I’ve been blogging (often failed!) for three years already now and I’m still going on. I’ve learnt from my mistakes that got me Google slapped and I find a lot of people with similar stories. In fact, almost all bloggers and online entrepreneurs have failed (more than once) because of a lost-strategy which they experimented in their business.
With push of words in search engines, you can get millions of ideas about why to start a blog and how you can turn your small business to a million-dollar empire.
I did the same when I started writing. I spent hours consuming several non-sense post ideas that I applied to my blogs but all I got was faltered search traffic, dropped earnings and Google ultimately hit me down with their updates.
The online world has grown so large that you don’t even need to spend huge to publish contents, get subscribers and social media updates, that are part of growing your blog. I take them as flaw- Everything costs and if you spend well, you are treated well and you get returns, with profits made.
There are many reasons why one can easily fall under someone’s influence. There are people who fake ideas about things that they never experimented, and talk about blogging- there are so many myths that it has become very difficult to know what exactly works.
It’s easy to start a blog today and screwing up is lot easier than that. Here I share you some most common blogging mistakes that I made, and you surely can take ideas and avoid them right now!
Blogging Mistake #1: Complexity
When I was in high school, I was taught how one can score high in exams with the use of complex words in sentences. Use of difficult and complex words in sentences overwhelmed teachers and they always put me on their list of ‘best students in the class’.
I experimented the same when I started blogging. I wrote longer sentences, used complex words, and metaphors to convey my message. But no, the idea went wrong. My readers called me ‘Professor’ and they never returned back.
This was until I knew about how the backbone of a blog is based on its ‘Readability’. I found one free Readability Checker tool and started scanning my texts to see if it’s really good.
Here’s what my first post in this blog did on the readability test.
Blogging Mistake #2: Layout
Everyone loves colors and my favorite is blue. I saw different fashion blogs with colorful blog layouts and they caught my eye. Wow! One of the blog that I first went on had images of beautiful models on the background and the texts were in Orange.
It was because of those pretty models that I read the content. Next time, I only scrolled through pages to see different images of other models and never read the content. And, I never went back to the website another time.
I even tried using a black background with texts in red in one of my blog and the average session duration decreased by almost 50% and bounce rate jumped to 90% from 62%.
Wrong layouts can be torturous. If it were in the 90s or early 2000s where only HTML existed and people did not have enough knowledge about CMS like WordPress, those layout could work.
But now, improper layouts are considered unfriendly for readers and people don’t stay long on the web page. In fact, you now need to consider your blog layout for mobile as well.
Google rolled out mobile friendly update in April 21, 2015 and the search results only consider high-quality relevant searches where readers can easily navigate without needing to tap or zoom the webpage.
You can use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool by Google to see if your blog layout is good to go!
Blogging Mistake #3- Failing to find a niche
You might have seen several top bloggers in the web who frequently post their daily life details in their business blog.
One similar blogger who’s been top in the market is JohnChow from John Chow dot Com. This self-proclaimed business mogul started blogging in the early 2000s and fought through thick and thin of Google updates. He writes about blogging ideas, making money online while also updating his personal life in the same blog.
Even penalized, there were times when John Chow did not rank for his own name even in the 3rd or the 4th page. Instead the search results showed up ‘John Cow dot com’ orSearchengineJournal’s article that had ‘John Chow’ in some post headlines. That was a different story related to improper link building.
Whatever it be, when you write about different things or don’t focus on a particular niche, your blog is not going to be appealing, not because you want to broaden your audience, but because you are not John Chow or someone who’s considered a high authority on Google.
Imagine an article you write on your blog about -‘10 Ways I made $2,000 in a month with Google Adsense‘ that shows up another article in the related category ‘Celebrating my daughter’s birthday‘.
This looks totally unprofessional. If you’ve just started blogging, focus on the particular thing you launched it for. If you want to update your daily life, go hit another domain and start writing there.
You can pass link juices through your blogs, rank better and have two sources to earn more; a win-win situation.
Blogging Mistake #4- Writing Little Content
I followed a lot of high-profile entrepreneurs and authors. One of them is Seth Godin. I tried to copy him and found out how short blog contents that he wrote got massive social shares. Here’s a screenshot from his recent post titled ‘The Rejectionists‘.
I get a few 100 likes in my Facebook status when I write ‘I passed my exam‘. Imagine the number of likes Mark Zukerberg would get for writing ‘I dropped out of Harvard‘. Everyone’s not the same and there’s no reason people should follow you (atleast for now).
‘Content is King’. Everyone loves reading detailed contents unless it’s something from the likes of Godin, Zukerberg or someone renowned. Even Google loves contents that are detailed.
In fact, when you write long contents, you can put in a lot of ideas, use different long-tail keywords and you can rank for several of them.
But make sure you don’t make your content overloaded. Let’s make this straight: Your readers don’t care about your personal life, or your stories.
You are here to give lessons about your blogging experience and help people to improve, guide and inspire them. If you talk about your experience, make sure you are adding meaning to your blog post, only if it is more productive.
Imagine yourself as a reader when you complete writing a blog post and re-read. Are you satisfied? Did you enjoy the read? If ‘Yes’, you are set to hit ‘publish’.
Blogging Mistake #5: Duplicate Content
I made a lot of mistakes with ‘Duplicate Contents’. No, I did not copy word-to-word from other sources to update my blogs. It is beyond my ethics as a ‘writer’ to copy content written by somebody else without citing the sources. How did I fail then?
Let’s do a similar experiment that I fell for.
What I did was I wrote three different contents with titles-
- How to Make Money Online?
- How to Make Money Online Fast?
- Ways to Make Money Online Fast
The contents that I wrote inside were different. Not even a sentence matched with another. Even Matt Cutts explains in a YouTube video about duplicate content that Google won’t stress upon it. Another video from Matt Cutts on duplicate content says the same– if you’re adding value by copying contents, there’s no problem.
What mistake did I do then?
The problem was all the three posts became ‘manipulative’ as the video says. They are related to the same thing and Google might have considered these contents deceptive. I was getting a few hundred of searches for the first two to three weeks until a Google update rolled out and my blog was hit.
My contents were not even in the 20th page. But, I recovered back a bit by redirecting two of the posts to another one. It took me back to the 7th page but that was still not going to work out as it did before the Google update.
I don’t mean you can’t write contents that are related to one another in someway. In fact I should have optimized my contents as-
- How to Make Money Online?
- 21 Ways to Make Money Online from Home
- 10 Ways to Make Money with Online Surveys
So, not copying contents is the basics of blogging. Working on contents with this sort of abusive way and failing is what not many people are going to tell you.
Blogging Mistake #6: Publishing Frequency
I am often asked ‘How regular should you update your blog?‘. I still don’t have a perfect answer.
Publishing blog posts can be tricky, while not maintaining consistency is surely going to hamper, a lot.
So, should I write contents for my blog daily? No. You should not unless you can be certain about the quality and quantity of your publication.
If you are running a blog that needs to be updated regularly, you can publish a lot of contents every day. If it’s a sports blog or a news website, you’ll need to adhere to regular publishing and you should write about everything that’s related to your blog/website.
When I was running a sports blog, I had a team of six and I published around 10-15 contents related to soccer daily. That was because I had to cover everything that my readers wanted. I had to write about transfer news, game previews and reviews, opinionated contents, to add a few.
You can push one content daily and stick to it if you can manage time. Or, any schedule– once a week, or three times will do just fine.
Blogging schedule can also change with time. If you have a proper habit of sticking to your publication schedule, you will know if you have something to write about and you can start hitting your keyboard. Or, if you don’t find topics to write about, you just skip it.
However, maintaining a schedule to publish new contents does not mean you write garbage and send out mass-emails notifying readers about your update. Quality is what it all matters.
Six average blog posts a week is surely going to get outranked by one great post per week.
Blogging Mistake #7: Buying Links
Link building is a great way of increasing blog traffic and getting your contents ranked on Google. But building links can also take your blog down.
There are a lot of companies that’re going to tell you that they will take your blog on top of Google search and build high quality PR links with some bucks. This is not going to work out.
I tried the same. I gave some $200 to a company that promised me to get three PR8 do-follow links. They did not even ask me to write an article where I’d adjust anchor texts with links to my blog. The first buy went fine. My contents started ranking on first page and I pushed another $200 for more links.
But, Google rolled out an update penalizing paid links and my blog got affected. I searched for ways to recover my blog and got known to the disavow tool. I disavowed links to my blog and my blog went back to the condition before I paid for links.
I lost $400 for six high PR links which went in vain.
Buying links is something that I completely discourage. If you are a starter blogger, focus more on your contents. If it’s good, people will start linking to it themselves. You don’t even have to keep worrying about getting backlinks.
I’ll surely be writing another post about different strategies you can use to get backlinks to your website. Keep waiting till then!
Blogging Mistake #8: Writing only for your readers
This is that one mistake which I learnt quickly and made a great progress in. However, this is one of the most common problems I still see in many bloggers.
When I first started blogging, I maintained a publishing frequency, I wrote quality contents, and I made social shares. In fact some of my contents have went on to make 100s of comments and discussions.
Everybody wants the same. If someone is blogging, s/he wants to grow the audience, see contents get shared and discussions being made. You feel like you’ve been spotted and heard; People have started following you.
Yes. You have build a nice community. Ask yourself- Are you happy with this limited group? Maybe, you’ll add a couple thousand of new readers in a year. But aren’t there ways you can make your online presence count more?
You can develop the art of ‘Guest Blogging’ and write for readers of a different community on the same niche. If you are blogging about nutrition, find someone else’s blog and write a piece or two for them. I previously thought ‘Guest Blogging’ was writing contents for free with some links in return and that’s it. But I was wrong!
Google might have already mentioned that ‘Guest Blogging is Dead’. No, guest blogging is not dead if you are only looking for backlinks. When you write for others, you get indulged in conversation on someone else’s blog and you build your presence out of what you’ve been working at. You are considered an expert.
Neil Patel from Quicksprout.com has grown different businesses because of guest blogging. He mentions about his blog writing schedule (around 7 posts per week) andlessons learnt from publishing 300 guest posts that helped him to make an impact in the marketing industry. I consider him a guru in this regard and there are a lot of things you can learn from him to make an online presence and ideas thrive for long.
Blogging Mistake #9: Bombarding visitors with popups
When I knew about ideas of driving traffic from social medias, I wanted to increase my social media presence, the number of likes on my Facebook page, twitter followers and G+ followers without needing to spend a bit on advertising.
I implemented random popups that linked to my social profiles at each page a visitor browsed. I even did not care to see if the popups would appear again to those visitors who’ve already followed me/my blog on social medias. That lead to further decrease in direct traffic while it also made my blog slower, eventually leading to dropped Google rank.
Bombarding users with popups is not a good idea firsthand. There are ways to find new social media followers in a genuine way without even needing to bother a visitor to click on the ‘X’ at each popups.
You can find several optimized subscription popup plugins that are user friendly and won’t disappoint your readers while in the middle of their reading.
These are some of the most common blogging mistakes that lead a blogger to get exhausted at having no progress with the blog.
Some of other mistakes that I consider secondary are-
- Not networking with other bloggers
- Writing similar content (eg. Monthly income report) as other bloggers
- Not commenting on other blogs
- Sending out emails more than once in a day
Care your blog as your home and address your visitors as guests! Guests are gods. You’ll be seeing your blog traffic and authority pace up quickly if you avoid these blogging mistakes right now.
Let me know what mistakes you made while blogging and how you got past them in the comments!