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Blogging Mistakes I Made That You Can Avoid

I’ve been at this blogging gig for over two years now and boy, have I produced my share of small and whopping blogging mistakes. They weren’t all in the beginning either. I just made another one last month that has really got me frustrated.

blogging mistakesNone of these have or will cause me long-term damage. Most have just created more work for me. Some happened out of ignorance and some because I just wasn’t thinking.

The worst part is that all could have been avoided if I’d read more or asked for help. As I shared Monday, I’ve had a real problem with asking for help and am slowly learning to overcome it.

Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Here is a list of blogging mistakes I’ve committed that you should avoid. If you are looking at starting a successful blog to make money or just to have fun, don’t fall into these traps.

Not understanding keywords

Keywords are the lifeblood of search. Begin to type a few keywords into the Google search engine and you will see suggestions begin to pop up. Google knows what people have searched for and is giving you suggestions of what it thinks you want based on the most popular searches.

When I write a post in WordPress there is a field in my post editor to input keywords that describe the content of the post. This feature allows me to type in keywords (each one separated by a comma) people are searching for in the hopes they will come across the post. You can find keywords to use by doing a search in Google Keyword Planner, using programs such as Long Tail Pro, or by simply typing words in the Google search engine as I already mentioned.

I had no idea about how this worked when I started blogging. So if I wrote a post called “18 Ways to Reduce College Costs” I just filled in the keyword description field with a bunch of single words that were found in the body of the post. It looked like this:

“college, save, money, used, books, commute, live, home, etc.”

The problem with this is that nobody is searching for those single word terms in relation to college. The proper way to input the keywords for that type of post would be in this format:

“how to save money in college, saving money in college, how to save money for college, etc.”

I wasn’t thinking of keywords as phrases. I wasn’t filling in the keyword field properly and I wasn’t using those phrases within the content of the post. So consequently no one was finding me in search.

Not filling out the theme SEO settings

Similarly to the keyword issue, there are fields in the theme’s SEO settings to input the homepage document title, the home page meta description, and the home meta keywords. These fields are again designed to drive traffic through to your blog through search.

I did not only have the wrong content in those fields – I had nothing in those fields for the longest time. Nobody was pulling up Luke1428 when, for example, they searched for “Christian personal finance.”

Disabling plugins I actually need

This is my most recent gaffe.

I mentioned Monday that I was having some site issues for some time that Grayson from Debt Roundup has now helped me overcome. Before I reached out to him I had disabled some plugins in an attempt to solve the issue myself. One plugin I disabled was my Alexa Claim and Certify plugin.

So 3 weeks ago I noticed my Alexa rank was going up faster than would be considered normal. So being curious I logged into my Alexa account in an attempt to determine what was going on. I found that, because I had not reactivated the plugin, Alexa had not been counting any page visits for almost a month. That was negatively impacting my Alexa rank. (I’m assuming this to be the case…Alexa rank is still sort of a mystery to me.)

This is not a huge deal as it will just take time for that rank to recover. Plus one’s Alexa rank is not the end-all to having a great blog.

The bigger issue is to review the purpose of all your plugins before deactivating or permanently deleting them. There was a reason I installed the Alexa plugin in the first place. I should have remembered that.

Not realizing I wasn’t harvesting email subscribers

One important feature to have on a blog is a place for readers to subscribe to your content. There are many places on a blog where a subscription form can be placed. The best possible locations I’ve seen are in a sidebar (mine is at the top right of my sidebar) at the end of a post or in a pop up.

I’ve had one on my site since I switched to my current theme. My initial one was pulling in subscribers but I decided to switch to another one that offered more features. Once the plugin was installed and the form loaded into the sidebar I pretty much didn’t pay attention to it thinking everything was fine.

Several months later I decided to look at my subscriber count to see where I was at. I realized it hadn’t gone up at all. Unusual. So I started to track it. Another month went by…nothing. Another month…no more subscribers.

Then I forgot about it thinking people just weren’t interested in getting my content. Plus I had too much else to worry about. Several more months past before I looked at it again. Still no change. “What the heck is going on? My content is not that bad!” I thought.

So I started to dig for some answers. My first stop was to investigate the plugin. Within minutes I realized what was happening. I hadn’t installed the plugin correctly. I hadn’t been harvesting email subscribers for nearly a year.

Like the Alexa issue, the moral of this blogging mistake is to tune into clues that something is wrong. At the least I should have seen a slow trickle of new subscribers from month to month. Not having any should have caused me to investigate sooner.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over Blogging Mistakes

I love for all my T’s to be crossed and my I’s to be dotted. So it was frustrating to figure out I had made these mistakes. But it wasn’t the end of the world. My blog still continued to function even though it may not have been firing on all cylinders.

If there is a silver lining about making these mistakes it’s that I am learning. I’m learning more of the technicalities of what it takes to run a successful blog. I’m learning to ask for more help in areas where I have a weakness. And I’m learning not to beat myself up for making mistakes.

It’s inevitable…we are going to make mistakes. The best learning can offer occur as we deal with the mess we’ve created for ourselves. I guarantee you I won’t be making these same mistakes again.

Questions: What blogging mistakes have you made? How do you emotionally deal with making blogging mistakes or any other mistake for that matter? Do you bet yourself up or forget about it and move on quickly?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Post: 5 Budgeting Tips to Save Money For the Holidays

Prior Post: I Need Help But Don’t Want to Ask

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  1. John Wheeler says

    I like what you said that one the best thing that happens as a result of a mistake is dealing with the mess that you created with yourselves. It is one of the greatest lesson that we should remind ourselves that it is okay to make mistakes because nobody is perfect, but we should know and think ways to conquer it and solve it in our own way.

  2. I think my biggest problem has always been that I don’t like dealing with the technical issues. It’s kind of like sweeping the dirt under the rug until it becomes a speed bump! This post was excellent! I actually took notes all along the way. You’re going to help a LOT of clueless bloggers (like me). Thanks! 😀

  3. I’ve made too many mistakes to list!! But, I learn from them and that helps me to not make them again in the future. I think for me, like you, I didn’t pay attention to keywords or the like for a long time. I took the time a few months ago to go through all of my posts and update them. It was a pain, but I’ve seen some new traffic to those posts, so I’m hoping my work was worth it!

    • Haha…agreed! I found it very un-fun to go back and edit my old posts in an attempt to bring more traffic. I guess it was kind of necessary though…they were written and formatted so poorly. And if they are going to be on my site I want them being useful not just taking up space.

  4. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    It’s amazing just how much you learn by doing and making mistakes. I’m still learning so much, but after talking to others I have come to realise that I also already know lots. It’s all just part of the fun journey that’s blogging.

  5. Like the old adage says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And when it comes to blogging, I knew nothing when I started. I’m still learning … every day! There is so much to understand and it seems like it changes when I just get it figured out. 🙂

  6. Even Steven says

    I have a vision that one of two things will happen:

    1) I write great stuff and don’t make a dime, don’t care about SEO, Alexa, or 20 other things, but still enjoy blogging, getting out of debt, investing, then retiring early.

    2) I write great stuff and make a few dimes, let someone smart work on SEO, Alexa, and 20 other things, still enjoy blogging, getting out of debt, investing, then retiring early.

    • I like scenario #2, with the edit of “make a few dimes” to “make A LOT of dimes.” 🙂

      The key ingredient either way is that you enjoy blogging. If I didn’t I would quit in a heartbeat.

  7. Wow, thanks so much Brian – I love it when I really learn something valuable from these posts! I had absolutely no idea what I was meant to do about those SEO keywords, like Petrish and like Tonya. This will be the very next thing I do!

    It’s amazing how much can be learnt from mistakes, whether your own or other people’s. It does take a bit of guts to talk openly about mistakes, so greatly appreciate your insights here Brian!



  8. We blog and learn! Some stuff that folks endlessly agonized over just three or four years ago is basically meaningless now, lol; especially seo. I’ve got a site floating out there in the net ether with several hundred thousand words of thick content on it with a broken dashboard that’s probably not even worth spending the money to get fixed.

    • The rules change all the time which does make it difficult. I tend towards writing what I want to write about and not worrying too much about SEO. One thing that hasn’t changed I don’t believe is providing quality and relevant content. That will always bring visitors.

  9. I definitely didn’t focus on SEO at all and I still debate on whether or not I care. I like that people find me because they know me, they have heard about me or they are looking for me. When you focus on SEO, it just seems like you are focused on getting people to find you who may or may not care if they do.

    • As I’m sure you are aware there’s a big debate as to if SEO is important. It’s not the first thing I think about when coming up with a topic and writing a post. But I at least want to do the basics on all posts and focus more on SEO on others. I do get most of my referrals from search so it must be valuable for something.

  10. I wouldn’t even necessarily call the mistakes. Mistakes are things you do when you already know the right thing to do and didn’t do it or messed it up. Most of the time I’m winging it with my blog and it’s only based on what people bring up to me or that I read where I think, “Oh I need to do that or look into it.” The one thing though that I wish I knew when I started, because it was a pain to go back, was SEO keywords too. Going back to fill that all in was painful!

    • “Going back to fill that all in was painful!” I know, ugh!…I started with my most read posts and worked my way backwards. I still have a few posts I haven’t finished yet.

  11. This info is awesome. I just learned so much. I have only been blogging for about 11 months now, and SEO has not been on my mind. Excuse me….I have some work to do.

  12. I’m so glad you shared these mistakes! I’m apparently not using the tag feature properly, either! I know I should be doing better with my subscribers, but I haven’t really figured out what to do with them anyway 😉

    I’ve inly been at this about six months, so I am surely making daily mistakes that I don’t even know about yet. I pulled the Alexa badge off my site so I’d stop watching it and being too wrapped up in stats. Then I checked my ranking in the toolbar, and I saw at 20k drop, where my rank had been steady for about 8 weeks. I don’t understand Alexa, either!

  13. I’m using a SEO plugin and keywords, but know I’m not getting the most of it with the theme I’m using. Time to upgrade from my free theme.

    • I have mixed feelings about starting a blog with a free theme. On the one hand I think it’s great if you are unsure whether or not blogging will stick. I wasn’t sure so a free theme is the way I went. On the other hand, great looking themes are not that expensive and probably would have been worth the investment at the time. I don’t know if that was the right or wrong decision to start with a free theme, but I know it held me back because the functionality and professional look was missing.

  14. Yeah, I just realized last week that I had my title set in my general settings as well as my SEO plugin, so it looked like absolute garbage in search results and at the navigation bar of any page. There’s always something!

  15. Oh blogging mistakes. Which ones haven’t I made? Starting with a free theme that broke was one of them. I’ve done the lack of site seo before, too.
    I’m sure there are more things I’ll screw up and (hopefully) discover in the future, too.

    • My free theme was brutal. Another mistake I made was losing my keyword and post description information from the free theme when I installed this new theme. I didn’t realize that had happened for months.

  16. Do you mind sharing the names of the plugins you are using particularly for the KeyWords entry. I’m using Yaost SEO which offers a single focus keyword/phrase, but I’m interested in what you are using to set a broader set of keywords.

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