This is a guest post by Kevin Duncan of Be A Better Blogger.
Want to know a sad reality? Everything you do as a blogger causes someone, somewhere, to dislike you.
Because it’s impossible to please everyone.
If you write long posts, someone will wish they were shorter. If you mention someone’s website in a post you write, someone else will be mad you didn’t mention them. If you make a casual joke about Justin Bieber’s hair, someone (okay, lots of someones) will hate you with a fiery passion.
Heck, someone out there is mad at me right now simply for using Bieber as an example in this post.
We’re all alienating someone. Some bloggers just happen to be better at alienating people than others.
Here are 7 sure-fire ways to drive away blog readers. Don’t want to be hated? Don’t do any of the following.
1. Cover your blog in ads
We’re not talking one or two ads here. We’re not talking three or four. No, we’re talking about covering your blog in ads.
You’ve seen the blogs which do this. Did you like them? Of course not. No one likes them. When we land on one, we exit the blog with ninja-like reflexes.
Unless you want readers to do the same to you, don’t cover your blog in ads. Keep them to a minimum.
2. Make your links look the same as regular text
You click a few words of text, but nothing happens. “Isn’t this a link?,” you ask yourself. “It’s underlined.”
Or how about this scenario: You click colored text thinking it’s a link, but it’s not. You click another line of text, but it’s not a link either. That’s when you notice this particular blog uses the same color for links and non-links!
You then bang your head against the keyboard.
Readers don’t like to be confused. Make it crystal clear what is a link on your blog and what isn’t, because if readers aren’t sure they’re going to click the one thing they know with complete certainty will work: the “Back” button.
3. Have a design which is unusable on mobile devices
Despite the fact more and more people are reading blogs on mobile devices, many blogs have designs which just aren’t unfriendly to mobile devices — they’re downright hostile.
With free mobile-theme plugins readily available, there’s no excuse for having a blog which is unusable on mobile devices. Unless, of course, you’re trying to make your readers hate you.
4. Never respond to comments
Some blogs receive dozens and dozens of comments to every post. Responding to each of them is a full-time job, I get that.
Still, too many bloggers make it a habit of never responding to comments. Yes, we know you’re busy. And yes, some of the comments left to you were unimaginative.
But if someone takes the time to leave you a nice, complimentary, detailed comment, be a pal and take two minutes to respond. And if someone leaves you a comment asking a genuine question, take three minutes to respond.
Your readers are the lifeforce of your blog. Treat them as such.
5. Be rude when you do respond to comments
Worse than never responding to comments is responding to comments in a rude or condescending manner.
Yes, some commenters are trying to provoke you. Yes, some are being argumentative just for the sake of being argumentative. And, yes, some are asking or saying things no one who actually read your entire post would ask or say.
But that doesn’t mean you should be rude. It doesn’t mean you should be condescending.
Be the bigger person. It’ll serve you better in the long run, especially since many readers will form their impression of you based on how you respond to such commenters.
6. Have a site which takes forever to load
Readers have little patience. If they have to wait more than a few seconds for your blog to load, they’re likely to leave and never return.
I once asked my mom what she thought of a blog I used to run. Her response?
“It took 3 whole seconds to load. I don’t have that kind of time, Kevin!”
If you want zero readers, by all means have a slow blog. But if you want readers, your mom included, you better make sure your blog is optimized.
7. Use a post title which has nothing to do with the post itself
Blog post titles aren’t like song titles. It’s no time to be cute, and it’s no time to use metaphors.
The Stone Temple Pilots may be able to name their songs “Plush” and “Atlanta” even though those words appear nowhere within the songs, but you’re not the Stone Temple Pilots. Your titles have to make sense.
If you title a post “SEO Tips and Tricks,” the post better offer tips and tricks for search engine optimization.
This isn’t to suggest your titles have to be boring. Titles should grab the attention of readers.
But they have to be relevant. They have to make sense. If they don’t, readers will eventually stop reading your posts — no matter how exciting the titles may sound.
Over to you
What are some other ways bloggers drive away readers? Let me know in a comment below!
Kevin J. Duncan is the Blog Editor for Jon Morrow’s Smart Blogger — an online magazine that teaches you how to start a blog, get more readers, and earn a passive income.