Blogging: the myths and the reality

Blogging myths vs reality Engage Content Marketing Agency Dublin

There is a huge amount of sometimes conflicting advice about blogging online – how to blog, when to blog, how to get results, etc. It can often seem a little overwhelming, not to say off-putting.

We’ve met lots of people who either didn’t blog because when they looked online for advice they just ended up confused, or who started a blog but soon ran out of steam because they had set themselves unrealistic goals.

So before you decide if blogging is the right inbound tactic for your business, let’s bust a few myths about it!

The Myth: You must post a blog every day

The Reality: Producing high-quality blogs is time-consuming

This misconception stems from the looseness of the term ‘blog’. Here at Engage, our definition of ‘blog’ encompasses every aspect required to produce high-quality content:

  • the brainstorming and research used to decide what blogs are valuable to our target audience
  • the locating of expertise and/or the completing of research needed to write the content
  • SEO research for the identified target audience
  • the time and skill to write, proofread and edit
  • formatting
  • the gathering of images

Generally, it is unrealistic to expect companies to be able to produce this level of quality content on a daily basis. An individual expected to produce a blog such as this every day will quickly burn out and more often than not start cutting corners, ultimately producing sloppy, unappealing content that does not bring in or retain traffic.

If the purpose of your blog is to attract returning high volume traffic, then it is more appropriate to produce an engaging and informative post 2 – 3 times a week maximum.

The Myth: The more keywords the better!

The Reality: Too many keywords will turn Google against you

We have all heard by now how important it is to do keyword research to target your desired audience so that Google directs traffic to your website. However, Google’s algorithm is clever, and stuffing your content with keywords will undoubtedly backfire.

Such tactics are called ‘black hat SEO’ and is considered spamming by Google. What Google actually wants to do is be able to direct people to content that will reliably answer their query. Therefore, including keywords related to that query is very helpful, but they should appear as naturally as possible throughout the text.

Ideal places to include your keywords so that Google can locate them are:

  • headings
  • the first line of each paragraph
  • hyperlinks in the text
  • the blog’s URL
  • image alt tags
  • the meta description for the blog’s webpage

If you use WordPress (and we highly recommend you do), you’ll find the Yoast plugin very helpful for optimising your posts the right way.

Unfortunately, there is no magic number of keywords to include in any one piece of content, but if your content is appealing to read and informative about a specific topic, then it should be obvious where keywords should appear.

The Myth: Once the blog is posted, traffic will come

The Reality: Social media is your blog post’s biggest ally

So, you’ve invested time and effort making a fantastic piece of content, and now that you can hit ‘Publish’ you expect the traffic to roll in, right? Optimising your content is a great help for this, but no blog can exist in a vacuum. It needs eyes to see it!

The more eyes you can get in front of your blog, the more your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking will improve. That’s because Google recognises that it’s popular. To help this along you must share your content. Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Join groups of people on social media who will find your blog interesting, and share it with them. Just don’t spam people 😉

Some sources recommend dividing up your time/effort between creating the blog and sharing it at 20/80. Others recommend 50/50. The only way to know what works for your specific audience is by testing, testing, testing.

The Myth: Blogging is an easy way to make money

The Reality: Blogging is only one part of the money-maker puzzle

Everyone knows someone who knows someone else who heard of a woman in Oklahoma sitting on a pile of cash she earned from writing blogs about her miniature teapot collection (or something to that effect).

It is possible to make money from blogging, but more often than not there are many other factors in play other than simply publishing three pieces of content a week on one humble WordPress blog amongst the 74+ million out there.

There are three good ways to monetise your blog:Blogging myths busted - Engage Content Marketing Dublin

  • allowing advertisements on your blog with PPC or sponsored content
    – this doesn’t have to completely ruin your beautiful blog; Google AdSense gives you the option to control the amount and type of advertisements that appear on your blog
  • your blog acting as a support to an ecommerce website
  • securing affiliate marketing deals
    – this can be done directly with a company’s affiliate marketing programme, or indirectly through an affiliate network

The Myth: Email lists are dated

The Reality: Email lists engage high-value readers

What is the difference between a ‘Happy Birthday!’ Facebook post on your wall and a bought birthday card coming through your letterbox? The latter is connecting on a more personal level. This is how email newsletters work.

If a client has trusted you with their email address, chances are they are interested in what you have to say. With a well-constructed newsletter you can foster that interest and build a long-term relationship with that client.

The advantage in an email is that you have the opportunity to personalise the message – whether it is by individual or by subgroup, and you can also give special benefits for those who have opted into this exclusive list.

Just make sure to time and word your emails appropriately. You do not want to trigger an unnecessary un-subscription because you have bombarded them with too many emails or because the email was so personalised it came off a little creepy. Don’t be afraid to trial and test your emails, making changes based on your findings.

The Myth: All blog posts should be 300 (or 1,000, or 2,000) words long

The Reality: There is no fixed word count for blogs

Just like there is no magic number for keywords, there is no magic number for a blog post’s word count. However, you will always come across bloggers who claim to know this elusive number!

The length of a blog post should be determined by a number of factors:

  • At what time do you plan engaging with your audience?
    People have more time to read a meaty post after work than during their fifteen-minute break
  • What subject is the blog covering?
    A post covering a new breakthrough in technology might need more detail than the employee of the month in the office
  • How long was your last blog post?
    People crave variety, so alternating between long and short posts is a good idea

Don’t fall into the trap of setting a global target word count, because ultimately what will happen is that a great piece of content will be cut short or waffling will ensue and readers will tune out. When writing a long post, remember to always format it with subheadings so as to make the information easily digestible.

Our advice in a nutshell

There is no doubt that blogging is a great way to raise awareness of your brand and to attract prospects to your site… if it’s done right. Here are our top tips for business blogging:

  1. Dedicate the appropriate time and resources to producing high-quality content
  2. Post a fresh piece of content at least once a week
  3. Complete keyword research to target your audience, but only include them in the places they are most effective
  4. Maximise your blog’s traffic potential by using social media (the 50/50 time ratio if you can spare it)
  5. Retain high-value clients with carefully constructed email lists and newsletters
If your blog has stalled, or if you would like to start a blog but don’t have the time, talk to us about our fixed-cost content marketing packages! Call Scarlet on 01 556 0576 to find out more!

Scarlet Merrill

Author Scarlet Merrill

Founder & Customer Experience Activist at Engage. I create and deliver holistic strategies that communicate your company’s values through great content. My passions are: technology, design, innovation, startups, books, WordPress, open source, open data, politics and pedantry. You don't make a plural by adding an apostrophe before the s!

More posts by Scarlet Merrill

Engage Content - Dublin, Ireland