The current thinking on optimising your website for the search engines is to do the following:
- Include plenty of key words (without damaging its readability).
- Build back-links with good quality, relevant sites.
- Contain regularly updated articles and news.
In the US the use of business blogs is booming. They have an excellent ability to achieve all three of these aims in one go. Web sites in nature are static. Blogs, on the other hand, can easily and quickly be updated with new material rich in keywords and of informative value to your customers.
Search engines look for the most up-to-date, relevant content when categorising sites. If your blog is regularly updated with appropriate subject material then Google and Yahoo will be eager to push it to the front of the cue.
What is a blog exactly? Blog is short for web log. They started as online journals, or diaries, in which people posted their thoughts and allowed others to comment. The adoption of blogs by businesses has opened whole new ways in which they can be used.
Rather than an online diary, they are used for posting the latest news and articles with a comment section for readers. This opens a whole new forum for building customer relationships and starting an ongoing conversation with your marketplace.
The nature of the relationship between businesses and customers is changing thanks to the resources people find online. Hard selling Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmarketing speakÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and bombarding customers with blatant adverts has no future on the Internet. The relationship is no longer a one way conversation.
Consumers now have the opportunity to share information on products and services on forums strewn all over the web. People will increasingly use these forums for getting the low-down on a product if all the corporate website provides is misogynistic claims and marketing spiel.
Providing a blog on your site enables you to engage your marketplace in an ongoing conversation and gain credibility by responding to their questions and comments. Over time, your readers will build trust and confidence in your expertise if you are regularly supplying information of value and not hiding behind impersonal marketing gobbledegook.
The Internet is about information and it is this people are searching for when they type keywords into Google. Providing news and articles of value is what will attract readers to repeatedly visit your site and build the conditions for making that sale.
The beauty of a blog is that it can also be used to feed a marketing campaign with little to no effort or expense. Your blog can be customised to capture email addresses and supply RSS (real simple syndication) feeds that will automatically deliver your articles as soon as they are posted. A blog can build relationships with potential customers long after they have left the site, and maintain a connection long after the first sale.
When you consider the benefits business blogs provide for marketing and communication it is no wonder they have taken off so rapidly in the US. In a recent survey 89% of US companies (Guidewire Group Market Cycle Survey, Oct 2005) confirmed they now run a blog or intend to start one. An impressive statistic when you consider that only 10% of companies even had a blog three years ago.
As ever, the UK is trailing behind the US in its adoption of new marketing methods and techniques. In a recent poll (Business Link 4 London, May 06) almost three quarters of UK small businesses felt they had insufficient knowledge of blogs to incorporate them in their marketing strategy.
The perception that a static website can just be left to its own devices and create business is extremely dated. If your business is slow to adapt to engaging with its online marketplace and connecting by providing information then you will simply be ignored and Ã¢â‚¬ËœconversationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ will take place without you. Ã‚Â Ã‚Â