Blogging began as a way for individuals to communicate, sharing personal experiences and self-expression though an online diary. Today blogs (short for Web Logs) have expanded beyond individual use. Now businesses of all sizes are blogging to connect with customers, prospects or employees to share information, knowledge and expertise.
We’ve all heard that blogging can be beneficial from a search engine optimization (SEO) point of view, but it’s often unclear why it can be helpful. As I’ve been approached with this question a few times recently, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out a few reasons how it can help to boost your SEO efforts.
– First, blogs provide an opportunity to offer up-to-date and informative content to your readers. This can help to portray your organization as a resource and can build credibility for your brand.
– Adding pages to your website is also easy with blogs and each additional post has the potential to rank in the search results (as actual pages rank in the results, not websites). Ensuring that the titles, body content and the anchor text of any links are keyword-rich can spread your reach for additional keywords. Additionally, blogs are very search engine friendly. Every time a post is uploaded, the search engines are alerted to the fact that there is new content to crawl. By having a blog, you are inviting the search engines to come to your site more often, which in turn will ensure that you have the most up to date information indexed in the search results.
– Quality information shared through blogging can also serve as ‘link bait’, encouraging others to link to your blog post or website. It is important that your blog has a purpose, and that your purpose is perceived as valuable by your readers. Blogs that are viewed as valuable will attract incoming links and those incoming links can indicate a blog’s popularity or authority to the search engines.
– Blogs can also be a great way to bring your brand into the realm of social media. Sharing your blog’s content within social media channels will also help to gain links when shared among participants of social networks. Social media channels will facilitate the distribution of your message and enable your readers to essentially do the marketing for you. If you participate in MySpace, Facebook or Twitter, you can have your blog pulled into these channels to update your friends, fans and followers.
Do you have informative content that you can share with your site visitors? Do you have a unique viewpoint of a product or service? If so, creating a blog can be a great way to share your ideas and create a community that is involved with your product or service. Like any other form of internet marketing, you’ll be able to monitor and evaluate your blog through an analytics program.
The best part about internet marketing is that anyone can participate. There is a low cost of entry, regardless of whether you are a large corporation or a small business owner. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both the small business and the large corporation when it comes to having a presence online.
To begin with, those who manage the website for a small business are often stretched thin. They are likely wearing many hats throughout the company and the website does not always fall at the top of the priority list. At large corporations, there are often entire teams that manage the website. One person may be responsible for the website’s content, another individual may handle the programming, and another may be solely dedicated to writing on the company’s blog. Small businesses don’t usually have the luxury of having an entire website team.
On the flip side, an advantage of being a small business is that change comes a bit easier. If you want to try something new such as participating in an emerging social media channel or building a new pay per click campaign, the decision can be made quickly. You can also be more creative at times and be an early adopter of new ideas. Larger companies can have internal procedures that can make even small content changes to the website a time consuming process.
Even though small businesses typically have a smaller budget to spend toward their marketing efforts, ensuring that the company has a presence online is essential. Below are a few inexpensive tips to help boost the visibility of your small business.
1. Add a blog to your site. Blogs are great for many reasons. They allow you to connect with your customers through posting new content and they provide you with the perfect opportunity to establish yourself as an authoritative source of information. Another great thing about blogs is that you can add an RSS feed, which will give visitors the ability to subscribe to any new information and will encourage them to come back to the site.
2. Participate in local search and other local directories. (Additional information on local search tips can be found in one of our SEO team member’s previous blog entries.)
3. Leverage sites where customers post reviews such as the sites listed below. Encourage customers to rate your company after they do business with you. Reviews by customers add creditability. Don’t be afraid of the possibility of negative reviews. Instead, use them as an opportunity to listen to your customers and fix any issues that need fixing.
4. Communicate with your potential customers. If your product or service is targeted towards a defined audience, find groups or networks where those people are and participate in their discussions. Add value to the conversation and remember to include a link back to your site where appropriate, even a link in your signature will do.
5. Track results using an analytics program. If you are putting time, effort, and money into your internet marketing, then you will want to have a way of tracking the results. Fortunately, internet marketing is highly measurable, unlike many other forms of marketing. How else will you know if your efforts are actually working? For additional information about analytics, visit our Analytics Blog.
A blog, or web log, is a website created by an individual with constant updates of articles, essays and general information about a certain topic. How does this relate to SEO? Maintaining a blog on your website brings natural traffic by creating a community of sorts that gets people interested in your cause and/or business. The constant flow of new content that a blog provides is the sustenance that search engines crave. So, how do you utilize a blog for SEO?
As mentioned above, constant updates are bait to those search engine spiders. Search engines adore new updates and fresh information to scour. It’s the general consensus that one needs to consistently add a blog post at least once a week. What’s great about most blogging software is that it allows you to write your post and schedule it for whenever you want. You could even write some of your posts at the beginning of the month and arrange them to be posted over the following couple weeks.
You also need to consider, for business purposes, whether your blog is attached to you main site or whether it will be on its own domain. What is the best option? As with all aspects of SEO, this is up for debate. It would probably be more advisable to have the blog as part of your site, especially if your domain is an older, trusted domain. Setting up a whole new domain related to your business would take time to get trusted by the search engines. It would also be advisable to set up a free Blogger account (Google’s free blogging website) as a first step before going to the effort of hosting it internally.
When the blog is set up, you can just go ahead and optimize it in the regular fashion. Select the keywords you want to target and include them in the title of your blog post and in the post itself, always keeping in mind that it’s really not good practice to spam your blog with said keywords — search engines don’t like that! Also, if you are pushing a product or one of your websites, keep in mind that it’s not really a good idea to just plug your own cause. It could come across to your visitor that your only agenda is self promotion. Mention other related products and services, but always make yours the emphasis. Also, your site feeds could be used to promote your blog and you could cultivate relationships with other blogs and have them link to you.
Blogs are a great resource in terms of search engine optimization. Remember to always tweak to keep your loyal and new blog visitors interested. Additionally, keep your goals clear. Are you trying to be purely informational and position yourself as your chosen fields’ authority? Is this blog merely for fun and you’re just trying to get that traffic to get people to click on your AdSense ads or are you trying to promote your business? So, whatever the long term plan is, keep up on your optimization efforts!