This past summer I attended a 3-day marketing conference. I spent most of my time in the e-Commerce and Web Marketing Track, hoping to learn more about increasing the effectiveness of my internet-based campaigns, generating additional web traffic, and maximizing new web technologies for marketing and online sales. One of my favorite sessions was a panel presentation and Q&A on the topic of blogs. The panel was loaded with heavy-hitting experts from Website Optimization firms (different than Search Engine Optimization firms) who not only made it their business to know how to manufacture website traffic, but had direct phone numbers and email addressees for people at Google and MSN—insiders who would willingly pick up the phone whenever they called.
Instead of simply passing on my notes from the session, I’ll boil them down into one, broad-reaching conclusion:
If your company can justify a blog as part of its website presence, add one. Soon.
So why are blogs so important for website traffic? To begin, making a site-relevant blog entry every three or four days refreshes your website with new content and keywords—something both Google and MSN love to see. In fact, even if no one actually reads your blog entries, by maintaining a blog you are still proving two things to major search engines: 1) that you regularly pay attention to your website, and 2) that you are continually adding relevant content. To avoid breaking down the super top secret algorithms that search engines use to display results, suffice it to say websites get ‘extra credit’ for these things (NOTE: I understand this is a bit of an over-simplification, but this posting is not written for the sophisticated search engine marketer—so please forgive the generalizations).
And of course, if people do actually begin to read your company’s blog, there are obviously advantages as well. Blogs can be used as a way to more deeply educate website visitors on company-related topics, or to convey information that doesn’t really ‘fit’ on your main site. Also, with a company blog you can sometimes get away with saying things about your products, your industry, and your competitors that would not necessarily be well-received if presented on other parts of your website. In other words, if you view your website as a newspaper, your company blog can be used as the editorial column.
However, if you decide to incorporate a blog as part of your corporate website, there is one caveat: your posts must be relevant to what your company is selling. If you run an IT consulting business, don’t blog about your new Sleep Number bed. If you own a boutique candle store, avoid the temptation to give readers a preview of your upcoming vacation. There is nothing search engines hate more than displaying non-relevant results. Loading your company blog with unrelated content won’t just drive the wrong people to your site, but could cause your site as a whole to lose ground when it comes to its search engine rankings.
If I receive good response to this post, I will likely continue by diving deeper into blog-related issues—selection, implementation, marketing issues, keyword use and so on. If you would like me to go in this direction, please feel free to comment on this post.
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