Call 0845 485 1219

We love digital - Call
0845 485 1219
and say hello - Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm

Mike Essex

The Five Biggest Pitfalls That Hold Blogs Back

2nd Apr 2014 SEO, Content Marketing | 5 Comments


Blog PitfallsEvery blog is broken in some way.

Once you accept that, it’s easier to make amends and to reshape your blog into something that drives conversions, attracts the right audience and ranks well in search engines.

Recently I spoke at the Search London event on how you can identify the critical issues with your blog along with processes on how to fix them. Below you’ll find my slides from the event as well as the key points that I discussed.


Frequency

One of the biggest problems that blogs face are the lack consistency in their schedules, posting either rarely or at very sporadic intervals. At Koozai we try and overcome this by committing a yearly budget to our own blog, and using almost every member of our team to create content in some way.

On the flip side it’s also possible to create too much content and at one point we were producing 600 posts a year just for Koozai.com. Each article was good enough quality to meet Google News guidelines, but we felt we could go into the topics in more depth, so we spent the same amount of time as we’d have spent on three posts in creating one larger more in-depth guide.

Cut blog schedule

This gave us better quality posts and we were also impressed with how easily everyone in the team took to writing content. The key lesson we learnt from this is that investing more time into less content can create better results. It’s also key that you can spread this work across multiple team members making you more nimble to create content when needed.

The process we recommend for this is:

  1. Identify the team members who can write
  2. Research the other content in your industry
  3. Create a list of topics based on this
  4. Create guidelines for everyone to follow
  5. Have an editor proof and refine the content
  6. Measure your efforts within Google Analytics and improve everything

For us this led to more traffic, rankings, social shares, comments and most importantly leads and sales from the blog increased. A regular blogging schedule can work wonders in driving almost any KPI you have.

Bad Content

Following on from cutting back on the number of posts, we felt that our old content no longer represented us as well as the new posts.

This is a common problem for blogs which evolve over many years with some of the problems including:

  • Content no longer being accurate or relevant
  • Content not being as well written as new posts
  • Possible broken links or 404 errors from old posts
  • Old content followed past SEO best practice but is now at risk
  • Content not being as commercially driven

In an effort to push people to more relevant content at Koozai we made the decision to delete 900 posts.

Deleted 900 blog posts

You can see an in-depth look at how this was done but if you want to replicate this you should:

  1. Export a CSV of your entire blog
  2. Import Majestic SEO link data (or others) to this spreadsheet
  3. Import Google Analytics data to this spreadsheet
  4. Filter these metrics to find your worst performing posts
  5. Keep the good content and expand it
  6. Redirect the others to more relevant content

When we did this we were worried Google may issue us with a penalty as so much content changed overnight. However, although we saw some 404 errors in Webmaster Tools (that were quickly fixed), traffic from all channels rose by around 10%. Conversions also increased as we now drove people to better quality content with more commercial focus.

Responsive Design

The more devices for which your website is tailored, the wider your potential audience. That’s why it makes sense to create a responsive website that repackages your content in the best possible way. At Koozai our website can exist in seven different forms depending on whether you access it via a desktop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, RSS feed, Email or our app. That’s not to mention whether you have your device in landscape or portrait view.

Seven Versions

It’s important to consider that responsive design doesn’t just affect the template of your website. You also need to ensure the following render correctly:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Slides
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Contact options

To make sure everything works as intended we recommend the following process:

  1. Use Google Analytics to determine the devices people use
  2. Create a site template that works on those devices
  3. Test it on these devices on a separate IP
  4. Identify parts of that site that aren’t responsive
  5. Refine the site until it works on these devices
  6. Launch and gather feedback

When we launched our responsive website we found that traffic from mobiles went up by 74.6%, tablets by 3,019% and, best of all, conversions from mobiles and tablets went up by 213%.

Legal Issues

Could your blog survive a £10,000 fine? That’s what’s at stake (and possibly worse) if you get caught with stolen images on your website. If you have multiple images from many different websites the fine could be enough to wipe out most blogs and even some businesses. Image fines are a serious problem and it’s worryingly easy to have a stolen image.

I’ve taken a longer look at this topic here, but some of the things to avoid are:

  • Images from Google
  • User generated content
  • Stock photos (unless you buy and credit them)
  • Copyrighted characters and properties
  • Memes

The standard solution for this is Creative Commons images, but even those could have been stolen originally. To be safe, always put these images into a reverse image search tool and check that the CC location is the original one.

Whilst we’re on the subject of reverse image search tools, given how easy they are to use you need to remember that legal teams are using them all day every day to catch those who infringe. You could very easily be next unless you check your images. That’s why we checked 4,000 of our images to ensure every single one was purchased and credited.

We checked 4000 images

To do the same you’ll need to:

  1. Run Screaming Frog on your blog
  2. Set it to find all pages with an image tag on a set folder
  3. Find credits for images without sources
  4. Update images without credit
  5. Find new images for those you can’t credit
  6. Create an internal policy for future images

By following this process you’ll get peace of mind over your old content and have a clear strategy for the future. We even found that our team put more images on blog posts after this change, not less, so their creativity doesn’t have to suffer.

Conversions

There are lots of reasons for having a blog, but having one to just tick a box is not a valid reason. It’s important you understand exactly why you have a blog and what action you want to be completed, because only then can you check its performance. Some of these reasons could be:

  • To give SEO benefits to the main site
  • To educate your customers
  • To build a brand
  • To sell more products / services
  • To build a community
  • To grow a mailing list

Based on those goals you need to consider how you can convert that audience, especially if you want to drive people from the blog to the main site. If you want people to complete an action then you need to tell them. In our case this meant adding a call-to-action in ten key places on the blog, based on the user’s presumed intent.

Added 10 Calls To Action

The process for this is:

  1. Identify your target market
  2. Research the content they like and sites they read
  3. Create content that appeals to them
  4. Add a call-to-action to your content
  5. Promote this content on sites they read
  6. Track the content and write more of what works

If better Google rankings is your goal, the process is very similar. For example, the call to action includes links to the service pages which get indexed. Other than this, everything else works the same.

By following this process we were able to turn our blog from something we did because we had to, into a profit driving force for the company. Just some of the things it helped us achieve were:

  • 6,500 whitepaper downloads
  • 8,000 opted-in email addresses
  • 15,800 Social Media followers
  • Year on year traffic increases of 72.89%

Most importantly the annual ROI from blog channels increased by 201%.

In Conclusion

All of these strategies work together to give your blog the largest possible reach, the most commercially driven customer and the strongest conversion rate. If you avoid the pitfalls above you can make any blog work and work well.

If you’ve got any questions or further thoughts on creating a great blog please leave them below.

Share this post

Mike Essex About the author

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

Content Marketing Strategy Planning Creation

5 Comments

What do you think?

Digital Marketing Ideas Every Month

Sign up to receive our free monthly email. Including our favourite pieces of news from the digital marketing industry.

From SEO to PPC, Social Media to Brand Management and Analytics, we'll keep you informed.