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    Categories Blogging StrategyOnline MarketingRant

What Not To Do With Your Business Blog

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?
    Lee Odden :@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

    View Comments (59)

    • You hit the nail on the head, especially about the importance of login-free comments. This kicks the barn doors of a blog completely open. Business usually serves well to cater to the convenience of customers/clients, so why would users be any different? They're customers/clients too, ultimately.

      A business who is so afraid of blog spam and doesn't want to moderate, is not embracing this 'not-so-new-anymore' model correctly. A business who is semi-walling themselves from negative comments with logins, is at least partly disconnected from their whole customer/client base. I know I've opted to keep my questions or opinions to myself because I didn't want another password to remember. That particular blog lost a chance to engage me and earn my attention or interest.

      The thing that makes this generation of web business and service IS the social interaction, which is much more than it ever used to be. But with all the now global competition, this social interaction, for better or for worse, is becoming a major key to survival.

    • Failed point 1 until someone email me saying why do I have to register which you couldn't at the time LOL..

      hehehehe..

    • Hi Lee,

      Well spoken and my two cents to this list.

      1. Register or login
      I hate that too, especially if they send an email that contains a randomly generated password or activation link. It takes time, usually the time it would take to write the comment itself, if not longer. Makes you think sometimes, if you "have to" comment or better take off without going through all that. The account management got easier for me since I use RoboForm.

      2. Publish content in PDF of MS Word format
      Sorry, never encountered that yet.

      3. difficult to subscribe
      Yep, in some cases are you lucky, if they kept the tiny standard link to the RSS in the footer (WordPress), but I had cases, where there was no link anywhere on the page and no auto-discovery tag either. I had to guess the feed URL (e.g. /atom.xml, /rss.xml, /index.rdf, /feed/ etc.)

      4. Contextual ads
      Agreed, even worse, if the content surrounds the ad

      5. Being gracious, respond to comments
      The people, who do not respond, even if the person who comments directly addresses them, are arrogant assholes who do not want to communicate and engage in a discussion. They use a blog for their ego trip.

      6. Who the hell are you?
      Hehe, it also helps to address the person who wrote the post "Hey Blogger Dude (Gal?!), I think...." :)

      7. Date or the name of the author
      Name, see 6), Date, I see your point, but in some cases is the blog used as just a publishing platform and the content published are actually well crafted articles that might not be that time-specific and somewhat timeless. However, I also prefer to see a date, even if it is not a "news" post.

      8. Archive architecture
      You are right, but it does sometimes require a bit more technical knowledge than some folks possess. The default settings of some blogging platforms are IMO insufficient and provide poor usability

      9. Bland looking blog
      Tells me that the person is not serious about it, because it takes either time or money = something of value. Not providing/investing this value tells me how much you value your own blog. ($0 <= Value <= $1)

      10. What can OMG do?
      Just continue to write what you have on your mind rather than thinking about what you should write about and what readers want to hear, unless you want to get around 5) and write stuff that provides no reason why anybody should comment.

      Cheers
      Carsten

    • This is a great list. Some of it is common sense, but it's really unbelievable that people would still make the mistakes. I think it's all about leaving our webmaster Internet marketing shells and putting ourselves in users' shoes.

    • I'm occasionally guilty of number five. Although I approve all the comments that come in, I sometimes drop the ball on replying. Not out of laziness, but I just get distracted.

    • This article is a great proof that good content will attract traffic forever. It was published 8 months ago and brought me here today.
      I have just started blogging last year and already have pages on my blog that attract daily traffic from search engines.
      I liked this article a lot.

    • I can't disagree with one thing,
      some time ago Matt Cutts posted some holiday images on his blog..who cares..keep to the point..

    Comments are closed.