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Website Design

As more and more businesses depend partially or fully on their online presence to sell their products and services, website design is gaining more and more importance. A business’ website serves as its display window and, like a good or bad display window,

Business Blog Web Design Mistakes

With more companies adopting blogs, we’re starting to see what works and what doesn’t work from a design perspective. As a cue from Jakob Nielsen’s article on the topic, here are thing problems I often find.

Bad headlines. They’re frustrating. Some bloggers like to get creative… but creativity can affect search engine keyword opportunities. The important thing is that readers have a hint of what the post is about.

Links. Readers like to know where links take them and most of us rely on the status bar, but sometimes that doesn’t help. Some experts say to use “click here” to help those who are newer to the Web and others say that’s wrong, wrong, wrong. It just depends on the content. When linking, try to pick the best words that give readers an idea of what to expect.

Calendars as the only way to navigate a blog and impossible to find archives or older entries are big problems. I almost always resort to search when I want to find postings no longer on the home page. Unfortunately, some blogs don’t have search. That’s why I put “archive” links in my sidebar in both meryl’s notes and meryl’s notes features. As my site goes through redesign, I’m making sure the archives are accessible especially in the features section. I found some old entries from 2001 that are still relevant today.

Bloggers must be regular. No bathroom jokes here, please. 🙂 When a blog looks abandoned for a month… your audience is gone. They’ll take you off their feed reader and blogroll. If you plan not to do it again or take a long sabbatical… prepare to start over again when you return.

Keep the boss in mind even if your the head honcho. Always blog with a boss in mind. Will your boss (current and future) be offended by your posting? Not only do people get fired for their blogs, but also they could cost job offers. It wouldn’t surprise me if managers are Googling applicants while going through the interview process.

Junky URLs. Nielsen says having a typepad.com or blogspot.com equates to having a yahoo.com or aol.com email address. Some of the bigwigs use Blogspot or Typepad URLs. Guess what? I never remember their URLs. I have to rely on Google. So this makes sense, BUT I wouldn’t call it unprofessional.

Business blogging has many benefits and problems. Companies tread carefully when entering this new world. It’s wise to have policies on the approval process and what can and can’t be said. Like anything else in a business, blogs need to be evaluated to determine whether or not they fit the business’ model.

How to Write Effective Copy for Your Company’s Blog

Weblogs, more commonly known as blogs, are spreading feverishly across the Internet. According to Robyn Aber of Cisco Systems Inc., about four million blogs populate the Web. Though most private individuals maintain blogs, many companies are beginning to launch company blogs to communicate and interact with their clients, customers, and the public.

How can you create a company blog that outshines and outlasts every other blog? And how do you hypnotize readers to keep coming back? This article provides tips to write effective, attention-arresting blog copy and shows how you can develop reader and customer loyalty.

1. WRITE CONVERSATIONALLY.

The most engaging blogs speak to their audience in a casual and conversational tone. A big benefit of a blog is its ability to speak to readers in a way that is personal, candid and straightforward. Write your blog the same way you’d speak to your audience, face to face. The personal element is almost always what attracts people and keeps them coming back to your blog.

Amy Joyce of the Washington Post says, “Web logs—or blogs—started as a way to talk about new technologies, vent about life and interact in a no-holds-barred forum. Since blogs became the next big thing, an increasing number of companies have come to see them as the next great public relations vehicle—a way for executives to show their casual, interactive side. But, of course, the executives do nothing of the sort. Their attempts at hip, guerrilla-style blogging are often pained—and painful.”

To avoid this pitfall, simply be yourself. The best blogs reveal the interests, opinions, and personality of the writer. Your perspective, personal and professional, is unique in all the world. Let it shine through, and your blog will automatically be one-of-a-kind. An interesting blog will bring back customers again and again and will generate priceless interest in your company.

2. TELL STORIES.

Readers want to know things they already don’t know about your company. They want to know what the products, services, people, challenges, and innovations in your organization are really like. If you give them a glimpse of the inner workings, express your opinions boldly, and tell engaging stories, you will foster reader interest and loyalty. In a biography, both interviews and quotations usually are the most intriguing parts. Think of your company blog as a business biography. Personalize it with your unique thoughts and perspective.

3. MAKE IT PERSONAL.

Write about what you know. Draw from your expertise to inform the public about the finer points of your business. Detailing development ideas, setbacks, successes, and reactions reveals the human element and engages the reader. It’s fine to talk about new products and innovations, but blogs devoted mostly to marketing and promotion are the most boring and least popular of company blogs. Make these topics more appealing to readers by framing such announcements with personal impressions and insights. Customers want to feel a kinship with the brand. Letting them in on the details of your business will make them feel part of your company culture and increase the chances of their lifetime loyalty.

4. UPDATE FREQUENTLY.

Once you have established a good reader base, offer new insights regularly to reward surfers for coming back. Not only does this provide more information and exposure, but it also reflects that your company is active and on top of things. Link to current articles from other sources to keep readers abreast of developments in your sector. A rarely-updated blog feels stale and tired. This is not the reputation you want your company to have!

5. ADHERE TO COMPANY RULES.

You are personally responsible for whatever material you publish on your company blog. Respect the confidentiality of your organization and employees. Though you may express disagreements or concerns, do not make personal attacks or use the blog to air petty complaints. Do not reveal proprietary information; and avoid discussing revenue, share price, or other financial statistics. Observe copyright law, and quote sources as you would in any other document. Make sure what you write in the company blog reflects the company’s goals. Keep in mind the ultimate goal of most company blogs is to increase visibility and promote the exchange of information. While most companies allow and encourage blogging on company time, you should avoid letting your writing time interfere with your regular workload.

6. WRITE GRAMMATICALLY.

Finally, make sure that what you write is grammatical. Your blog entries reflect your company, and you want to give the best possible impression of the organization and its personnel. The Internet is rife with bad English. Though blogs tend to be relaxed in tone, it is no more appropriate to ignore standard English than it is to wear flip-flops and swimming trunks on casual Friday.

A company blog is an excellent tool for promotion, communication, and information. The tips outlined here will help elevate your blog and generate traffic and interest. Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!

The Benefits of Blogging For Business

It goes without saying that maintaining a blog is a good idea for the health of your business. Have you ever asked yourself Why? Being familiar with how blogs work and how to effectively utilize them for the health and wealth of your business will pay you back substantially for your efforts. Ineffective Blogging will simply waste your time, efforts, and this tremendous marketing tool.

Why does your business need a Blog? Credibility would be a good answer. Posting about news in your industry, links you’d recommend to topics related to your industry or post valuable information from the inside or your personal experiences, your readers will see you not only as a valuable information source but as a community minded business.

Building traffic and list building are two more reasons why your business needs a blog. These tools are Solid, Effective, and Proven Tools for marketing your Goods and Services Online.

Blogs are great for your customers.They’re not seen the same as your basic website or sales page. Postings are usually informal. At times entertaining yet informative. Their accuracy and effectiveness will peak the interest of your readers, establish you as an Expert, and build trust between you and your readers.

Having the ability to offer subscriptions to your blog through sources loike bloglet.com, your readers can simply opt to recieve notices of your most recent postings, delivered directly to their inboxes. Provided your postings remain relevant to your readers wants and needs, they’ll continually come to you first.

If you set up your blog to accept comments, this will give your readers the ability to post feedback on your posts. This will give you valuable insight and ideas regarding your next product or project.

How to build traffic with your blog. Your blog provider may provide potential readers the option of a search box. This tool gives the reader the ability to search for a particular blog using a word or phrase. By using those particular words or phrases in your title you’ll boost your chances for acquiring some targeted traffic.

Don’t forget to submit your blog to the search engines. Also remember, this is “The Information Super Highway”. Blogging is information and the Search Engines Love them. After every post, Simply ‘ping’ your blog.

So jump on the blogging bandwagon take advantage of one of the cheapest and smartest marketing tools available. It’s easy and profitable – so build yours today!

Where Should You Host Your Blog?

Should you host your blog yourself or pay someone to host it? It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or a veteran this question always comes up when creating a new blog. Usually someone new to blogging would gravitate to hosting a blog themselves or get a free blog and as time goes by with experience they begin to ponder maybe paid blog hosting isn’t so bad after all. So what is better?

To answer this question, let’s first look at how a blog is created. Just like creating web pages, first, you need a software or script that will take your entries, format it and publish it to the web. The second component of a blog, is the web space, where the software should publish to, a home for the blog pages.

Knowing this information, let’s review the different ways to host a blog:

Full blog host.

This is where the blogging system or software is provided for you and your blog is also published to a web space provided by the host. Blogger, SquareSpace and Typepad fall into this category. It’s very much like creating a website with a site builder.

Hosted blog software but published elsewhere

This is where the blog software is provided for you but the blog pages are published to another website or web host altogether. By doing this, the software acts as a publishing system like FrontPage except it creates nicely formatted blogs. Blogger is probably the most well known for this. Yes Blogger can do both. Publish to their host or to yours. As a comparison, this is like using FrontPage to publish your website.

Blog software and blog are hosted on your web server

This is where you would install the blog script (software) on your web server – it can be any web hosting account. And when you publish, the blog itself resides on your web server also. To draw a parallel, this technique is like buying web hosting and then installing a content management system on it to help you build web pages.

If you’re new to building web pages or have built sites using site builders then you might want to go with a fully hosted blog. These hosts do all the nitty gritty for you and there’s very little technical stuff you need to know. If you can point and click, you can build a blog with a full blog host.

Having said that, just because you’re seasoned at building web pages doesn’t mean full blog hosts won’t work for you. In fact, if you have many blogs this becomes very appealing since you won’t have to worry about upgrading the blog script, people exploiting the script, making plug-ins work or what happens when your web host decides to disable part of your blog functions because there is a security hole. All you do is concentrate on blogging. After a while, blogging becomes more important than maintaining your blog and that’s the way it should be.

Next up, hosted software but blog is published to your website. This seems to be the best of both worlds. At time of writing, Blogger is one of the best ways to do this but because of its popularity often, you find the system too slow to publish or completely down just when you have a hot idea to share. The idea is good but you’ll also be depending on someone else’s availability to publish your blog. It’s much like using a friend’s computer to build your web pages and you know how that can go.

Finally, you have the option to use scripts. This is also a very popular method. The flexibility it allows is very liberating because you can mould the blog anyway you want. You can even get a programmer to create custom plug-ins or customize the whole blogging system the way you want it. In short, you can do pretty much anything you want.

The down side, you need at the very basic, some knowledge of HTML or publishing web pages. Also the burden of upgrading, troubleshooting and maintaining the script is on you. If you have one or two blogs it’s not so bad but once you start having more, it can be quite tedious. You also have to consider all the other responsibilities of maintaining the script as mentioned earlier.

Armed with this information, you should be able to figure out which one is for you. If you’re still undecided, think of how you would do it if you’re creating a regular website. Chances are your choice method for publishing a website is also the best method for you to create a blog.

Why Should You as An Employer be Concerned About Blogs?

Blogging. It sounds like something that only geeks could love. Yet, blogging is now being done by geeks and non-techies alike. This could and should concern you as an employer because blogs have the grave potential to threaten your business as well as your business image and reputation.

Blogs, which is a common term for Internet Web Logs, are being used commonly and frequently by individuals to post information ranging from news and opinions, gossip and photos about businesses. Often, blogs have the air and appearance of professional online journals.

Blogs have become more and more popular because of their simple ease of creation and use. Internet Web Logs have been around for some time. But as is often the case in the world of computers “ease of use “is everything. Anyone at no or little cost can set up and post on Blogs of their choice.

Blogs provide their bloggers audiences as large and diverse as the Internet itself. That is why we are witnessing journalists,
political parties, individuals, organizations and even businesses increasingly embrace blogs to communicate their messages to online audiences.

The number of blogs on the Internet ranges widely.

Blogpulse, a blog authority “, indexed the startling count of 30 Million blogs, as of the end of June 2006 while StrokonBlog Research , another blog authority claimed 60 Million blogs counted May 2005.

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, blogs are appealing to a younger audience. It has been estimated that 60 % of most bloggers are under 19 years of age. It is very safe to say that blogs will become more relevant to businesses as all these younger bloggers come of age and join the work force in the coming years.

Most blogs can be considered quite harmless. In fact the sign of a progressive business is one that embraces blogs and blogging as an effective means to communicate in an interactive innovative manner. As well blogs can be a most useful tool to conduct market research on trends as well as conduct customer research. Remember the rule that 85 % of your business comes from 15 % of your customers. Blogs can be an inexpensive way to target and interrract for that vital 15 % of your customer base.

This makes good sense considering people are reading blogs more and more. Last year the consumer research firm Ipsos-Reid reported that 42 % of the general population gas read a blog at least once. And remember this is a count of the overall general population not those that have computers and general computer skills.

You as an employer however should be concerned about the negative impacts that individuals can mete out on targeted individuals and businesses. That is because some bloggers have used the online platform as effective powerful tools for attacks on businesses and their current or former employers.

Employers should be highly concerned about the blogging activities of their employees. That is because employees, who use blogs can, among other things engage in copyright violations, defamation as well as divulge corporate strategy and trade secrets.

The unbelievable thing about a blog is that once published it remains on the internet until the blog is edited, the whole blog is deleted or the server computer on the other side of the world which is hosting the blog is turned off so to speak.

Being on the internet the blog is both public to anyone anywhere in the world with internet access. Specific information can be easily searched across the internet through the standard search engine tools.

Seemingly innocuous information can be the final link in a competitor’s puzzle or can be used for “social engineering “to trick staff into divulging vital corporate information to outsiders pretending to be staff members. One need not have the keys anymore to the plant just information.

Seemingly harmless information on the blog can even be used to guess passwords. It is amazing the percentage of people who use their address, birthday as well as wife’s, kids or dog’s name for email and security passwords.

Employees who write blogs in the course of their employment activities are easier to manage with company policies and procedures. Employees that write their own personal blogs, outside of their work hours, can raise more challenges for employers.

Here are several steps you as an employer can utilize to protect your business from damaging employee blogs and bloggers.

1) Create a work environment where ideas can be freely exchanged

2) Reference blogging in employee policy and handbooks

3) Insist that employees place disclaimers on their personal blogs

4) Require employees to sign a non-disclosure contract as a standard in employment. And ensure that older employees as well as new hires are required to sign this form.
As part of this policy make it clear that release of confidential corporate information is legal grounds for immediate dismissal from the firm.

5) As part of the firm’s policy manuals and guidelines prohibit employees from publishing defamatory blogs about your business, co-workers or clients.

Blogs are an emerging reality in the workplace. Progressive businesses would be well advised to take note and take steps to protect their vital business, employees and customers as well as their vital image and reputation.

Blogs are a powerful tool in today’s business climate which can be used for good or bad. Remember it can only take one blog entry to destroy your business image or customer base that took 20 years to develop and nature.