Use this blogger resource guide to avoid the worst blogging mistakes and make more money from your website
Blogging and running websites as a career never stops surprising me. I’ve had my own blogs for just three years now and managed sites for a few years before.
There is no other opportunity with as much potential and as accessible to anyone as blogging.
Where else can you expect to increase your income by 50% or more a year? Where else can you start a business with almost no money and spend as much time as you like running it?
What other career with the potential to make a six-figure income requires no college degree?
…Of course, that doesn’t mean blogging is easy.
Building a successful blog is just as much a business as opening up a retail shop. A lot of new bloggers don’t realize that and…well, their blogs suck as a result.
It contributes to the fact that most new bloggers stop updating their sites within 120 days and more than 50% make less than $100 a month.
Take the time to learn what makes a blog successful though, and you’ll enjoy all the opportunity and rewards that come with it. I’ve never been happier at any other job and I’ve never felt the kind of satisfaction I get from running my own sites.
…and I’ve never made as much money as I do blogging.
Instead of fumbling through your first year of blogging, learning from your mistakes and potentially losing out on a lot of money, I decided to put together this blogging resource guide. It’s the longest post on the site and easily could have been five or six separate articles but I wanted to create a definitive resource guide for bloggers.
Don’t feel like you have to tackle every mistake immediately or even read through the entire post in one sitting. Bookmark the page or link to it and come back as a reference when you can.
We’ll start with some of the key measures you can use to track your blog’s success before getting to the 57 worst blogging mistakes.
How do You Know if Your Blog Sucks?
Not making a six-figure income from your blog? That still might not mean it sucks.
More important that how much you’re making from your blog are the reasons you’re blogging. You’ve got to first understand your goals for your website before you can figure out whether you are reaching those goals or not.
Some common blogger goals:
- Making enough money to quit the 9-to-5 or even reaching financial independence
- Giving yourself a medium to share your opinion or promote a cause
- Helping inform people about a topic
- Just having fun
Knowing your goals, you can start looking at different metrics to make sure blogging mistakes aren’t holding you back from those goals.
- Visitor experience metrics measure how people are engaging with your blog and how well it’s serving their needs.
- Pages per visitor – it’s always great when visitors look around a little when they come to your blog. It means your content is interesting to the audience. The average is around two pages per visitor for most blogs.
- Time on page and session duration can vary quite a bit, especially for your long-form, focus content. You should aim for at least an average of three minutes for session duration.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave after the first page the come to on your blog, i.e. not clicking anywhere else. It varies by industry but generally between 25% to 65% is acceptable. Take the time on page in consideration though as longer content will have higher bounce rates.
- Comments – there’s no industry standard for number of comments by post but a blog where only the crickets are chirping might be a sign you’re not connecting with readers.
- Homepage metrics like time-on-page and how many people enter the blog through your home page but leave before going to another page are important. Your homepage is your brand and should persuade people to look around a little.
- Technical metrics measure how well your website is functioning.
- Page load speed is the amount of time it takes for your site to load up when someone visits. One survey found 47% of visitors will leave a site if pages don’t load in two seconds or less. Your load speed will also affect Google search rankings…so, yeah it’s important. Use a site like GTmetrix to measure load speed.
- Inbound links are the currency of search rankings and found through crawler tools like Ahrefs or Moz. If you’re not attracting links from other blogs, you’re not ranking. You either have a problem with quality (linkable) content or you’re not doing enough SEO.
- Traffic metrics measure how well you are promoting your blog and your SEO process
- Traffic sources are found with Google Analytics and tell you the percentage and number of visitors coming from search, social and other sources. It’s useful in understanding where you’re falling short in promotion and growth in each.
- Overall visitor growth is one that actually gets too much attention IMO. Yeah, it’s nice to see your traffic double each year but more blog traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more money.
- Popular posts will give you an idea of the type of visitor you are attracting. They can also guide you with clues on what is working and what’s not.
- Conversion metrics are things like how many people are clicking through affiliates and how many are leading to a commission. If your affiliates aren’t converting, you might be promoting products that aren’t relevant to your readers.
- How much money you’re making and $ per page view is important if your primary goal is to monetary. I’ve seen blogs make between $0.035 per page view all the way up to $0.30 and more. The important point is that you track your revenue sources and how they’re performing given your traffic.
Knowing which measures are failing and which are doing well will help you target the mistakes you might be making on your site.
I’ve categorized the 57 most common blogging mistakes in eight categories from problems with your content to SEO and business mistakes. Some of them are easy fixes while others take time to build better blogging habits.
Keep the post in mind and refer back to it every once in a while. It’s very easy to fall into some of these blogging traps, even being aware they can be a problem. Just getting the list down opened my eyes to a lot of areas I could improve on my own sites.
And please add any mistakes I missed to the comments. I plan on constantly updating the post to catch every slip up that keeps bloggers from reaching their goals!
Content Mistakes that Blog Readers Hate
Common Blogging SEO Mistakes
Blogging Mistakes in Promotion
Blogger Social Media Mistakes
Blogger Mistakes in Site Structure
Mistakes that Cause Bloggers to Lose Money
Technical Blogging Mistakes that Crush Your Blog
Business Mistakes Bloggers Make
Content Mistakes that Blog Readers Hate
Content is king, as the saying goes, and is the very reason people come to your blog. It’s also one of the areas in which bloggers make the most mistakes.
There’s a lot more to producing quality information than just dumping a few hundred words on the digital page. I’ve talked to experienced writers that don’t know the intricate details that can make blog content go viral.
Many of these mistakes will keep your blog from being found in search while others will keep readers from coming back when they do find your blog. That makes fixing content mistakes your top priority as a blogger.
1) Thin content – This isn’t the problem it used to be but still holds a lot of blogs back from giving readers all they want. In the early days of blogging, it was common to post articles under 500 words.
Publishing these shorter posts now can cause a lot of problems for your blog. Besides the fact that they really don’t offer much in the way of detail for readers, Google is also starting to penalize blogs with thin content.
Think of it like this, readers are visiting your blog to answer a question or get advice on an idea. This is especially true for traffic from search where the majority of searches are questions. It’s not likely your 500-word blog post is answering that question as well as it should.
While Google hasn’t confirmed the rumors, word on SEO forums is that the most recent search algorithm update in February 2017 demoted blogs with a lot of thin content.
Action Step: In fact, take a little time to look at your blog’s search traffic by page. Look at the average word length for your top posts and compare it to average word length of all your posts. I did this last year and found the average article across my blogs that attained that all-important Google first-page ranking was over 3,000 words long compared to an average post length of about 1,200 words.
This backs up other research that shows the average word length of top-ranked articles on Google averages over 2,000 words. See more about how content length affects your search rankings.
2) Not using bullets – Research shows that the average reader spends just 15 seconds on a page and skims the majority of your article rather than really reading it. There are two important points we can take from this and other research on blog traffic behavior that makes bullet points a necessity in your writing.
- Bullets draw readers’ attention to important ideas. This makes it easier to get your best points across against limited reader attention.
- Making sure your reader gets those ‘best points’ may be enough to interest them and keep them on the page longer or at least see the value in your blog and return later.
3) Not using ‘relevant’ images – There are really two blogging mistakes I see a lot with images. Images are more important than many bloggers understand and it leads to sucky blogs with too few images or pics that just don’t matter.
Images are indexed by Google and can contribute to a lot of search traffic, not just from Google image search but also by improving your on-page SEO factors. Always save your images with keyword-rich file names and make sure to add alt-titles and descriptions. Google reads these and it backs up the keyword strength of your page.
Images are also a great tool against readers’ short attention spans. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Images help break up the monotony of reading long content, especially when you can add information in a visually-interesting way.
Action Step: Want to rank a post on Google? Add more images…relevant images!
Besides your Pinterest-perfect vertical pin, try including at least one image for every 500 – 1,000 words. Try creating charts or graphs of the information, even if you describe it in the content. Don’t spam your article with a bunch of stock images or pics that don’t contribute information, that’s just annoying.
4) Not varying text format – This is one I picked up on late in the game but am glad I did. It’s helped break up long content and engage readers.
Nobody wants to read a 5,000-word article that looks like a college research paper. Break your text up using different formats like italics, quotes, bold and underlining.
See what I did there? By highlighting the section as a block-quote, I drew your attention to it. Maybe it woke you up from the hypnosis of reading a super-long post and maybe I’ll get a few tweets on the text.
5) Long sentences and paragraphs – Ever start reading a sentence that was so long you forgot what the point was about? Ever try reading a sentence out loud and run out of breath?
I know commas are grammatical tools but if you’re using more than three in a sentence, try breaking the sentence up. Sentence and paragraph length is an even bigger issue for mobile users.
- Any paragraph of more than a few sentences is going to look like a huge block of text on a mobile device.
- Google has a ‘readability’ factor in its algorithm that mirrors those grade-level scores you see. Long sentences that are grammatically-complex will require a higher level of reading and will hurt your search ranking.
- Don’t strain your readers’ eyes. Shorter sentences, paragraphs and use of white space helps people relax their reading and not get tired by your text.
Action Step: Check your posts on mobile. Any paragraph that fills an entire screen should be separated. Make it a point when you’re republishing or updating old posts to break apart the content.
6) No questions or text that engages – This has been a tough one for me. I write in an informational tone rather than conversational. That means I write to relay information rather than to engage and causes problems for my websites.
- Include frequent questions in your blog posts, especially in that first ‘intro’ section. This is going to make it personal for readers, engage them and hopefully keep them reading beyond that 15 seconds.
- Ask readers their opinion throughout the content. Challenge them on widely-held beliefs or the ‘conventional’ wisdom. This engagement will not only build a huge following because people feel like you are talking to them personally but it will also spur lots of comments.
This engagement through your text isn’t just to connect with readers but is also a huge factor for ranking on Google. The amount of time a reader stays on your page or clicks to another page on your blog is measured as the ‘user experience’ or UX and is a factor in Google’s search algorithm.
7) Too personal – Have you ever read a blog that was too much of the blogger’s personal life, a blogger that shares every little thing that happens to them, sometimes on a daily basis?
This might draw some readers but it can also be a turnoff for others. Sharing your personal experiences can help create a sense of community but sharing trivial details of your day-to-day life will lose readers if they think you’re wasting their time.
8) Not personal enough – I should have put this blogging mistake above the previous one. I feel like more bloggers are not personal enough rather than too personal…it’s definitely something with which I’ve struggled.
I come from an investment analyst and economist background. I’m used to writing long reports but they are factually-driven and analytical with absolutely no room for opinion. The portfolio manager of a multi-million dollar hedge fund doesn’t want to hear about my personal experience with a company’s brand.
But blog readers want to know about the person behind the blog. Unless you’ve got some amazing insight into the topic, your personality might be the only thing that separates you from the billion websites online.
Action Step: I’ve got nothing here! I’d love to hear your tips on changing your writing style to include more personality or emotion.
9) Lack of topic focus – I see this blogging mistake a lot with the personal blogs, the sites set up as someone’s way to rant with little focus on a particular topic. It can also be a problem when your blog topic is too broad, for example a blog on ‘personal finance’ instead of a narrower idea.
When you don’t have a narrow theme for your blog, there is a risk that you’ll post articles on every topic under the sun. There are a couple of problems with this:
- Posting on lots of different ideas makes it tough to become an expert or to be recognized as such in any one topic. People don’t go to Warren Buffett for advice on cooking.
- Lack of topic focus can contribute to a bad reader experience. Your traffic from search, the majority of total traffic for many blogs, is coming to you for a specific question in a specific topic. They’re probably interested in other articles on that topic but won’t stick around your blog if they have to wade through an archive of other crap before they find something.
- Google looks at your whole blog in ranking individual pages and keywords. If the majority of your content is on a specific topic or related keywords, it will assume you’re an expert in that topic and your rankings will improve. Jumping around from topic to topic will mean you never develop that keyword-strength.
Action Step: Put together a content strategy that examines your blog’s topic from every angle and possible question. Planning article ideas a month or more in advance will keep you from getting off-track with anything that comes to mind.
10) Blogger burnout from posting too much – This is one of the most frequent blogger mistakes I see with new bloggers. They try to emulate huge blogs like The Huffington Post that put out multiple posts a day or they falsely reason that more posts will mean more traffic.
I started my blogs posting three or four times a week. I quickly got discouraged when my traffic didn’t surge and the money didn’t compensate me for the long hours.
There’s a trade-off between quality and quantity in blogging. There’s also a lot more that goes into making a blog successful than just posting a lot of articles. I know bloggers that post once a week and even once a month that are just as successful as those posting three or four times a week.
Action Step: Don’t feel like you must post more than once or twice a week in the first year of blogging. Take it slow with one quality, long-content post a week and spend more time promoting it.
11) Not posting regularly – So this is the other side of the previous blogging mistake and affects a lot of the older blogs. I know several successful bloggers that might post once a month, once every few months…or just whenever they get around to it.
Google rankings are very durable and you can get away with taking some time off but it will eventually start to cause a problem for your blog.
Readers like to know when they can expect new articles to be posted. Of the sites I have bookmarked, I have a pretty good idea of when they post and I always click through to find new content. If a blog ‘goes dark’ for a while and I’m constantly disappointed with the same ol’ stuff…I stop coming back.
12) Turning your ‘topic’ blog into a blog about blogging – Ok, so some web hosting sites offer a juicy commission and you’ve picked up a lot of good ideas about blogging. That doesn’t mean you should make every other article on your blog about ‘how to blog’.
If you aren’t making the money you want by promoting affiliates in your blog’s topic then you need to work on other revenue sources (more on this later). Just because you read about how one blogger is making thousands on their blogging course doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
In fact, you’ll just end up diluting your blog’s message and losing readers.
If you want to share your experience blogging, I mean really have a passion for talking about blogging then maybe it’s time to give it a separate site.
13) Weak titles – Another blogging mistake I’m guilty of but trying to fix. Maybe it’s unfair but your article title is the biggest factor in traffic whether it’s from social media or search. People DO judge a book by its title.
For cryin’ out loud, don’t go overboard on your titles. If I see one more article with the title ending, “…and you’ll never guess what happened next,” I’m going to scream. WEAK!
14) No link bait – I know every post is supposed to be a masterful reading of quality information…but sometimes you need to post the fan favorites as well.
And few article types are as popular as link-bait.
Link bait articles tend to be a little more superficial than articles that dig deep into a narrow question. Your ‘101 Reasons’ article can still be superficial if you don’t develop each reason beyond a few sentences. Link bait may also be a roundup of other blogger’s opinions.
Some bloggers don’t like doing link bait articles. They feel the article type is ‘cheesy’ or selling out to get page views.
Readers love’em though and they get links (…uh, hence the name) which makes them an invaluable part of your content and SEO strategy.
15) Grammar and spelling – Seriously? Your blog doesn’t have to be worthy of publication in the Oxford Review but too many grammar and spelling errors will lose readers.
I actually see this blogging mistake a lot on very famous blogs. I read a post on one social media star’s blog where it was obvious that the blogger had recorded the post to be transcribed by an assistant. Either the recording wasn’t very good or the assistant didn’t check their grammar because it was surprising that a site with a professional staff behind it made so many spelling and grammar errors.
Action Step: Read through your posts aloud either the day they publish or a day after you write them. Don’t do it immediately after writing because you’ll have a tendency to skim over errors. The material is too fresh in your mind.
16) Not scheduling seasonal posts or trending topics – Neglecting seasonal topics and trends is one of my biggest blogging failures. I just don’t take the time to take advantage of the easy traffic.
- Why not take advantage of the fact that millions of people are going to be searching for topics related to a holiday or season? It doesn’t mean you have to go off-topic, just find ways to incorporate your blog’s topic into these seasonal ideas
- Holidays can be some of the best ways to monetize your blog, i.e. articles around gifts and things to do for a holiday
- Google has a ‘news’ factor that prioritizes content relating to a current theme. Posting on a trending theme might help boost your post to the top of search.
Action Step: Create a ‘content wheel’. This is a paper wheel, one smaller circle on top of a larger circle with a space cut out of the smaller circle so you can see the text below on the larger circle. On the outside of the larger circle, you write the months of the year. As you turn the smaller circle, it shows the seasonal and holiday themes associated with that month.
Super-Pro Action Step! You don’t have to create a new post every year for each holiday. Add to your old post each year and republish it. You’ll keep the old search ranking and improve on it with new detail in the post. I’ll cover republishing more later in the article but see this post for how I use republishing to triple search traffic.
Common Blogging SEO Mistakes
Learning search engine optimization (SEO) is probably the single biggest factor I can point to in my success as a blogger.
SEO is the process of ranking your blog posts on Google and other search engines. It’s something many bloggers avoid because they assume it’s too technical or don’t want to put in the work.
Take the time to learn the basics of SEO and you’ll jump ahead of even the biggest blogs.
It’s how I rank for more than 1,700 keywords on first page of Google alone and how I made over $5,000 on one post last year.
We’ll cover the 11 biggest blogger mistakes in SEO but if you’re really serious about launching your blog to the top of Google search, check out Google SEO for Bloggers. It’s the complete SEO process I use to rank my blogs including:
- How most bloggers are wasting their time and a keyword process that will attract visitors ready to buy.
- How to write articles readers love and that will get Google’s attention
- How to boost your new articles fast and get people to share
- The link-building strategies that get Google’s love even against mega-sites and in competitive keywords
SEO is your best shot at being a successful blogger and this book is your ticket to a simple process that can make it happen. Check out what one reader had to say about the book.
Get Google SEO for Bloggers available on Kindle, paperback and audiobook.
17) No keyword research or keywords that can’t rank – Keyword research is the very heart of your blog SEO but misunderstood or neglected by most bloggers. Most bloggers’ traffic comes from search…yet most bloggers pay very little attention to how they get that traffic.
Keyword research is the start of your process to increase search traffic. It’s not just writing about things for which a lot of people search but about targeting specific search queries that you can rank on the first page of Google.
The problem is that many bloggers, if they do any keyword research at all, go after keywords with the most monthly search volume.
Sorry to burst your bubble but you will never rank for the keyword, “make money” unless your name is Pat Flynn or Amy Porterfield.
Keyword research means finding the terms with a decent amount of search volume AND that you can actually rank on the first page of Google.
Here’s a rough snapshot of my 15-minute keyword research process:
- Brainstorm a list of potential searches or keywords that might lead someone to your article idea
- Use Google Keyword Planner (GKP) to find the monthly search volume for each keyword idea
- GKP ‘competition score’ is NOT the difficulty of ranking a keyword! This is one of the biggest keyword mistakes. The competition score is the relative number of advertisers bidding on a keyword.
- Use the MOZBar Chrome extension to find the average Page Authority of pages ranking on the first page of Google for each keyword idea.
- Most new blogs, those with Domain Authority under 35, will have trouble ranking a page where the average Page Authority among those already ranking for a keyword is above 40 (without some serious SEO and link-buiilding).
Action Step: Spend just a little extra time on each post optimizing it for a keyword or keyword ideas for which you can actually rank and that bring you readers interested in your products. Remember that more than 90% of Google search clicks go to the first page results, meaning…if you’re not first, you’re last!
18) No internal links – Internal linking is where you highlight text in your article and link it to a related article on your blog. It’s a huge factor in reader experience and getting ranked on Google.
- Internal links give your readers more information and keep them on your site longer
- Internal links pass around SEO juice to other posts, especially links from highly-ranked posts and your home page
- Internal links help Google find all the content on your site and point out which articles are most important for certain keywords (i.e. which you want ranked for specific keywords)
There’s no ‘perfect’ ratio for how many internal links you should have per article length. Some blogs seem to go overboard, with content that looks like every other sentence has a link to another post. I like to aim for at least one internal link for every 300 – 500 words.
Action Step: If you have another post that details a topic, link to it. Go back through older posts to link to newer articles on a topic, especially your hub articles you’re trying to boost.
19) No external links – External links are those to other websites and help other articles’ SEO rank. A lot of bloggers are stingy with their external linking, thinking its sharing their SEO juice.
In fact, linking to a relevant and authoritative external source has been proven to help boost your own SEO ranking for a post.
External links are the blogger equivalent to the shopper referral strategy Macy’s discovered in the movie, Miracle on 34th Street…is that reference too old? The new Macy’s Santa, Kris Kringle, starts referring shoppers to other stores when the toy wasn’t in stock or could be found at a lower price. This builds trust with the shoppers because they think the store is looking out for their best interest.
By externally linking to another source, you’re giving your readers more information…even if it takes them away from your site.
Not only will your readers appreciate the gesture but Google loves that you’re willing to sacrifice traffic for quality. Beyond that, external linking is a great way to build a relationship with other bloggers and get them to link back to your content. (hint, hint, nudge, nudge if you want to link to this awesome post)
20) Irrelevant links – The flip-side to not linking out is linking to irrelevant sites or confusing Google by linking to posts targeting the same keyword.
The problem of linking out to irrelevant websites usually comes when a blogger is paid to link to a site or product that has little to do with the article or even the entire blog. Sponsored links should be tagged nofollow so they don’t catch Google’s wrath.
A bigger problem for bloggers is linking, whether internally or externally, with anchor text that includes the keywords you’re trying to rank a post. Anchor text is the section of words that is clickable to the other article and something that tells Google what the other article is about.
If you’re trying to rank a post for “underwater horseback riding” but linking to another article with those same or related keywords…how does Google know which is the better article for that topic?
21) No on-page list – On-page SEO is all the things you do within an article to optimize it for a keyword and show Google that it deserves to be ranked highly.
- Target keyword or similar keywords in title, headline and section headings
- Target keyword or similar in image file names, alt-title and descriptions
- Target or similar in first and last paragraphs (or in first/last sections)
- Using H-tags to highlight section headings and headline
- A persuasive meta-description that will attract clicks
- A persuasive title that will attract readers
Google has gotten extremely smart, especially since it rolled out its RankBrain artificial intelligence, about knowing what an article is about. This makes on-page SEO less important but it’s still a must for ranking your articles.
Action Step: Putting together a list of on-page factors you build into every article is extremely easy and will become second-nature quickly. Don’t miss this easy SEO step.
22) No off-page SEO process – The neglected child of SEO, off-page SEO is a long process and can seem like a job all by itself. A lot of bloggers avoid off-page SEO because they think it’s too technical or just don’t want to put in the time.
Off-page SEO is tasks you do to promote and build links to your articles. These are tasks like creating other media formats, reaching out to other bloggers to promote your post or participating in online forums.
There’s a spammy side of off-page SEO that has given it a bad name among bloggers. Posting a link to your article in comments, on forums and low-quality directories might even get you penalized by Google. These types of easy links used to be the norm among bloggers but no longer work.
Inbound links are the currency of SEO and you can’t afford to neglect an off-page process if you want to beat older, larger blogs in Google rankings.
23) Not using other formats – Being a successful blogger isn’t just…blogging. There are a lot of people that prefer to get their info through audio or video. Recording brief audio or video segments for your posts will help you reach those people.
Not only will creating other media formats like audio, video, infographics and presentations help you speak to more people in their preferred style but it’s also a great way to build your search ranking. Material in other media formats is highly-shareable and linkable. You’ll be able to post the material on other sites and readers will do it for you.
24) Not using Google Webmaster (search console) – Google Webmaster is now called ‘Search Console’ but it’s still a great tool for tracking your blog’s search power.
It takes less than five minutes to link up your website to Search Console. Once that’s done, you’ll have access to a huge range of information about your blog.
- Errors Google has found with your site like links to dead (404) pages
- How much search traffic you get, impressions and the ranking position for each post
- The list of keywords for which each post ranks
- Security issues, web tools and a host of other technical tips to improve your blog
25) Not guest posting – Guest posting has fallen out of favor over the last year after Google insiders said you shouldn’t use it to get links.
Big blogger mistake! Guest posting is still one of the easiest and best ways a new blogger can build their authority, reach new audiences and improve search ranking.
To understand why Google would want to defame guest posting, think about what Google does and how it makes money. The $687 billion company makes money because it offers up the very best articles ranked by its search algorithm. More than 75% of internet searchers trust Google and that’s worth a lot of money in advertising.
Anything people do to affect those search rankings, i.e. building links through guest posting, threatens to manipulate Google’s rankings and that trust it’s built. Yeah…it’s going to say “don’t do that!”
Guest posting is still a critical part of promoting and building your blog if you do it correctly.
- Post on related blogs to your topic. Getting a link to your investing blog from a cooking website looks a little fishy (hey, got a pun in and wasn’t even trying!)
- Rather than link to your homepage at the end of the article, link to a related article on your blog. The link is more ‘natural’ and given stronger SEO weight by Google.
26) Not republishing correctly – Republishing is one of the best ways to improve your older content, make more money and boost search traffic.
Unfortunately, few bloggers know about republishing and even fewer do it correctly.
Republishing is the process of updating an old article, changing the date published to current and then hitting publish so that it goes on your blog as a new article. You actually want to set the date for a couple of minutes into the future so the post doesn’t just update but goes out as a new post.
Republishing is a great opportunity to improve old articles but too many bloggers miss the chance by simply changing the date on the article and hitting ‘publish’.
Just remember, don’t change that URL address to your post. That’s the address where all the links are pointing and giving your post its search ranking.
27) Not performing a site audit regularly – Site audits are a process of looking at all the posts on your blog and cleaning up errors or weak content. It can be a very long process, taking months to finish for older blogs with hundreds of articles, but is essential to growing your blog.
A site audit is started with a crawler tool, software that finds information on every article and page on your blog. The most popular is Screaming Frog which is free for small sites but only around $170 for a year license and well worth it.
A site audit will help you find:
- Dead pages and links on your blog
- Redirects that are not working
- Missing SEO elements like not having H-tags or meta-descriptions
- Articles on your site that are duplicate or very similar content
- Thin content and articles with bad user experience signals like high bounce rate or low time-on-page
You download the information from your crawl into a spreadsheet. You can then sort your articles by different measures to find all kinds of problems. Some articles you might want to improve while others are not worth saving and should be redirected.
One of the most overlooked benefits of a site audit is redirecting link juice to related articles. You’ll have a lot of articles on your blog that might have one or two inbound links from other websites. That’s not enough to really rank a keyword and you might not be getting much search traffic for the post. Redirect that URL to another post, one with a few inbound links of its own, and you combine the search power of each…potentially ranking for stronger keywords.
Action Step: Do a site audit once your blog reaches 100 posts and at least every couple of years after.
Blogging Mistakes in Promotion
Posting interesting and informative content on your blog isn’t enough. In fact, there’s a saying that goes, “Spend 20% of your time writing and 80% promoting your content.”
Blog promotion encompasses a lot of areas from SEO to social media and networking with bloggers. I’ve covered SEO and social media in separate sections but there are a few other ways to promote your blog that will be critical to your success.
28) Not networking with a group of related bloggers – Being a professional blogger can be a solitary job. You’re pecking away at the keyboard each day with only the random blog comment to motivate you…hopefully that random comment isn’t from the occasional wacko.
You absolutely need to create your own virtual co-workers by seeking out other bloggers in your topic. This means joining Facebook groups, blogger communities and even looking for an annual conference related to your field.
- Your blogger friends are going to save you hours’ worth of time when you have a question or a problem with your blog. Most likely, they’ve already ran into the problem and will be able to offer advice.
- Blogging networks are an invaluable resource for getting links through roundup articles and guest posts.
- Your blogger friends are going through the same emotions with which you might be struggling. They will motivate you and share your pain!
29) Not highlighting your best content – Make it easy for readers to find your best content. The majority of blog traffic is new visitors and high bounce rates mean most leave your site after the first page. That means you need to hook them fast by promoting interesting material.
- Have a ‘Best of’ list in your sidebar and a ‘Read Next’ list at the end of each article.
- Regularly share your most popular content on social media
- Convert your best content into different media formats for sharing and posting around the web
- Refer to and link your best content on your blog’s home page
30) No roundup posts – Roundup posts are a great SEO (linkbait) tool but also important for promoting your blog. This is where you ask other bloggers for their input to a question for inclusion in your post and provide a link back to their website.
Roundup posts take longer to put together than regular articles. You have to email out to your contacts, wait for them to respond and then format everything into the article.
Roundup posts are gold for blog promotion and links though!
Not only do bloggers included in your roundup post help promote the article on social media but they are also much more likely to link to it from their blog.
Roundup posts don’t have to be huge lists. I’ve seen bloggers do very well with just a few responses from other blogs. Highlighting just a few bloggers makes the selected few feel more important and they’ll usually share across more networks.
31) Not accepting legit guest posts – When some bloggers reach a certain level of success, they start rejecting guest posts from other bloggers. It’s weak and is actually hurting their own blog as well.
I’m not talking about rejecting the spammy guest posts you get from product sites or bloggers trying to build links to their affiliate reviews. Those need to be paid for as sponsored posts.
I’m talking about legitimate guest posts from a blogger in your network.
It’s fine to require a high-level of quality for guest posts on your blog. Readers should expect a consistent level of quality and writing regardless of who is writing it for your blog. I get annoyed though when I see bloggers post weak content themselves but then require 2,000+ guides if you want to post as a guest.
Besides helping the blogging community through links, accepting guest posts brings new readers to your blog. That other blogger is going to share their post through their network. They’re also much more likely to accept a guest post from you or link to one of your articles in the future.
…Yeah. I have a column in my blogger contact list for people that don’t accept guest posts and don’t link out. Guess who doesn’t make my list when I’m offering roundup links?
Blogger Social Media Mistakes
Social media is usually the first or second largest source of traffic for most blogs. Beyond a steady stream of visitors, it’s also one of the best opportunities to make a connection with readers and create a community around your blog.
Even the younger generations that grew up with social media still make mistakes when it comes to blog promotion and outreach.
32) Avoiding social media platforms – Guilty again! I avoided starting a Pinterest account for sooo long because I just didn’t want to mess with another social media platform.
You don’t have to be active on every social media platform and there may be ones that come and go. That doesn’t mean you can totally ignore what could be the largest source of traffic to your blog.
It was only after hearing blogger upon blogger talk about their huge Pinterest traffic, like 100,000+ per month traffic, that I got serious about promoting my websites through the platform. It now accounts for my second largest source after Google search.
Action Step: Give every large social media platform a chance. You don’t have to spend hours a week developing your network but set up an account and learn a little about what it takes to build a following. Give it a couple of months to gauge how well its leading to traffic growth and narrow it down to two or three social networks on which you focus your social strategy.
33) Setting social on auto-pilot – Being truly successful on social media means…being social (DUH)!
There are a lot of social media management tools out there that will put your blog promotion on auto-pilot. Hootsuite allows you to connect your social accounts and schedule updates to go out regularly. It’s a great tool for keeping a consistent feed going out to followers but it’s not enough.
Real success on social media means becoming an active contributor in groups related to your topic. That means checking in at least once or twice a week to answer questions and contribute. You can generally drop a link to an article when it relates to someone’s question but only when it relates.
34) Spamming group boards – Nothing will bring out the trolls faster than spamming a group board or forum with your blog articles. Some Facebook groups have been destroyed by this blogger mistake because moderators don’t manage the spammers.
If it’s a legit group, you are only going to alienate members by posting your content without a good cause.
So how do you use group boards effectively?
- Spend some time interacting first, answering and asking questions for at least a few weeks before you start referring to your articles
- Start promoting your blog by referring to articles within questions but give a detailed answer within your comment so people don’t have to click through if they don’t wish. Your article should be relevant and provide further detail
- Only open up a thread and refer to an article if it is relevant to a theme the group has been talking a lot about lately or if you have a legitimate question about the article or the topic.
35) Not publishing non-post updates – This blogging mistake again relates to the idea of being ‘social’ on social media. Rather than looking for answers as is the case when people use Google, people are looking for an interaction when they are on Facebook.
Building a community for your blog needs to include that interaction by regularly posting questions, personal updates, quotes and other non-article promotions.
Note that this need for interaction varies on different social media platforms. Pinterest is very much a ‘discovery’ network where people are looking for a solution or ideas on a topic. That makes commenting and other forms of interaction less important.
36) Not sharing other bloggers’ content – Read through most social media strategy guides and you’ll see some rule like, “share three times other bloggers’ content for every single post of your own.”
This idea of curating a range of content for your readers is very important but missed by a lot of bloggers solely focused on promoting their own material.
- Sharing other bloggers’ content puts you on their radar for sharing your content and builds that network relationship.
- Sharing a range of content is a true service to your readers. They’ll appreciate it and will trust you as an unbiased source of expertise in a topic.
- Being a consumer of other bloggers’ content will make you an expert in the topic, continuously learning from multiple perspectives
Blogger Mistakes in Site Structure
Site structure and design are a common problem for bloggers. A lot goes into creating a blog that is technically and aesthetically excellent.
37) Spammy blog name or just hard to remember – Google has said and it’s been confirmed in ranking studies that website names mean much less than they used to when it comes to SEO.
Which makes me the dummy for picking a really long URL like MyWorkfromHomeMoney.
I still like it but it’s not quite the SEO boost I thought it was and I wish it were a little shorter.
If you’ve already registered your domain then this is a moot point. If not, think long and hard about picking a domain that is easy to remember, easy to spell, describes the topic and is not too confusing.
38) Bad URL structure or permalinks that include unnecessary information – Your permalink or URL structure is the way the addresses are formatted for each page or article. It starts with http and everything afterwards.
There are two blogging mistakes here that cause issues for websites.
First, how annoying are those weird URLs? I’m talking about the auto-generated, numerical formats like /?12-321/
This is how Morningstar, a widely-respected investment research firm, displays its URLs
While search engine rankings rely less on keywords in the URL, it still matters and this URL format does nothing for your Google search traffic.
Another problem with bad permalink structure is when you include the date in your URLs, i.e. /06/2017/ in the address. Including the date in your URL means you can’t republish the article at a later date and you miss out on a huge SEO traffic tool.
Action Step: Simplify your URL permalinks with just the top-level domain plus your article title. If you’ve already started blogging with another permalink structure, make the change and redirect your old articles to the new ones.
39) Bad directory structure – This might be getting a little too technical for most bloggers but keep your directory as simple and intuitive as possible. Don’t put your blog in a directory off the main domain. The sub-categories and topics that come out of each section should be relatively balanced. That means not having all your blog content or pages under one particular section or topic while other sections have relatively little behind them.
Mistakes that Cause Bloggers to Lose Money
I don’t know about you, but I’m in this blogging thing to make money!
Yeah, I enjoy talking about the topics and connecting with readers but my #1 goal is to support my family and achieve the financial independence I never found in an office job.
Even if making money isn’t the top goal of your blog, it wouldn’t hurt to make a little extra cash…or maybe a few extra thousand a month?
The big bucks blogging doesn’t happen overnight but creating a consistent source of income can be surprisingly easy if you know where to look.
I cover the seven biggest money blogging mistakes below but if your goal is to create a profitable blog, check out Make Money Blogging. It’s a step-by-step guide into the nine proven strategies bloggers use to make money.
The book starts with the easiest and immediate sources of blogging income, the strategies you can use to start making money today. Then it details the income sources that take longer to set up but with the potential to make thousands a month.
Each chapter is a complete step-by-step on setting up the income source, how much you can make and how to use it as a part of your plan for diversified blogging income.
Get Make Money Blogging, available on Kindle, paperback and audiobook.
40) Too many display ads – I get it, new bloggers love display ads because its quick money. It’s easy to place your display ads and Google or another display network does the rest.
Display ads can cause a lot of problems for bloggers.
If you’re depending on ads as your primary source of revenue, you’re probably missing out on making as much as possible. The best I’ve seen for even some of the premium display networks is about $12 per thousand impressions, about $0.012 per page view.
If you’re only making about a penny for each time you display an ad…the solution must be to show more ads, right?!?
How annoying is it to have to scroll through an ad every couple of paragraphs in an article? Are you really making anything from all those sidebar ad boxes or could the space be better used to collect subscribers or point out your best content?
41) Poor placement of display ads – Ok, so you still want to run some display ads. It’s a quick and easy source of revenue and can actually be a decent chunk of change for very large blogs.
Learn where to place your ads to make the most money with the least amount of reader annoyance.
The graphic is color-coded to show the points on a page that draw the most interest by readers.
- Since most visitors are going to be reading left-to-right, the left side of the page gets a lot of attention.
- Places where readers are accustomed to seeing content is also important
- The side bar is almost completely ignored by many readers having learned that is the section filled with the most ads
Knowing the points on your blog that get the most attention can help you place the fewest number of ads but still make as much money as possible.
- Consider a left-hand sidebar for ads and content promotion
- Place ads in content sparingly and towards the top of the article
- Ads at the bottom of articles get consistent clicks but they may also distract readers from visiting other pages on your site
42) Too many sponsored posts – Sponsored posts, accepting an article on your blog for payment, can be a good revenue source but they can also cause SEO and reader problems.
Sponsors are going to expect a link back to their site within the post. Most will want that link to be dofollow which is against Google’s rules. It’s not something that is going to hurt your rankings too badly unless you load the blog with many more sponsored articles than legitimate posts.
How will Google know if a link is from a sponsored post? How many sponsored posts are too many?
Understand that the sponsor probably isn’t just paying for a link on your site but many sites in a link-building campaign. If Google sees many links created all at once to one particular product page, there’s a chance it will assume it is a sponsored link.
That in itself might not be an issue for your search rankings unless Google finds you’re doing it frequently and with little or no other content. Besides the hit to thin content sites, other rumors around the February 2017 algorithm update was that Google went after websites that were heavily monetized this way.
Besides the potential to hurt your search rankings, too many sponsored posts is just plain annoying for readers. Sponsored posts are seldom the same quality as the other content on the blog and it probably isn’t quite as relatable to the overall theme.
I do sponsored posts and have no plans to stop. It amounts to just over a grand a month which is between 15% to 20% of my total blogging revenue at this point.
The number of sponsored posts you allow on your blog will depend on the number of legitimate posts you publish each month. I would recommend no more than one sponsored posts for every four legitimate posts.
If you find yourself getting more sponsored post submissions than you can handle, consider raising the rate for posts. Most blogs start their pricing at $100 minimum but I know bloggers that get $500 and more for each sponsored post.
43) Not monetizing early – If there is one question I get most frequently about making money blogging it’s, “how much traffic do I need to start making money?”
My answer… “if you have one visitor, you can make money.”
If making money is why you are blogging then MAKE MONEY! Don’t wait to ‘build your traffic’ or think that you need thousands of visitors to monetize your blog.
There are going to be some revenue sources that make money immediately, i.e. display ads, while others will require larger numbers and time to make much money. Getting those first checks, no matter how small, is great validation of your hard work as a blogger.
44) Starting a blog ONLY to make money, with no passion for a topic – I made this blogging mistake last year when I bought a dating website.
There’s a saying that goes, “The three most profitable online topics are health, wealth and romance.” I knew a blogger that was looking to sell his three-year old dating site for just $500. It had a good link profile and I knew I could boost traffic fast with a few SEO tricks.
I doubled traffic in three months and tripled it in six months. I was making a few hundred a month on the site but it was two- or three-times the work I put in on any of the other sites.
Because I couldn’t care less talking about dating and relationships. I’ve been married for almost eight years and never liked being single.
Every time I went to write an article or create a new product, I first spent hours procrastinating because I couldn’t motivate myself to do the work. Then I spent even more time researching because the topic wasn’t in my areas of expertise.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time talking about your blog topic. Much of that time may not make you much money. Do yourself a favor and make sure you love talking about the topic before you commit yourself to it.
45) Not diversifying in different revenue sources – When I was an equity analyst, one of the first things I would do to understand the investment risk in a company was to look at its main buyers and sources of revenue. A company depending on one or a few buyers for most of its sales is an extremely risky investment.
That’s as true in blogging as it is in investments.
I know bloggers that rely on affiliates for almost all of their income. There are others that only sell printables. They may make good money but what happens when something happens to that revenue source?
Affiliates drop their programs all the time. Sometimes for a few months and sometimes forever. Amazon is within its right to change the algorithm that ranks your self-published books, resulting in a big drop in publishing income.
Part of this risk is just a fact of life for small business entrepreneurs. Income is variable. Learn to save when you can for when the lean times come.
You can control the risk by diversifying your income sources. Make money off different types of products including affiliates, self-publishing, sponsored posts and printables. Make sure you also diversify your revenue within each source, i.e. earning commissions off several different affiliates or having several books published.
46) Not understanding affiliates that work best for your niche – It’s tempting to go after the affiliates with the highest payouts or the highest earnings per click (EPC). Those high payouts will do you absolutely no good if you can’t convert any readers.
The affiliates you link to from the blog must relate to your topic and solve a common problem among your readers. Average click through rates from an article to an affiliate are around one-in-twenty readers and maybe only one-in-twenty of those clicks will result in a commission.
That means you might need 400 visitors to a post just to get one conversion on an affiliate. That article had better be relevant to a large portion of your blog visitors or your just not going to see the numbers necessary to make any money off it.
You’ll find out fairly quickly which affiliates work best with your niche by looking at other blogs. Check out other bloggers’ income reports and the content they post. Pay special attention to their ‘reviews’ section or resources page. The affiliates listed first or the most popular articles are probably the ones making them the most money.
Technical Blogging Mistakes that Crush Your Blog
The technical side of blogging is difficult for many but you don’t need to be Bill Gates to rehab your digital real estate. Many of these problems can be fixed quickly or cheaply with the help of a freelancer.
47) No blog logo graphic – Take the time to create a logo that is unique and attractive. If you aren’t graphically-inclined then get a few ideas from freelancers on Fiverr before settling on one design.
Your blog logo can make a big difference for your brand. It can make it easier to remember your website name and can mold readers’ perceptions of your blog.
48) Choosing a free blogger platform – It costs almost nothing to get your own hosted blog but the power of “free” is still too attractive to some bloggers.
Hosting your blog on a free platform like WordPress.com means you lose the ability to use some ads and lose ultimate control of the site. You won’t be able to use your own plugins which are a big part of being able to do extra functions on your blog.
Blogging is like digital real estate development. Make sure you own the land under your blog with a self-hosted account so you control all the rights.
49) Poor hosting – Getting stuck with a poor webhost is a frustrating blogging mistake to make. Whether the hosting company is crap from the beginning or you outgrow their capabilities, transferring to another host can be a pain.
Make sure your web hosting service has a good track record for uptime, loading speeds and customer service. A host that forces too many sites on its shared hosting servers is going to see a lot of crashes and slower speeds.
Blogger opinions of web hosts vary. I had a mixed experience with Blue Host when I started two of my blogs but other bloggers like Pat Flynn and Michelle Schroeder-Gardner swear by the host. I have been pleased with my experience with both GoDaddy and SiteGround.
Siteground may cost a few dollars a month more than other web hosting services but the customer service is excellent and I noticed an increase in page load speed when I transferred my blogs.
50) Bad theme – Your theme is the layout of your blog, the graphical design of your page.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so the idea of a ‘bad theme’ is subject to opinion. Choose a theme that is not cluttered, that displays your content in an appealing way and that is visually clear.
51) Too many plugins – Plugins are software programs that allow you to do some amazing functions with your blog. For non-techie bloggers like myself, plugins are absolutely essential but they can also cause problems for your blog.
Too many plugins can be a factor in slow loading speed, a major component of user experience and a Google ranking factor. There’s no ‘rule’ for how many plugins you should have on a blog.
- Take a cold, hard look at your plugins from time-to-time. If they aren’t contributing to user experience or doing something critical, consider dropping them.
- Test turning off individual plugins to gauge the effect on load speed. Is the plugin worth slowing down your site? Is there another plugin that provides the same functionality but doesn’t slow your site down as much?
- Some plugins don’t need to run continuously. The Broken Link-Checker plugin eats a lot of load speed if left on because it’s constantly cycling through your links. Turn it off except for a few days each month to check for broken links.
Business Mistakes Bloggers Make
Blogging is a business.
A lot of new bloggers treat their sites as just a fun project. That’s Ok if your goal is simply to have fun and rant a little.
If you want to make money blogging…I mean real money like vacationing in Paris, France instead of Paris, Texas…then you better treat your blog like a business.
52) Not learning SEO – This is one of the most frequent blogger mistakes I see. Nobody wants to do SEO and when they see how much it costs to hire someone, they just ignore it.
You don’t have to know all the technical coding but every blogger needs to spend some time each month learning how to use SEO to promote their blog. Without a good SEO process, there is no way you are going to compete with websites like Huffington Post or even smaller blogs that have been around for years and have already built a link profile.
Just spending a little time to learn SEO and putting in the work will put you way ahead of most bloggers. Keyword research and on-page SEO can become second-nature and won’t take more than an extra 20 or 30 minutes per post. Off-page SEO for link-building can take considerably longer but it’s here that you can really boost your search ranking to individual posts.
53) Not understanding what your goals are and focusing on them – If your goal is just to have fun and share a message, fine. If it’s to create a digital property that will make money, that’s fine too.
Not understanding what you want from your blog is not fine.
Building a successful blog is hard work and you need to have a clear picture for why you are doing it. Understanding your goals will help you understand where to look for motivation, whether it’s from your community of readers or through a rising income.
54) Not understanding how much money you can make blogging and how to make it – I see too many bloggers fail because they read an income report from another blogger, think they are going to immediately make thousands a month and then give up when it doesn’t happen.
Would you expect any small business startup to start making thousands a month from day one? Would you expect to double your income every year without putting in some serious work?
I love graphing my monthly blogging income. I’m proud of the digital real estate I’ve created but it didn’t happen overnight. I started my first two blogs in November 2014 and I didn’t start making money until April the next year.
Even then, it was a slow path to making an income that could support my family.
Our 2018 blogger survey shows that only half of bloggers make more than $1,500 a month. Just 23% of bloggers, about one-in-four, make more than $5,000 a month. Check out the blogger survey to see exactly how much bloggers make and the best income sources they're using.
You can make a living blogging, you can make huge money, but you have to know what to expect and give your income time to grow.
55) Not learning about blogging – Being successful in any business or career means becoming an expert in the field and continuously learning how to improve. It’s no different for blogging but so many bloggers avoid spending the time to learn the business of running a website.
You don’t have to be a full-time blogger or even go to a conference every year but you should spend some time to learn how to successfully manage a blog. I guess I’m preaching to the choir here because if you’ve made it this far in the article, you’re definitely committed to learning how to avoid the biggest blogging mistakes and how to succeed.
Follow a few blogs about blogging and keep up-to-date on blogging topics. Consider taking an Udemy video course for skills improvement in some of the topics.
56) Not reviewing analytics regularly for issues – I know a lot of you are not numbers nerds like I am but everyone should spend at least 30 minutes a month to review their blog stats.
This means logging into Google Analytics and tracking a few metrics for your blog.
- Number of sessions – is it gradually rising month-to-month? Are there any spikes attributed to viral content or promotion by another blogger?
- Pageviews – is it gradually rising and are visitors sticking around to read multiple pages?
- Bounce rate – are most of your visitors clicking through to multiple pages or are they leaving immediately?
- Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source – where is your traffic coming from and is it gradually rising?
- Behavior-> Site Content -> All Pages – which pages are your most popular and why? What is your bounce rate and time-on-page like for the popular pages? Are there any user experience or content clues you can take from this?
There are many other metrics you can track through Google Analytics but these will get you started.
57) Thinking blogging is passive income – If you’ve read through this entire article, you’ve probably got the idea that blogging is far from a passive income source.
Despite the many infomercial-like pitches by bloggers trying to sell you their easy blogging course to passive riches, blogging is definitely not going to make you rich without putting in the work. That’s not to say you can’t get rich blogging or at least do very well but it will always take work.
Hopefully you are not discouraged by this monster list of biggest blogging mistakes. Few of these blogger blunders will destroy your blog or ruin your traffic and everyone makes many of them at some point. Don’t worry about being a perfect blogger but understand where many bloggers fail and how you can make your own website successful.