7 Things You Should Never Do on a Small Business Blog

keyboard_grenadeBusiness blogs have become more ubiquitous than big hair in Texas. But just because everyone is blogging these days doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re doing it right. Whether you’re an old pro or a blogging newbie, it’s still all too easy to fall into some of these common blogging bloopers.

All Promotion, All the Time

Let’s call this one the cardinal sin of business blogging. A little self-promotion is great, and certainly to be expected. But if all you’re writing is blog post after blog post about how awesome your business is and how amazing your products/services are, you’re not going to build any kind of readership.

Instead, you should focus on content that your audience will find relevant and useful. Provide them with technical tips, business advice, interesting news items, or even humorous anecdotes. Just make sure you’re giving them a reason to keep coming back.

Posting Infrequently or Inconsistently

A lot of small business blogs start off strong, but eventually peter out due to a lack of resources or commitment. In order to make your blog effective, you need to publish content on a regular basis. The frequency of your posts will depend on just how much time and bandwidth you can devote to blogging, but you should certainly strive for a goal of at least one post per week.

That said, consistency is more important than frequency. A blog that posts one article per week will attract more readers than a blog that posts several articles at once and then lies dormant for weeks.

Poor Writing

Blogging is often done in an informal or conversational style, but that doesn’t mean all the rules you learned in school are off the table. Your blog posts need to convey expertise and professionalism, which means they need to be free of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage errors.

Not Integrating with Your Website

Your blog needs to be an extension of your website. If you’re hosting your blog on its own domain or on a free blogging platform domain, then you’re missing out on some premium opportunities for optimization and traffic building.

Ideally, your blog should either live on a sub-domain of your main website (e.g. http://blog.mainwebsite.com) or in a folder of your main website (e.g. http://mainwebsite.com/blog).

Overlooking Analytics

The most successful blogs are those that consistently produce content that appeals to their readers. And the way you figure out which posts are resonating with your audience is by examining blog analytics. With just a little effort, you can see which posts are generating activity and which are going unread. And armed with this information, you can increase your blog’s effectiveness.

Too Much SEO

A business blog can be great for driving organic traffic to your website. However, you should never optimize to the detriment of your content. Will stuffing your articles with awkward keyword phrases, dubious links, and repetitive titles help you with the search engines? Probably not. Will it drive away a lot of visitors before they have a chance to become customers? Probably so.

Ignoring, Deleting, or Disabling Comments

If you’re just using your blog to present information, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to engage directly with your customers and community. If you have readers who care enough to comment on your posts, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Instead, you should take the trouble to acknowledge them, thank them, answer their questions, and converse with them.

There’s always the chance that a disgruntled customer will leave a negative comment, and your first inclination might be to delete it before your other readers see it. However, this could actually end up hurting your credibility in the long run. The best way to deal with negative comments is to acknowledge them, apologize if necessary, and do what it takes to make things right. A negative comment, handled correctly, can generate a surprising amount of goodwill.

About Chris Irby

I've spent most of my professional life as a writer, editor, and intolerable pedant. Fortunately, SuperMedia has given me a way to channel these abilities constructively. As Manager of Digital Content, I work with the rest of the Marketing team to make sure our online content is accurate, engaging, and current.

Comments

  1. Great article. A lot of it applies to general blogging as well.

    • Chris Irby says:

      Good point. Admittedly, the standards for personal blogging aren’t quite as strict, but it does take some effort to attract and keep readers who don’t happen to be your parents.

      Thanks for reading, Prasoon!

  2. Nice list Chris. While I agree with your intent on “Ignoring, Deleting or Disabling” comments, in practice, I think it might be beneficial for many small biz bloggers to disable comments.

    Blogs with comments are a magnet for comment spammers. While spam-detecting software such as Akismet can do an ok job of filtering out a lot of spam, there still will be a lot that gets through that the blogger will have to spend time dealing with. On my blog, I don’t allow new commenters to post without moderation. That means I have to check hundreds of new comments/day and odds are that only a handful will be legit. If you’re into that process, fine. But my guess is most business bloggers would rather be running their business than dealing with this.

    My recommendation these days is to be actively encouraging conversation via Twitter or Facebook. It will be much more visibile and it won’t have (as much of) the spam factor.

    • Marion Jacobson says:

      Welcome and thanks for commenting Andrew! Like you, we hold comments from new posters for moderation :)

      I know Chris will respond to you, but I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by to read and to weigh in. I find that most small businesses we deal with would love to have hundreds of comments per day. They’re actually dealing with the opposite challenge, but your point about using social media for engagement is very valid.

      • Touche! :)

        Re the “love to have hundreds of comments per day”, I think the issue is that if you have a blog and do anything to make it even the least bit visible, it will have, if not hundreds, at least several spam comments per day that will need to be dealt with.

        Anyhow, I don’t want to be a fly in the ointment, but I am starting to think the amount of effort that has to go into comment curation is not worth it for the majority of bloggers.

        • Marion Jacobson says:

          I can definitely see where that would be a problem, even for blogs without high traffic since spammers work overtime, looking for any target. But I’ve had good success with Akismet and with setting my filters to zero tolerance on links. And, of course, holding first-timers’ comments for moderation. Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Andrew! Can’t wait to drop your name at lunch today ;-)

      You raise a very good point about blog spam, but I’ll readily cop to my personal bias for comments. Without comments, you’re basically addressing a faceless crowd. With comments, you’re (hopefully) starting a conversation.

      Twitter and Facebook are great tools for immediate engagement, but they also tend to be fleeting. A blog comment is forever (relatively speaking). Go back five years later, and you can see what people were saying about a particular post. There’s something very appealing about that.

      Admittedly, my enthusiasm would wane considerably if I had to wade through a hundred comments every day to cherry pick the ones that weren’t spam. Fortunately, the usual tools and tactics (Askimet, moderating first-time comments, etc.) have worked pretty well so far.

      • So just so we’re even, I will be dropping your name at lunch today as well.

        So here’s what I’m thinking:

        1. Over and over again I hear that SMBs don’t have time/energy/creativity, etc. to do a good blog

        2. No doubt creating conversations on your own site is a great thing. I have had some doozies on mine. Here’s an oldie but a goodie: http://www.localseoguide.com/tate-family-complete-auto-care-san-jose-sucks/ (the comments in this post still crack me up)

        3. For those that have the energy, desire, will to live, etc. fostering a community of commenters on their blog can be an awesome strategy – although I find that 90% of the commenters tend to be the same handful of people, so even with a blog like mine that gets thousand’s of visits/month, that community will likely be small.

        4. So from a ROI/reality POV, I think most SMB bloggers should consider using Twitter/FB as their comments section as it will be much less of a hassle and will likely lead to more exposure.

        Of course you could do both, if that turns you on. We all must walk the rice paper for ourselves grasshopper…

        .

  3. So having a blog through a site such as WordPress would not be as good as creating a blog page directly through my own website? I am getting ready to start a blog for our new online business is the reason I ask.

    • Hi Lynn -

      Absolutely. When you create a blog on one of the free blog hosting sites, they get all of the love and all of the links, using your great content as a magnet. Put your business blog on your own domain and get all the inbound links and comments on your own site.

      And good luck with your new blog and new business!

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