Small companies try all kinds of tricks to make themselves look bigger and more established than they are. They outsource their receptions to call centres, rent tiny post boxes in the centres of major cities to lead prospects to believe they have swish urban headquarters, and some even announce quarterly results (on newswires, because no real outlet is interested) using vague percentages and YOY increases rather than actual turnover figures.
People love bigging themselves up too: Think about that time your company won an award and every employee within a five-year radius added ‘key contributor to award-winning campaign’ to their CV. Or how about your friend who went freelance and set up a company called “Your-Friend’s-Name-Enterprises”?
So I guess it’s no surprise that some bloggers have now taken to stretching the truth to mislead readers into thinking their blogs are more widely read than they actually are. Well, bloggers, the cat’s out of the bag now, as I expose five sneaky little blogger tricks that won’t catch me out (and that ultimately won’t work to increase blog readership and engagement):
- Removing the dateline from posts: I see what you’re trying to do here – if there’s no date on any of your posts, you can slack right off and visitors will have no way of knowing that you haven’t posted a paragraph since Joan Rivers was funny. But wily blogger, we’re on to you – all we have to do is copy the title of your post into our favourite search engine and Google will tell us exactly when you did it.
- Add a ‘visitor counter’ and set it to start at 10,000 visits. I’m afraid you can’t pull the wool over our eyes here either. You’ve probably done this because you know you can’t attract many readers on your own, and this will become immediately obvious when we read your most recent post. The numbers just won’t add up.
- Faking your Twitter following: Okay, you’re not technically lying when you tell us on your ‘advertise with us’ page that you have 20,000 Twitter followers. But all I need to do is dig a little deeper (like onto your Twitter page) to see that you actually follow 22,000 Twitter accounts. Now there’s no need to pretend with me – I know what you’ve done. You’ve followed accounts that follow back people who follow them, which means your Twitter account is adding as much value to the social media sphere as your blog.
- Offering a sponsored review: as soon as I see on your advertising page that I can pay you money to review my own company on your blog, I immediately realise that something must be amiss. If I review my own company on your blog, I will either come across as stupid (if I put my name to it) or I will be breaking the blogger code of conduct (if I do it anonymously). Every review on your blog now looks strangely suspicious.
- When I only have to scroll down twice to reach the end of your post, but I can continue to scroll down another six times to reach the end of your advertising, despite the fact that only a third of your ad slots are occupied (the rest just shout ‘advertise here’ out at me), I start to wonder if you’re really in it for the love of blogging. Yes I expect to see ads on some of the world’s leading blogs, but these blogs don’t assault me with them because they know that’ll seriously deter me from visiting again. Your ad attack only serves to remind me that you’re something of an amateur.
These tricks are the diet pills of blogging. They offer your blog a quick fix, but you know that you’re unlikely to get any sustainable results. Unfortunately, in blogging, as in life, there are no shortcuts. If you want genuine engagement and you truly want to see your analytics soar, then you have to put in the hard work.
In my experience, quality blog posts that are well researched and targeted specifically to your desired audience takes a lot of time, say up to five hours a week to maintain a blog that publishes daily. But, it’s worth it (and there are no shortcuts that don’t require you to compromise on quality). A high quality blog, that adds something to the blogosphere, can generate leads, increase social engagement and attract the brightest and best to work for your company.