If you visit business websites you’ll see a graveyard of blogs.
Business owners and marketers have been starting (and stopping) blogs for at least ten years. Probably longer.
They hear about the benefits of blogging. They see other businesses with seemingly successful blogs and want to give it a try. They don’t want to miss out on what the competition is doing.
But expectations outweigh initial benefits. Challenges arise. They give up.
But if you know what to expect in the early days it can help you persevere and overcome.
Here are some of the biggest challenges you’ll run into…
1. SEO: Long-Term
Lots of small businesses think there is some secret to ranking well on Google.
These days, there is no secret. It’s almost all about brand recognition and reputation. There are seemingly endless indications to Google on what brand is more respected and well known. And Google is now smart enough to identify those indicators and use them to rank the brands that are most valuable.
That being said, blogging certainly helps build your brand recognition and reputation. The more you help people the more they appreciate it and the more indication they will give to Google that you should be ranked well.
It’s a long-term effort. Just like anything in business, there is very rarely anything that comes fast and easy. And usually if it does come fast and easy, it will go just as fast and easy.
One post won’t boost your rankings. It takes many and over a long period of time to bring benefits.
2. SEO: Longtail vs. Sales
Another thing about blogging and SEO is that there is the longtail and the sales aspect of SEO.
If you’re a salon in Minneapolis, for example, you don’t necessarily want to write a blog post for the keyword “salon in Minneapolis”. But you might want to identify 100 questions your target customers are asking relating to their hair and publish your answers as blog posts. Things like, “My hair has become so dry and it tangles no matter how much I put conditioner and braid it, I can’t afford to get expensive stuff, what do I do to soften it?” That’s longtail.
Then over time you want your brand and your homepage to rank well for sales terms like “salon in Minneapolis” as a result of your boosted reputation.
3. 10x More Time
I’ve mentioned the long-term a few times already, but I can’t stress it enough. It’s going to take time to see results from blogging. Usually at least ten times longer than you expect. Look at any successful blog that you admire. Chances are almost 100% that they’ve been around for 5+ years. That’s the commitment you’re looking at.
There will be little indicators in the short-term. A comment. A like on social. That kind of thing. But the larger returns won’t come for years.
4. External Linking
Some people are hung up on external links. The idea is that you don’t want to send someone away from your blog once they’re there. So why would you add a link?
The answer is: value.
With any piece of content you’re looking to add value to the consumer. If you mention something, like a video, and you feel that it would add value for the person to see it, then link to it.
They might leave. But if your post is good they will finish it. And they’ll appreciate the fact that you shared the video with them.
The same goes for other articles, posts, studies, etc.
5. No Comments
Most blogs don’t get comments these days. Social media kind of took away the reason for blog commenting. And even before social media most blogs didn’t get comments anyway.
But some businesses really want to get comments on their blogs. And they’re really hurt when they don’t get any.
In my decade plus of experience with blogging, though, I will say that you can be offering very valuable content to readers without getting comments. Most people just like to read, find value and move on. They don’t need to leave a comment.
That’s how I like to read blogs. I don’t leave hardly any comments. But I still find all kinds of value and so will your readers.
6. Social Sharing Letdown
Social used to be a huge part of blogging. In 2009-2012, sharing a post on Twitter and Facebook could bring quite a few visits.
But over time, those networks and others wanted to keep people on their networks. So they stopped showing any post on their feeds that contained links. Well, they didn’t stop it entirely, but they mostly did.
Many people that create blog posts and that share them on social still expect to get lots of clicks. But it just really won’t happen.
However, there is no reason that you can’t post natively on those networks. Take your blog post and republish it on Facebook, for example. You can still provide great value on that network and reach more people.
Think of it TV syndication. You can watch reruns of Friends on a handful of channels. Or think of it like music. You can hear new songs on YouTube, Spotify, and many more places.
7. High Bounce Rate
Blogs naturally have high bounce rates. People search for an answer to their question on Google. They find a post. They read the post. They get their answer. They’re satisfied. They move on with their lives.
If you’re the blog post they found they likely read the post and left. That’s a bounce. But it doesn’t mean that they didn’t get value.
You can try to improve the bounce rate by suggesting other content. You can try to get them to visit your homepage. You can try to get them to signup for something.
But even if you do all that and do amazing at it you’ll still have a high bounce rate. It’ll discourage you.
My suggestion is to not worry too much about it. Keep focusing on providing the best answers you can.
8. 0% Conversion
Some business leaders really want to track conversions on blog posts. They want to see someone read a blog post and then buy something on their website.
That would be like you sitting on your couch watching an NBA game, seeing a commercial for Ritz crackers and you getting off the couch, going to the store and buying Ritz crackers.
It doesn’t happen that often. If ever.
Blog readers aren’t in buying mode. But if you help enough blog readers, Google will notice. They will start ranking for your sales terms and those will lead to conversions. And the people that you do help will also remember and when they are in buying mode they will remember to search for your brand name.
9. Low Email Signups
Email is a key component of a blogging effort. People read your content. They get value. They want to make sure they don’t miss future posts. That’s where email comes in.
It’s good to offer email and send out regular messages with new content. Just like with YouTube or podcasting. People will signup.
But don’t overestimate the number of subscribers you’ll get. Many, many more people will consume your content and not subscribe than those that will subscribe.
You’re better off not getting too pushy with it and just presenting the content as best for the reader as possible.
That means no pop-ups. Google doesn’t like those anyway.
10. Long Posts with Little Rankings
There has been a big push in the last few years for posts that are over 2,000 words. Yes, many posts that are over 2,000 words are valuable. But many businesses are following this rule as if it’s the holy grail. Again, they’re looking for some kind of SEO secret.
It really starts with the type of question your target audience is asking and what the answer requires. If you’re a dentist and someone asks when they should bring their toddler in for a checkup, you probably don’t need a 2,000 word answer.
Writing posts with 2,000 words won’t necessarily lead to great rankings.
Blogging is a great opportunity for businesses. But many will start and stop within a year. I’ve seen it happen for at least ten years. The challenges here are things that will certainly come up. If you know about them now you can prepare and position yourself for long-term success while others fall off and fail.