sharing links tend to be really easy to implement, especially on the more popular platforms. Either way, it's not a tough job, so give it a go yourself, or feel less guilty about asking the people down in IT to help you out.
#9 Your links are getting shabby
Linking is essential in blog posts for many reasons. There are different types of links, but the ones that caught my attention in the blogs I’ve looked at recently are internal links. First up; as you create more content, always make sure to link to it and from it in each new, (relevant) blog post you create. You can also link to non-blog pages, like services, contact, and offers.
Secondly, make sure those links are in fact, links, and not just bare URLs. Bare URLs look weird and again, often have to be copy-pasted to visit, which lazy internet readers do not like to do!
Your blog is unexpectedly formatted #10
It's true that changing the layout and look of your blog can keep things fresh and interesting, but you always need to balance style decisions with usability concerns. If you are in any doubt as to whether your fancy new design is actually a good idea, invite some people you know - or even clients or customers - to sit down and navigate around your website. If they struggle to find their way around or find something confusing, it might be time to rethink. There are paid and free professional services that do this; this article has some suggestions.
#11 You’re sending visitors away from your site
Another simple one that can get forgotten: always make sure that if you’re linking to a video, audio clip or link on another site that you either embed the content on your site (if possible) or link to it with an “open in new tab” option. This keeps people on your site, rather than losing them to someone else’s.