Those who followed the meteoric rise in the number of websites in the ’90s will
see parallels in the similarly stellar growth of blogs. By some estimates, the number of blogs doubles every five months, and is approaching 15 million blogs worldwide — Which makes blogging the buzz, everywhere you go. But most people are still at the stage of asking: “What is a blog” and “Why should I care?”. Businesspeople often ask, “How can I use a blog to help my business?”
What is a Blog?
The word “blog” is a contraction of “web log”. Like an ordinary website, it has text and navigation that uses HTML to display content in a web browser. It differs from an ordinary website by using specialized software to manage the content in a particular way. This blog software resides on a web server. It allows the user to write articles and manage images and links within the web browser itself, with little knowledge of HTML, and no special tools required.
When you write an article (called a “post”) for your blog, the post appears immediately online, on the blog’s home page. The most recent article is always at the top, and the rest in descending chronological order. As new articles appear at the top, older articles “roll off” the home page. Each article is also stored in an archive, where writings continue to be available for as long as the blog exists. Links to the archives are automatically created and managed by the blog software.
The Secret Value of a Business Blog
Because it is easy to write a post, and the posts appear chronologically, it forms a journal. For a business, a blog is a great way to keep customers, employees, vendors, and the press up to date on company or industry news. But the secret value of blogs is not just how people read them, but how search engines, like Google, read them. Blogs are magic at Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The secret is that, over time, posts written about a particular product, service, or industry will create a cumulative volume of pages that are rich in keywords related to your specialty. The more you write, and the more careful you are about embedding keywords in your posts, the higher your blog will appear in search results.
To really power your way to the top of the search engines requires getting more sites to link to yours. Google uses the number of links into your site to establish a “page rank”. Page rank, plus keyword matching, are combined to position your page in the search results. But to really drive traffic to your blog, you need to become an “active blogger.”
Passive Bloggers Write, Active Bloggers Link
If you just write articles on your blog, you’ll eventually get more people viewing it. But this is the passive approach. To crank it up, become an active blogger.
Blogs have the ability to accept “comments” from readers. Sometimes this feature is turned off to avoid “comment spam”, but most sites still accept comments. After you write an article on your site, go to like-minded blogs, and use their comments to notify them of your article. These comments normally link back to your site. Typically, active bloggers watch their comments. Most are looking for good material for their own blogs, So they might follow up on your comment by mentioning your article on their blog, and linking to it. Over time, this increases the number of pages linking into your blog, and your search engine positioning will magically rise closer to the top.
Ping the Blog Search Engines
Traditional search engines only update their links every few months. This is inadequate for blogs that are updated weekly, daily, even hourly. So specialty search tools for blogs have stepped in to fill the gap. These tools allow you to “ping” them each time you post a new article. The ping notifies them so they can immediately update their index of blog entries. Blog search engines just store an entry of each post, and link directly to the archive of that post. The archive has a permanent address (called a “Permalink”) so that, even years in the future, a search will return the correct results.
If you start a business blog, post at least two articles per week, and keep at it, and it will pay dividends. If you become an active blogger, you will soon create a network of links and relationships with other blogs that will increase your authority both to readers and to search engines. Becoming an authority in your field can only help your business.