Search engines love blogs. This is a good thing for you. It means with simple techniques, you can have a blog that ranks well for selected phrases and gains added exposure for you. If you choose to operate only a blog, that’s fine. If you choose to run a blog along with an actual Website, that’s fine again. If you choose to operate your blog as your Website, that’s also fine. Before you go out and grab yourself an account with blogger .com, there are some things you’ll need to know. All of the basic tenets of search optimization that apply to Web sites also apply to blogs.
So the basic SEO knowledge you’re building will be useful even if you choose only to run a stand-alone blog. Before you start, you need to know such things as which platforms you might choose to use and how each platform gives you different capabilities. You also need to know about where and how your blog postings will be stored. You need to understand how to use keywords, so that you write your blog postings in a manner that makes them big, fat, juicy targets for search engines to find.
Essentially, you need to know how to structure and write articles so that people will read them, click on your ads, and ultimately generate some advertising revenue for you.
THE POWER OF BLOGS
Bloggers are generally seen as some of the most cutting-edge content creators online today. They state their opinions and say it like it is—that’s the real power of the medium. Its ability to allow individuals to express themselves worldwide, almost instantly, is also part of its power. When optimized well and submitted to leading blog directories, it’s completely possible to have multiple references to your own blog on a page of search results for the targeted phrase.
For a long time, blogs were seen as nothing more than an online diary: a space where people could voice their opinions, raise their voices, or post anything that struck them as interesting. The key was the ease with which blogs could be started. You needed no knowledge of coding or Web design. You needed to know nothing of usability or layout. You simply needed to know what you liked and how to navigate online in general.
Many sources, such as Blogger.com catered to this market with an intuitive, user-friendly interface designed to help anyone start his or her own blog in minutes. And start they did—thousands a week seemed to suddenly appear. Everyone had a voice. But was anyone reading?
Given that blogs were not immediately started en masse by businesses, but rather by everyday people, it took time for the concept to take hold in mainstream business. In the early days, if you stumbled onto a blog that you liked, you’d just bookmark it and return when you felt like it. Today is a very different world for blogging, though seemingly very little time has passed since blogs first began to grow in numbers.
Today, your business is out of date if it doesn’t offer a blog. If you’re a professional and not keeping a blog, others wonder why. And if you’re looking to start a business online, blogs offer one of the cheapest, quickest, and easiest to use methods of gaining a Web presence. All the basics still apply:
- They’re easy to set up.
- They are completely customizable.
- There are thousands of themes available to suit any look, layout, or feel.
- Prices run from free to whatever your budget can afford.
Blogs have evolved into legitimate Web sites on their own. Given the platforms that run them, many businesses choose blogs as the basis for all their Web-based content. It makes it easy to up date the look and feel when redesigning, and it’s super simple to add new pages of content, new products, or entire sections to the site.
Indeed, the terms Hog, site, and Web site may well be used interchangeably . . . though, while every blog can be called a Web site, not every Web site is a blog. Blogs are so prevalent today that even the biggest companies operate them, sometimes several each. Google has many blogs, both official and unofficial. Yahoo is the same.
What about MSN?
Yep. How about General Motors, Ford, and most of the auto manufacturers? Yep, though mostly targeting the press, they are there. CNN and pretty much every other major news source operate a series of blogs—often tied to segments of news or to TV anchors and personalities. Blogs are allowing real-time reporting from areas of the world in conflict; they allow soldiers to keep family up-to-date, and they allow people to share knowledge and expertise globally. Blogs have the power to educate and entertain.
They also have the power to generate revenue. Blogs represent an easy way to quickly disseminate news and information to a mass readership. They are a way to segment in-formation and thus to segment your readers. Here’s an example of the blogging world’s ability to spread information fast and far. Jennifer Laycock is a great gal. She runs her own online business (www.searchengineguide.com), and when she became a new mom, she felt strongly enough about breastfeeding and its benefits to start her own site dedicated to it (www.thelactivist.com).
She sells some T-shirts and other items (the Milk Bank Line) with catchy slogans on them, and 100 percent of the proceeds from this line go to help the Mother’s Milk Bank in Ohio near her home. Additionally, she donates 10 percent of all other sales as well about $2,000 to date. Being creative, one brainstorming session led Jen to the slogan “Breast: The Other White Milk.”
It’s a play on a well-known slogan, so it’s funny and coy at the same time. Little did Jen know the issues this would raise.
The National Pork Board, having created the original slogan, “Pork: The Other White Meat,” issued a tough-stance letter to Jen ordering her to cease the use of her slogan or face legal action.
This was not what she had expected when she started out on this path. In fact, the whole thing seemed a bit heavy-handed and sudden.
A large national board representing a known product was going to hunt down a small business owner and new mom, to take legal action over a slogan being used to support a local nonprofit. It seemed, many felt, a bit much. S
ure, the pork producers had to protect their copyrights, but where was the warning?
Where was the email or phone call asking her to stop?
Why jump straight to legal action? The day Jen posted about this on her blog, the insider network lit up. Hundreds of bloggers, influencing thousands of readers, ran with the story. It exploded across North America via the underground network of news sources—synonymous with blogging. One item contained in many posts was a request for readers to contact the National Pork Board to express their opinion about the situation.
Within days, Jen had received an apology, had discussed the situation, and had agreed to change her slogan (she never disputed the board’s claim to the original or that hers was a takeoff on it); and from the top down, as members of the National Pork Board learned why Jen was selling the shirts, employees dug deep and donated money to the Mother’s Milk Bank in Ohio. Because the National Pork Board as a legal entity was unable to donate, the employees took it upon themselves to offer support.
This example is a clear indicator of the reach and power of blogs. There was never any malice intended by the National Pork Board in this incident, which had no personal issues with Jen. It was simply a matter of the board’s policing what it owned—and maybe of a slightly overzealous employee. Not the end of the world for anyone, but it showed in crystal clarity how quickly blogs are capable of spreading news and galvanizing readers to respond to something.
The bottom line comes down to community. Build a solid community and your blog will thrive and revenue will be positive. Abuse this community or neglect your readers and they will respond by choosing another source to read.