01/27/2014 12:20 EST | Updated 03/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Seven Blogging Blunders Your Business Should Avoid in 2014

By now, most businesses have bought into the idea that blogging is an important piece of their marketing communications strategy. But the ability to reach an audience through blogging can work both ways. Here are seven frequent blogging blunders that should be avoided.

By now, most businesses have bought into the idea that blogging is an important piece of their marketing communications strategy. Blogging can help establish credibility, build authority and help increase website traffic, lead generation, and ultimately, positively impact the bottom line. It affords businesses the opportunity to directly address potential buyers, serving them the information that they need as they journey through the decision-making process.

But the ability to reach an audience through blogging can work both ways. While many companies have jumped head-first into the blogosphere, there are some very common mistakes made that may actually achieve the opposite of what they are trying to accomplish through their blogs.

Here are seven frequent blogging blunders that should be avoided:

  1. Trying to sell with your blog posts. This is a cardinal rule of blog posts. Readers want to be educated and informed, entertained even -- but not sold to. If you're creating a blog in order to distribute a sales pitch, rethink your strategy -- it's not the proper medium. Instead of being promotional, use your blog to establish your business as a credible resource in your industry. Focus on providing readers with relevant, educational material that gives them accurate information about your industry/area of expertise. A company that sells appliances, for example, may want to create a post about energy efficient products (that they stock) that can help save money on energy bills. They're still positioning the products they sell in the blog post, but without the sales pitch.
  2. Choosing frequency over quality. While blogging regularly is important, never aim for greater frequency at the expense of quality. Poor content will not help your brand, and may actually hurt it. Potential buyers aren't going to trust your company or your abilities to provide a high-quality service or product if you can't even maintain a good blog. Structure, formatting, flow and quality of writing all factor in. Even spelling and grammatical errors can have a huge impact, as they destroy credibility, particularly if they occur frequently. With each blog post, ask yourself this question: if this post was the only thing influencing a potential buyer's decision to choose my company, would I want them to read it? If the answer is no, then you need to improve it.
  3. Failing to include visual content. You should be including images and videos in your blog posts on a regular basis. This helps ensure that your content is more exciting and appealing to readers. It can also help increase conversion rates by leaps and bounds. One helpful tidbit of advice regarding images is to try and use your own. Stock photography is at best unoriginal, doing nothing for increasing brand recognition, and at worst tacky and disingenuous. Furthermore, make sure the images you use are relevant to the subject matter; otherwise, they will seem out of place.
  4. Not linking or sourcing. Failure to include links that back up the claims you make or information you share in your blog posts puts your credibility into question. The logic is simple; if you don't include any sourcing information, you could have just made things up that conveniently support the point you making. Worse even, it appears that you are taking the material of others and not providing credit where it's due. Where necessary, be sure to include links to credible sources -- websites, articles, or other resources -- that support your blog posts.
  5. Withholding valuable information. A very common blogging blunder, visible across every industry imaginable, is withholding valuable information because it's saleable. This is a costly mistake. Your blog is meant to be educational, helpful and informative for readers. Thus, you have to offer content that holds real, unique value. Obviously, it's prudent to withhold sensitive information like trade secrets, internal research or proprietary data, but you have to give away some real value. If you're a plumber, for example, it's not going to hurt you to publish a blog post on DIY tips for fixing minor plumbing problems. Quite the opposite in fact; this will convey your industry expertise to readers, and help position your company as a go-to source.
  6. Not including keywords in titles. Every post you create should be at least partially informed by keyword research. Rich content should consist of keywords that are relevant to your business, and the content you create should be topically appropriate to these keywords. And once you determine what keywords you are targeting, you must include them in the title of your post. Including keywords in the title and throughout your post will help you rank in search engine results pages and increase the reach and visibility of your content.
  7. Not promoting the content you create. You've spent the time creating a stellar blog post that readers will love. But if nobody is aware that it exists, nobody is going to read it. Increasing the impact of every blog post you write means promoting it after the fact. At the very least, you should be promoting your blogs via your own social media channels. Another good method is to reach out to influencers in your industry -- either through social media or other channels -- so they are aware; if they like it, they may share it over their networks. If you find that a blog post is performing very well, consider using paid advertising to promote it. This can significantly expand the reach and impact of your content (and by association, your brand).

If your business has already bought into blogging, avoiding these common blogging blunders will help you elevate the effectiveness of your content to see a marked improvement in the results you're aiming to achieve.