Many of you will be familiar with blogs though you might not realise how popular they are. Technorati estimates that a 175,000 new blogs are created everyday. They are a free and easy way for people to self publish and have become a genuine cultural phenomena, allowing people from all walks of life to express themselves to a potential audience of millions.
However when most people think of blogs they tend to think of a personal website, almost a private diary, though that need not be the case. Many companies are taking advantage of the technology of blogs create a conversation between themselves and their potential customers.
In this piece I hope to explain some of the reasons why a company would want to create a blog and give you some useful tips on creating a blog for your business.
Google and all the other search engines like regularly updated websites, sites like the BBC and the Guardian, which get updates through out the day and night, get visited by the search engine spiders (which map the internet) far more frequently. If you have a fairly static website, with infrequent changes, having a blog can help attract the spiders with increasing frequency.
Attracting spiders isn’t the only way which a blog can help your site appear higher in the results of search engines. Most of the major search sites rely on the concept of link equity. The basic idea behind link equity is each time a website receives a link from another page that acts as a “vote” for the quality of the site. The more of these “votes” that a website receives the more trusted the engines find the site and the higher up the result page the site appears.
If you have a fairly standard company website it’s often quite difficult to find these “voting” links. However if you are writing interesting and topical content about the industry you work in it’s much easier to attract links. Your blog works as bait for these links.
Another useful advantage that can come from creating a blog is the feedback loop it creates between you and your customers. They can make comments on your individual posts or make their own blog posts linked back to your original post. It makes your customers far more comfortable contacting you and helps you create a brand loyalty which can become a real competitive advantage.
While there are definite benefits to having a blog on your site there are also some potential pitfalls to avoid. The beauty of blogs is that you needn’t be a qualified journalist to write one though there are some definite traps that it’s best to avoid.
Firstly, there’s a big difference between blogs and press releases, so try and find other blogs in your sector to give you some insight into how you could write posts. There is often a whole different lexicon on blogs compared to what you might find in press releases. It’s better to write in fairly standard generic terms, you might call yourselves a “print media procurement solutions firm” but in a blog you should call yourselves “paper company”.
It’s best also to avoid talking merely about your own products on your blog. A list of features might be ideal for a press release, but commentary about what you are trying to achieve with the product or some insight into the technology behind scenes are far more practical blog topics.
Try and write about stuff that you and other people in your industry might be interested in; general trends in the market, upcoming regulations and legislation that affects your company, your clients or even your suppliers. It might even be a suitable place to talk about your competitors’ new products and technology. People will expect a certain bias but if you can be objective and balanced your opinion will win you fans in the industry and amongst potential clients.
You might also benefit from providing commentary rather than news, unless you have some unique angle on breaking the news you will probably be best offering your insight as in-depth commentary that might not already be available from the B2B press.
If you find other blogs or websites that inspire your posts or might be of interest to your readers then you should link to them. Similarly if you have another page in your website which is relevant to the blog post you should provide a hyperlink to the post to help those looking for further information on the topic.
One of the most important but often neglected aspects of blogging is to update regularly. There is nothing more unprofessional than an ignored blog. It shows readers of your site that you were uncommitted to the idea and generally reflects badly on your brand. You don’t have to update hourly but if you can’t update once a week, or at the least once a month, it could end up doing more harm to your business than good.
Hopefully this post has inspired you to go and create your own business blog or given you some useful tips on how to improve your existing blogs. If you have any further questions about blogging or some further tips please feel free to leave a comment below.[tags]Business blogging, Social Media, B2B Marketing[/tags]