Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blogging for Business

Starting a Business Blog Information


The blogging movement is picking up speed as businesses begin to realize the benefits of blogging. Discover what a business blog can do for you.


What is a Blog?

According to Pyra Labs Blogger, "A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically-like a what's new page or a journal." The term is actually weblogs coined by Jorn Barger in 1997.

The boom of weblogs happened in 1999 when several companies & developers made easy blogging software and tools. Since 1999, the number of blogs on the Internet has exploded from a few thousand to over 100 million.

Blogs can fall into two general categories.

Personal Blogs: a mixture of a personal diary, opinion posts and research links.

Business Blogs: a corporate tool for communicating with customers or employees to share knowledge and expertise.

Business blogs are sweeping the business community. Blogs are an excellent method to share a company's expertise, build additional web traffic, and connect with potential customers..

What does Blogging Provide to Small Business?
Blog software is easy to use. Simply write your thoughts, link to resources, and publish to your blog, all at the push of a few buttons. Blog software companies such as: Movable Type, Blogger.com and Typepad all offer easy blogging tools to get started.
Blogging is a low-cost alternative to having a web presence. For small business owners without the time to learn web html or the money to hire a designer/developer, blogging offers an inexpensive method to get your company's name out on the Internet.
Updating the weblog is a much quicker process than contacting a web designer with changes or doing the coding and uploading yourself.
Business blogs provide your small business with a chance to share your expertise and knowledge with a larger audience. A powerful benefit for consultants and knowledge workers.

Examples of Business Blogs

Research Buzz is an excellent resource tool for Internet research. An information provider, Research Buzz provides advertising and a special paid edition of their newsletter.

Jupiter Research, a top business market research company has a blog for each company analyst. The weblog provides analysts with the means to connect with their audience on a regular basis.


Blogs do have a downside. Blogging does not provide the functionality of web pages, has limits for e-commerce solutions and can be time-consuming with regular posts. But with minimal costs, it maybe advantageous to start blogging. Is your small business blog ready?

Business Blogs


Elsewhere on the Web
Business Blogging is a Marketing Tool:


Writing a

blog for your business is an effective marketing tactic. Blogs give businesses the opportunity to discuss products, share upcoming product or company news and hype just about anything the business wants. Blogging creates an online buzz and word of mouth marketing.


Additionally, business blogs provide another way that companies can link to promotions and news elsewhere on the web (for example, the company's static web page) to further communicate marketing messages and increase the company's online presence.

Business Blogging Can Boost Sales:


Business blogs are excellent

sales tools and provide a perfect opportunity for companies to promote their products, services, sales and more. Blogs allow businesses to continually keep not just their products in front of customers but also the benefits of those products. Since blogs provide current information, they offer an excellent place for customers to find the latest news and offers about existing or new products.


Blogs can give customers a feeling of being 'in the know' and getting exclusive tips because they're part of the business' blog community.

Business Blogging Can Boost Customer Satisfaction:


Blogging is interactive and allows for two-way conversation with customers. Because of that potential for communication, blogs are a great way to share information with customers and hear their feedback. Customers who feel like a company is listening to them and responding to their needs are more likely to develop an emotional connection with that company, which is a fundamental requirement to building customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Business Blogging Helps to Communicate a Business' Brand Message:


Every business has a brand message and image in the eyes of consumers. Blogs give companies an opportunity to communicate the brand image they want to hold in the marketplace. Consistent branding leads to a sense of security and stability for customers, which are two of the main factors needed to build customer loyalty.

A Word of Warning About Business Blogging:


Business blogs are an investment in time, but that investment can pay off through increased sales, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. However, it's essential that business blogs are written in inviting tones that welcome customers rather than turn them off. Avoid corporate rhetoric and jargon in your business blog. Be responsive to customer comments and work to develop a sense of community around your blog. Also, make sure the information you provide on your business blog is meaningful to customers and updated frequently, so they have a reason to return.


15 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic


The blogosphere is a big and busy world with over 100 million blogs and growing. How do you attract visitors to your blog? Follow these simple tips to drive traffic to your blog.

1. Write Well and Write Often


Frequently updating your blog with useful content is the first step to building your blog's audience. The content you write is what will keep readers coming back for more. Make sure you have something meaningful to say to them and say it often to maintain their interest and keep them loyal.

Furthermore, post frequently to increase the number of chances you have for your blog's content to be noticed by search engines such as




2. Submit Your Blog to Search Engines

Get on the radar screen for the popular search engines such as Google and

Yahoo! by submitting your blog's URL to them. Most search engines provide a 'Submit' link (or something similar) to notify the search engine of your new blog, so those search engines will crawl it and include your pages in their results.


It's important to understand that simply submitting your blog to search engines doesn't mean your pages will appear at the top of a Google search results screen, but at least your blog will be included and will have the chance of being picked up by a search engine.

3. Use and Update Your Blogroll


By adding links to sites you like in your

blogroll, the owners of those blogs will find your blog and will be likely to add a reciprocal link in their blogrolls. It's an easy way to get the link to your blog in front of many readers on other blogs. The hope is that some of those readers will click on the link to your blog on the other blogs' blogrolls and find your content interesting and enjoyable turning them into loyal readers.


4. Harness the Power of Comments


Commenting is a simple and essential tool to increase your blog's traffic. First, respond to comments left on your blog to show your readers that you value their opinions and draw them into a two-way conversation. This will increase reader loyalty.


Second, leave comments on other blogs to drive new traffic. Make sure you leave your blog's

URL in your comment, so you create a link back to your own blog. Many people will read the comments left on a blog post. If they read a particularly interesting comment, they are highly likely to click on the link to visit the commentor's website. It's important to make sure you leave meaningful comments that are likely to invite people to click on your link to read more.


5. Syndicate Your Blog's Content with an RSS Feed


Setting up an

RSS feed button on your blog makes it easy for your loyal readers to not just read your blog but also know when you publish new content.


6. Use Links and Trackbacks


Links are one of the most powerful parts of your blog. Not only are links noticed by search engines, but they also act as a tap on the shoulder to other bloggers who can easily identify who is linking to their sites. Linking helps to get you noticed by other bloggers who are likely to investigate the sites that are linking to them. This may lead them to become new readers of your blog or to add links to your blog from theirs.


You can take links to other blogs a step further by leaving a

trackback on the other blog to let them know you've linked to them. Blogs that allow trackbacks will include a link back to your blog in the comments section of the post that you originally linked to. People do click on trackback links!


7. Tag Your Posts


It takes a few extra seconds to add

tags to each of your blog posts, but it's worth the time in terms of the additional traffic tags can drive to your blog. Tags (like links) are easily noticed by search engines. They're also key to helping readers find your blog when they perform searches on popular blog search engines such as Technorati.


8. Submit Your Posts to Social Bookmarking Sites


Taking the time to submit your best posts to

social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and more can be a simple way to quickly boost traffic to your blog.



9. Remember Search Engine Optimization

When you write your blog posts and pages, remember to optimize your pages for search engines to find them. Include relevant keywords and links but don't overload your posts with too many relevant keywords or completely irrelevant keywords. Doing so can be considered spamming and could have negative results such as your blog being removed from Google's search entirely.

10. Don't Forget Images


Images don't just make your blog look pretty, they also help people find you in search engine listings. People often use the image search options offered by Google, Yahoo! and other search engines, and naming your images with search engine optimization in mind can easily boost your traffic.


11. Consider Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be done when you write a guest post on another blogger's blog or when another blogger writes a guest post on your blog. Both methods are likely to increase traffic as your blog will be exposed to the other blogger's audience. Many of the other blogger's readers will visit your blog to see what you have to say.


12. Join Forums, Web Rings or Online Groups

Find online forums, web rings, groups or

social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn where you can share ideas and ask questions of like-minded individuals. Add a link to your blog in your signature line or profile, so each time you post on a forum or participate in another online network, you're indirectly promoting your blog. Chances are many people will click on that link to learn more about you.


13. Promote Outside Your Blog


Promoting your blog shouldn't stop when you step outside the blogosphere. Add your blog's URL to your email signature and business cards. Talk about it in offline conversations. It's important to get your name and your blog's URL noticed offline, too.

14. Nominate Yourself and Other Blogs for Blog Awards


There are a number of blog awards given out throughout the year. Nominating yourself and other blogs and bloggers can draw attention to your blog and drive traffic to it.

15. Don't Be Shy


The most important part of the blogosphere is its community and much of your success as a blogger will be tied to your willingness to network with that community. Don't be afraid to ask questions, join conversations or just say hi and introduce yourself. Don't sit back and hope the online world will find you. Speak out and get yourself noticed. Let the blogosphere know you've arrived and have something to say!


Promotional Blog ideas


If you want to grow your blog, then it's critical that you take time to promote it. Unfortunately, the old theory, "if you build it, they will come," doesn't apply to blogs. With over one hundred million blogs being tracked by blog search engines such as Technorati, publishing compelling content isn't enough to drive awareness and traffic for your blog. Instead, you need to invest in some old-fashioned sweat equity to give your blog a traffic boost. The 10 free blog promotion tips below will help you get started.

1. Comment on Other Blogs

An easy way to give your blog a promotional boost is by commenting on other blogs. Each time you comment, enter the same name and URL in the corresponding fields in the blog comment form. Doing so will help your search engine optimization efforts over time. When you leave relevant, interesting and useful comments on other blogs (particularly those that are related to your own blog's topic), people will notice and follow the link back to your blog to learn more about you and read more of what you have to say.


 



2. Post Frequently


Posting frequently can boost your search engine traffic. Each new post acts as a new entry point for search engines to find your blogs. Writing with search engine optimization in mind can also boost the potential each of your posts has to lead traffic to your blog.


3. Participate in Online Forums


Join forums related to your

blog topic and become an active, contributing member. Include a link to your blog in your forum signature, so it's always available to other members.


4. Use Social Media


Leverage the promotional opportunities that the

social web provides. Join social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and include links to your blogs and recent posts in your profiles. Join social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious and submit great content (not just your own). Additionally, consider jumping on the microblogging bandwagon and join Twitter. All of these efforts will increase awareness of your blog and give it added exposure.


5. Link to Other Blogs in Your Own Posts


Try to include links to other blogs in your own blog posts. Refer to other blogs you enjoy reading or specific posts you found particularly interesting. When those other blogs have the

trackback feature turned on in their blogging software programs, you'll automatically get a link back to your own blog in the comment section of those posts. At the very least, the other blogger will see the incoming links from your blog in their blog statistic reports, putting you and your blog on his or her radar, and that means more exposure for you.


6. Include Your Blog Link in Your Email Signature and on Business Cards


Basically, include your blog URL everywhere you can. Your email signature and business cards are two of the most obvious places to promote your blog with a link or printed URL, but don't be afraid to think out of the box. Promotion is key to success when it comes to blogging. Don't be shy about tooting your own horn!

7. Hold a Blog Contest


Blog contests are a great way to attract new visitors to your blog. The most important thing to remember when using a blog contest as a promotional tool is to get the word out about the contest by announcing it on contest websites.


8. Join a Blog Carnival


Blog carnivals are an easy way to get links to your blog in front of a lot of people. The more closely related to your blog topic that the carnival is, the more traffic you'll get from it.



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8. Offer subscription services. Allow your visitors to subscribe to get regular updates to your blog via e-mail and RSS. Essentially, every time you publish a post, a subscriber is notified to check it out. Plug-ins to allow subscription options are likely available for your blogging platform of choice (most e-mail marketing providers offer plug-ins that can be integrated into WordPress and other blogging platforms to turn your blog into a comprehensive list-building system). There are also a number of third-party services that can collect names and contact info for you. FeedBlitz and Google FeedBurner are both free services.

9. Trick out with social bling. The more traffic you attract, the more opportunities you'll have for generating leads. So be sure to outfit your blog with social-sharing icons, particularly the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Doing so subtly encourages your visitors to share your content and allows you to reach your network's network, which is a key attribute of social media. Of course, this assumes that you are actively participating in social media, i.e., engaging in conversation, and not just broadcasting headlines.

10. Remember one final thing. Fundamentally, a blog is an opportunity: It's a way to connect with customers in a real-time, accessible way. But your blog needs to be part of your business, and part of your lead-gen efforts. Talk it up in e-mail newsletters, in print collateral and on packaging materials. A blog won't magically drive business without active and ongoing promotion and participation--no matter how much inspiration Dr. Seuss imparts.

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