If we were to list all of the mistakes that bloggers make, we could probably fill an entire blog for years. Thankfully, bloggers learn over time. We eventually fix the rookie mistakes and move on. Even still, there are many mistakes that even veteran bloggers make.
Sometimes it’s because they’re not attuned to the ways their readers consume their content. Sometimes it’s because they just hadn’t given the idea any thought. Other times it’s just plain laziness. Whatever the case, there’s still time to fix these issues. Here are five common mistakes that I notice even from experienced bloggers.
1. No mobile site
If you think everyone has a Smartphone now, just wait for two years from now. We’re seeing rapid adoption of these powerful cell phones and with the cost of technology always on the decline we can expect an even faster adoption rate in the near future.
People seemingly love to read on their Smartphones. I’ve had many readers email me and tell me that they only read my blogs on their Smartphones. As such, bloggers have to adapt. A mobile site is absolutely necessary these days. They use less data, so they’re faster to load and don’t take up valuable bandwidth. They also look much nicer on Smartphone screens.
Look, I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy S II, which is pretty much T-Mobile’s best Smartphone. It’s fast and powerful. Yet when I go to a blog that doesn’t have a mobile site, I close it and never return. Most blogs just don’t look good on 3.5- to 4-inch screens. Get a mobile site plugin and you’ll retain more readers.
2. No dates on posts
New blogs might be popping up all the time, but just as many blogs go inactive. It’s just the nature of the medium. Most bloggers don’t earn a livable wage, so they eventually have to cut back and make real money. Of course, the blog might stay online for months or years to come. That can get confusing.
When I browse a blog for the first time, I always want to see if it’s up to date. If there is a post within the last month, that’s a good sign. But so many blogs don’t have dates on their posts. Unless it pertains to the latest news, and I happen to know about the news, how am I supposed to know if it’s update?
Most blog platforms offer the ability to put a date stamp on posts. Please, take advantage. Blogs that have recent posts are more likely to retain readers than blogs with no dates. You’re putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t put dates on your posts.
3. Laid out for ad space
Look, we all have hosting costs to pay. Running ads on blogs is something of a necessity these days. Readers are generally understanding of this as well. Many ads are ugly and don’t fit with the site’s overall layout, but readers know that bloggers don’t get paid directly. They need those ads.
Yet readers will only understand to a certain extent. If you bombard them with ads, particularly auto-play ads with audio, you will turn them off. They’ll then find another competing blog to frequent. Lost readers mean lost ad revenue, which defeats the purpose of adding more ads.
I know this one because I experienced it firsthand. I redesigned a blog with an eye on stuffing more ad units into it. They’re just on the sidebar, I thought. No one will mind. The dozens of emailers begged to differ, though. That experiment was short lived, and nearly cost me a portion of my audience. More ads is not necessarily better. A few well-placed ones work just fine.
4. Poor internal link structure
These days there is a great focus on incoming links. The more incoming links we have, the thinking goes, the higher we’ll rank in the search engines. Of course, Google has something to say about that. They’ve implemented systems that discredit mass link building efforts, especially for repetitive anchors.
One area where bloggers can improve their lot is with internal link structure. The fewer clicks it takes to get to a certain page typically means better on-page SEO. Just look at Wikipedia. Sure, they benefit because everyone links out to them. But they also pass link juice from page to page, on every page. That helps build their standing.
There are easy ways to do this, too. You can use the WordPress plugin RB Internal Links to automatically create internal links to certain keywords. It even goes back and inserts those links on old posts. It might not have a drastic effect on your rankings, but it will certainly help your on-site SEO with little effort.
5. Poor guest post guidelines
Not to suck up too much, but if you’re looking to create guest post guidelines you should look no further than our Write For Us page. It’s a simple landing page that outlines the benefits of guest posting, and then shares some simple guidelines. That way anyone who wants to guest post knows the deal beforehand. If they mess up, it’s their own faults.
One reason that Netchunks page works so well is that it’s not too restrictive. Some guest post guidelines contain bullet lists with dozens of items. Oftentimes the guidelines are esoteric and overly strict. If you’re going to be that strict, why take guest posts in the first place? If you intend to take them, make it simple for the guest poster. That way there’s a good chance you’ll get quality guest posts rather than spammy ones.
A final note on guest posts: all too often I see a provision that bars users from inserting affiliate links into posts. I don’t get this. Inserting an affiliate link into a post doesn’t really do anything. It is called affiliate marketing for a reason. You need to market these links in order to make any money. Randomly inserting affiliate links into guest posts does essentially nothing. Might as well let uninformed affiliate do that and see zero results.
(Remember, posts should be accepted or declined based on their quality, not on the links contained therein. If it’s a good post, who cares what links are in it? Granted, of course, that they don’t link to questionable sites that might offend readers.)
These are but five of many, many mistakes bloggers make. Eradicate these from your blog and you’ll be much better off for it.