These days everyone seems to have a blog, from the intrepid traveler to the solo business owner on zero dollar marketing. So why should you blog and how can it help your business?
A blog is a type of journal published on the web which allows readers to comment, give feedback (good or bad) and share opinions on topics posted.
According to business blogger Kristen Le Mesurier, blogs are a popular medium for soul-baring and straight-talking, read because they are anti-establishment and, mostly, free of spin. As such, customers, suppliers, the general public and even competitors engage freely in open and sometimes contentious dialogues in response to certain topics.
Successful bloggers use it as low cost PR, key to building stronger relationships with important target groups and establishing one’s expertise in key markets.
Marketing expert and networking extraordinaire Kimberly Palmer runs zerobudgetmarketingideas.blogspot.com, that discusses innovative ways to market a solo business on a shoestring budget.
Bailie Photography uses bailie.com.au/blog as a platform to present an impressive work portfolio in photojournalism style. Complete with captions and snippets that weave tales of clients’ big days, it’s a clever and powerful way of promoting a service without the uncomfortable and contrived sales pitch.
Large corporate General Motors discusses future products and services as well as obtains feedback on current product design and performance on its blog fastllane.gmblogs.com. Unintentionally or not, the blog goes beyond testing products and ideas. Authored by GM executives, it presents a human face to customers around the world. Subtly but successfully, the blog impresses that behind the well-oiled machinery are people who make things happen.
Search engines love blogs
It’s true. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN love blogs and here are some reasons why:
Keywords: The informal and conversational nature of blogs means that topics usually contain a generous number of relevant keywords that draw search engines, the same words most people to use to search on the internet, not jargon or corporate speak one usually finds in corporate brochures.
Fresh content: Readers appreciate blogs that are regularly updated with fresh, relevant content and promptly return for more. So do search engines. Regular fresh content means frequent visits by search engines allowing your blog to become searchable more quickly.
Coding standards and structured content: Most blog softwares use good coding standards that allow search engines to crawl and find blog content easily. Also, the added ability to categorise content according to themes or topics help search engines understand your content giving your blog a better chance of ranking well on those topics.
Inbound links: Good blogs attract attention from similarly themed blogs and are rewarded by links either to the homepage or to individual posts. As blogs link to each other much more freely than websites do, gaining valuable inbound links can be less daunting, provided your content is interesting enough to attract links and trigger discussions on other blogs. Remember that relevance is key when it comes to links. A link from a cooking blog is not helpful if you run a blog on corporate law.
Where to start
Sites like wordpress.com or blogger.com offer free blog templates. With a user-friendly interface and customisable templates, your blog site can be up and running quickly. Maintaining a successful blog requires a lot of time, commitment, dedication and a passion for your business, product or a subject matter. Those that have reaped the benefits will tell you it’s worth it. Blogging is the way of the future. Once you blog, the customers and search engines will come.
–Robelen Bajar is marketing manager at Melbourne IT (www.melbourneit.com.au), which helps entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses online.