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Tag Archives: weblog

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.

Get Started With Your First Blog

There is no question that blogging is one of the best ways to get keyword rich content on your site, get your message on the search engines and get traffic to your website. But how do you get started blogging?

When you consider starting a blog there are many options. A great way to get started blogging quickly (and for free) is to use an online ‘standalone’ service like WordPress or Google’s Blogger. These are free, highly customizable tools that support both new and more advanced bloggers. The negative is that you can’t use your website’s domain name. For instance, if using Blogger, you blog address would be something like ‘yourblog.blogspot.com.’ While you can link to this from your current website, search engines won’t know give you ‘credit’ for the extra content since it is a different domain. With creative cross linking however, you can still benefit from the increased exposure you can get from a blog.

These free services provide powerful software tool that balance value, quality, and ease of use. While some people prefer to use more basic blog services, they too can truly benefit from the ‘built-in’ benefits of WordPress or Blogger along with its existing large community of users.

One of the most notable benefits of these services is the ease of use, and advanced functionality of the service compared to some blog software applications. Neither Blogger nor WordPress require you to know any ‘coding’ and allow you to built and post to your blog with easy to use icons similar to what one would see in a word processing program. Having the ability to utilize a program like this allows people to create blogs that are as high tech, and complete as full blown websites.

If you are occasionally ‘offline’ you can benefit from WordPress’s ability to import posts. This means you can put your blog together while you are not connected to the internet and then import it later. If you already use another blogging service such you can also import your posts directly into Blogger or WordPress.

Another benefit of these services is their large widget or element and theme libraries that allow you to instantly add useful features, and professional looking styles to your blog. A very simple drag and drop interface allows you to add features such as an RSS feed with a few clicks.

Another option to consider would be blogging software that you can directly integrate into your website. Some hosting provides such as GoDaddy allow you to use your existing domain name for you blog. The benefit is that the content of your blog becomes part of what search engines see for your domain. In these cases you are more likely to pay a monthly add-on fee to your hosting provider. As an alternative, Google’s Blogger allows you to publish to a FTP site, which means you can blog from your own domain. You lose some of the flexibility of the ‘out of the box’ service, but with a little effort you can have a customized template and pretty easy posting capability that resides within your domain.

As your needs become more advanced or if you are a more technical blogger you may also consider blogging software that can be directly integrated into your website. One to consider is bBlog. bBlog is an open source, PHP/MySQL application. If you don’t know what the last sentence means, then this isn’t for you. If you do know, then you may benefit from the expanded flexibility an integrated application could provide.

In the end, you have a wide, wide range of very inexpensive (or free) options to get started.

Get Your Business Noticed with Blogging

Blogging has become an incredible online marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. A business can save thousands of dollars in paid advertising expenses while gaining valuable exposure and traffic. Blogs are a user-friendly, customizable and flexible medium for effective positioning of your products in the market. Businesses using blogs to promote their business have a definite edge over their competitors and are seeing a number of advantages. To get that advantage, however, they do require careful planning and effective marketing.

Blog postings are appearing in search engine results faster than other website content. Post submitted through blogging tools like Blogger and WordPress are being fast tracked to search engine results. This means more backlinks for your business website and quicker, more up to date search engine placement for your business’ marketing message.

Blogs support and even encourage word of mouth viral marketing. According to a recent survey, there are currently 90 million blogs with 80,000 more being added each day and 30 percent of internet users are blog readers. The very nature of the blogging space with sites such as Technorati and Digg, quickly spread blog posts to the widest audience. Posts that become popular can quickly spread across hundreds or thousands of other blogs and social interaction sites.

Customer awareness and loyalty are enhanced. Having a open dialogue with your customers creates trust and loyalty among them. The ability to respond, almost in real time, to customer questions and comments makes them all the more willing to try your products and services.

Feedback can be instantaneous. Businesses can use blogs and their related comments for product research and to solicit reviews. This rapid feedback mechanism could allow a business to make product decisions based on almost real time observations of their customers’ thinking and behavioral patterns.

Businesses can gain a halo-effect because the ‘blogosphere’ has the reputation of being a place for reasonable, friendly, helpful and most importantly, personal interactions. Businesses that can embrace the culture of the environment can help assign the same characteristics to their products and services.

Notwithstanding the benefits, like any other business website, it is important that the content be well planned and thought out. Even with the informal nature of many blogs, it is important to remember that they still reflect on the business’ image, positively or negatively. The blog should reflect the values and objectives of the business as well as be reflective of the overall marketing efforts of the business.

Blogging is relatively straightforward, but to be done correctly does take effort and learning. There are several blogs dedicated to teaching people the do’s and don’ts of blogging. Be aware that blogs may have themes or be community based so make sure you aware of these before putting your business name out there. The easiest way, of course, to become familiar with the tone of the blog or social community is to spend time reading posts.

Like any website there are a number of things to keep in mind. Testing, testing and testing are important to make sure the blog meets business objectives. The tone of blogs may be more subtle to detect than standard websites, requiring frequent tweaks to get it right.

Be prepared in advance for a much higher level of content posting than normal with a more static website. Blogs, to be effective, need regular, even daily, infusions of fresh content to stay relevant and keep visitors’ attention.

As with a standard website, be aware of legal issues, disclaimers, notifications, copyright issues or other issues relevant to the business. The informal nature of blogs, as well as the higher volume of updates can create compliance issues if not carefully monitored.

Finally, once a business decides to invest in blogging, there are great ways to spread the word about the new blog. To get the best marketing results, it is essential to actively promote your business blogs through blog search sites and directories. Promotion and submissions should be consistent with your products, services or the theme of the blog to be most effective. Adding exclusive or member’s only information can also increase the likelihood that casual browsers will invest the time to follow the business’ postings.

Promotion of the blog can be almost automatic be creating and promoting Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds in conjunction with the blogs. Individuals and other, related, websites can view and display blog postings directly from their own websites or personal news readers. This allows the blog poster to essentially push posts to reader’s desktops instead of relying on them to visit the originating blog site.

Since search engine placement is essential for traffic volume the blog should make effective use of keyword phrases. Blogs are by definition very content heavy website, which afford amble opportunity to generate keyword rich copy. Keywords should be selected to ensure that relevant traffic is directed to the business blog.

In summary, a blog is a great way to promote a business. A number of advantages can be gained as long as the business plans well and takes the steps to properly promote its new blog.

Aubrey Jones is President and founder of Riverbank Consulting, Inc. Through Webs 4 Small Business he is able to bring SEO and other internet services to Small Business owners. He has been in the technology and internet industry for over 10 years building and managing large commercial internet services.

Problogging: Making Money From Blogs Starting Now!

A weblog (or simply blog) is a website that ‘publishes’ or features articles (which are called ‘blog posts’, ‘posts’, or ‘entries’), written by an individual or a group that make use of any or a combination of the following:

· Straight texts
· Photographs or images (photoblog)
· Video (videoblog)
· Audio files (audioblog)
· Hyperlinks

Usually presented and arranged in reverse chronological order, blogs are essentially used for the following purposes:

· Online journal or a web diary
· Content managament system
· Online publishing platform

A typical blog has the following components:

· Post date -the date and time of the blog entry

· Category – the category that the blog belongs to

· Title – the title of the blog

· Main body – the main content of the blog

· RSS and trackback – links the blog back from other sites

· Comments – commentaries that are added by readers

· Permalinks – the URL of the full article

· Other optional items – calendar, archives, blogrolls, and add-ons or plug-ins

A blog can also have a footer, usually found at the bottom of the blog, that shows the post date, the author, the category, and the ‘stats’ (the nubmer of comments or trackbacks).

There are numerous types of blogs. Some of them are the following:

1. Political blog – on news, politics, activism, and other issue based blogs (such as campaigning).

2. Personal blog – also known as online diary that may include an individual’s day-to-day experience, complaints, poems, and illicit thoughts, and communications between friends.

3. Topical blog – with focus either on a particular niche (function or position) that is usually technical in nature or a local information.

4. Health blog – on specific health issues. Medical blog is a major category of health blog that features medical news from health care professionals and/or actual patient cases.

5. Literary blog – also known as litblog.

6. Travel blog – with focus on a traveler’s stories on a particular journey.

7. Research blog – on academic issues such as research notes.

8. Legal blog – on law (technical areas) and legal affairs; also known as ‘blawgs’.

9. Media blog – focus on falsehoods or inconsistencies in mass media; usually exclusive for a newspaper or a television network.

10. Religious blog – on religious topics

11. Educational blog – on educational applications, usually written by students and teachers.

12. Collaborative or collective blog – a specific topic written by a group of people.

13. Directory blog – contains a collection of numerous web sites.

14. Business blog – used by entrepreneurs and corporate employees to promote their businesses or talk about their work.

15. Personification blog – focus on non-human being or objects (such as dogs).

16. Spam blogs – used for promoting affiliated websites; also known as ‘splogs’.

Blogging is typically done on a regular (almost daily) basis. The term “blogging” refers to the act of authoring, maintaining, or adding an article to an existing blog, while the term “blogger” refers to a person or a group who keeps a blog.

Today, more than 3 million blogs can be found in the Internet. This figure is continuously growing, as the availability of various blog software, tools, and other applications make it easier for just about anyone to update or maintain the blog (even those with little or no technical background). Because of this trend, bloggers can now be categorized into 4 main types:

· Personal bloggers – people who focus on a diary or on any topic that an individual feels strongly about.

· Business bloggers – people who focus on promoting products and services.

· Organizational bloggers – people who focus on internal or external communication in an organization or a community.

· Professional bloggers – people who are hired or paid to do blogging.

Problogging (professional blogging) refers to blogging for a profit. Probloggers (professional bloggers) are people who make money from blogging (as an individual blog publisher or a hired blogger).

Below are just some of the many money-making opportunities for probloggers:

· Advertising programs
· RSS advertising
· Sponsorship
· Affiliate Programs
· Digital assets
· Blog network writing gigs
· Business blog writing gigs
· Non blogging writing gigs
· Donations
· Flipping blogs
· Merchandising
· Consulting and speaking

The following are a few things that you need to consider if you want to be successful in problogging:

1. Be patient. Problogging requires a lot of time and effort, not to mention a long-term vision.

2. Know your audience. Targeting a specific audience or group is a key to building a readership.

3. Be an ‘expert’. Focus on a specific niche topic and strive to be the “go-to” blogger on that topic.

4. Diversify. Experiment with various add and affiliate programs that enable you to make money online (aside from blogging).

5. Do not bore your readers. Focus on the layout. White spaces, line spacings, and bigger fonts make a blog welcoming to read.

Certainly, it is possible to earn money from blogs. One just needs to take risks, the passion, and the right attitude in order to be a successful problogger.

The Importance Of Content – Adding A Weblog To Your Site

Continuing my theme of how as a small business you can improve your search engine results. In a previous article I extolled the virtues of article writing and in this one I shall consider the practicalities and usefulness of adding a weblog to your site in order to drive more traffic to your web pages.

I am presuming that you have optimised your site, added numerous pages of content and update or add to that content at least on a weekly basis. All of this I did with our own website but still the search engines only visited the site about every 4 – 6 weeks. So although our content was being added to sometimes on a daily basis I couldn’t induce the Google spider in particular to visit the site more often even though I was submitting sitemaps to Google.which informed it of these updates.

I then started reading about the benefits to businesses of having a weblog attached to the site. SEO’s were and still do wax lyrical about how search engines just love weblogs. On this basis I decided to give it a go and looked around at the various free blog sites and finally settled on http://www.blogger.com as this site allowed the blog to be integrated into the website and offered a multitude of templates to choose from. So I chose my template and went through the process of integration with the website which is a very simple and easy process to follow. The next step was to start writing the blog. Very quickly I discovered that it was the ideal vehicle for announcing new services, new products and new branch openings as well as informing the readers of our day to day activities and experiences. All of it is excellent content and the SEO’s were quite correct in that the search engine spiders do love it. So much so that the googlebot spider visits everyday to update the web pages and the weblog. This now means that when my content changes or new pages are added they are immediately indexed by Google. This has done wonders for the search engine placement of the site.

The second benefit that SEO’s talked about was the increased number of links that having a blog would bring in. This part I didn’t quite believe as I couldn’t see how it would do this. I am still not certain of how and why it does attract links but the truth of the matter is that it does. The articles and the weblog seem to inhabit a world of their own and they certainly take on a life which you have no control over. However the combined effect is to boost your own content, attract search engines to visit your site frequently, increase the number of backlinks to your site and increase the number of visitors. All of which are of tremendous benefit to you as a business.

The latest figures I saw published for the number of businesses with weblogs was only 2%. So all you small businesses out there with a website, get writing articles and add a weblog to your site. Keep that updated, preferably on a daily basis, and you will soon see dramatic effects both on your visitor numbers and your search engine placement.

Using A Free Blogging Web Site

When you’re new to blogging, a free blogging web site is a good way to get started. Popular blogging web sites like Blogger and Eponym allow users to set up and host a blog for no cost at all. The fact that one of these sites can provide you with all of the tools that you need to get your blog up and running for free, encourages people to start a blog. As it’s free, you don’t have anything to lose. Many people that have never had any other kind of web presence before find themselves drawn to blogging, partly because it is so easy to find a way to blog for free.

Compared to starting your own blog from scratch, signing up with a free blogging web site will get you listed in search engines much easier. For example, Google, that runs the free blog hosting site Blogspot, crawls its pages very often to look for updates. As a result, if you have a Blogspot blog, you are almost guaranteed to be listed on Google’s blog search engine. This way you can spend less time on promoting your blog, and you can gain a following with a minimum of marketing effort.

If your blog attracts many readers, you may want to think about moving your site. Many people think that a blog that is hosted by a free blogging web site has a kind of amateur flavor, not appropriate for a high-profile blog. Your own domain name can help you make your blog feel professional, and finding a webhost is not difficult or expensive. Once your blog starts to attract a large readership, you will probably be able to sell enough advertising space to be able to afford to buy your own domain and pay for a hosting package, and still have money left over. However, until you have a sizeable readership, there’s really no need to invest in these luxuries.

When you want to build a following before you spend any money on your blog, using a free blogging website is a good idea. Later, when you feel ready to take the next step and pay for your own domain, your readers will follow you to your new home.