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Lee Odden

What Not To Do With Your Business Blog

By Lee Odden     Blogging, Online Marketing, Rant

This morning, and I mean really early morning, I went about my weekly perusal of about 50 or so SEO and SEM blogs. For the most part this is a very informative and satisfying experience. However, there are a few barriers to blog reader experience that I feel especially obligated to point out. These observations are relevant for any business blog:

  • Don’t make readers register or login to make a comment. What, you’re too lazy to manage all the comment spam? Or install a better spam filter? You’re lucky to get people to your blog in the first place. Why make it inconvenient to interact?
  • Please don’t publish content in PDF of MS Word format that would be just as fine as a web page. I hear you saying, what? Yes, there are a few blogs out there that post using a blog content management system, but publish longer articles, white papers, etc in other formats. At least warn readers before they click on the link.
  • Why oh why must so many blogs make it difficult to subscribe? Get an RSS button up above the fold. Add your RSS url to an auto discovery tag in the head template. If you really want to capture extra readers, add an RSS to email option like the one offered at Feedblitz.
  • Putting a lot of contextual ads (especially un-customized ads) on top or within the posts is just plain ugly and inconvenient for the reader. Seeing those ads instantly drops credibility for the blog and makes it look desperate.
  • If you are gracious enough to allow readers to make comments, perhaps responding to a few might be a thought? For those blogs that get a lot of comments, this can be difficult. Especially if you’re busy doing your regular job and don’t have a lot of time to spend on the blog all day. However, getting comments is one of the best signals of how well your content is resonating with readers. Most blog software will ping you an email when comments are made, so there’s no excuse not to make an appearance.
  • Who the hell are you? I can see if someone’s posting about their sexual exploits or trials and tribulations of pschosis being anonymous, but why does a SEO blog need to be written by Mr or Ms “X”? OK, in-house SEOs for monster corporations and some black hats have somewhat of an excuse. But at least present a persona. Otherwise, there’s no context for where the content is coming from. It might be getting scraped for all your readers know.
  • Not publishing the date or the name of the author of the blog post is one of my pet peeves. I like to know the post is current and I always like to know who (real or persona) has written the post. Otherwise, it looks like a trick to make the blog seem updated when it’s not.
  • You have such great content, why is it so difficult to find? Biggest offenses in this area are: No archives, no categories, no tags and no site search. C’mon people, this is easy stuff to implement and if you’re making it difficult for users to find your previous posts, chances are search engines aren’t having an easy time of it either. Just because it’s a blog doesn’t mean people are reading you every day and don’t need to see past posts. Show archives chronologically and by category. Offer related posts and recent posts. Give users multiple ways to find past content and you’ll increase repeat visitors as well as new visitors via search.
  • Along with being an anonymous personality, an anonymous and bland looking blog is about as memorable as a paper bag. Copycat minimalism and tempaltes may have worked in the early days of blogging, but with over 92 million blogs tracked by Technorati, it helps to stand out. You can do that easiest with the name, header and tagline of the blog. Clever blog names are great, but be literal in your tagline. Also the URL. This one, I am very guilty of because our url is toprankblog.com, yet we call it “Online Marketing Blog”. Early on this discrepancy caused a lot of confusion for readers and potential linkers to the blog.
  • I started with a goal of 5 pissy, whiny tips and here I am at number ten. This one’s for you. What are your pet peeves with blogs? What can Online Marketing Blog do to make your reading, revisiting and interacting experience better?

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