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5 Ways Your Blog is Undermining Your Business

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners start a blog to support their business. A blog, they figure, will allow them to illustrate their knowledge to clients, build a reputation and brand, get people to check out their work, and take the place of that pesky enewsletter they started a year ago but never seem to have time to write these days.

But in many cases, the errors or glitches that these bloggers can make end up undermining their owners’ businesses in subtle ways. Ultimately, their blogs actually serve to lessen the blogger’s reputation among clients and prospects. Here are the most common errors I’ve seen.

1. Technical errors.

Technical errors include everything from typos to broken links and missing images. To my mind, they also include the my-13-year-old-cousin-was-the-designer blog skins. Given the usable nature of most blogging platforms today, these kinds of errors shouldn’t exist — and the vast majority of web users know this. If your blog contains technical errors, it reflects very poorly on you and, ergo, your business.

Apart from using all the tools at your disposal to ensure that the content you publish contains no technical inaccuracies, bloggers may need to periodically review old content to ensure that, for example, the links still work.

After a given period — say, a year — few users will expect to be able to rely on the links in your content, but if they’ve arrived at that content directly, through a search engine, they may not realise that the content’s old, so a broken link may still undermine your credibility. If linked content is crucial to a given post, you might need to consider building a regular review of those links into your content management plan to ensure that the post remains usable.

2. Factual errors.

Factual errors are a separate issue from technical errors. If technical errors are a baseline of business competency, factual errors mark the baseline for industry or discipline competency. The first might make you look slap-dash, but when users spot factual errors in your work, your professional reputation slides downhill very quickly.

The only way to avoid factual errors is research. Don’t trust any single source — research to find at least two unrelated sources for the same information every time, and cite or link to them in each case. This will obviously impact the time it takes you to produce a blog post, so you may need to alter your writing and research approach accordingly.

Factual errors are problematic, but they’re even more of an issue when the blogger uses them as the basis for opinion pieces.

3. Ill-informed opinion.

When you use erroneous information as the basis for an opinion piece, you do yourself a serious disservice. It’s one thing to report information that, while you’ve seen it presented elsewhere, is inaccurate. But to build that information into your world view suggests to astute readers that you’re gullible, or ignorant, or both. Now the problem isn’t just a matter of misinformation; it’s a matter of personalities.

Opinion pieces should therefore be carefully researched and planned, and their possible implications considered at length. To me, planning an opinion piece is a bit like playing chess: you need to think ahead as many moves as possible to ensure that, whatever happens as a result of the piece, I’ll have a strategy that lets me respond with grace and intelligence. The problem is, if your opinion piece is based on poor information, readers may simply disregard it — and your blog — as garbage without bothering to comment.

4. Poor comment responses.

If it’s your blog, you need to manage it — and its readership. Failing to respond to comments is poor form; responding off the cuff to negative or controversial feedback can be extremely damaging.

Blog comments represent a huge exercise in PR: this is a very visible forum in which you’re responding to your business’s public. So it pays to think like a PR consultant and plan careful responses to negative feedback that show your professionalism, honesty, and genuine interest in what your readers have to say. After all, your clients and prospects are reading this thing — perhaps they’re even the people commenting. Your responses aren’t just a question of good manners; they may have real financial implications.

5. Poor content planning.

Poor content planning shows on business blogs, and can make the blogger seem flaky. If your blog is unreliable, it’s all too easy for readers to extrapolate that to mean that you’re unreliable. And no one wants to do business with someone who’s unreliable. Readers don’t just need to know what types of content or information themes to expect: they also need to know when to expect updates. As we all know, there’s nothing that’s more disappointing than going to a much-loved blogger’s site to find that they haven’t updated it since you were last there.

Of course, the other question of content planning relates directly to your goals for your business-supporting blog. Do you want to use it to direct clients and prospects to freshly-released projects or your updated folio each time you have something to show? Will your clients have any issues with your discussing their projects publicly? What kinds of content and posts will you use to communicate directly — and productively — with prospects? These questions all come down to your blog strategy. If you haven’t got these kinds of issues straightened out, your readers may find it difficult to work out whether your blog is intended for them.

There are, of course, other content questions you’ll need to consider. Do you want to cross-promote special offers on your blog through your Facebook page? Will you tweet every blog update, or provide a blog RSS feed, so that readers know when to visit? If so, you’ll likely need to consider how your blog updates will fit with the other content your feed through these media. Obviously, having a decent content plan will help support your blog’s — and your — professional appearance.

These are the five most common pitfalls I see on business-supporting blogs. Have you fallen into these traps? What other problems — or pet peeves — do you encounter as you rad business blogs?

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Chris Hunter says:

    This post suffers from #1 right in the title! LOL!

    Just had to tease ya! ;)

  2. Rob Cubbon says:

    These are 5 broad categories where lots of blogs fall down – all extremely important.

    I would say that the fifth category “Content Planning” is crucial. A lot of business blogs fall down by blatantly plugging their latest products and their business and, by ignoring related topics, fail to pull in the visitors.

  3. Joshua Noerr says:

    I completely agree with responding to comments. I think failing to do so is very damaging to your brand. You don’t want to come off as a lecturer, someone who just talks but never listens or joins the discussion.

  4. GrammarNut says:

    Case in point…there’s a typo in the title of the piece.

  5. Kitty says:

    Great insights!

  6. Mike Piper says:

    Was it a clever illustration-by-example that the title of this article has a typo? ;)

  7. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Georgina,

    I don’t understand why some blog owners don’t respond to their comments. It makes it difficult to start a community. I’ve gotten to know some awesome bloggers by interacting with them first through commenting.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  8. Mick M says:

    Great list Georgina.

    I think number 2. Factual errors, is a double-edged sword.

    Some websites intentionally publish false and hyped up content, that has no real bearing on reality, to create controversy.

    While certain websites can attract a large readership with this method, their credibility is undoubtedly compromised. However the factual accuracy seems to matter little when it draws a large readership, for some at least.

  9. Georgina,

    Really Great Post. I completely agree with you.

    You’ve made some great Points.
    I think replying to all comments on your blog is very important. It helps to build a readership, relationship with readers of your site.

    I always try to reply to comments as fast as possible.

    Thanks for sharing this great post. Keep up the good work.

  10. EF Cussins says:

    These are the hardest things for me. I have to constantly be alert for these issues.

  11. I have done all the above , writting blogs , answering all questions, however the success is minimum. I will write another one and see what happens when I answer all the comments.

  12. LPC says:

    Agree with Mike Piper. Do you want to add another line for, um, typos? :)

  13. These 5 ways are a great guide for standing back and looking at how you are doing with your blog.

    Recently I went through and fixed my technical errors. The whole time I was wishing I had kept up with it all along. I hate running in to bugs on other sites.

  14. James Cooper says:

    Hey Georgina,
    Interesting post.
    Ultimately I think there comes a time in a blogs growth when it makes sense to have a mop up person. The expert writes the blog posts, and another person checks. Basically, fixing and correcting current posts before publishing… and periodically performing maintenance checks on all the content from the past.

    Maybe someone has already made this their business; ‘blog editor on-demand’?

    James

  15. Thanks for the healthy reminder of the basics. By the way, I can’t figure out why all the comments are dated with tomorrow’s date 9/14. I keep checking my watch… did I miss a day!?!

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Rebecca says:

    This is a great list to be aware of. However, I think most of the blogs I read attached to a business are more likely to impress me than turn me off. A well kept-up business blog can be a true asset, and nowadays I want to know a business is using social media. Otherwise, they seem like a dino to me.

  17. Marlon says:

    In the current era, a blog is a must-have for business owners. The traditional websites (most of them are still static) are no longer as effective as they used to be. Business websites does not only serve as a “front” anymore. The function of a site goes beyond the traditional “product presentation”. More than a presentation tool, a website is now considered a “communication tool”. Here comes the need for a blog. Blog can bring them the much needed traffic. The more these companies communicate, the more likely they can get leads for their businesses.

    These 5 tips can be used as elements for benchmarking. Nice post!

  18. jason says:

    I would say that poor content planning would definitely be something that affects more businesses than you think.

  19. Carl Burke says:

    Well although great post, this is one of the true beauties of blogging, Humm! Business Blogs. this is a slice em dice em..
    post..I hope the intent was purely corrective criticism, We teach and help others … that is one of the great features of a blog, comments and contact form…If you find these errors it is almost your duty to point them out, not in the audience of there peers.

    Oh that is Read Not Rad
    (What other problems — or pet peeves — do you encounter as you rad business blogs?)

  20. I have fallen into the last two traps frequently. It’s just so easy to get distracted by everything else in my business. Having a blogging editorial calendar is really helping in that area and since I’m logging in to post anyway, it’s easy to approve and respond to some comments at the same time.

  21. Matthew Lord says:

    #5 is a big problem for many bloggers, and I admit that at times I have just thrown something up and hoped for a response.

    If you really want to engage your blog readers and allow them to “build your brand” for you then it is essential to plan content that will truly benefit your blog readers.

  22. Mr. Matt says:

    As a new blogger and someone who hopes to someday make a living from writing I spend a great deal of time searching out quality blogs. I read, study and make notes on the content as well as the comments. I’m not surprised by the lack of comments my newest blog receives but I am concerned about the substantial increase in the amount of worthless comments making it past my spam blockers lately. I know most of these come from auto bogging or auto comment software and that’s the reason for my concern. Sadly it’s not just my comments that seem to be filling up with this trash.The whole blogosphere seems to be headed in this direction and at a much accelerated rated as compared to just a few months ago. Is it me or is this real. How do you sort through 100′s of comments and 100′s of articles to find the few that are worth posting or reading? The problem is rapidly getting worst & I see very little discussion going on about it.

    I know quality blogs with a track record will continue to survive and probably even flourish in this environment but what about the new guys in the neighborhood? Prehaps we need an Auto quality-content-blogger that can can pick up on two properly constructed sentences in a row. Or prehaps we just shouldn’t tolerate it. And that’s — my pet peeves — as I rad business blogs. (sorry) Thanks for this and all your articles. They are always a great read which puts ProBlogger and CopyBlogger are at the top of my blog list.

    Thanks
    Mr. Matt

  23. Jimmy says:

    Guilty of ALL five!

  24. Allan Ward says:

    Some good points in this post. I agree that when you’re blogging as part of a business, it’s a little different to a personal blog. Research is very important, and whilst it’s good to have an opinion, it needs to be based on fact. Your comment about thinking like a PR person is spot on, as is the importance to reply to comments and build a community.

  25. Romany says:

    Thanks for a useful post. In #2, Factual errors, you write about how a poorly researched post undermines your business reputation and credibility as a blogger in the eyes of knowledgeable readers. Factual errors in a blog will certainly turn off your industry peers, but maybe even worse is the effect on readers who don’t know your industry well and are looking for basic information on a topic. An error of fact in your blog undermines the credibility of your site and your business but – perhaps worse – it adds to the growing mass of misinformation on the web and helps to reinforce the belief of many cynics that the internet is a place where myths proliferate.

  26. Great points on blogging. Do you have any suggestions for my site http://www.aptnational.com?

  27. John Kenny says:

    I agree with you but it still lacks many reasons other
    thank Georgina Laidlaw

  28. Arul says:

    It surprises me that grammatical error is not mentioned in this post. It may not be a huge factor but it is vital to keep your ‘professional appearance’.

  29. Jun says:

    Good points here Georgina. I can’t agree more with you on the personal vs business side of blogging.

  30. Nice write up Georgina. Replying to our blog comments will not only help us to get authority but it will also help us to build relationship with our readers. Thanks for providing this list.

  31. Chris says:

    Thank you for some very good ideas in this article. They apply to business blogs more than anything else. If you want to support your business offer with a blog, it should definitely represent an expert perspective. There can be nothing more damaging than a business blog with irrelevant, outdated, and simply misleading information.

  32. The content planning stuff is the key, thanks for hitting it. Great article. Thanks Georgina.

    BTW, even after correcting the typo in the post title, the error still appears in the permalink. Would Darren want to correct it?

  33. These are excellent tips for minimizing oneself to failure with her/her blog. I will pay even closer attention to these particular aspects with each entry I post on my blog, as I know how often I’ve run into similar errors on other sites as well, especially the broken links. That’s enough to put me off when visiting website and I certainly do want to create those feelings amongst my viewer. Thanks for sharing!

  34. I have to agree that all of these factors can put me off a blog. Anyone who has an unprofessional blog is going to suffer by making their readers think they are unprofessional and no-one wants to enter into an arrangement with someone like that.

  35. Royal Ranch says:

    Agreed, but tell me; where exactly is the best place to reply to comments? Publicly in the comment area, or privately through e-mail? Great post, even though they give you a hard time-Ha!

  36. Joyful says:

    Ill-informed opinions include your political and religious opinions, which do not belong on a business blog. You will lose business from readers who disagree with you.

  37. Good post, although I’m not sure I agree with the ‘poor design’ element. It’s a subjective thing, and what one person deems a simple design may indeed be perceived as a bad design by someone else. As long as, you quite rightly say, the links work and the blog is intuitive in its navigation, then all’s well, methinks. ;)

    Very much agree with the comments point. The whole point (ha-ha!) of a blog is to be interactive with your audience — and that includes reading and responding to any new comments on a regular basis, and also visiting and commenting on other blogs.

    I think setting objectives/goals for your business blog, and reviewing and, when necessary, amending them is the key to a good business blog that doesn’t get stale. And, the biggest way to ensure its success, is to provide the content that your target market wants to read. Don’t know what that is, ask them!

  38. These are all good points. I don’t write a business blog, but I think these basic issues are the same for any (or maybe all) blogs.

    A suggestion in terms of factual error: I use and highly recommend the plug-in Apture which allows you to link easily or embed links to sources, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or various government agencies. You can also embed relevant videos which add to the credibility and usefulness of a post.

  39. While I agree with these 5 ways very much. But, I have seen blogs with some of these mistakes thrive. Many busy bloggers do not have time to respond to comments on their blogs, have typos and are yet successful.

    Thought to ponder, why some blogs gets away with these things, while other do not?

  40. eyuzwa says:

    I have to disagree with all 5.

    If a blog is a part of a company I’m doing business with, and they’re constantly reviewing old content to “correct” any old opinions made at the time, or “adjusting” pieces, that throws a lot more red flags for me.

    I think we all semi-understand that a blog and it’s content is written during a snapshot of time and that opinions can change over time.

    Do I want to do business with people that believe in revisionism? Not a chance.

  41. I disagree, because my blog is performing with none of the 5 ways

  42. I’m glad that I had eight years of blogging on my personal site (and tweaking and learning on it) before I went live on my business site because it really helped me understand the importance of all your points, Georgina.

    It must be difficult to just walk into all this: the blogging platform and learning curve there, the whole marketing aspect not to mention having to produce content etc. Posts like yours (and some others I’ve seen) help condense a pretty big subject down so someone can quickly get the benefit.

    Many thanks for this.

  43. These are all good points. Let me suggest another, more subtle problem with business blogs, especially those created by consultants – they can give too much away for free. This is a bit more insidious and it is difficult to define the line, but if you show all your tools and techniques as a way of demonstrating your knowledge, you may give some potential clients just enough information to solve (or believe they can solve) their problem on their own.

    The intent has to be to dazzle with “what” you can do without showing too much of “how” you do it.

  44. Marc Brodeur says:

    Very good information. I especially liked #4. Handling criticisms professionally without avoiding them I think is where someone can really shine. That will demonstrate integrity quickest.

  45. Ngozi Nwoke says:

    Hi Georgina.

    Crucial points, especially the first point. Bloggers really need to periodically review old content to ensure that the links still work.

  46. Vail says:

    The first issue can be easily spearheaded with solutions like these if you are a wordpress user:

    1. Broken Link Checker plugin (also finds missing image links)
    2. Copyscape
    3. WP-Super Edit
    4. Spell Checker plugins

    For images, it is also important to adopt a best practice of hosting images on your own blog installation and NOT hotlinking to other sources (some small exceptions here – Flickr and other image hosting services you control)

    The poor design issue should really be a category to itself since it is less of a technical error and more of a lack of aesthetic or experience. I cannot stress enough how important it is to invest the $$ necessary to have a great design that is also functional. There are several reasons for this, including SEO optimization, that make a huge difference. Where you don’t have thousands to spend on a custom design, many design studios offer a small budget option for ready-made theme customization and installation.

  47. I saw the worst kind of opinion piece of the blog of a bar in my town. It was from the DJ of the bar and he was slating patrons who yell “Play something decent!” I mean, stating your opinion is one thing, but slating patrons? For me it smacked of bad PR for the bar, and of complete arrogance from the DJ.

  48. HI Georgina,
    Indeed, sometimes I come across technical errors on a site I am checking out and then go to send an email to let the owner know I can’t access an information page. Just to help them out. But then many times I can’t find their contact information. Hmm!

    I will make a note to direct people to this posting as it is valuable for new and not so new business owners.

    Thanks again for sharing,
    David

  49. Having a compelling vision for our lives is actually what gives us a sense of complete satisfaction and enjoyment

  50. Nick Stewart says:

    Great post. I gave it a thumbs up on stumble upon.

    I recently had a series of technical problems with my blog which ended up hurting my traffic and my sales. It turned out to be was a problem with my host. My site was on a server that had too much load into my blog would frequently be very slow to load and in some cases would be completely unavailable.

    I think managing comments is another big issue for bloggers. I am trying to do a better job at responding to every single comment that people make.