Business-Blogging

SEO: Blogging Your Way to the Top

July 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

Search engines, Google in particular, seem to love blogs. This is in part due to the fact that search engines rely heavily on links for their ranking algorithms, and the blogosphere is rich with interlinkages. Bloggers constantly link to each other – through “hat tips,” “blogrolls,” “trackbacks,” and so forth. Furthermore, blogs tend to be heavy on content and light on search-engine-unfriendly features like overly complex URLs, frames, JavaScript-based links and Flash. I’ve seen new blogs quickly penetrate Google’s top results where a brandnew, traditional website might have languished in the “Google sandbox” for a number of months…

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10 Tips to Help Your Blog Soar in the Search Engines (Part 2 of 2)

May 9th, 2006

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Originally published in MarketingProfs

In this continuation of ten useful tips about optimizing your blog for search engines, we look at the five remaining tips, including: sticky posts, heading tags, anchor text and more.

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5 Tips for Multichannel Retailers Entering the Blogosphere

May 4th, 2006

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I was interviewed for a piece that just came out in Multichannel Merchant magazine called Defending yourself against the blogs. I contributed some tips for multichannel retailers who are considering blogging. Here’s the full version of my tips (In the published article, my comments were edited down for space):

  1. Create a “safe haven” to experiment with blogging. Set up a private blog on your intranet or extranet, or start a blog that’s password-protected. Then offer access to that test to a selected audience. That will give your inexperienced bloggers comfort because they won’t have having to worry that all of your customers, competition, and the media are watching their every move. They’re trying to find your feet, so help them feel safe while they’re doing it.

  2. Decide on a permanent home for your blog. The web address you choose for your blog should be one that you will be happy with for years to come. Remember the early days of the commercial Internet, and many a business card included an earthlink.net or aol.com email address? It made it very painful to switch email providers. (I know people that to this day still pay their AOL subscription only because they don’t want to lose their long-standing email address.) Similarly, it will become difficult to switch blog services if you allow the service to be part of your URL. For example, ehobbies.blogs.com, backcountryblog.blogspot.com, and sethgodin.typepad.com are all examples of blogs that are forever wedded to their blog platform — for better or for worse! If they switch platforms, all the links they’ve earned will be unavailable to their new blog. Links are the lifeblood of your search engine visibility, so the significance of this cannot be overstated.

    You may want to utilize the domain name of your online store (e.g. blog.ice.com). Resist the temptation! In most cases, your blog will be more successful in acquiring links from other bloggers by being at an arm’s length from your storefront, in other words by having a unique domain name (e.g. www.justaskleslie.com). Let me supply a hypothetical example. If a life insurance company has a blog about health and wellness and it’s at www.stayinghealthy.com, then that will most likely garner many more links (and consequently superior search engine rankings) than one at blog.lifeinsuranceco.com — particularly if the former isn’t too much of a hard sell for its life insurance products. (Remember, mastering the soft sell is the name of the game in the blogosphere.)

    This may seem like an oversimplification, since I haven’t discussed the branding implications, but I believe the “link-ability” of the blog is what will give your blog a long productive life in the blogosphere.

    Once you’ve settled on a URL for your blog, publish something at that URL straight away. Even if it’s merely some “Coming Soon” verbiage. This will help you establish a history for your new blog site and will help you avoid the “Google Sandbox” when the time comes for you to launch your blog for real. The Google Sandbox is a term used by us SEOs (search engine optimizers) to refer to the penalty Google applies to new sites with new domain names. Google created this as a deterrent to search engine spammers, but unfortunately legitimate marketers are often caught by this algorithm too.

  3. Select a scalable, flexible, and user-friendly blog platform. There are so many solutions to choose from! Some are hosted services, such as TypePad, Blogger, and WordPress.com. Some are software packages that you install on your web server, such as WordPress, Drupal or Movable Type. Rather than pour over comparison charts, my advice is simply to go with WordPress (the software package, not to be confused with the hosted service at WordPress.com). WordPress is free, so the price is right. It’s highly configurable, since it’s “open source” and has a plethora of free, useful plugins written for it (I’ve compiled a list of my favorites). And it’s got all the functionality you’d ever need, all wrapped up in an easy-to-use interface. After I and my team at Netconcepts did extensive research on blogging packages, we came to the conclusion that WordPress really is the best.

  4. Decide on a posting schedule. Try to post at least three times per week. Allow several hours per week for this. I typically spend 2 to 3 hours per week blogging. Don’t hire a ghostwriter for your blog, or you’ll get slammed by bloggers for lack of transparency (an unwritten rule in the blogosphere). As far as retaining readers, recency is more important than frequency. A couple weeks of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Conversely, having the latest post be only a day old makes the blog appear “fresh”. Personally, I don’t like keeping RSS feeds in my newsreader that haven’t had recent activity.

  5. Get respected bloggers on your side. Building relationships with respected bloggers is absolutely key. Not only will they be more likely to link to you, but they will also offer advice and bolster your “street cred.” Posting thoughtful comments on their blogs is only the first step: do it enough and you may get on their radar, but it’s not enough. Attend blogger conferences like BlogOn and Blog Business Summit and meet bloggers in person. Keep the dialogue going through email and through phone or Skype conversations. Become an evangelist for businesses blogging and you will really get them on-side.

    Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of an expert. Many highly regarded bloggers are available for paid consulting. I’d also suggest you work with a web designer who’s very familiar with WordPress (assuming that’s the blog software you decide on). That way they aren’t learning on your dime, and they aren’t trying to steer you towards an inferior package because they are more familiar with it.

10 Tips to Help Your Blog Soar in the Search Engines (Part 1 of 2)

May 2nd, 2006

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Originally published in MarketingProfs

With over 75,000 new blogs created every single day, and tens of millions of blogs already in the blogosphere, it’s not a given that you’ll get found by your target audience and develop a loyal following of readers. What can you do to pull in the crowds and to rise in the rankings? Read on and I’ll share my secrets…

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Defending yourself against the blogs

May 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Multichannel Merchant

Tim Parry author for Multichannel Merchant discusses the dark-side of the Blogosphere. Links, community, and sharing are all great aspects of Blogging. However, slander and company wrong-doing, when posted on blogs, can have severe consequences.

Parry turns to Found and President of Netconcepts, Stephan Spencer for best practice advice on the blogosphere. Spencer contributes 5 Tips for Beginning Bloggers. These tips include…

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Making your blog sticky

April 21st, 2006

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It is easier to build a relationship with your reader and engage with them if your blog is sticky. A sticky web site compels visitors to come back again and again, and to stay longer too. My blog is reasonably sticky because the author is so good and has such insightful things to say. 😉

But in all seriousness though, there are things you can do to engage your readers more effectively. For instance, you can form a community where they all talk to each other. Most blogs, unfortunately, are abysmal at that. Even my blog really doesn’t do a very good job of bringing readers together and involving them in a group discussion. It’s entirely too easy to be up on one’s soapbox, to start a conversation and also finish it.

Here are some practical suggestions for making your blog sticky, courtesy of Performancing:

  1. Design for repeat visits
  2. Keep advertising minimal for repeats
  3. Provide a recent posts list
  4. Answer your comments
  5. Use the right language
  6. Post frequently
  7. Have a private message system
  8. Allow member posts
  9. Include members in decisions
  10. Don’t neglect the distributed community
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Sticky blogs work best

April 21st, 2006

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Stickiness is a primary goal for most websites. A site that is sticky gets people coming back again and again, and staying longer too.

It is easier to build a relationship and engage your reader if your site is sticky. My blog’s reasonably sticky because the author is so good and has such insightful things to say. 😉

But seriously though, there are things you can do to engage your readers in some of the dialog. For instance, you can form a community where they are all talking to each other — most blogs are really abysmal at that. Even my blog really doesn’t do a very good job of bringing readers together and getting them to talk to each other.

So how do you get off your soapbox as a blogger and start conversations without finishing them, and let your readers take over?

Performancing has a nice list of practical things you can do to build online community of your blog:

  1. Design for repeat visits
  2. Keep advertising minimal for repeats
  3. Provide a recent posts list
  4. Answer your comments
  5. Use the right language
  6. Post frequently
  7. Have a private message system
  8. Allow member posts
  9. Include members in decisions
  10. Don’t neglect the distributed community
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TrustBite

April 4th, 2006

TrustBite screenshotTrustBite is the CEO blog of TRUSTcite founder Hannah Samuel. The blog is opinionated, insightful, informative and helpful — all the sorts of things that a good CEO blog should be — and establishes Hannah’s credibility as a thought leader, while generating PR and building inlinks. The blog is outfitted with an RSS feed, tag pages, and has been optimized for search engines.

[ database | client admin cms | SEO ]

Visit The Site: Trustbite

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Blogging for Business

Professional Association of Innkeepers International 2006 annual convention — Phoenix, AZ

April 3rd, 2006

Seminar by

A blog could do wonders for your online marketing. Learn the tools/tactics to use, the pitfalls to avoid, and how to make it pay.

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Beyond the Banner: New Ways to Brand in the Online Channel

Strategic Branding — Auckland, NZ

March 27th, 2006

Seminar by

Branding campaigns appear in many forms online besides the ubiquitous banner ad. There are blogs, RSS feeds, paid search ads (e.g. Google AdWords), contextual ads, natural (organic) search listings, text link ads, microsites, and podcasts, to name a few.

  • Gain an understanding of each of these channel’s unique benefits and where each fit in your brand strategy
  • Learn best practice techniques applicable to these new channels, with numerous examples
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