I wasn’t going to write on blogging this morning (have you noticed that I’ve been harping on that a lot lately?). But I found this excellent article on mistakes that new bloggers make. I thought you all might benefit. Written by Rose DesRochers for SiteProNews. Here’s what Rose says are the top 10 blogging mistakes that new bloggers make:
Some Blogging Annoyances
Background Music – This is one of the most complained about features on a website or blog. Don’t put music files on your blog that run in the background. Give the visitor the option to turn the music off.
Isn’t that the truth! OMG, this is one of my biggest pet peeves, to hop onto a website and hear somebody else’s favorite song blasting through my laptop speakers and there is no way to turn it off without leaving the site. Don’t do that. It’s annoying. Most of your visitors will leave and many of those who don’t will mute their computers. Your kind of music isn’t someone else’s kind of music. If you’re going to put music on your website, at least give your visitors the common courtesy of opting to turn it off.
- Screen Size Width
- No Alt Attribute
- Disabling Right Click
On alt text and right clicking, again, Rose is being sweet to point this out. Never, ever, for the love of Al Gore and Tim Berners-Lee, upload photos without providing an alt tag. Search engines can’t crawl images and you’ll never get them ranked unless you communicate what they are. That’s what the alt tag does. It’s the text equivalent of the image itself and gives you another shot at ranking in the search engines. Because of Google Universal you have one more shot at being in a No. 1 spot just by including your alt tags.
And I’ve already addressed the right click issue. Disabling right click is one good way to ensure no one ever links to you. I won’t even go through the trouble of going to the browser menu to bypass it. You just won’t get any inbound links from me. If you know anything about SEO, one-way inbound links are one of the best ways to increase your rankings for your important keywords. Make it hard for me to provide those for you and you won’t get any. Please don’t do that yourself.
More Blogging Annoyances
Moving on with our list:
- Blog does not display the same in all browsers
- Too Much Advertising
- Too Much on a blog
Again, these are all great suggestions. I hate going to a blog and seeing clutter. Some new bloggers, in an attempt to get all the readers they can, will join every blog directory community they can find and place those huge, cumbersome ads on their blogs that serve as exits for their visitors. Sure, you’ll get some new traffic from those communities – all the hobby bloggers that are curious about who the “new guy” is. But put some thought into who you promote through your blog. One or two blogging communities is OK, but you don’t need to advertise that you are a member of every single blogging community you found online. I highly recommend blog directories that don’t require reciprocal links. Here’s two that are quite reliable:
At the time of my writing this the Blog Search website was down. If the link doesn’t work for you then try it later. I highly recommend this blog directory.
Breaking Ranks With The Bloggingly Annoyed
Using Copywritten images without permission – This one can get you in a heat of trouble. Obtain permission before using an image. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of someone else’s copyrighted material. Giving credit does not mean that you are not infringing on copyright or does it mean that you have permission to use that person’s work. If you intend to use someone’s copyrighted work on your blog be it a photo, cartoon or article, you must obtain the author’s written permission.
I’m not a lawyer, but this is not entirely accurate information. Simply borrowing someone’s copyrighted material does not constitute copyright infringement. You must give attribution and you can’t in any way represent it, even accidentally or incidentally by implication, as your own. The category of law that deals with this is “Fair Use” and precedes blogging and the Internet by many, many years. There have actually been court cases where Fair Use law has been challenged in the blogosphere. Certain considerations go into a decision as to whether a certain usage of copyrighted material is considered Fair Use:
(Source) (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Note that if you are operating a commercial website and you use copyrighted material without permission then you could be in trouble for copyright infringement. However, it depends on how you use the material. Usually, the courts allow for borrowing snippets of material as long as you offer commentary on that material and add value to it with your commentary. This is an age old journalism tactic that has a carry over advantage to the blogosphere. Before you get too skittish about copyright infringement, ask your lawyer. If you are in doubt, seek permission before using something. But don’t think that you have to ask permission for every little copied word. If you do borrow something and use it be sure to always give attribution (usually a link back to the source is fine) and if the person you are borrowing from complains, simply remove the material that you are borrowing. Seek legal advice if you need anything beyond that.
Hotlinking to images – Don’t hotlink to images. Hotlinking is when you link to an image on someone else’s server instead of saving the image to your computer and uploading it to your blog. When you link to an image directly, you are using up that websites bandwidth. This does not cost you anything, but it does cost the website that you’re stealing the bandwidth from.
This one is tricky because if you hotlink a photo you are actually attributing the source. The question you have to ask is, does that photo or image add value to your website or blog? If not, then don’t borrow it. You don’t need it. If, on the other hand, it does add some value to your readers then you could ask for permission to use it. I’ve never had anyone complain about hotlinking an image. Most people are happy to be getting a link back to their website.
Non descriptive Posting Titles – When creating titles for your post be sure to make them descriptive. Use keywords in your post titles. The post title is vital for search engine optimization. Consider the words that a potential reader will be using to search in Google to find the information you’re posting about. Use the Overture Keyword Popularity Tool to access the WordTracker database and see what terms are being searched for.
OK, this one I agree with. Anything you can do to increase your SEO benefits is a big plus. Keyword-optimize your blog post titles. You’re doing yourself a favor and you are hurting yourself in the search engines if you don’t.
I’d like to add to this list a few mistakes that I’ve noticed bloggers make as well. Most of these are SEO-related:
- Don’t include title attributes in their links. The title attribute is another keyword use that the search engines will pick up on. Anything you can do to give yourself an edge over your competition is good. Title attributes can do that.
- Fail to use h2 tags in their subheads. Or, in many cases, don’t include subheads. Big mistake. Search engines love it. Big points in SEO by doing this.
- Don’t include signature links. Oh, this one is so easy I still find it hard to believe that people overlook it. If your blog is on a separate domain than your website, put a link in your signature at the bottom of each blog post back to your website. That’s an inbound link every time you do it. If you have more than one website, link to them all (or 3 or 4 at most). This isn’t spam. It’s just smart blogging. Every link is an inbound link to your website. Might as well make the most of it.
- No bookmarking icon. Another mistake I see a lot is no encouragement to bookmark your posts. Go to AddThis.com and get a free bookmarking button. Place the code on your website and encourage your readers to bookmark it at their favorite social bookmarking site.
- Use free blog hosts. I find it hard to believe that most people are still doing this instead of creating their blog on a unique domain name and using blogging software like WordPress. Just imagine if your blog hosts goes out of business or your blog is reported for spam. What will happen then? A unique domain name is a small expense. I highly recommend that approach.
Bloggers need to learn to use their blog as an SEO tool. Yes, it’s a marketing tool. It’s a customer service tool. It’s a social media tool. It’s all of those. But don’t you think you need to start with the basics?
Material for this post was taken from an article written by Rose DesRochers:
Rose DesRochers is a published poet and freelance writer. She has been writing poetry for more than 20 years. Rose DesRochers is also the founder of http://www.todays-woman.net, a supportive online writing community for men and women over 18 and http://www.bloggertalk.net a community where bloggers connect.
Visit her blog at http://rosedesrochers.todays-woman.net