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by Eric Sharp on September 17, 2015

Topics: Content Marketing, SEO

seo-reasons-why-blogs-not-getting-rankings-traffic

I experience this all too often.

A company is blogging ferociously, thinking Google is loving their content, and I come along and share the bad news.

“Your blog posts are not ranked and consequently driving little organic search traffic.”

[Blank stares]
[Phone silence]
[Middle finger] Nah, just kidding, but I’d fully understand that response!

If this is also your reality, there could be one or multiple SEO issues preventing rankings and traffic.

why-blogs-fail-infographicBefore we dig in, let me share some sobering research data.

Some studies show that blogs miss the mark 80 to 90% of the time. [view infographic]

To add insult to injury, the average quality blog post costs $900 after website expenses (e.g. hosting, design), tapping into subject matter experts, writing, editing & finally publishing.

To put it bluntly…

Blogs fail more than they succeed.

If your blogs are struggling to get rankings and drive traffic, you have company. It’s a common problem many marketers face. It’s both frustrating and ROI-crushing.

Let’s find out if one of these 6 reasons is the offender.

1. Your Blogs sit under a subdomain, rather than a subdirectory structure

What’s the URL structure of your blog?

    1. http://blog.website.com (subdomain structure)
    2. http://www.website.com/blog (subdirectory or subfolder structure)

If you said #1, this could be a major reason your rankings and traffic are suffering. When your entire blog runs under a subdomain, search engines will treat it as a separate website (which dilutes brand authority)

blogs-in-subdirectory-not-subdomain

Many blogging platforms today (e.g. Hubspot, WordPress) make it plug-and-play. Setting up your entire blog on a subdomain is easy for them, and for you. But, that convenience comes at a price.

Rand Fishkin, Moz Founder, made it clear when discussing subdomains vs. subfolders:

  • Subdomains SOMETIMES inherit and pass link/trust/quality/ranking metrics between one another
  • Subfolders ALWAYS inherit and pass link/trust/quality/ranking metrics across the same subdomain

For the best blog results, stay away from subdomains.

2. There are too few Internal Links to Blog posts

If you’re not linking to Blogs throughout your website, you’re missing out on big opportunity.

Establishing an internal linking structure is one of the easier and more powerful things you can do to help the search engines.

blog-traffic-rankings-internal-links
Link to your blogs on relevant services/product pages. We show blogs about SEO at the bottom of our SEO consulting page

3. The Title of your Blog isn’t in the H1 Tag

H1, H2, and H3 tags are some of the most important indicators of a page’s structure.

Think of these as the same headers you created in your High School English papers. They break up your page’s contents and provide hierarchy for the reader.

Your blogs need that same hierarchy, and it starts with the H1 tag being the title of your blog. This is a critical on-page optimization element.

Lack of H1 placement is a common, but crippling SEO error
A misplaced H1 tag is a common, but crippling SEO error for blogs

4. Your blog Homepage shows ALL your blogs (rather than just a Teaser of each blog)

This issue gives me heart palpitations because it negatively impacts your website’s SEO and its user experience.

The actual content of your blogs need to make a home in one spot, not multiple. If you can read an entire blog on more than one URL:

  • www.website.com/blog
  • www.website.com/blog/title-of-blog/

Your website will spawn duplicate content issues (see #3 on Common SEO Mistakes), dilute the strength of the blog’s content, and confuse your audience.

entire-blog-content-in-2-spots
The full contents of this website’s blog post reside on 2 separate URLs, which will dilute that blog’s ability to achieve strong rankings

Here’s the better way…

contents-of-blog-need-separate-url-wireframe
Notice on the Blog home (left) there’s only a snippet of the blog (title, teaser & thumbnail)

5. Your Blogs’ URLs don’t follow SEO best practices

There’s much to consider when structuring your URLs for SEO, but I’m going to focus on just 3 elements:

  1. Length
  2. Keywords
  3. Readability

Length

Shorter URLs are better. If your blog URL is already less than ~60 characters, you’re in good shape. If some of your blogs are pushing 100+ characters, I’d recommend re-writing them.

Keywords

The keywords your blog is targeting should also find their way into your URL. If not, this is certainly impacting your rankings.

Readability

If you can’t read your URL easily, there’s a good chance the search engines don’t understand it either. Use hyphens to separate words, remove stop words when you can (and, or, but, the, etc.), avoid dynamic URLs, and keep folder depth as simple as possible.

This illustration from Moz.com should help.

moz-scale-of-URL-readability

6. Your Blogs are poorly designed (and creating “pogosticking”)

pogosticking
If your blogs are not engaging, it could have a high frequency of pogosticking — which is bad for your rankings. Img src

Blogs, just like every other page on your website, need an engaging design, fast loading time, and solid usability.

When these elements are missing, search engines take notice and measure these occurrences via data like “pogosticking”.

Pogosticking is when a searcher clicks on a link in the search engine results page (SERP), sees that the website isn’t what they’re looking for, and quickly returns to the SERP.

I’d recommend ensuring your blogs are scannable and setup for the dual readership path. Using imagery, subheaders, line breaks, and bulleted lists are just a few things you can do to improve both readability and engagement. And that bodes well for your rankings and traffic.

Are your Blogs really obtaining rankings?

Find out for sure!

I’d recommend an SEO audit to start. That’ll provide a true state of the union.

You’ll either confirm the belief that your blog posts are bringing results, or you’ll find yourself wanting to throw something (or give up on blogging entirely).

Don’t give up! Fix these SEO issues first, and then monitor. You may be a few SEO tweaks away from a boost in rankings and traffic.

You may also like:

SEO and Content Marketing — are they working together?

Writing unique content is just part of the equation to Content Marketing. Is it also INDEXABLE? Evaluate your website with these 5 questions.

Hire a Blogger or Write Your Own Blogs? 20 Pros & Cons To Help You Decide

Bought into content marketing? Ready for blogging? Our ultimate pros & cons list will help you evaluate whether you outsource blogs or write them yourself.

Author Info

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Hey there, thanks for reading! My name is Eric Sharp and I’m the Founder of ProtoFuse. Learn more about me, follow me on Twitter or find me on Google+. Oh, and I’ll call you family if you’re a Chicago Bears fan. Daaa Bearsss.
  • David Joshua

    Hi Eric,

    So are you saying that Hubspot’s set up with blog.mysite.com is not very effective. Our firm has been blogging daily any where from 1000-2000 words and the effects on rank are very stagnant. If thats the case how would i swap the blog.kainscott.com/blog to kainscott.com/blog without hurting our seo. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this and it seems like the way Hubspot has it set up for us is not the best. Yes, its convenient but not helping as much as it would by pushing them through a root domain. Or would you suggest something like Blogger?

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for the question. It’s a good one. This blog debate (directory vs subdomain) is a hot topic. I understand why Hubspot encourages a subdomain setup. It helps any business in the world get setup and running with a blog within hours and also allows customers to use their tools/metrics. It’s fast. And it CAN work. But, it’s certainly not the BEST way to do it. Especially if you’re a small to mid-sized business with a low authority site.

      Let me say this. There are many successful blogs out there running under sub-domains (e.g. http://blog.kissmetrics.com, http://blog.hubspot.com) but these are big sites with high authority that are generating TONS of content on a regular basis (and getting TONS of links). For the rest of us, it’s hard to match that formula for success and a sub-domain creates an uphill battle from the get-go.

      Your results are very common for sub-domain blogs. I see it every week. There’s consistency in writing, but at some point rankings (and consequentially traffic) tops off. First page rankings are never obtained. Long-tail keywords are not expanding. Blogs aren’t having a big impact on service/product pages to help them rank better. It’s an epidemic. :)

      If your CMS allows it, I’d start making the switch immediately. Blogger isn’t really a good fit either for business service websites like yours. Just be sure to setup 301s, which will pass 90% of the authority. You don’t want to lose existing blog rankings if you make the switch.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have further questions.

      • David Joshua

        Hi Eric,

        Thanks for the quick reply, that makes a lot of sense to me as i’ve experienced exactly what your saying. I’ve noticed significant increases in ranks by adding pages to my root domain and barely anything by blogging on a subdomain. I can write 10 blogs on blog.kainscott.com/blog and nothing happens to the rank of our root domain kainscott.com. On the other hand if i add one page to our root domain the site starts to climb in the ranks. It’s rather deceiving actually.

        However, i like the functionality of Hubspot (which hosts our blog.kainscott.com subdomain) because how easy it is to push the blogs out to multiple social media channels. I currently have 32 social media channels that i syndicate the content through. How would you suggest adding a blog to the root domain moving forward and still push the content through my social media channels such as google+, facebook, twitter, etc???

        • Yep. You hit the nail on the head. Proof in the pudding. Your main domain has authority, your blog does not. When you post content on your main domain — you see results. Why wouldn’t you want your blogs to inherit the overall authority of your main site? It’s a snowball effect once you publish blog content if you’re doing things right with the directory structure and internal linking.

          I think this is why you need to weigh pros/cons. Yes, Hubspot gives you syndication and publishing tools/metrics, but is that more important than blog visibility? Does convenience outweigh traffic and rankings? I say no way. There are plenty of social tools you can use that integrate nicely to blogs — I like Buffer. I also started using MeetEdgar which automates your content.

          Good luck David in whatever you choose! Thanks again for reaching out.