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Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Sunday, November 30, 2003

 

Business blogs as helpful marketing

You have decided to take the plunge and set up a business blog.

Your only thought, as you click the button that makes the blog an official one, is what could possibly your blog's purpose.

There are many good reasons for establishing a business blog. Today, we are looking at the blog as a helpful marketing medium.

You want to sell more of your products and services, yet you lack the number of clients and customers you would really like. What can you do?

A business blog can help you.

As you post your regular articles on your blog, you are building a customer relationship for the longer term. You and they are just not aware of it yet. Your posts add to your credibility as an expert in your field. They also reveal a lot about yourself as a person.

People like to buy things from people they know. People also prefer to do business with those who they feel have a good idea what they're doing. Your blog has done its work if it establishes you and your business under both qualifications.

As you post good useful information, that is freely available to all of your readers, you show your potential customers that you want to help them with their problems. In essence, that is what all businesses do. They solve people's problems.

As a business blogger, you are not only solving their problems in the standard sales way, but also as a friend. Potential clients read your thoughts and ideas and apply them to their own businesses and personal lives.

You have successfully marketed your goods and services, in the best possible manner.

Without employing a lot of pushy sales hype and intrusive advertising, you have chosen to assist people instead. Rather than constantly selling to everyone, you have selected a better and far more pleasant method.

You have become a helpful friend.

For that, you can thank your business blog.

That is truly superior marketing!


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Link trading benefits

One of the most difficult areas to improve your site is getting more incoming links.

You need to make link exchanges, with other blogs and traditional websites, to help yourself. Trades are good for everyone!

Those incoming links, or backlinks as they are often called, are important for several reasons.

First of all, links to your blog will get you more traffic. The more visitors to your site, the better. As with anything else, unless people know your great blog exists, they can't read it. Incoming links enable you to share readers with another blogger. They in turn enjoy visits from your readers who benefit from enjoying another great blog experience.

Google's PageRank is based on the number and the quality of your incoming links. For those unaware of their blog's PageRank, it can be seen as a green line on the Google Toolbar. Download one and check your blog's PageRank.

Google considers a link to your site to be a vote in its favour. The more votes the better, is one way to look at it. Another aspect of Google PageRank is it weights the links by importance of the linking page. For example, Google will give your blog much more PageRank credit, from a link from a PageRank 7 site, than from a PageRank 2 site.

More high PageRank incoming links raise your blog's PageRank considerably. Even if your current PageRank is fairly low, it will still assist your link trading partner to some degree, regardless of their ranking.

Besides, your PageRank and theirs, can also go up over time. If your link exchange partner has a low PageRank, you and they can help raise one another. That is real cooperation.

Incoming links are also important, in the placing of your blog in the search returns, for your chosen keywords. The more high ranking incoming links you have, the higher your blog will appear in the search returns. Along with those important backlinks, be sure to keep adding lots of keyword rich content to your blog. Google counts fresh content heavily too.

As you find link trading partners, who share your common interests, you will see your visitor traffic improve.

Your Google PageRank will get ever higher.

You will also rank higher in the search results.

All of these results are a result of cooperation with other blogs. They are the end product of mutually beneficial link exchanges.

Make some link trades today.

Assisting other bloggers helps you as well!

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

 

Analyzing your visitor counter logs

Your visitor counter logs provide valuable insights, into how well your blog is doing, in attracting and retaining traffic.

Whether you use a free counter like OneStat, Extreme Tracking, Sitemeter, or a paid version, their numbers and charts are important.

By closely examining the results, provided by your visitor counter, you can find out how your promotional efforts are working; or not.

On the first page of your counter results are found the raw numbers. One set of numbers is the total number of visitors for that day. That total is split into two component parts. One is the returning visitors. The other number represents the first time traffic to your blog.

The returning total (often labelled reloads) is important to track over the month; and then each month against another. By maintaining a steadily growing number of returning visitors, you can be assured you are providing top quality content, that keeps them coming back for more. If your numbers are falling, you need to start adding more fresh and interesting content, or face losing your traffic entirely.

The new visitor numbers, are the fresh traffic, your publicity and promotional activities have attracted to your blog. You must check how they arrived at your site, in the all important Referral logs.

If they arrived from a search engine page, click on that page, and check the keywords they entered to find you. You will want to use those chosen keywords even more in future articles. Heavy use of well searched keywords, will keep your blog high in the search engine results, for those terms.

The most popular keywords for your blog may even be ones you least expected.

If they arrived from another website, check the link to that site. Find out why that website or blog is read by your new visitors. Perhaps some of your content can enhance or complement what is offered by others. if you are not getting any referrals from other sites, you need to step up your link exchange program.

You won't know any of those things without reading your Referrals.

Another section of the visitor logs to examine is Geography. Are your visitors local, national, or international? You want all three types of visitors. If you are not getting any one of the three, you need to add some content that will appeal to that audience. Place that new content on your blog along with your regular content. You will also need to find sites to link with, that enjoy the targeted traffic you are lacking.

An often overlooked section of the visitor logs is Technology. If you receive the bulk of your traffic from visitors using one type of browser, check to see if your blog loads cleanly in all other browsers. Often Internet Explorer is the most popular browser, but check Netscape, Opera, and Mozilla to see if they load your blog well too. If not, you need to make some adjustments.

If you run a photo and grahics heavy blog, check the screen size of your visitors. If they need a large screen resolution to see your photos, without that annoying side to side scrolling, it's time to reconsider the sizing of your photos. You don't want to lose potential visitors to that easily remedied inconvenience.

There is a gold mine of valuable information in your visitor logs.

Use it to help provide your visitors with the best possible blog you can create.


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Friday, November 28, 2003

 

Blogs: An extra way to market

Your business requires marketing.

If there is no marketing of your products and services, your sales slump. That is not healthy for your company's bottom line. A lack of sales does not pay the bills.

Okay, you know that already. It's easier said than done, right?

What exactly can be done, especially if your marketing budget is....well....zero.

A business blog can help you.

To use a blog for marketing purposes, you need to discuss the problems your products and services address, in your regular posts. You must not blatantly advertise them, however.

I know that sounds like a contradiction, but really, it isn't one.

An example of a bad marketing post, in your business blog, would be to simply describe your product. The great features of your product might be entirely fascinating to you. You might enjoy writing and talking about them constantly. Unfortunately, they aren't at all interesting to your readers.

In fact, simply describing your products and services is not really marketing at all. It's an exercise in ego. Yours!

Marketing your product has to be customer based. Your focus has to be on the needs of your clients and shoppers. They don't care one iota whether your revolutionary new widget slices, dices, and tells time on every continent in fourteen languages, all at once.

Customers care about what the product can do for them.

They want to know if it will solve their problems. They desire happier lives, and whether your products can do that for them. It's not all about you. I know that sounds a wee bit harsh, but it's true.

Enter your blog.

In your blog, you can discuss the issues that cause pain to your clients and customers. You can objectively review various solutions to those problems. You can describe how life could be if some of those incoveniences of modern living were removed.

You can tell people about what your company is doing to research those very ideas. You can discuss news that is important in your industry. Without talking about your products directly, you can build a friendly relationship, with customers present and future. People enjoy buying from other people, who they know and trust.

Your clients will know you from your blog entries. Since you provide all sorts of useful information to help them to enrich their lives, your products, by extension, can do the same for them.

By blogging, you are marketing your business as a long term relationship. The last thing you want to do with a business blog, is turn it into a non-stop sales sheet. Should you ever do that, your readers will be long gone. They are assaulted with sales pitches every day.

Don't let your blog become a sales flyer!

Informative posts, written as a friend to a friend, are much more effective for the business blogger. A blog is part of relationship marketing. Since any relationship is built over time, and based on trust, that's what your blog is doing for you and your potential customers.

It's longer term marketing, but is marketing built on a firm foundation.

Best of all, a business blog costs very little in the way of budget.

A business blog can be a great free marketing device for your company.

Start one today!


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Thursday, November 27, 2003

 

Three quick ways to more visitors in one week

You just started a new blog. Perhaps you've had a blog on the go for awhile.

In both cases, you likely feel the need for more visitors to your blog.

If you think not enough people are reading your blog, you need to increase your visitor traffic levels. After all, you want everyone to read your brilliant posts, right?

Well, here are three ways to give your blog visitor counter a quick jolt.

Post messages on forums.

All you have to do is find some message forums that are related to your field of interest. If you are writing a travel blog, enter "travel forums" in your favourite search engine. Several good forum options should appear in the returned search results.

Go to a few that you find informative and read around a bit. Join a couple of the forums, that you find interesting and are of value to you, as a member.

Be sure to check out two things before joining any forum.

A forum must be indexed by the search engines, particularly by Google. If it's indexed, your posts will appear as backlinks to your site, raising your blog's ranking in the search engines. You can gain search engine traffic as a result.

A forum must also permit the use of a signature file. By creating a signature, that includes your blog URL, you have a link that brings forum members back to your blog.

In your member profile, be sure to use a "signature" that includes a link back to your blog. Make certain the signature appears on all of your postings. Without that link, no new traffic can fnd you.

In a few days, your visitor counter logs will show traffic originating from your forum posts.

Place your link on your e-mails

When you send out any e-mails, either personal or business, be sure to add a link to your blog to each and every one of them.

With a quick and easy to click hot link back to your blog, many of your e-mail recipients will drop by for a look. While not everyone will check out your blogging activities, a few will. Another source of new visitors has been added, with minimum effort.

Tell everyone you know about your blog

When you go out for business or pleasure (and leave your computer behind)suggest to everyone you meet to visit your blog.

This old fashioned networking technique will bring a fresh batch of visitors to your blog. As you become more comfortable with talking to people about your blog, your traffic numbers will take a jump. Many of them will surf to your blog, to read what you have to say.

As you can see, there are a few very quick and easy way to get a boost in your blog's visitor traffic.

These three quick and easy methods of adding visitor traffic will pay off very quickly. You should see a new group of readers in just a few days.

By carrying out these very simple methods, you can double or triple your visitor totals in a week.

Don't forget to keep your posts interesting, informative, and up to date.

You want those new visitors to keep returning for more!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

 

Blogs as publicity: getting your voice heard

Is your blog getting your business any free publicity?

In the past, the road to free publicity was heavily dependent upon having your company press releases turned into news articles. While the press release is still a tremendous promotional idea, which I highly recommend, the business blog has been added to the list of free publicity outlets.

In much the same way, as a press release presented your business to the waiting media, a blog showcases your thoughts and ideas to the world. A press release focusses on one newsworthy angle of your business. A daily blog entry can do much the same thing.

As you post in your business blog, you are telling your readers how you feel your business should be working. The idea is to show your readers, how you are solving their problems for them, as your clients and customers.

When you think about it, your business is really about helping people solve their personal and business problems. By doing so, you are making their lives easier and more enjoyable.

As the visitors to your blog read of the ways your business is operating now, and its plans for the future, you are creating a relationship with those readers. When they read of a great new plan for your company, they become part of that future. Your blog, as a publicity and public relations medium, makes that transition possible.

While your very important press releases are sent to the various news media, your blog speaks directly to your clients and customers. Both communications channels are important for your business. Press releases provide an external vehicle for your message. A blog provides an internal medium for your voice to be heard.

The more ways you can reach your current and potential customers, the better. Your company communications have to get out to your target market. If your message fails to be heard, above the almost overwhelming noise of the modern marketplace, your business can't reach its fullest potential profitability.

By adding a blog to your publicity and public relations efforts, you are creating one more voice speaking on behalf of you and your business.

Like another marketing and public relations representative, your blog is working on your behalf.

Add the business blog to your existing press release efforts.

You will get even more free publicity that way.

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Monday, November 24, 2003

 

Blog marketing helps the bottom line

A business blog has been added to your company's marketing tool box. How can it possibly help you with marketing your business?

First of all, you must realize that marketing is a long term process.

Marketing doesn't just pop up out of nowhere one fine afternoon and say, "I think we should do some marketing today."

It doesn't work like that. Marketing is an ongoing activity, that never has a real beginning, and never truly has an end. The process of marketing, via a business blog is no different from any other marketing tools.

Your marketing goal, for your business blog, is to help the company bottom line.

That's all well and good and motherhood and apple pie and all of that, but how can a blog possibly help the business revenue stream?

For one thing, steady posting on your blog gets your site ranked higher in the search engines, like Google, for example. Your regular posts will provide keyword rich pages for search engine spiders to crawl when they visit your site. The more your chosen keywords appear, the higher your blog will sit on the search returns.

High search engine placements mean more people become aware of your business. That equals more potential customers for you.

Another way you can receive more business from your business blog is from your posted articles themselves. If you provide high quality information, that helps other people solve their problems, you will find your posts being linked to by others.

As more incoming links are added to your site, traffic will flow through those links to your site. Another large pool of potential customers is created. Once again, your bottom line will benefit.

A third possible revenue source will result as many people will regard you as an expert in your field. As someone who is knowledgeable about your business area, and who is helpful and informative to others, people will grow to trust your opinions. They will also trust your business to deliver the same high quality of product as your blog.

As your trust factor grows, so too will your business.

Using a blog as a marketing tool is an never ending process, as you can see quite clearly. A business blog is not something that you can expect to produce immediate results.

A business blog is not something for the short term. You don't just start blogging about business issues and ideas; and then suddenly stop. That defeats the purpose of the blog, and how it can help your business to grow and prosper.

As a low cost marketing assistant, your business blog will pay off over the longer term.

That is not a bad thing.

After all, you are in business for the long haul, right?

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

 

Blogs as brand names

You are all familiar with brand names.

Everywhere in our lives we are confronted by the Nike swish, the Pepsi ball, and everything about the auto industry.

People wear brand names on their clothing. They proudly announce the purchases of their favourite brand name products. In short, brands are everywhere.

Blogs are beginning to become brand names as well.

Well known bloggers like Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and Andrew Sullivan, among others, are already well known. Their names are their brands. Their blogs are the carrier of those brand names.

Some other blogs are establishing some solid brand names.

Professor Bainbridge, Jeremy Wright's Ensight, and Deb Yoder's The Accidental Jedi spring immediately to mind. Many other rising brand name blogs are on the horizon.

How do you establish a brand name for your blog?

First of all, you must provide regular postings. If your blog is not updated on a regular basis, it will not be regarded as a reliable brand. In many ways, a brand is a promise. The brand promises reliable consistent quality, each and every time.

That brings us to our second branding requirement. Your blog must provide constant high quality posts. When writing your daily blog articles, you have to give your readers some help in solving their problems, or provide something to give them some interesting reading. Your information, whether personal or general, must add to their lives.

Your links to other blogs must not only be to helpful information, but also provide some insight into the thinking of the linked blogger. It goes without saying (okay I said it) your links have to work. Few things are more frustrating than broken links.

A third way to build your brand is to market it. You don't develop a name brand by hiding it. Use the name of your blog everywhere. Let people know who you are and what you offer to them.

Large companies understand the need to market their brand completely. Their brand names and logos are everywhere. They cram into our subconscious as to become part of our thinking. We don't think fast food. We think McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy's.

By working continually to provide a consistent reliable blog for your readers, you are developing your brand name.

Who knows, maybe your blog will be mentioned as a blog leader.

That's when you know your branded blog has arrived.


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Saturday, November 22, 2003

 

Sometimes you have to take a chance

In business, planning is very important.

A company needs to have an action plan in place to map out its future.

The same is mainly true for people. We need to have some idea what we ar doing on a daily basis. There is an entire industry built up on such concepts as time management and personal organization.

Sometimes, things drop out of the sky.

I have had a couple of writing jobs land in my lap. All I did was respond to some requests for writers, and suddenly, I had paying writing contracts. I never planned on them. I hadn't actively sought them out in a really serious way.

How then did I get the contracts?

I had a blog.

In fact, I have two blogs. There is this marketing, public relations and search engine optimization site, where you are reading. There is also my daily roller derby news and commentary site. Both are blogs that have new posts every day.

When I applied for the writing jobs, I merely pointed to my blogs for writing examples. The editors weren't concerned with the topics of my posts. Instead, they were interested in the fact that a) I write daily b) I showed a degree of committment to the writing craft and c) that my writing style was good enough to hire.

Had I not had a blog, I would not have been able to have applied successfully for those writing contracts.

Keeping and maintaining a blog often has unexpected side benefits, like earning money!

Making money from blogging is often a challenge for writers. Attempts have been made to sell advertising space, to get donations, and to add searches and affiliate sales features, to name a few. Some income ideas have worked for some bloggers. Different revenue concepts have worked for others. A few bloggers have gained income from almost all of them.

I'm happy to have gained some writing income as a result of my blogging activities.

Sometimes, you just have to take a chance and start blogging. You can never be certain where it might lead.

Occasionally, it leads to some added income!

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Friday, November 21, 2003

 

Free Business Ideas

Jeremy Wright over at his tremendous Ensight blog, offers some great free money making ideas.

Jeremy offers a LAN party idea, for gamers to get together, and do whatever it is that gamers do. I am guessing they game. The LAN party idea is sound though.

Jeremy also suggests creating a Mid Market software directory. By charging reasonable fees, good yet relatively unknown software companies could list their products. Sounds like a winner.

A real estate agent promotional service is Jeremy's third strong idea. Since the highly competitive real estate field practically demands constant marketing, this concept might pay some real dividends as well. There is no shortage of real estate professionals. They all need some publicity and advertising.

Jeremy says all of his ideas are free for the taking, and none are under copyright protection.

By offering possibly very profitable business ideas, at no charge, Jeremy is providing a great public service.

And a chance for some of you to make a few dollars.

That's always a good thing!

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Feedster RSS added to this blog

Hi everyone.

I just added a Feedster RSS link to the home page of this blog.

The Feedster button is found between the links section and the blog archives.

For those of you who aren't fully up on RSS feeds. RSS stands for either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. I prefer the latter definition!

RSS allows you to read what I wrote about without having to visit the site. If you like what you see, then you can drop by and read the rest of what I had to say.

I had to use a third party add-on RSS link as Blogger doesn't provide it to we humble Free Blogger users. On the other hand, I can't upgrade to Blogger Pro, as that system has been discontinued.

I'm caught in RSS No Man's Land!

While I would really like to use Blogger's RSS feature, it's simply not available. I have had requests for an RSS feed from this site too.

If you can accept an RSS feed, please let me know if you can access one from Blog Business World.

I also have added the same RSS feed to my other roller derby site.

I'm not sure if either one works!

I'd really appreciate your assistance on whether the RSS feed works on one, the other, or both sites.

Thanks for your help.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

 

Blog content: your blog type

What type of business blog are you writing?

You could one of the online journal bloggers, who keeps a daily online diary of your daily business and home activities. Your company and personal lives may be so entwined, as there may not be a discernable difference. Perhaps your personal life events help to put your work life into perspective.

Perhaps you maintain more of a filter type blog, where you provide a lot of links, to other great blog posts around the internet. You spice the links up (or not) with some of your own commentary. Your readers will enjoy reading your take on the opinions and ideas of other noted writers.

A third type of business blog, may be what amounts to daily essays and articles, on various topics and issues. Instead of relying heavily on outside blogs for linkable posts, you write almost all of your own material. It turns into an essay blog. Your readers will turn to your blog specifically for new ideas and thoughts about business issues in general, and your area of expertise in particular.

A business blog can also contain elements of all three types of blogs, creating a fourth or hybrid blog. While perhaps being more of an online journal, or maybe a more essay oriented blog, the elements of all types of blogging practices are present.

Some days you write about your personal life, on others you compose a longer post about a topic you know well. On another day, you may link to and comment on some other blog articles you read yourself. The blog becomes all three types of standard blogs.

So what does all that have to do with you?

I'm glad you asked that question, despite my heavy hinting!

Your own business blog has to feflect your own personal style and voice. It is not a good idea to copy the format of your favourite blogger. Their technique and writing style is theirs. It's not yours.

Develop your own blog, your own way.

That doesn't mean you can't borrow some good ideas from the best bloggers on the internet. Strong and proven concepts are easily transferrable to your own articles and posts.

You simply don't want to be a clone blog. Instead be your own blog.

Find your own method of posting. Your writing and ideas should be from you. Even if you rely heavily on a filter blog, your own comments and reactions to the articles are equally important, if not more so to your readers, as the well known A List famous blogger your are referencing.

Your regular readers are visiting your blog because they value your opinions and insights.

As time goes on, and you become more comfortable with writing your own daily posts, your own writing will become stronger as well.

Trust me on that one!

Practicing writing will make you a better writer stylistically. It will also make your analysis and opinions stronger journalistically. The more you write, the better you'll write.

Period.

Which ever style business blog you choose - personal journal, filter blog, essay blog, or hybrid bog - make the voice your own.

You alone make your business blog say something meaningful.

Soon people will be linking to your articles and blog.

You might not be A List, but it's better than being No List!


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Search engine optimization: keywords in content

You want your business blog to rise to the top, of the Google searches, for your chosen keywords, right?

If you aren't sure what a keyword is, it's simply a word or phrase someone would enter into Google's (or any other search engine) search box. For example, if you are in the travel industry, your main keywords would revolve around travel, destinations, airlines, cruises, etc.

To go back a step, high rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) are the end product of what is known as an algorithm. It's simply a mathematical formula, that varies from search engine to search engine. The algorithm focuses heavily on your incoming links, your blog title and description, and your on page written content. While there are a lot more factors than that (Google says over 100), we are looking today at keywords in your written content.

Search engines love content. Period. The more content in your blog, the better the search engine spiders will like it, when they come a-crawlin'. To make your content even tastier for the spiders, you need to use your targeted keywords fairly liberally on the page. In other words, sprinkle your content with the terms people might be searching for, and they will find you!

You can go keyword overboard and keyword all over by keyword plastering your keyword page, but that keyword idea is a bit of keyword overkill.

It also might backfire as keyword "stuffing" is frowned upon by the search engines, and you might be penalized. A penalty is never a good thing. Being sent to the back of the search results, or banned entirely, is not something you want to happen!

Use some logic and common sense in your approach to using keywords.

It's thought by some experts that about 3% of your words, should be your various keywords, for good search engine optimization. That is simply a guideline, and you don't have to strictly follow that rule. What you do need, however, is to optimize your search terms throughout your page content.

If possible, fit your chosen search terms into your blog title, blog description and blog URL. After that, place them in the headlines of your regular posts whenever you are able. If you can put them in bold lettering, that emphasises their importance to the search engines as well.

When you write your posts, be sure to use your keyword(s) in your post. In longer entries, you can slip them in as phrases two or three times. The search engine will calculate them to be important search terms for your business blog. As a result, your blog will rank much higher for those words.

The higher on the page the important words appear, the better. Don't neglect placing them throughout the page text, to multiply their effect.

For really competitive keywords, where the search results return over a million entries, I would recommend optimizing for only one keyword. Don't spread your page too thinly in highly competitive searches. Focus your efforts!

Use your chosen search keywords often.

Your business blog will rise higher in the various search engines.







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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

 

Building relationships helps marketing and sales

I have written here before about the need to build relationships with existing and potential customers and clients.

People are far more likely to purchase products and services from people they know, than from people they don't know from...well...Adam.

Some one out there agrees with me!

Deb Yoder, at The Accidental Jedi echoes my idea of building relationships. Deb provides some practical, no nonsense advice for you and your sales team.

Follow them!

I have added The Accidental Jedi to my list of links.

My thanks to Professor Bainbridge, who included the link, in his hosting of The Carnival of the Capitalists.

Be sure to check out Professor Bainbridge's hosting of the Carnival of the Capitalists for links to some tremendous blog articles.

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Monday, November 17, 2003

 

Blogging tips from Trudy Schuett

If you read Part One of Trudy Schuett's great blogging how-to Why Writers Hate Blogs, you'll want to catch the second installment called Blogging School is in Session.

Blog expert Trudy Schuett continues her tremendous step by step techniques to creating a successful blog. While her specific audience is professional writers, her advice is sound for any business blog.

She recommends good quality writing, adding and exchanging links with other blogs and traditional websites, and to give your blog a sensible and logical name that relates to your topic.

All great advice!

She also gives some helpful pointers on blog etiquette (crediting your links; and linking to the other site before requesting a return link) that not only is common courtesy, but is also practical. It works!

If you haven't read Part One of Trudy's series, Why Writers Hate Blogs, be sure to do so. It's also packed full of great advice that every business blogger will want to know.

Stay tuned to Writer Online for Part Three. It's entitled Introducing Your Blog to the World.

You won't want to miss that one!

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

 

Business blogs and your independence

I'll bet you never thought of it this way.

A business blog helps your business declare its independence.

Because of the ease of writing and publishing a blog on the internet, the blogger is no longer in a dependent state. Their company webmaster, or the other various company departments, no longer serve as gatekeepers for spreading the word.

In the early days of the internet, companies were urged to "get online" and establish an "internet presence". Part and parcel with that move to the internet, was the addition of a technically capable webmaster, to code the web site.

While many webmasters are very competent at their job, of coding and web design, they are not always proficient at marketing, public relations, or search engine optimization.

Often they will insist on their special design for a web page, regardless of whether or not it helps market the business and its products. Concerns about building the best possible site for gaining high Google, and other search engine rankings, are often not even considered.

By self publishing a regular (at least three times per week) business blog, there is no need to wait on anyone else to post your thoughts. The talents of the webmaster can be put to better use in adding more pages of content to your regular company web site. The blog adds even more content to the web site, resulting in a rise in the search engine rankings.

Google loves more fresh content.

If your webmaster services are subcontracted out, by the time or by the job, you'll save money too!

Most companies have public relations departments, who funnel corporate communications through their offices. A steady stream of press releases and media contacts are their regular output. Often their turnaround time is not optimal for breaking news.

A daily blog entry can cut through that time lag, reaching customers and suppliers in an instant. The weblog post has the advantage of being seen as written by a "real person". The blogger's words are not filtered through committees, various departments, and edited to homogenized flak. That may increase your credibility factor with the media.

By establishing a company blog, the business can still reach the media for press coverage. In fact, the unfiltered blog articles might find daily visits from working journalists searching for news items. The blog provides news, in nice easy to digest, bite sized portions.

Business blogs help you to become more independent. You are able to get your message out to your various target markets faster. By not having to request coding help from webmasters, and additional written work from marketing and public relations departments, they are free to do other work too.

That saves personnel, time, and money in both the short and longer terms.

Overall, everyone within and outside of the company benefits.

All because you decided to become a business blogger.

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Saturday, November 15, 2003

 

Blogging now taught at University

Signs are everywhere that blogs have become a mainstream method of internet communications.

A sure indication, that blogs are now a recognized activity, is universities taking them seriously.

That day has arrived!

Blogging has now reached the hallowed halls of academia.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is now offering a course on blogging.

Teaching the curriculum is Nick Olejniczak of blogosphere.us. For his take on the course offering, check out his own blog entry. He invites comments from current bloggers on who they would suggest as guest speakers. He also asks for ideas about what to add to the course material.

I haven't yet read through the various links, on the course outline page, but I will certainly do so. There are definitely some great links, and some big name bloggers involved in the course.

Perhaps I can provide some additional information, on the course subject matter, for you my readers. I provide it for free, but don't let that discourage you from reading it!

My thanks to Darren Rowse at Living Room for the link.

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Friday, November 14, 2003

 

Finding blog topics

You just sat down at your keyboard.

You opened up your blogging software or host.

Facing you is a blank white posting area. It's staring back at you, like it's taunting you.

You don't have a topic. You lack any sort of ideas to present to your eager visitors.

What should you write about?

There are a couple of solutions for the business blogger, without having to resort to describing you breakfast cereal, or what the dog did that day.

You can search through other business related blogs and find some interesting stories. Place a link to them in an article on your own blog. While the "filter" type blog entry isn't what you are ordinarily writing, it's helpful to add one for your readers, from time to time.

The "filter" type post finds an article of interest to your readers, and yourself (you hope!), at the same time. You link to the article, and comment on it. In your blogging activity, try hard to avoid placing a link without wrting some useful information about the link. A link should be surrounded by your thoughts on the issue. Otherwise, the link is just a meaningless line in cyberspace. In effect, you are "filtering" the link and the ideas it presents, through your eyes and experience.

Another way to write a blog post, when you have no topics, is to discuss an aspect of your business day. By discussing the company issue from a problem, analysis, and solution standpoint, you not only help inform your visitors, but yourself as well.

By writing down your business problems and ideas, you can often find answers to your nagging questions. Ideas will occur to you as you write that were lingering in your subconscious mind. All you needed to do was let them flow into your article. Talk about solving two problems at once!

Write about some area of business that interests you, but seldom is part of your daily work routine. You could discus public relations, finance, or customer service. While they may not be your direct responsibilty, you may find ways that link them in some way to your own department.

If you are involved in marketing, perhaps you could examine its relationship to customers, your co-workers, and other business associates you encounter during the day.

There are numerous ways to create a blog post, even when you think you are lacking a suitable topic for discussion.

After all, didn't I just create article about not having posting topics?


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Writing tips for your business blog

There are two things that are hard about creating a business blog.

One is deciding on a topic for your latest posting masterpiece.

The other problem is writing about it.

Most people are aware of the more personalized online diary or journal type of blog. The ideas chosen for those blogs, range from the mundane to the highly intellectual, and everything in between.

That is not entirely the purpose of a business blog. What can be learned from the online journal, however, is the personal voice. The injection of the blogger's personality into the writing, helps to make the blog become even more effective. The blog will come alive for your reading audience.

With a business blog, the concepts being presented are usually (but not always) company related. They can revolve around the company's products, future plans, and ongoing projects; to name just a few.

The next part is the harder one. You have to write about it.

Many people are convinced they can't write and that only professionals need apply. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can write well too. You merely have to do it.

A great first step is to forget how badly you disliked writing in the past. Everyone had bad experiences in school, with the "How I spent my summer vacation" essay, or the dreaded book reports. Those days are long gone.

Today, you don't have that Voice of Unreason yelling at you, about your skills in story telling. Instead, you just have to get your point across. Since you are used to talking, just write it that way.

Sit down at your keyboard, and type what you want to tell people, as if you were talking to them in person. Don't worry that it's not perfect the first time. Just keep typing. There will be lots of time for corrections and revisions when you're done.

After you've completed your first draft, go back through it, and check for spelling mistakes (there is a Spellchecker, right?) and for obvious typos. You can often pick up some grammatical errors, and replace them with better and more informative sentences at the same time.

Your first draft is completed. Now that wasn't so bad was it?

Now, get up from your keyboard, and do something entirely different for awhile. Forget about your blog artcle. Don't worry, your subconscious mind will continue to work on it. Your typed draft isn't going to run away, as long as you clicked on Save. As you work on some other unrelated activity, you will sort out your thoughts and ideas on the subject. You won't even have to think about it.

When you return to the keyboard, in about an hour or so, your mind will be fresh. You'll read over your first draft, and add some revisions, you never realized you had. New thoughts will grow, and find their way to your draft post.

Once you have completed adding in the new concepts to your draft, look it over again. Read it over again as before. You'll polish up the spelling and grammar, and voila!

A blog post!

You can use the same method for writing anything in your life, not just your blog.

Just forget the idea, that's often presented to people as fact: that you somehow can't write.

They are wrong!


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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

 

CNN takes business blogging mainstream

It had to happen some time.

Media giant CNN, the ubiquitous news source for the world, has declared business blogs as standard operating procedure for cutting edge companies.

In other words, CNN's, official stamp of approval has made blogging for business mainstream.

CNN offers some blogging tips for business owners and managers to set up their own weblogs.

While the publicity for business blogging is welcome, the advice offered is not very earth shattering. In fact, their suggestions could best be described as very basic.

Perhaps CNN, recognizes that not many people are aware, of the unlimited possibilities, that can result from a business blog. In related article on the rising influence of business bloggers, CNN, notes the trend to business blogging among a select group of executives is on the rise.

Beneficiaries of the business blogging trend, include the corporate managers and executives, who put their thoughts to keyboard. Their companies gain a more human face, as customers, organizational staff, and suppliers get a glimpse of the people behind often inpenetrable corporate walls.

As business blogs become more frequently used in company communications, they will become established as standard issue marketing and public relations vehicles. Every leading edge company will be expected to have a blog, as they are expected to have a public relations and marketing department.

While CNN, may now be picking up the trend, business blogs still aren't much past the starting line, towards widespread acceptance.

But we're getting there!




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Keep those visitors coming back for more

Which came first?

The visitor or the repeat visitor?

While it's easy to say the visitor came to your blog first, things are a bit more complicated than that.

What brought the visitor to your site in the first place?

If you have been listing your site in various internet directories, the traffic may be arriving from there. Readers of your posts on several internet forums, may have clicked on your signature line, that linked back to your blog. You may have placed a comment on someone's blog, and people found your blog that way. You may have had people arrive from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

The problem becomes one of having them return for another visit.

The way to attract and keep your visitors, and turn them into regular readers, is by providing good high quality content.

There is really no other way.

Content can be broken into three categories.

The first category is your own personal thoughts, opinions, and information. In category two, is linking to other quality blogs and web sites, and what they have to offer your readers. The third category is the frequency of your posting updates.

Let's examine each one in turn.

Your personal thoughts and opinions are important to your readers. You have to be at least somewhat interesting, if not passionate, about your chosen topic. While a business blog may not seem like the most thrilling place to be, it can provide some some of the excitemement you feel, for your job and your company.

If you choose to provide information to people (as I do on this marketing, public relations and search engine optimization blog and on my roller derby blog), you must know a little bit about your subject. You need to show you care about your visitors, and that you are assisting them in their goals. Be free with your knowledge and information. Your generous help will be repaid many times over.

The second category is linking to other blogs and web sites. There are about three billion pages indexed by the search engine Google. That is only a fraction of the material located on the internet. Not all pages and sites have been included in Google. That unlisted group includes many blogs. When you link to other people's content, you are providing your readers with information and commentary they may never have found otherwise.

As you add links to well written and useful sites, your readers will begin to respect you as a source of good leads. Be sure to write a bit of information, or an excerpt, about each link you include. Don't fall into the "post a link only" trap. Without any comment by you, the link is just another URL. Nothing more.

Don't forget to develop and maintain a good resource area of permanent links. Many links will be to traditional web sites, and many will be to blogs. Your list of blogs should contain the writers you read on a regular basis. By including permanent links, your visitors will often click on them, and find even more great sites to frequent. Become a helpful blogger!

The third category, for retaining your blog traffic, is your frequency of updating. If your blog is rarely changed, and you seldom post, no one is likely to return. Why return to the same articles? If your readers recognize that you're providing fresh material, several times a week, they will often return to see what you have posted lately.

By following those simple rules, you will find the logs in your visitor counter measuring a lot of repeat visitors. Once you have developed a regular readership, your blog is well on the way to success.

So which came first?

The visitor or the repeat visitor?

If you create a quality blog, full of quality material, they are really one and the same person!

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Monday, November 10, 2003

 

Guest blogging: What is it?

A mild tempest in a teapot has broken out over guest blogging, or guest posting, as some people call it.

Guest blogging is being invited, or perhaps volunteering, to write a post on someone else's blog. The topic of the guest posting can either be decided by the blog owner, or by the visiting blogger. The ideas are often agreed upon before the actual writing.

The idea was frowned upon recently by Kev at his blog.

Kev says:

"I've got my own "thing that makes me go hmm" about blogland: guest posting. Guest posting appears to be the rather odd concept of having other people post entries in your blog. I'm awfully confused by this. I mean

Why would you want someone else posting to your blog?

Why would someone else *want* to post an entry to your blog?"

Voicing support for the idea of guest blogging is Jeremy Wright of Ensight.

You can read Jeremy's ideas about guest blogging here.

It's interesting that guest blogging has become something of a hot topic.

I am a guest blogger every Tuesday at Ensight. I am also part of a mega guest blogging site, that includes Jeremy, called Blog Search Engine Blog. My first guest blog was written for Search Engine Journal, at the request of blog owner Loren Baker.

Why do I guest blog?

I write columns and posts for other business and blogging information sites to help out my friends. Since I like to assist my friends be successful in their blogging ventures, I'm more than happy to provide whatever support I can. If that's in the form of a guest posting, then I'm more than happy to do so.

I also want other bloggers to benefit, perhaps in some small way, from my business experience. Many bloggers lack the basic knowledge of marketing, promotions, and search engine optimization. Some beginners aren't aware of the various blog directories, that will list their blogs free of charge.

I am more than happy to be of assistance to them, and helping them on their way.

Note, however, I only guest blog on sites that are business, marketing, or search engine oriented. On those sites, I can offer helpful advice for bloggers; and for that matter, any web sites. My posts are more in the way of "stand alone" columns and articles, than tradtional blog posts.

I don't post on sites that are more in the line of personal diaries. They are not my area of expertise. I can, however, assist them in getting their blogs listed in various directories. I can also provide them with many easy to implement ideas to increase their readership. I simply don't post on those blogs.

Guest blogging is not some weird "fan" thing for me.

It's a way of helping out my friends, and providing advice to other bloggers.

It's my idea of "giving back" to the internet community who have given my roller derby site so much support.

It's the least I can do.




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Google: Is your blog indexed?

Google is the most important and most used search engine.

Other search engines, including AOL Search, Yahoo, and others, use Google's listings as well.

Is your blog indexed in Google's listings?

The first thing to do is find out.

Go to http://www.google.com and enter the short form of your blog URL into the search box:

yourblogname.com

If your blog is indexed by Google, your blog's title will appear in the search results.

The results will also include a link to check how many other web sites (already indexed blogs) are linked to your blog. Another link lists all of the web pages that mention your blog. If either or both of those categories include your blog, then Google has found you too.

After your search, you may discover to your dismay, that Google has not listed your blog. Your thoughts and ideas are not found in the largest search engine. Don't dispair. All is not lost.

Here are a few ways to get yourself listed.

You can submit your site directly to Google at their Submit Your Site page. You only need to submit your blog's home page. Google will send its web crawling computer program (its "spider") called the Googlebot out to find your blog. It will then add the blog to Google's index.

Of course, this is not a fast method of getting indexed. It may take a couple of months. There has to be a faster method.

One way to get faster indexing is to find a link trading partner who is already listed in Google. When I started this blog, I simply linked to it from my other roller derby blog. Google listed me almost the very next day. You should be able to find someone willing to trade links with your blog. Bloggers are willing link swappers!

Find a friend who's already listed in Google and trade links. You'll find the fasted entry into Google's index that way!

Be sure to submit your blog to the many blog directories. They are frequently crawled by Google's spider. When your blog is accepted into the various blog directories, your acceptance into Google is sure to follow.

Simply fo to the various directory sites, find the Add URL page, find your appropriate category, and fill in the blanks. Most blog directories will include your blog in their listings within a week or two. Some are even faster than that!

Here is a list of some major blog directories. Get into all of them if you can. It's a couple of hours well spent on your part!

Blog Search Engine
Blogwise
Eatonweb Portal
Blog Universe
Popdex
Blogarama
Blogdex
Globe of Blogs
Blizg
Online Marketing Links
Weblogs Compendium
Octopus Files
Kmax
Open Weblog Directory

Another way, to get into Google's pages, is to post on various internet forums. There are few forums that specifically discuss blogs and blogging.

Two such forums are:

Blogger Talk
Blogger Forum

Both forums require membership (free) to post. They also provide a special area for you to list and describe your blog, for others to read. Along with some welcome new visitors, you'll receive a visit from the Googlebot.

Many blogs offer comments and trackback features. By posting a comment, the search engine spider can follow the trail back to your blog. Once your blog is found, your blog will be indexed. When making blog comments, it's very important that you remain on topic, or your post may not get you indexed. It may get you deleted by the blog owner instead!

Getting indexed by Google is one of the most important ways to get traffic to your blog.

Get listed today!



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Saturday, November 08, 2003

 

JoeAnt Directory: Getting listed

There are a number of important internet directories out there.

You want your blog or web site listed in them.

Today, we'll look at the important JoeAnt Directory.

You'll want to get your site or blog listed in JoeAnt for a number of reasons.

Every directory that lists you is a valuable incoming link. Each link into your blog or web site adds to its Google PageRank. That's the way Google measures the importance and authority of your site. Google considers the more links the better, as they are votes for your site. The higher the incoming PageRank, the better for you, as those are sites that are weighted as more important. Directories fall under that category.

The JoeAnt Directory also provides a good steady rate of referral traffic. That should make you sit up and take notice!

For bloggers, JoeAnt features a Blog of the Month section. For regular web sites, there is a highlighted Sites of the Month area. They are prominently placed on the JoeAnt home page. That could be you!

So how do you get yourself listed in the JoeAnt Directory?

One way, of course, is to pay. We are not looking at that option. I always advise you to save your money. Let's examine the free method!

The first step is to become a volunteer editor of a topic. In effect, by becoming an editor, you are working off your entry fee. That's just fine. We'll do that!

At the JoeAnt site, you'll find a link that asks you to become an editor. Click on it. They will request some very basic information from you. Your information is private and password protected, so only you can access your personal editing area (called an "ant hill").

You will be asked to choose a primary topic. As a new editor, you'll only be permited to have one topic area. The best idea is to select the category where your site will be listed. All topic applications are approved, so you don't have to fear rejection of your choice!

Once approved, you can enter your site for listing. Search through the sub-categories, in your chosen topic area, for the right one for your site. Write a brief and objective description of your blog. Don't bother filling the description with sales talk and puffery. The senior editors, who approve your first submissions, will only send it back to you for revision.

On the other hand, the senior editors are more than happy to provide advice for your site submissions. There is also an Editors Forum where you can post questions. Other more experienced editors will help to steer you in the right direction.

I'm an editor in the Recreation and Sports category. My roller derby site entry appears under its appropriate category. I'm free to add other sites under the Recreation and Sports category. I have already added a number of sports sites. A few of them are sports related blogs.

As you add entries to your topic area, you build up editor points. Once a certain level is reached, you are permitted to add another category to your ant hill. As your point total increases, you'll receive additional privileges as well. The JoeAnt Directory also runs a number of contests and competitions to encourage more editor participation and site submissions.

Get yourself listed in the JoeAnt Directory.

You'll enjoy being a volunteer editor.

It's a win-win situation for everyone!


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Friday, November 07, 2003

 

Blogs deserve places in search engines

Ranking high in the search engine results is essential for the visiblity of web sites.

Being ranked Number One, for your most important keywords, is the Holy Grail for most web sites.

Blogs are no exception.

Fortunately for blogs, they are almost custom made to Google's specifications.

Google considers incoming links to be extremely important in calculating the PageRank of a web site. Links are also strongly considered in Google's algorithm for positioning sites in the search results.

Since bloggers are natural and almost obsessive linkers, Google's algorithm was seemingly written with blogs in mind.

The same holds true for content. It's said that on the internet, "content is king". If that's indeed the case, then blogs truly hold the keys to the search engine kingdom.

The search engines send out their robot spiders, to crawl the web, searching for freshly updated web pages. Since many traditional web sites are "static", and rarely get any fresh material added, they don't change. The Googlebot, and the other search engine spiders, will find no compelling reason to visit regular sites more than about once a month.

Since bloggers update their blogs regularly (often several times a day), Google's spider will be crawling them often. Search engine spiders crawl many of the most frequently posted blogs on a daily basis.

It seems that regular updating, as part of the Google methodology, was again almost written with blogging in mind. Blogs have merely played within the rules as set out by the various search engines; Google included.

Of course, the bloggers' search engine success is not without its critics, and some attacks.

Traditionalists who refuse to differentiate between news, business and informational blogs on the one hand, and online diaries on the other, are crying foul. That confusion may in fact be intentional, to cloud the real issue. If the standard web site can't compete with blogs, they want to change the rules.

Static web sites are not always holding their own in the search engine results.

If not updated regularly, the standard web sites fall behind. Failing to have a good linking policy hurts the mainstream sites as well. To counter the blog assault on their exalted positions, traditional webmasters are clamouring for Google to remove blogs from the search results. Failing that, they want blogs indexed separately.

That is a fallacy.

It's also an afront to the quality of material offered by the blogs. Since the best blogs choose to provide good information, in the form of many well written articles, it's only proper the search engines would rank them highly. Google and others have already decided which blogs are delivering the goods, in terms of their search results.

Search engine algorithms take into account the relevance of the keywords on a web site. Blogs are often heavily keyword specific. The bloggers are providing the proper "spider food" for the search engines as they come crawling.

Google takes into consideration incoming links in calculating PageRank. The more links the better. The more highly ranked the linking site the better. Again, blogs are playing by the rules of the game. Only better!

There's the rub!

Blogs are what the internet was supposed to be from the beginning. Interlocking links of information, flowing freely from site to site, was the initial dream. Tradtional web sites have lost some of that vision.

Blogs are making that dream a greater reality.

Your business blog is just what the internet ordered!











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Site visitor counters

It's 11:00 PM.

Do you know where your blog's visitors are?

Are you certain that anyone ever surfs over to your blog at all?

If you aren't sure, whether or not anyone other than your mother, is reading your blog, it's time to get a site visitor counter.

There are several good counters available, on the internet, for free. All you have to do is register, download, and install their prewritten code. Having the coding already set up, to simply copy and paste into your blog's template, is ideal for those of us who are less than computer literate.

One good straightforward free counter is One Stat Basic.

Combining a very easy to understand format, with accurate and reliable counting, One Stat Basic is a great way to keep track of your traffic totals. If all you need to know, is how many people dropped by to read your blog, and where they came from, this is the counter for you. The information is displayed nicely in easy to read tables and graphs.

On the other hand, if you are tracking the keywords, that people type into search engines like Google and Yahoo, you can't get that from One Stat Basic. You will need to find a free web counter that keeps tabs on your keywords and their frequency.

One such counter is Extreme Tracking.

I think the strongest feature of Extreme Tracking is the following of your most popular keywords. You need to know what words people enter into the search engines, to find your site. It not only helps to determine your most popular topics of discussion, but helps you to optimize your site for high search engine rankings. If you know how people are looking for you, it's a real advantage for your blog. You simply use those most frequently searched terms heavily, when you write your blog posts.

A third useful free web counter is Web Tracker.

Providing a nice clean, easy to understand format, Web Tracker provides your visitor statistics in the form of simple tables and easy to read graphs. It's an easy approach to basic visitor counting.

While all of the free site counters have their good points, not all of them do everything. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. On this blog, and on my other roller derby site Wayne's Derby World, I use two free counters.

I use both the One Stat Basic counter, and the Extreme Tracking version.

I like the One Stat Basic method of counting, and of displaying the visitor numbers and information. Checking the numbers and sources of the traffic is quick and easy.

I definitely need to track the keywords, that are used for the search engine traffic I receive. On Wayne's Derby World, most of my first time visitors arrive from the various search engines.

Because Wayne's Derby World ranks very highly for most of the important roller derby keywords, I need to know which ones are bringing the traffic. For that reason, I have Extreme Tracking installed as well.

By using two counters, I combine the best features of both.

Be sure you have a visitor counter installed on your blog.

Even if only your mother reads your postings, at least you know when she arrived!

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Thursday, November 06, 2003

 

Get your internet articles published: Some hints

A friend of mine, who happens to be a very good writer, asked me how he could get his articles published on various internet sites.

He had written an a great article on growing roses. The material was well researched, the facts were checked, and the piece was organized in a very professional manner. I expressed my surprise that such fine writing had been rejected. He had authored other equally top notch stories as well.

What was the problem?

I asked him what columns he was sending out. I also wanted to know which sites he had targeted as publishers.

The answers I got back were shocking!

He had not been sending the rose growing information to gardening sites. In fact, he wasn't entirely certain where he had submitted it. I did find out that he had sent it to a web site that primarily posted business information. I suggested that a submission, about how to profitably operate a garden centre, would have been more appropriate for that publisher.

He responded by saying, almost in amazement, "The site said it would consider all types of articles!"

There's the problem.

If you and my friend, wat to get your writing published on the various internet sites, you have to visit the site!

Read the articles already printed there. What you send to them has to be in a similar style and on topic to what their site is all about. You don't send an article on automobile transmissions to a clothing site. It will simply be ignored at best, and deleted at worst. How you spent your vacation in Tahiti might be just what a travel site is looking for, but it's unlikely to be of interest to a Shakespeare site.

Another bad idea is sending advertising copy, and promotional material for your business, thinly disguised as a news story. Experienced editors will simply hit the delete button on their e-mail program, and send your glorified advertisement to cyber oblivion. They might also keep your e-mail address on file.

When you subsequently send them a proper article, it may never see the light of day. They get dozens of stories daily. If your previous efforts were only self promotion, you may have already blown your chance. Articles are supposed to help the reader and the publishing news site. Remember, you are writing to assist the reader with some good ideas, useful advice, and interesting information.

If you want to get your articles published, follow these hints.

Visit the site and read (including the archives) what types of articles they publish.

Closely examine the length of the articles and style of the writing. They may be all facts all the time. Think "Five ways to start your lemonade stand". Perhaps they prefer anecdotes, and personal stories, to add interest the to the writing. Think "How I enjoyed volunteering at my local hospital". Get the feel for the site's content.

Be original too. If they have already posted "Five tips for selecting the right travel agent", don't send them "How to find a good travel agent." They rarely, if ever, need duplicates. Try something different! If you don't visit the web site, and read through what is already there, you'll never know.

Write what you know, in your field of expertise.

Provide good solid factual information on what you know best. This is no place for self promotion, but rather be of genuine assistance to the reader. Don't start by saying your company sells the best windows on the planet. Instead, talk about what to look for in quality window construction, how to install them so they won't be drafty, and what types of windows are best for various houses. Think in terms of helping your readers solve their problems.

Use an objective resource box.

Most internet publishers provide space for a few words of biography, and a link back to your site. This is no place to place a blatant ad. Think "Mention this article and get 50% off your next electronics purchase!" Most sites will remove lines like that one. If you insist on keeping everything "as is", the editors will do as you request. They will simply keep everything you write "as is", with their delete key.

Writing internet articles is a great way to help others, while promoting your own web site and blog. It gets your name and expertise out there to a wider audience. People who have never heard of you, or your blog, will soon consider you an expert in your field.

All you have to do is assist them with their problems, and in reaching their goals.

As for my friend, he's off checking out a few appropriate web sites to submit his articles for consideration.

He actually sent the rose growing story to a gardening site that he reads on a daily basis.

That's progress!








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Wednesday, November 05, 2003

 

Great article on the importance of blogs

Are you searching for a tremendously informative, and well written, article on the importance to having a business blog?

Have a peek at blogging expert Trudy Schuett's special guest column on Writer Online. In the first installment of a three part series on blogging, Trudy provides one of the best cases for starting and maintaining a business blog.

While her focus is on writers, the advice she provides is of real value to any business person. If a business blog is in your future, check out Trudy Schuett's ideas. If you had never thought blogging was of any use to your company, Trudy will change your mind!

I have been writing here about how a business blog (not to be confused with an online personal diary) can improve your firm's marketing, promotions, and public relations efforts.

Trudy takes those same themes, and a lot more, and runs with them!

As Trudy says on her own WOLves blog, "Maybe you're still on the fence when it comes to blogs -- if you still think they're a passing fad, or an incomprehensible bunch of self-involved websites for teenagers, think again!"

And does Trudy ever make you think!

She opens a lot of skeptical eyes with ideas like this:

"Best of all, you really, actually can reach millions of people. When bloggers talk among themselves about website hits, they talk in terms of thousands per day and millions per year. Think about those millions of eager readers..."

Has the concept of a business blog got your attention now?

Be sure to check back at Writer Online, for the second and third installments, in her series.

It's well worth your time.

You'll never look at blogs or online promotions the same way again!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

 

Pinging your blog

When you update your blog, don't forget to ping it!

What in the world is pinging?

Pinging is one of those many wonderful internet words. It refers to letting the various blog aggregators know that you have updated. Pinging merely means letting everyone know you've added new content to your blog.

For example, the blog news site Technorati keeps track of blog entries as news sources. The site also measures the number of inbound and outbound links from each blog. To stay up to date with the changes, Technorati relies on regular pinging.

Another site that depends on reporting blog updates is Daypop. Along with news items from conventional sites, Daypop depends on bloggers reporting their updates.

Where do you ping your blog?

Many blog hosts (but not all) offer automatic pinging as a feature of their service. If it's not provided as part of the package, however, you'll have to report your updates manually.

One site that accepts manual blog pings is Weblogs.com. Simply enter your blog's title and URL into the spaces provided. The site will remember your information for your return visits. Bookmark the site, and return every time you add a new entry to your blog.

Another pinging site is Blo.gs. Simply add in your site's name, URL, and RSS feed if you have one, and press ping. As an added feature, Blo.gs lets you add some prewritten code to your site, to ping it automatically, if you choose.

For an all inclusive pinging site, go to Blog Service Pinger. Along with pinging to Blo.gs and Weblogs.com, the site automatically pings Technorati, and a number of others. Simply fill in the blanks with your blog's title and URL, click on the sites you want to ping, and there you are. One stop pinging!

Since you post on your blog on a regular basis, you'll want others to know you've done it too.

Pinging your blog, every time you update, is the way to do it!


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Sunday, November 02, 2003

 

Link trading: A good idea

Your business blog needs readers.

It's rather pointless to write a business blog about marketing, public relations, customer service, personnel management, internet technology, finance, or search engine optimization, and have no one read it.

While maintainng a small circle of devoted followers, may be fine for an online diary or journal, it's of little value to to business blog. For any company blog to be a success, it needs to multiply its readership.

One way to get more traffic is by trading links with other blogs. Link trading is the process of placing your blog's link on another blog's site. They in turn link back to yours. It is a fair exchange.

There are a number of benefits to link swaps that are easily over looked.

One advantage of your link appearing on another blog is the implied endorsement you are receiving. A reader of that web site will feel, that if their favourite blogger reads your posts, then your blog might be worthwhile reading too. Often the blogger who hosts your link, will mention or review your blog within a daily post. That added exposure provides even more reason for the casual surfer to click over to your site.

The extra traffic resulting from a link exchange is fairly obvious. Less noticed is the high quality of the referred visitors. Since they surfed over from a blog, that features similar content to yours, they are very likely to bookmark your blog, and return in the future. After all, you are providing information that they already find interesting and helpful.

The search engines will rank your blog much higher if you have a large number of incoming links. If the links are from some sites that have content similar to yours, the search engines value the links even higher. The leading search engine Google considers an incoming link to be a "vote" in support of your web site. The more incoming links your blog has, the more important that Google will rate it.

Creating link exchanges with other bloggers often has the additional advantage of finding new friends. As you get to know the other blog writers, you may often be able to find other ways to cooperate. One very powerful way to work together is to guest blog on your new colleague's site. By writing a special guest column, or even a series of columns, you can reach an even wider audience.

The benefits of exchanging links with other bloggers are unlimited.

Now is the time to start making those link swaps.

You'll be very pleased with the results.


















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Saturday, November 01, 2003

 

Networking tips for your business

Networking is all about meeting with people and building trusting relationships. Whether done online or in person, making contacts will help you, and help your business networking partners.

Before you begin your networking campaign, be sure to set out some goals. Without goals in place, you won't be able to properly assess the success of your networking program. Once those goals are in place, you can begin to meet and work with other business people.

Visit with as many groups in your community as you possibly can prior to joining. Some groups are more educationally oriented, some are mainly in search of volunteers, and others are interested in facilitating business contacts. Learn as much as you can about the group, its support for business networking, the quality of its leadership, and its general tone. That way, you can select the groups that are right for you, and your business.

Once you choose the groups you wish to join, become involved in their activities. Sign up as a volunteer on a few of their committees. If at all possible, select one that has some relation to your field of business.

Be seen as a helpful person and a strong business resource. If people view you as an expert, willing to share advice freely in your area of business, they will gravitate towards you for ideas and assistance. It also serves to keep your name and business visible to them.

When you meet new contacts, be clear to them about what you and your business actually can do for them. Be able to summarize what makes you and your company unique in twenty-five words or less. In order to receive referrals, you must be able to let others understand how and why you can help them reach their business goals. If someone asks how they can help you in return, your short unique short business summary will tell them.

When you get business referrals, follow up on them as quickly as possible. Your new contact will feel good about having assisted you. It is also shows respect to the referrer. Because they took the time to help you, it is common courtesy to honour their time and effort. Be absolutely certain to show why they had that confidence in you and your business. Thank them personally after making the contact as well.

After making a few initial contacts, call them and meet with them again. Even if you are not selling them anything at the moment, they may have some more valuable leads for you. You not only increase your business, but you'll make some new friends as well.

Networking is all about building trust and relationships. Be honest in your meetings and other people will see you as someone in whom to place their trust.

Being a helpful person who practices honesty and integrity, is the best way to network, and to operate your business.














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