Is There a BLOG in Your Future?
Monday, December 21, 2009
to the first Foxstone Newsletter.
Clients often ask diverse questions about web hosting, internet technologies, Search Engines, and other Information Technology items of interest. We do our best to answer these questions only to have them pop up again asked by someone else.
So, I felt that a newsletter that discusses some of these topical issues would be of interest to our clients. These newsletters would then become a good reference tool for use when similar questions arise.
In the first issue...
We will be discussing Blogging, its uses, merits, and disadvantages. In fact, we have started our own Foxstone Blog; perhaps you can assist in 'kicking the tires' and learning first hand.
This newsletter is as new to me as it is to you! So here's hoping you enjoy.
What Is a Blog?
A blog is a type of website (or pages within a traditional website) with regular entries of commentary, news, or items of interest displayed in reverse chronological order (ie. newest to oldest). Most blogs are textual, but some focus on art or allow photographs, graphics, or videos.
At its most basic, a blog is like a journal or diary in reverse order. However, most blogs allow the readers to comment on the postings (and allow readers to further comment on the comments, etc.)
Blogs started as a convenient way for individuals to express themselves or publish small bits of content. They have now evolved into a valuable social networking tool for businesses to interact with their customers. In addition, successful blogs can have a very favorable affect on Search Engine Rankings.
Web Sites vs. Blog Sites
Every business can benefit from a web site because a web site describes the company's products/services and it functions like an advertisement or a business card that's always available. Web sites may be very dynamic and changing or extremely stable with very few changes. Both types of web sites can and are very successful.
A blog site, however, by its very nature must be changing very frequently. You wouldn't want to read last week's newspaper today; likewise, people will not return to a blog unless it has fresh information.
If your product or service is extremely stable and unchanging with few updates, sales offerings, or industry news, a blog would probably not be worth the effort. Additionally, since blogs don't write themselves, you must be willing to invest productive time from yourself or staff to keeping the blog up to date.
Alternatively, if you have evolving products or services, frequent sales, a lot of industry news, or want a convenient place to interact with your customers and are willing to invest the time, a blog can be extremely productive.
Successful Blog Site Attributes
Basically, a successful Blog Site is one that receives frequent updates, repeat viewers, comments on the articles and one that complements your website. In other words, a successful blog site is a value add to your web site and company services. The end result of this we would hope would be an increase in business and a widening of your customer base.
Things to consider when putting your blog site together are:-
- Host your Blog somewhere other than your website.
That means you should put your blog site on a different computer or use a blogging service. The primary value of hosting elsewhere is that everytime you create a hot link to your website, the Search Engines see that as an incoming link. Just think, you can create your own incoming link references. If your blog site is a subset of pages on your existing web site, then any hot links to your other pages are just internal links which add little or nothing to Search Engine ranking.
- Link to many internal pages of your website.
When discussing aspects of your product, services or website, create hot links directly to the pages involved, not to the top page. In other words link to www.mywebsite.com/insidepage.html rather than www.mywebsite.com. Additionally, when creating hot links, try to have the hot linked text the same as the primary keyword phrase of the internal page.
- Allow Blog comments, but require registration and moderation.
A blog without comments is just a journal... Boring!! A blog without registration is a haven for robots and spammers to put nasty stuff on your site. Make sure your blog has a method of requiring email registration and validation before a person can post a comment. I would also recommend that no comments are made public without your approval. A disgruntled employee or dissatisfied customer might post some comments counter to what you are trying to do with your blog. (Try not to stifle legitimate critism or suggestions, though.)
- Assign Responsibility
If you are a small organization, the entire Blogging responsibility may be all on you. In a larger organization, you may want to assign someone (or more) with writing talents to post new blog entries at some given interval and review and possibly respond to comments. If you have a large enough organization you may want to make this a rotating assignment to allow the readers to interact with various members of your staff.
- Do the Community Thing
Participate in other Blogs and hot link to interesting ones that you would recommend to your viewers. While on other blogs, let them know that you find them interesting and have linked to them from your blog or web site. Of course, you can and should include your blog address and web address occasionally when posting elsewhere... more incoming links!!
- Obey Copyright Law
Just as with your web site, obey copyright law. Either create the content yourself, use public domain content, or get permission to reprint from the original author. Some handy copyright guidelines can be found here.
A blog site for your business may at first appear to be too time consuming or unfamiliar.
The fact is that a blog site can often cost less than your web site (considering hosting, development, SEO, etc) while returning similar dividends.
FYI, Foxstone's blog was started on Blogspot.com (Blogger.com, which is now owned by Google). The blog site is completely free; all one needs is a Google email account. By default, your blog will be placed at www.blogspot.com/[your blog name]. With a minor change (and a little help from your web guy or gal) you can have blog.yourdomain.com as your official address.