19 blogging mistakes that tank your traffic (+ how to be a better blogger)
We all make blogging mistakes, especially when we are just getting started.
Some blogging mistakes can tank your traffic and scare away visitors. Other blogging faux paus can have devastating effects on SEO or Pinterest rankings.
Top blogging mistakes to avoid
Become a better blogger by identifying areas for improvement on your blog.
Here is a list of 19 common blogging mistakes that you may be making and how to fix them.
1) Your articles are too short
How long are your blog articles?
Current consensus in the blogging world is that longer post are (usually) better.
A study by SEO experts Backlinko showed that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. They found that the average first-page results on Google contain 1,890 words.
Longform content helps you rank higher in Google. It keeps readers on your site for longer as there is more information for them to take in.
Readers often come to a blog wanting answers on a particular subject. An in-depth 2,000 word article is far more likely to fulfil that need than a 500-word overview of the subject.
Focus on quality rather than quantity when writing your blog posts. Try to aim for at least 1,200 words per article. This post is nearly 4,000 words long!
Of course, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule that you must apply to every blog post. Sometimes it’s okay to have shorter content. This article by analytics experts Moz describes the perfect blog post length – and why longer isn’t always better.
2) Your paragraphs are too long
A blog is not a book. Long paragraphs are great for books, but make it difficult to read content on the web.
Presenting readers with walls of text in massive paragraphs makes your article intimidating. It looks like effort to read huge long paragraphs.
Put the same content in many short paragraphs and it looks more friendly and appealing.
Most easy-to-read blogs use short paragraphs that contain just a couple of sentences each.
Splitting content into new paragraphs makes it easier for the eye to follow the words. If your article is easy-to-read then users are more likely to stick around.
Line breaks and whitespace lets readers digest content in bite-size chunks for less mental load. Short paragraphs let readers scan through your content quicker to find the part that most interests them.
Try to make your average paragraph between 2-5 lines long. Some can be shorter and some longer, but those should be the exception rather than the norm.
Don’t be afraid of that enter button on your keyboard. Split those long paragraphs up!
3) Lack of images
Can you imagine how boring this article would look without any images?
Images make your blog posts more interesting.
They help illustrate the points you are making in your writing. Images break up your content and give the reader a short break from reading as they look at the picture.
Images aren’t just great for readers, they can help you with your search engine rankings too.
Backlinko discovered that content with at least one image significantly outperforms content with no images. However, they also found that adding more than one image didn’t have much impact on search engine rankings.
Creating your own blog images gives you something to share online to grow your traffic. Pinterest is a great way to get new blog readers. You’ll need beautiful, click-worthy images to encourage people to click.
4) Content that’s hard to read
There are thousands (perhaps millions?) of blogs on the internet. If you present readers with anything less than an easy reading experience, they’ll find someone else’s blog to read.
It’s easier than you might think to make your content easy to read. Check out these top blogging design mistakes and how to fix them.
From limiting the number of fonts you use to choosing high-contrast colour schemes, simple design tweaks can transform your blog and help keep your readers around for longer.
Other tips for making blog articles easy to read include:
- Limiting the amount of words on a line to 12-15
- Making your font size at least 16px
- Choosing a font that’s easy to read (sans-serif works best on the web)
- Splitting up content into sections with clear headings
- Using a dark font colour that stands out against your background
5) Poor spelling and grammar
The easiest ways to get someone to leave your blog is by littering your content with spelling and grammar mistakes.
It makes you seem unprofessional and provides a poor user experience for your reader.
Before publishing a blog post you should always carefully proof-read it.
When you’ve been working on an article you can get blind to any errors. Your brain sees the words it expects and can skip over spelling or grammar mistakes.
I like to wait a day after finishing an article before I proof read it as this helps me distance myself from the writing so I’m more likely to spot mistakes. You may still find a couple though!
There are three tools I use to help proof-read my blogs and spot errors in the content:
- Microsoft Word’s spell-checker (I write my posts in Word before copying into WordPress)
- The free version of Grammarly. This analyses your content and is very clever at spotting errors. It also reads your sentences and makes suggestions about improving readability.
- Hemingway App is a free tool for checking sentence structures. I’m often guilty of writing sentences that are too long or not phrased correctly. Hemingway App spots these super-long lines and tells you where to split content to make it easier to read.
It’s inevitable that there will be mistakes in your posts. Readers don’t expect a 2000+ word article to be perfect. However, any more than a couple of mistakes and they may leave your blog.
6) Your blog is slow to load
According to digital marketer Neil Patel, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
If your blog takes a long time to load then readers probably won’t stick around. They’ll just head back to Google or Pinterest and find a different blog to click on, and then you’ve lost their traffic.
Checking your blog’s speed is easy. Simply enter your URL into an online speed-checker such as GtMetrix. You’ll get back a free detailed report on your current load time and how you can improve it.
There are many ways you can improve your blog speed, including:
- Optimising image file sizes
- Deleting unused plugins
- Removing/replacing slow-to-load plugins
- Moving to faster website hosting
- Lazy-loading video content
7) Your blog isn’t secure
Do your blog links start with http:// or https:// ?
If they don’t have that magical “s” at the end then that means your blog is not running over SSL and it is not secure.
Google Chrome and other browsers mark all sites that don’t have an SSL certificate as ‘not secure’. Blog readers can see that and it can be enough to make them leave your website.
Installing an SSL certificate is the best way to make your blog secure.
Note: The SiteGround link below is an affiliate link, which means that if you click through and make a purchase I’ll receive a commission (at no additional cost to you).
Talk to your hosting company to find out how to do this. Some hosting companies such as SiteGround give you an SSL certificate for free. They’ll even install it for you too!
You can read more about the importance of SSL certificates at this Forbes article written by SiteGround’s CIO Ivailo Nikolov.
8) No mobile-friendly design
In 2017, mobile traffic made up 52.64% of all global online traffic and that number is increasing year-on-year.
For blogs, having a website that works well on mobile devices is essential. Many people will find your blogs through apps on their phone such as Pinterest or Instagram.
If they come to your website and they can’t read the content easily, or if your website doesn’t work well on a phone then they will go elsewhere.
When choosing your WordPress theme, select one that’s responsive. A responsive website automatically adjusts to fit the size of the screen that a user is looking at it on.
Responsive blog themes work well on computers, tablets and mobile phones. This ensures a reliable and easy-to-use experience for all of your users
9) Poor SEO techniques
SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’. It’s a way of formatting your blog posts and underlying blog code so that your content ranks better in search engines such as Google.
Traffic that comes to your blog from Google is often considered ‘higher quality’ traffic than visits from social media sites such as Pinterest.
Google visitors tend to stay on your website for longer, have a lower bounce rate and view more pages than social media visitors.
Although it sounds intimidating, SEO is fairly straightforward once you master the basics. This definitive guide to SEO is great for both beginners and SEO veterans.
Here a few quick SEO tips that you could start implementing today:
- Use HTML heading tags for your headings and sub-headings, especially H2 and H3
- Install the Yoast WordPress plugin and write a unique page title and meta description for every blog post
- Write articles that are at least 1200 words long
- Go back through old content and optimise them for SEO to help improve their rankings
- Give descriptive alt tags to your post images that include the post’s keywords
To learn more about how Google ranks your content, check out this SEO case study from Authority Hacker where they analyzed 1.1 million search results to find out common ranking factors. This guide is super useful to find out what’s most relevant to rank highly in Google in 2019.
10) No keyword optimisation
Keywords are words or phrases that people might type into search engines to find your content.
If a user is searching for a particular phrase that’s highly relevant to your blog article then try to include that phrase in your writing.
This will help Google to understand what you are writing about and that your content matches user’s intent when they type in that search query.
If Google think that your article solves the question that the user is asking then they are more likely to show your blog to that person.
Finding keywords can seem a bit daunting when you’re just starting out with SEO.
Moz, an analytics company, have written a fab beginner’s guide to keywords to explain the concept.
To help identify relevant keywords you can use free online tools such as Ubersuggest.
Ubersuggest tells you how many searches are done for particular keyword and how likely you are to be able to get an article to rank highly in Google for that term.
11) You’re writing is just for you
I’m sorry to tell you this, but readers don’t really care about you and your life experiences.
Readers are selfish (me included!) and mostly just interested in content that can help or inspire them.
I see lots of bloggers, particularly newer ones, who only write about themselves. They give no thought to the person who is actually reading their content.
Their blogs read like an extended personal diary which often isn’t appealing to readers.
This is especially true of lifestyle bloggers who share their personal experiences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, and it’s a very popular blogging niche.
However, you need to frame your content in a way that interests others – not just yourself.
For example, let’s say you were planning a post called “My child’s first trip to the zoo” where you write about your recent day out at the zoo.
That headline is all about you.
It’s highly personal and may not entice readers to click to read it because they can’t see how the content will be relevant to them.
But give them a title such as “Top tips for taking a toddler to the zoo” or “5 fun activities for the best zoo trip ever” and the subject instantly becomes more appealing to others.
Readers can now identify with the post and see how it could relate to their own lives. They can imagine taking their toddler to the zoo and following all your top tips for the perfect trip.
From your point of view, the content of that blog post is actually still pretty similar to the original idea. All you’ve done is frame it slightly different so it’s not all about you; it’s about your reader.
12) No social sharing buttons
One of the best ways to grow your blog is to write amazing content that readers love so much they want to share it!
The trick to encourage people to share to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or other social networks is to make it as easy as possible.
If you don’t have social share buttons on your blog then you probably won’t get many shares.
Share buttons make it easy to share a post and give a visual cue to the reader that you want them to share your content.
Social Warfare is a popular social share plugin for WordPress. They have a free version and a paid version.
I’ve got the paid version on two of my blogs which I bought solely because it seemed to be the social share plugin that everyone was talking about. It has some nice features like counting your shares across all the different networks, but to be honest I’m not sure the paid version was necessary.
‘My Blog Style’ uses a free social share plugin called Scriptless Social Sharing which is a great alternative to Social Warfare. It’s a lightweight plugin that’s fast to load and easy to set up.
I also use jQuery Pin It Button for Images to make my Pinterest-size images clickable. If you hover over the Pinterest share images at the bottom of this page you’ll see a red square with the Pinterest icon that lets you share the images directly to Pinterest. That’s done by using this plugin.
13) Inconsistent posting schedule
A question I see asked lots by bloggers is “how many blog posts should I post per week?”
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question as it’s all dependent on your unique circumstances.
If you only have two hours per week to blog then you aren’t going to pump out three articles a week. However, if you have two hours per day (or more) then releasing a couple of articles a week is more realistic.
The trick for growing your blog followers isn’t about quantity of blog posts. The quality of your articles and the consistency at which you post them is more important.
Once you start growing an email list (see Tip 15!) you can email your subscribers regularly to let them know about all your new content.
If you go weeks or months between emails because you haven’t published anything new then your subscribers will forget who you are.
If they don’t remember who you are when you email them then they may just unsubscribe. You work hard to get people on your list – don’t let your list go stagnant!
Posting consistently and setting expectations with your followers is a great way to get them to revisit your blog.
Set your schedule according to your desired commitment level and then stick to it!
14) Lack of updated content
This is sort-of similar to the point above, but not quite.
A neat trick to help your search engine rankings is to regularly go through and update your popular articles.
Google love fresh content. If they see you’ve updated a post to add more information then they’ll often reward you with a lovely bump up the rankings.
Here are some ideas for updating old posts:
- Did you miss any information when you first published? If so – add it in!
- Add new information you’ve learned about a topic since you wrote the original post
- Optimise your post for long-tail keywords
- Add a table of contents to the beginning of the post so it’s easier to navigate
- Use SEO best practises to improve the search engine optimisation
- Break up long paragraphs into smaller, more digestible chunks
- Check for broken links and fix any that are broken
- Add some internal links to your other articles
- Add more ideas to roundup posts or listicles
- Find more recent versions of any statistics you have included and replace with the new ones
- Create an infographic to cover the key points of the article
- Record a video that summarises the blog post
- Add new Pinterest images
- Optimise your images to reduce the filesize and improve website load time
15) Not growing an email list
A popular blogging saying is “your money is in your list”.
If you don’t have a way of collecting email addresses on your blog then it will be difficult to make money selling products or courses in the future.
Email lists allow you to send regular newsletters to encourage subscribers to click through to your blog and read your latest article.
This is the best traffic driver on my craft blog. Newsletter days are always my highest traffic days. Each week I send a newsletter out a good number of subscribers click through to my blog.
That being said, if you’re just starting your blog then your focus doesn’t need to be on an email list right away.
Readers are getting more careful with who they share their precious email address with. You need to build ‘know, like and trust’ with them before asking for their details.
Do this by creating a bank of high-quality posts in your chosen niche before worrying about your email list.
If readers can see that you are producing top-notch articles (even as a new blogger) then they’ll be more likely to give you permission to contact them once you implement your sign-up forms at a later date.
16) Relying on Pinterest for traffic
I’ve mentioned Pinterest a few times in this article as a good way of getting blog traffic.
That is certainly true, but it shouldn’t be your only way of driving visitors to your blog.
The Pinterest algorithm changes regularly. It often rolls out large updates that can completely destroy your statistics. It’s not uncommon to hear of large bloggers losing large percentages of their traffic in a matter of days following a big update.
If Pinterest is your only way of getting traffic and your account gets suspended or you fall foul of an update then that can have devastating effects on your blog (and your income!).
Try not to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to marketing your blog.
Pinterest is great for short-term traffic, but investing time and effort into learning SEO is a more long-term approach that can give more reliable (and higher quality) blog traffic.
17) Wasting time on social media
How often do you fall down the social media rabbit hole?
I used to do it all the time. I’d go on Facebook to post a link to my latest blog post and then get distracted by my friends’ updates and before I knew it half an hour had been wasted.
Social media is a huge time suck. It takes your focus away from the important aspects of blogging.
It certainly does have its place for helping you to promote your posts, but time spent on it should be limited.
When I’m scheduling pins on Pinterest I set a timer for 15 minutes. Once that timer goes off, I quit the app. Before I did this I was often spending up to an hour looking for third-party pins to post which was a complete waste of my time.
I could have spent that hour writing a new post or improving an old one – not losing it to social media.
18) Your’re trying to do too much at once
Starting a blog in 2018/19 is a daunting process.
There are so many articles out there about the “must have” tools and methods for bloggers to make money from their blogs.
Affiliate marketing, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, SEO, email lists, opt-ins, product creation, GDPR, cookie consent, contact forms, email software, ad networks, WordPress plugins, hosting companies, website speed – phew, it’s endless!
Trying to do everything at once is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out.
Instead, take one aspect of blogging and really nail it before moving on to the next.
You don’t need to be on every social media website when you’re just getting started. Focus on creating at least 10 high-quality posts first. Then, if you do decide to create a Facebook page or start tweeting, you’ll actually have some content to talk about!
Sarah Titus is an incredibly successful blogger who makes over $2million per year. She says that some of that success came from focusing on one thing at a time. She started by learning Pinterest. Once her account was driving large numbers of consistent traffic, she moved on to her newsletter.
In one year she moved from getting 600 subscribers per month to 10,500/month! That doesn’t come without hard work and lots of hours dedicated to improving that one specific part of your blog.
19) Falling into the ‘imitation game’ trap
Falling into the ‘imitation game’ can hinder your blog journey rather than help it.
I bet you’ve experienced this before: you find a blogger you’ve never heard of who is killing it with their blog. They’re making six-figures a year, living an enviable lifestyle and their blog is everything you dream of.
You go through all their blog posts to discover their strategy until – voila – you find it! It could be Pinterest, affiliate marketing, selling printables (like Sarah Titus) or creating courses.
You find this silver bullet and instantly convince yourself that the only way you will become successful is by doing things exactly like this other blogger.
It’s an easy trap to fall in to, but it’s so dangerous.
Before you know it, you’ve put all your time and energy into this new technique. You’ve completely abandoned your existing processes that were working just fine to begin with.
And then, just as you start to gain traffic with this fancy new idea, you find another blogger to aspire to. They do things differently. So you start the imitation game again on this new fancy idea and waste more hours trying to emulate somebody else’s success.
I’m not criticising here – I’m guilty of it myself.
I’ve wasted so many hours looking in to other bloggers and what makes them a success that I could have spent creating kick-ass content for my blogs. Once I spent about four hours reading through a blogger’s entire back catalogue of posts. I was hoping to glean some useful information about how she became a ‘success’.
Ultimately, the answer is usually the same: focus on creating high-quality, consistent content in the beginning. Monetisation comes much later.
With blogging, content is King and it’s the foundation to your blog.
So what are you waiting for? Stop making these blogging mistakes, and go and get writing!