Seven Silly Mistakes That Could be Killing Your Blog
If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know that it was all about seven silly mistakes that could be killing your online business. I decided that I would write this post in a similar vein, but this time on the subject of blogging mistakes. And guess what? I’ve come up with seven points again!
Just as last time, there are lots of important points that could be covered but these are just seven that I’ve come up with that I’ve come across quite a lot on my blogging travels. I’m sure that you could come up with some of your own, so please feel free to contribute them in the comments section at the bottom.
1) Lack of Updates
It should go without saying that you need to keep your blog up-to-date. After all, what does the word, “blog” mean? Let’s think about that for just a moment.
The word “blog” is a shortened version of “web log”. So, what is a log? It is a journal, diary or record of events. So then, this would imply that there needs to be regular updates. After all, there’s not much point in keeping any kind of journal if you never write in it!
Aside from keeping in line with the definition of what a blog is, why is it important to keep one regularly updated? Well this all boils down to what you’re wanting it to achieve. If you’re using your blog for your business then you want to generate (and maintain) interest in what you have to offer, keep in touch with your readers and customers and give the right impression. If your blog hasn’t been updated in months then, to other people, it says that you aren’t really interested in it and this, in turn, will cause your visitors to feel the same way.
If your blog hasn’t been updated for a long time then you shouldn’t really be surprised if no-one’s leaving comments or that you’re not getting many returning visitors.
So how often should you update your blog? There’s no definitive answer. The short answer is: as often as you need to. Some people write once a day, some once a week, others once a month. Do whatever is right for you and your blog. The main thing is you need to show that you are maintaining it consistently.
2) Failing to Connect With Your Visitors
Leaving a message for someone is an age old way of communicating, whether it be a telephone answering machine message, an SMS message, a love note, or whatever. But, just as in other methods of communication, one thing remains universal – communication is usually two way.
Whilst it’s true that certain messages don’t require or expect a reply, usually it’s plain old good manners to reply when someone leaves a message. This is something that’s vitally important on your blog. Why so?
Just think about it for a moment. Someone has taken the time to visit your blog, remain there, read your content and leave a comment. ‘Spammy’ messages aside, the person has made an effort to reach out to you. The absolute least you can do is acknowledge them! This goes a long way to making your visitors feel welcome and appreciated and these are the people with whom you could end up having lasting and profitable relationships, whether it be as joint venture partners or having them as your customers.
Replying to your visitors’ comments also looks good when people land on your site. Instead of seeing a one-sided comments section they will see a discussion where the blog owner is actively involved and is taking a personal interest in each of his/her visitors.
If you want to see a really good example of an active, vibrant blog that is run by someone who truly cares, I recommend that you visit the blog of Adrienne Smith. In fact, I recommend even more than that – I recommend that you bookmark, visit regularly and get involved with Adrienne’s blog. It is a mine of excellent information and you’d do well to take time to learn from her. One thing that stands out about Adrienne is that she replies to everyone, her threads always being a hive of activity.
3) Messy Layout
This is an area that is often subjective, as everyone has different tastes. For example, some people prefer a minimalistic blog whereas others prefer something with a bit more pizzazz.
However, let’s make it clear just what we’re talking about here. A site can be ‘busy’ yet still easy to navigate. Likewise, a ‘clean’ site can be confusing and annoying, even messy. Of course the same goes both ways, but the key point is that your blog must be easy to navigate, both in terms of how it looks to the eye and also its layout.
So, whether you prefer a simpler or a more busy style, always ensure that everything is laid out sensibly, neatly and logically. The last thing you want is for your visitors to become annoyed or frustrated and end up leaving. One thing that can be really annoying and turn people away is……..
4) Pop-up Madness
Love them or hate them, when used correctly, pop-ups are an excellent tool that can accomplish a variety of goals. However, when used carelessly they can spell disaster for your visitor retention.
I’m sure that you visited a website that, on first impression, seems to be really good and appealing. But then something like this happens….
After five seconds a pop-up appears in the centre of the screen. Okay, that’s fine – you just close it and start to scroll down the page. You inadvertently move your mouse pointer towards the edge of the screen.
“Wait! Leaving so soon?” cries the new pop-up, emploring you not to leave just yet.
“I wasn’t!” you say, “I was only trying to scroll down but my hand slipped!” Not to worry, you carry on with your browsing. But then you manage to just stray too close to the edge and again, “Wait! Leaving so soon?” pops up! Again, you close the pop up and scroll down, but you’re starting to feel a little annoyed by this point.
As you near the bottom another pop-up appears from the bottom-right corner, inviting you to check out something or other, but at the same time it’s obscuring the section of the page you’re trying to read. By this time you’re not really in a frame of mind to pay any attention to what the pop-up says, you just want it gone. Ah it’s okay, it’s gone now that you’ve scrolled back up a little. Oh wait, it’s back again now that you’ve scrolled back down. Now then, where’s that cross to close it….? Oh… there isn’t one… Maybe the dimensions are slightly wrong and the cross is slightly off screen. Is that it to the side there…?
“Wait! Leaving so soon?”
And on it goes…
I’m sure you’ve been on sites like that! Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in using pop-ups, slide-ins, opt-in forms, etc so long as they’re used unobtrusively and sparingly. And when they are used, for goodness sake make sure that they’re configured properly! Again, it all comes down to the fact that you don’t want to be doing anything that will turn your visitors off, make them leave and not want to return.
Just the same as everything, you’re not going to be able to please all of the people of the time, but just use a little common sense if you are going to use pop-ups and the like.
5) Using Third-Party Commenting Systems
Here is what I believe to be the bottom line with regards to this subject: WordPress has a perfectly adequate commenting system that can be supplemented by plugins or custom themes. There is really no need to remove that functionality and force people to use a third-party commenting system.
People already have enough things to sign up for or sign in to without having to sign up to something else simply to post a comment on your blog.
Now, you may feel that you have good reason to use a third-party system. For example, you may wish to utilise Facebook comments so as to increase social media engagement. But bear in mind that not everyone wants to use their Facebook account to leave comments here, there and everywhere.
If you really do want to utilise a third-party system then why not simply provide the reader with a choice? Lots of blogs have the default WordPress commenting system in place but also have Facebook comments, for example. That way, the reader can choose which one to use.
If you only provide something like Facebook, Disqus or LiveFyre then there’s a real chance that you could be losing out on a lot of interaction from people who would have otherwise commented. Furthermore, what happens if there’s a problem with the third-party site? You could end up having great content but no-one can tell you!
6) Broken Links
This one is important both for SEO and for user interaction. If you have any links on your site then you need to make sure that they go to where they’re supposed to. From an SEO point of view, broken links don’t look good to the search engines. From a user point of view, it can be annoying for them to click on a link expecting to be taken to a particular site but then finding out that the destination doesn’t exist.
Now of course, unless we’ve simply typed something in incorrectly, the fact that a link is broken may be down to something out of our control, such as a page being removed. But this is why it’s important to check regularly. How can you do this?
One very useful website that I use is Online Broken Link Checker. This is a free site where you simply enter in your website address and it will go through your site’s pages for you, checking as to whether the links are valid. At the end of its search it will generate a list of what, if anything it finds, along with the URL and a link to the actual source code. You can then go and ammend or remove the links as necessary.
Another area in which you can come across broken links is if your visitors have supplied their website address when leaving a comment. Sometimes they mistype the address or, if it’s been some time since they’ve left the comment, it could be that their site doesn’t even exist anymore. While Online Broken Link Checker will alert you as to any discrepancies here, if you are using the CommentLuv plugin there is also a handy little plugin from its creator that’s called CommentLuv Link Cleaner Plugin. What’s particularly good about this plugin is that it will scan all the comments on your blog and once it’s generated its results it gives you the option to automatically remove any offending links. I believe that there are other tools out there that do a similar thing but I haven’t tried any of them.
7) An Unsecure Blog
I still find it astounding that, in this day and age with the prevalence of website attacks and in spite of the abundance of warnings and information about website security, there are STILL people who don’t adequately secure their blogs.
I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail here about this because it could be a blog post in itself, but things such as security plugins, not using “Admin” as your log in name and using a strong password should be the absolute minimum you do to reduce the risk of your blog being hacked.
If someone is really determined to hack into your blog then there’s a good chance that they’ll do it no matter what, but whatever steps you can take to deter someone and make it as difficult as possible for them should be taken.
Going back to the title of this post, inadequate security really could end up killing your blog completely!
Further Blogging Mistakes? Over to You!
What are some of the things that you feel could be deadly to a blog? I’d love to hear your input below. And please don’t forget to ‘Einstein’ 😉