5 Things that Might Be Killing Your Small Business Blog’s Success
As I’ve become more and more active in helping small businesses embrace the information age and Web 2.0 practices these past 6 months, it has been quite a joy to watch paradigms change as business owners realize the true direction they need to take their company in for continued success in 2010 and beyond. As it is my belief that powerful content marketing and a company blog is the centerpiece to such a paradigm, I’ve been able to witness the birth of quite a few small business blogs during this time. And just like everything else in this world that requires knowledge, skill, and effort; the results for these individual companies have varied drastically.
Because I’m now seeing so many good and bad practices within the blogosphere for small businesses, as well as the fact that when my company first started blogging we were incredibly new to the medium, I feel a strong desire to share what I would consider “The 5 Things That Might Be Killing Your Small Business Blog’s Success.”
1. The Toby Keith Syndrome
Do you remember the song by Toby Keith that was called ‘I Wanna Talk About Me’? It went like this:
I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about meeeeee (me,me,me,me-background singers)
I wanna talk about me
Although you may laugh at such lyrics, it is absolutely amazing just how many small businesses and bloggers seem to take Toby Keith’s lyrics to heart and spend all of their time promoting their company in their articles. This is why one of the quintessential truths of blogging is as follows:
Customers want to read what’s in it for them. They don’t care about how great you are. They don’t care about how many awards your company has won. All they want is for you to teach them something they didn’t already know without any ulterior motives—that’s what they want.
Just the other day I was reading a blog article from a company in the swimming pool industry that started off with the words, ‘We don’t normally like to toot our own horn, but……’
As I read these words I could only shake my head. It’s obvious the person(s) in charge of this blog have no clue as to the way the consumer mind works and thinks.
I’m sure we’ve all heard that as a general rule of thumb, a sales person should talk 25% of the time or less and his or her client should talk 75% of the time or more. Well the same rule applies to small business websites and blogs. In fact, the best strategy in my opinion for a small business is to make it a rule that the company blog does NOT toot the company’s horn. It’s only purpose should be to educate freely and openly. The best place to ‘brag’ and ‘toot’ is on the other pages of the company website, with the ‘about’ and ‘employee bio’ sections being the perfect place to put such information.
2. Post Frequency
Alas, blogs, for some reason, do not seem to work when they are left unfed. And over the last few months, I’ve seen many companies start blogs only to get so wrapped up in the day to day activities of their business that they stop producing and giving out great content. Although many business owners will say they simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to their blog, the truth is that they just don’t value its purpose enough. The just aren’t willing to put it on top of their priority list, thus causing it to slide further and further down the priority chain until it is all but forgotten.
Such a pattern is a truly sad thing for me to see. I personally know just how amazing blogging and powerful content marketing can be. I’ve seen it change my life and elevate my business to heights I never dreamed possible. And not only that, but when a business blogs it will open up more and more doors and opportunities that the business owner likely never even considered. Personally, since blogging, I’ve been presented with 4 or 5 major business opportunities within the swimming pool industry. The same has also happened with The Sales Lion. Fact is, people, and businesses, are attracted to winners. And nothing says ‘winner’ like a great blog with great content, high traffic and many followers.
3. Understanding Keywords
Clearly, most small business owners do not understand the fundamental rules to creating search engine traffic through their blogs. For example, the proper title for a business’ blog articles is critically important. I’ve talked about this heavily in other articles, especially regarding the use of long-tail keyword phrases, but the key is that every blog should have a purpose. It should answer a consumer question. To give you an example, I recently saw a blog article in my industry entitled:
Opening Your Swimming Pool
Although the concept of this article was great, I knew it wouldn’t ever have legs in terms of search engines because it wasn’t specific enough. A few examples of some better titles would have been:
How to Open an Inground Fiberglass Swimming Pool
6 Steps to a Proper Above Ground Pool Opening
Do you see the difference? Blog post title need to be specific and worded with much more purpose. Not only will this make the article much more attractive to search engines but it will also increase the click through rate from a searcher’s perspective because it states exactly what is found in the article.
4. Articles Too Long
Many new bloggers get so excited about the prospect of informing others that their articles are simply too wordy. Remember, wordy is not always better. An article that is more succinct and to the point is almost always more effective than one that covers a multiplicity of topics. I suggest that most small business blog articles should fall in the 500-800 word range as a general rule of thumb. Now granted, I have gone above or below this number before, but it is still a very good idea to be aware of article lengths and realize that most people like to be taught(when searching on the internet) quickly and directly.
5. No Use of Photos, Bullets, Bold, etc
When I look back on the first articles I ever wrote for my business’ blog I can only shake my head and wonder how anybody ever subscribed in the first place. Frankly, the articles were always full of long paragraphs, no photos were used, and I didn’t even think to implement bullets, highlights, bolds, etc. Yep, I was quite the rookie and the readability and aesthetics of the blog suffered for it.
This is why every article, as a general rule of thumb, should:
- Consist of paragraphs no more than 4 or 5 sentences long.
- Have at least one photo.
- Use bullets when creating any type of ‘lists’ or ‘how-to’ segments.
- Include Bold Subtitles to break things up.
Again, these suggestions are not doctrine but certainly good practices if you want your blog articles to be more readable and friendly to readers searching for quick information. This is also why it is a great idea to check out other blogs in your industry that are popular and see what they are doing. What is their style? What attracts your eye as you zoom through their pages?
So there are 5 things you might be doing to hurt your business’ blog and its success. What are some other detrimental actions you can think of? If you’re a blogger, what was the worst mistake you made when you started out blogging? If you’re considering starting a blog, don’t hesitate to add your further concerns below. As always, your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated.
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