Business blogs and blogging for marketing purposes became popular during the middle of the last decade and reached its peak in 2008. Then social networking caught everyone’s attention and blogs were forgotten by many businesses. Those businesses that already had a blog posted less frequently as their time was spent on all the different social media websites. Businesses that ventured into online marketing for the first time were swayed to the social media websites by all the frenzy in the news, and information freely given in online marketing seminars and articles.
However, today blogs are seeing a resurgence. Many online marketing experts are predicting business use of blogs will increase through 2011 and 2012.
A few recent stats supporting this view are:
- Consumers trust blogs more than Facebook and Twitter: A significant 47% of consumers will refer a brand they read about through a blog, versus only 28% for a Facebook brand and 22% for Twitter, according to Technorati and Razorfish.
- Small businesses are seeing big benefits: Businesses that have blogs receive 55% more traffic than those that don’t, found a HubSpot study.
- Blogs enhance search engine rankings: A significant 58% of marketers use their blog to improve their search engine optimization, according to eMarketer.
- Most people read blogs: More than half of Internet users read a blog at least monthly and find them very influential, according to research from Technorati and eMarketer. This is expected to rise to over 60% by 2014.
In addition, and probably more importantly, this past fall Google made some changes to their algorithms and now place higher value on blog posts. This means a blog post will rank higher than before and have a better chance to appear on the first page of a Google Search Results Page
We have seen evidence of this in our business. Throughout the fall and into 2011 we have seen an increase in the number of our clients’ blog posts that Google was listing on the first page of their search results. Consequently we are focusing on creating more blog posts for all of our clients and have started several new blogs to add to the ones we already have.
Blogs have by no means surpassed online video as the superior method to receive first page search results; however, blogs may well be the second best during the next couple of years.
To set-up your blog there are a number of different platforms from which to choose. There are several websites where you can set-up a free blog and there is software that you can install on your own domain to create a blog. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. We have several of both types of blogs on which we regularly post information about our clients.
The free blog websites include:
- Blogger.com (owned by Google) - PR 8
- Blog.com - PR 6
- WordPress.com - PR 9
- LiveJournal.com - PR 8
- Ning.com - PR 7
- Zanga.com - PR 7
The advantages these websites offer are:
- They are FREE
- They are easy to set-up
- They have high authority status (high page rank)
The greatest advantage of these websites is the last one, their high authority status. In the list above I listed the Page Rank (PR) number for each of the website’s home page. Page Rank is a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest. Any Page Rank of 5 or higher is very good and the higher the number the better.
This means that any link you create from your blog to your website will be a higher quality link and carry more link juice. While the pages your create on your blog will not carry this high of a Page Rank, the Page Rank of the home page does factor into the quality of the link.
The main disadvantages of these websites are:
- If they go out of business you loose your blog
- They place advertising on your blog (some have paid versions without ads)
- They link to other blogs on their website from your blog.
Setting up a blog on your own website is now easier than ever. There are two ways to do this. You can set-up a blog as part of your website, or set it up as a completely different website.
The advantage of placing the blog on your main website is that it is an easy way to keep updating your website and to add lots of content to your website. Both of these will help your website rank higher. The disadvantage is that you gain very little credit from linking to pages on your website.
The advantage of a separate blog is the high quality link you receive every time you link to your website from your blog. You should ONLY link the new blog to your main website. Do NOT link your main website back to your new blog. This is called a link exchange and Google de-values those links.
To set-up a separate blog all you need is a domain name (around $10 a year) and a hosting account (as low as $2.50 per month). Do NOT place your blog on the same hosting account (an add-on domain) as your store’s main website. If it is on the same hosting account, you loose the advantage of having a separate blog and you don’t gain any of the advantages of having your blog on your website. It’s a lose, lose situation.
Once you have your new domain set-up, go to the C-Panel (also called cPanel or Control Panel) on your hosting account. Scroll down until you find Fantastico De Luxe. It usually has a blue smiley face for the icon. Click on “WordPress” from the list on the left side, and then click on “New Install.” It will ask you where you want to install your new blog (choose your new domain name) and for a user name and password. Then click “Install” and it will install everything you need for your new blog.
Once installation has finished, click on the link provided to go to the Admin page for your blog. Be sure to save this page in your favorites as you will need to go to this page every time you make a new post. Type in your user name and password that you set-up during the install, and you will be taken to the blog’s Dashboard. To add a post to your blog click on the “New Post” button just left of center at the top of the page.
Fill out the form that appears. You can either type in your information directly in the boxes provided or cut and paste from a word processor such as Microsoft Word. Place your title in the top box. Your title can be up to 65 characters long. Make certain to include several keywords in your title.
Place your post content in the larger box below the title. You can change the look of your post by changing the formation of some or all of the text. To do this highlight the text you want to change and then click on one of the icons at the top of the box. As you move your mouse over the icons a small pop-up box will inform you what that button does. If you click on the last button on the right “Show/Hide Kitchen Sink” another row of formatting buttons will appear.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with these buttons as you can always change it if you don’t like how it looks. To see what your blog post will look like click the “Preview” button on the far right side of the page.
To add pictures to your blog post, look just above the formatting buttons and you will see “Upload/Insert.” Click on the first button “Add Images.” In the pop-up window that appears you can select a picture from your computer or from one you have on another website.
Once you have your blog post completed click the blue “Publish” button on the right side of the page to publish the post on your blog.
In next month’s article I will share some techniques for customizing your blog and time saving tips to creating your blog post.
Brad and Debbie Simon are 30+ year veterans of the retail jewelry industry and have been marketing on the Internet since 1999. Their company Internet 4 Jewelers provides On-Line Marketing services for Retail Jewelers including blog posting and online video marketing. For more information log on to Internet4Jewelers.com.