Jakob Nielsen has turned his attention to some specific usability elements in blogs which are certainly different to those that we have come to accept when creating websites. His article outlines what he considers to be the Top Ten Design mistakes that he sees bloggers making.

Although Nielsens stated focus is on usability and on blogs in general, if we apply these elements to business blogs then many still remain very relevant, particularly where individual professionals or small and medium sized businesses are concerned.

1. No Author Biographies
As a small and medium sized business, one aim of your blog in terms of marketing you and your business, is to help develop a level of trust with your target audience and to demonstrate your expertise to your readers. A short biography will help substantiate this and fill in some of the details about the person. Don’t forget to put contact details there as well! You also need to make sure it’s easy for people to get in touch!

2. No Author Photo
A photo can contribute to developing that personal touch which should help to show the people behind the company face. In professional services, such as law firms or accountancies, a photo on a website can help develop a sense of trust and the same is true here. Make sure the photo portrays you in the light you would like to be seen, though!

3. Nondescript posting titles
Apart from being clear about what you are blogging about, the title is absolutely key to the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) elements within the blog. A good title should not only be a clear indicator to the reader of what the post contains but should also contain the keywords of the article to help with Search Engines.

4. Links dont say where they go
Being able to easily find your way around a site or to other sites is fundamental to working closely with your readers and getting them to return, so make sure you “signpost” links as clearly as possible. Additionally, from an SEO standpoint again, the text you use to create the link (so called anchor text) is very valuable so use it!

5. Classic hits are buried
If there are certain key articles which any visitor to your site must read, then make sure that you highlight it on your blog. Key articles really show what you and your company are all about so make sure everyone has the opportunity to read these gems!

6. Calendar is the only navigation
Generally, when new people visit your blog, they are going to want to read your posts on certain subjects to get to understand what the focus of your blog is all about. So make sure that your categories are well named so that people can find for what they are looking for quickly and easily – then they’ll come back for more!

7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
Although publishing when you have something to say is good, regular posting is certainly beneficial so that people can know when to come back to view your updates. Of course, doing this through RSS would save them time and effort!

8. Mixing Topics
In a business blog, if you are able to keep to your specific area of expertise (your niche if you like) then this will help in your marketing efforts to position yourself as an expert in that subject area through the information that you are providing in your blog.

9. Forgetting that you write for your future boss
In the instance of a small business, you are in fact writing for your customers, present and future! Nevertheless, be very clear that anything you write can be found by them and so only write posts that you are representative of yourself and your business, as you are writing not only to them but to the world at large.

10. Having a domain name owned by a weblog service
Having control yourself of all aspects of your business is important and a blog, with its strong marketing and PR benefits, must certainly be one of those. Therefore use a blogging system that you are able to adapt to your needs through a domain that you own.

Overall, definitely a lot of relevance there to business blogging, including a number of key elements that you should consider right from the planning stage of your blog where possible. So making sure that you consider that you will need to deal with both your readers and the Search Engines from the outset is certainly good advice.

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