Blogging: Are You Driving Readers Away?

20 Ways Your Blog Is Annoying (& How To Fix It)

Face it, no blogger intentionally sets out to annoy readers and drive them away. Quite to the contrary, they seek to build the largest audience they can. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, bloggers may miss the mark without realizing it.

To keep your blog on course, here are twenty ways blogs drive readers nuts without realizing it and actionable tips to fix them easily.

Content

  1. Cute titles and headings that baffle readers and search engines with cute headlines. While you might think your post titles are entertaining, your audience may not understand the context. Even worse, they’re meaningless to search bots so your blog doesn’t show up on search engines. Actionable Blogging Tip: Review your titles to ensure they contain keywords related to the post. (For help, here’s how to write killer blog titles.)
  2. Builds readers’ expectations but doesn’t deliver. This type of post starts with a great headline and opening paragraph providing hope you’ll offer real value for your readers’ time but alas your post goes off in another direction. Actionable Blogging Tip: Refine blog post titles after you’ve finished writing the article to ensure consistency with the content.
  3. Provides content that says, “Enough about me, what do you think about me?“ Unless you’re a celebrity offering readers juicy tidbits they can’t get elsewhere readers don’t want to read about your life. They’re looking for information that either helps them or entertains them. Actionable Blogging Tip: Ask a friend or colleague to read your posts and tell you if you’re doing this. Alternatively, use a copyeditor empowered to change the content.
  4. Slams on the content brakes. After blogging on a regular schedule, your posts appear sporadically without any reason. Actionable Blogging Tip: If you’ve got a reason to change your blogging schedule,  let your readers know. For example, Lisa Barone gets guest bloggers while she’s on vacation.

Useability

  1. Forces readers to visit your blog. Even major publications like the New York Times allow readers to choose how and where they receive content. And so should you! Actionable Blogging Tip: Allow readers to get your content via email and RSS.
  2. Allows videos and/or ads to play while blog content loads. Respect readers and allow them to choose whether they want to listen. With the array of connected devices, you never know where readers are. Actionable Blogging Tip: Prevent videos or ads from playing without reader action.
  3. Contains poor grammar and spelling errors. Before you rationalize having these errors, understand it’s not about you or your level of language proficiency. It’s about your audience’s ability to read your blog posts. Actionable Blogging Tip: Have a copyeditor or friend read and correct your article before it’s posted.
  4. Talks corporate gibberish. This happens on corporate blogs where writers are accustomed to stripping their communications of anything faintly resembling a human voice. Additionally, they tend to use corporate speak and internal shorthand. Actionable Blogging Tip: Encourage blog authors to use a more personal tone for their posts and get rid of the corporate language and shorthand.
  5. Doesn’t allow comments. While many bloggers view comments as a success measure, turning your comment function off is a stumbling block to building an engaged readership. (Want to generate massive comments?) Actionable Blogging Tip: Use a comment service (I use Disqus, here.) where you have the ability to unapprove or delete comments later.
  6. Doesn’t enable easy sharing. Your goal is to maximize your content’s reach! Don’t hide your social sharing buttons! Actionable Blogging Tip: Put easy-to-use social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of your posts.

Design

  1. Is so cluttered readers don’t know what to do. Trying to force too much information into a small space, hinders readers. Offer too many options and readers will leave. Actionable Blogging Tip: Streamline your options to focus on the one or two actions you most want readers to take.
  2. Lacks any visual bling. People are attracted to images and other graphic accents. Actionable Blogging Tip: Add visuals such as photographs, graphics, and videos to each post to draw readers in.
  3. Lacks white space. Many people consume content on-the-go as a filler activity. To enhance their consumption, break your content into small bite-size chunks. Actionable Blogging Tip: Use shorter paragraphs, bolding and bullet points to allow scanning. Make sure your headings, paragraphs and lists have ample margins and line spacing.
  4. Help I can’t read it! Bloggers don’t always consider readers’ limitations. They use tiny type that’s difficult for anyone without reading glasses (generally anyone over 40.) Actionable Blogging Tip: Use at least a 11 or 12 point typeface. Where possible, select easier-to-read typefaces. Remember readability trumps design.
  5. Contains massive blocks of text. Think about your audience and their attention span. Long paragraphs are difficult to read and understand.  Actionable Blogging Tip: Break long paragraphs into smaller chunks.

Promotions & Advertising

  1. Help where’s the blog post? While I appreciate the desire to monetize your blog, if it’s cluttered with ads, readers will miss your content and, worse, not return! Actionable Blogging Tip: Look at your analytics and determine which ad formats work best on your blog. Check your category’s major blogs to determine the most used ad placements. Apply this to your blog and reduce your ads. Test your way to an optimal layout.
  2. Use irritating ad formats. If the advertising on your blog’s pisses readers off, the ad won’t work and you’ll loose a reader. This happens with ads that take over the screen or pop up when a word is rolled over. Actionable Blogging Tip: Test placing non-intrusive ads on your site. Use analytics to check changes in traffic, time on site and revenue.
  3. Interrupts content to deliver advertising. Don’t put a chunk of ads in the in the middle of the post. Actionable Blogging Tip: Here’s one case where I recommend not interrupting your content. Instead find another way to integrate the ad into your blog.
  4. Incorporates business promotions in every post. While blogs can support businesses, every post shouldn’t be a blatant promotion. Instead create informative content to support your product with links to appropriate sales pages. Actionable Blogging Tip: Change how you use your blog to promote your business. If you’re concerned you’re doing this, chances are, you’re guilty. Limit where and how you advertise your business.
  5. Only publish promotions. While blogs are media formats that deliver information, using them to only push your promotions is more likely to turn off readers than distribute your message. Actionable Blogging Tip: This is  another case where you should change how you’re using your blog.

To ensure you’re not driving prospects and readers away, remove potential impediments to how they consume your blog content.

What other elements do you find annoying or a turnoff when you visit a new blog? Please share your perspective to help other bloggers.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related blogging articles you may be interested in reading.

Photo: © 2012, Heidi Cohen, all rights reserved

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  • http://brunogebarski.wordpress.com/ Bruno Pierre Gebarski

    Heidi thank you: I can already think of some blogs where the headlines are literally cluttered with commercial line after line such as a “toolbar overcrowded FireFox Browser”. It is an absolute turn off! Blogging is an art, which has to be learned and developed: it is a bit like learning to play the trumpet or the trombone: when we start we have to limit the “noise”! Thank you for sharing these useful tips as we “apprentice bloggers” try to communicate while following the rules and learning from experienced people like you! Thank you for sharing and greetings from this side of the pond! @brunogebarski 

  • http://twitter.com/ksafun Ken Abrahams

    Great insight – very valuable.

  • http://andynathan.net Andy Nathan

    Great strategies here! I hate when a blog does hides their blog and you have to do an all out search to find it. Annoying!

  • http://www.speedtocontact.com/ Brian Montavon

    Thanks, Heidi! I’ve been working to develop a content-rich, engaging blog for my company and your post reinforced many of my assumptions about doing so. You also included some insights – particularly in the Design section – that I hadn’t considered. Nice!

  • Frances

    I discovered your blog today (Twitter) and I love it.