Whether you’re sharing your passion about a certain topic or looking to boost sales, blogging has become a way of life for a lot of people. In fact, when it comes to small businesses, blogging can have major impact. According to HubSpot, small businesses that blog receive 55% more website visitors, 102% more Twitter followers, and 126% higher lead growth than businesses who do not blog.
Chunks of Plain Text
In case you didn’t get the memo, most people don’t actually sit around and read articles or blog posts online. In fact, according to research from Chatbeat, most readers only make it halfway through content. So, if they aren’t actually reading, what are a majority of people doing? They’re scanning.
If your blog post contains lots of blocks of plain text, then a lot of visitors are going to bounce. We want content that is scannable and easy-to-digest. That’s why you need to include headings and bold important phrases – which is a big deal when the ideal blog post is 7 minutes or 1,600 words.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to make your post scannable is by adding subheads. Subheads are headings you may have noticed in your post editor. If you’re still a little lost, here’s an easy explanation from the Yoast blog.
- H1: post / page title
- H2′s and H3′s: sub headings and sub-subheadings
- H4: your blog’s name, and possibly related widgets
- H5: same as above: sidebars etc.
Think of subheads as an outline, with the most important being the H1 tag. That line is what matters the most for readers and search engines. If you want these headings to really stand out, give them a touch of bold to emphasis important phrases or points.
Here are a few other reminders on breaking up the text on your blog post.
- Use bullets or lists so your readers can easily scan.
- The width of your paragraph should be 40-55 characters per line.
Lack of Quality Images
We’ve mentioned the importance of images before, and we’ll continue to do so. Why? Because people really enjoy pretty pictures. Jeff Bullas covered this awhile back. And here are the six reasons why he suggests you use images.
1. Articles with images get 94% more total views
2. Including a photo and a video in a press release increases views by over 45%
3. 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results
4. In an e-commerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product
5. In an online store, customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information (63%), a long description (54%) and ratings and reviews (53%)
6. Engagement rate on Facebook for photos averages 0.37% where text only is 0.27% (this translates to a 37% higher level of engagement for photos over text)
Whether you’re using creative photography, videos, comics, or infographics, you need visual content on your blog. Not only does it grab the attention of visitors, visual content is more likely to be shared on social media platforms and it shortens the amount of characters per line.
No Links or References
This isn’t about linkbuilding. It’s about backing up your claims. It’s one thing to make a bold statement, and another thing entirely to back that statement up with credible links or references to support your argument. Zero references or links to shady websites damage your credibility.
When you write a blog post, you not only want to establish yourself as an authority figure, you also want visitors to trust you. An easy way to build trust is by providing links and references from credible sources. You did that when writing research papers in school, you have to do the same with your blog posts.
Annoying In-Content Ads
While ads are an important way to make money for bloggers and marketers, they don’t work when attracting visitors. In fact, an Adobe study discovered that 68% of consumers found online advertising annoying. A majority of consumers in France, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia felt the same way. Besides being annoying, consumers find online ads distracting, invasive, creepy, and all-over-the-place.
While it may be a challenge to completely get rid of ads (and many sites rely on them), it is in your best interests to limit them as much as possible.
And steer clear of those video ads. Is there anything more annoying than trying to load a page or read an article with a video ad playing?
Posting Too Much
While you don’t want to post infrequently – visitors will forget all about you – you also don’t want to post too much. Not only will you get burnt out, but so will your followers. They just don’t need to be overwhelmed with content every half hour.
Power bloggers should be posting articles 3-5 times per day for maximum growth. However, if you’re looking to maintain steady growth, then one blog post a day should be fine.
The purpose of blogging is to reach out and connect with your audience. And that should be an easy enough task. For example, a blog about sports cars should stick to articles surrounding sports cars. If the blogger suddenly decided to share an article on the things he/she is looking forward to at Fashion Week, that post wouldn’t really connect with the audience.
Mashable is a great example. While there’s great content, we’re fans of the 5facts videos, there’s also plenty of irrelevant posts that are clearly intended to gain a mainstream audience. Visitors mainly go to Mashable to get the latest news or advice in tech or social media, not where LeBron James is going to play in the NBA next season.
Too Short or Too Long
We mentioned this previously, but blog posts that are 1,500 words or so are shared more often. Does it mean all of your posts should be that long? Nope.
This comes down to understanding what your audience wants and what they expect from you. Seth Godin is known for writing short posts, roughly 66-words. That works for him and his audience. Other bloggers have built a reputation and a fan base because their blog posts are extremely detailed, which results in being very wordy. But, that works for them.
There’s no magic number on how long or short your blog post should be. If you’re able to convey your message in 100 words, great. If it takes 2,000 words, awesome. Find the right length for both you and your audience.
Unless you’re a pundit or make a living discussing politics, don’t get involved in politics. Your audience isn’t going to visit your entertainment, sports, or lifestyle blog to read all about your political insights. They want to read a movie review, the latest NFL trade rumors or where to make travel plans. They don’t want to read your rant about how great/terrible of a job that the President is doing.
There’s a time and place for politics. And your blog likely isn’t it. Leave the political discussion to blogs that are devoted to that topic. You don’t want to offend or fire up your audience.
At this point you’ve become familiar with headlines that have been created just to get you to click on the link. Unfortunately, the content is either lacking quality or doesn’t exactly deliver what was promised. Instead of being informative or entertaining, the blog post was clearly just to gain advertising revenue.
As a blogger, you need to have a catchy headline. But you also have to have a quality blog post that provides your audience with something useful. People are catching on to this. You don’t want to infuriate visitors because you’ve earned a reputation for tricking them into clicking on a link.
Have you noticed anything that people don’t enjoy about your blog posts?
Featured Image: Geoff Stearns/Flickr