Growing your website traffic through your blog is a great thing– until thinly-veiled advertorials infiltrate your content.

Advertorials are an advertisement disguised as an editorial; they are articles that appear to be informational but are actually intended to promote a product or service. These are the Internet’s equivalent of TV infomercials — appearing to be entertaining until you discover you’re being sold something.

The biggest problem with advertorials is that they hurt your company’s credibility and turn away interested website visitors. So what can you do to avoid a tragic loss in your integrity and your website’s traffic and leads? Read on for 8 signs you’re writing an advertorial, not a blog post.

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1) You’re a Blogging Cheerleader

Do you only have something to say on the company blog when there’s a new product to promote or to cheer on what makes your company the best? If so, you’re doing your company harm by turning interested visitors away from your website.

Think about how often we skip over TV commercials. A promotional post is viewed the same way to readers.

Your blog should be used as a valuable opportunity to prove yourself as a thought leader within your industry, with the occasional promotional cheer.

2) You Say Pizza (But We’re Not Seeing Any)

A pizzeria might write an advertorial post entitled, “5 Uncommon Pizza Types.” But the article actually only talks about why their pizzeria makes the best pizza in the city, and doesn’t cover anything regarding uncommon pizza types.

You’re sending your visitors elsewhere for information when your post title misleads them into thinking they will become informed on what your title suggested. Skip the clickbait — make sure the title portrays the content.

3) You’re Not Listening

If you aren’t listening to what your target audience needs, then it becomes very easy to resort to writing broad, promotional topics that don’t apply to anyone specific, leaving your visitors feeling unheard and unliked. Because this method won’t provide value to anyone, it won’t produce quality leads.

Determine who you’re trying to reach by building personas based around your ideal customer. Use this information to curate stories and blog posts that will attract and delight the right audience for your company.

4) Your Entire Article is a Call-to-Action

Put yourself in the seat of your readers and ask yourself if you would want to read your own article. Does the writing make you feel like you’re being empowered and taught something new or does it make you feel like you’re being swayed to act now before it’s too late?

Company blogs might seem like the perfect vehicle for advertisements, but advertorials aren’t what readers want when they’re looking to solve a particular problem online. Blogs are valuable opportunities to educate your buyers and move them into the next step of the buyer’s journey, while applying calls-to-action with discretion.

5) You’re Serving You, Not Your Visitors

Ask yourself if what you’re writing is serving your company or your visitors. Your goal as an inbound marketer should always be to serve your prospects and customers. If what you’re writing doesn’t offer any value to a visitor reading your article, they will leave quickly, unwilling to return again.

Delight your visitors with content they’re interested in and they will return to you time and time again.

6) You’re Playing Monopoly

Are you writing as though there are no other companies that can provide the same service as yours on this planet? Even if your company is the best, you most likely aren’t the only one offering your specific product and/or service.

You don’t have to tout other companies in your blog, but writing with a goal to inform rather than sell your readers will naturally build trust in your brand as an authority in your industry.

7) You’re Getting Paid Money (Real, Not Monopoly Money)

The most obvious sign you’re writing an advertorial is that you’re getting paid to promote a product, service, or company on your blog.

Blog articles shouldn’t have a bias because of money or gifts. If you’re being paid to promote a product, make sure you’re stating it’s a promotional post or advertisement– and even then be careful– readers can sense you selling a mile away.

8) You’re Selling, Not Informing

Your prospects are searching for information that will help them make a more informed decision. If they click on a link purporting a solution to their problem, but are instead misguided to an apparent blog article with only promotional content, they will feel cheated and angry.

Be what your prospects are searching for by writing content that solves their problems, not sells them a service.

For actionable advice on how to avoid more blog content marketing mistakes, download our free guide: 7 Deadly Sins of Blog Content Marketing (and how to avoid them).

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