I was recently interviewed by Peter Kent — long-time online maven and most recently author of the book Search Engine Optimization for Dummies — about business blogging for our local business publication, the Boulder County Business Report. I’m reprinting the article here, linking to the eCommerce Times pickup of the story.
Getting Into Blogs Helps Search Engines Find You
By Peter Kent — Boulder County Business Report
“I believe the 21st century will be characterized by the cult of expertise, and that the successful companies will be those that are widely recognized as experts,” Dave Taylor, a Boulder, Colo., business strategy consultant and writer, said, explaining one of his reasons that businesses should invest in blogs.
Are blogs the next big thing? For many, they’re a big thing already. Dave Taylor, for instance, Boulder, Colo., business strategy consultant and writer, sees blogs as an essential — and profitable — part of his business.
But before we get to that, what exactly is a blog?
Taylor begins explaining the concept by stating what it isn’t: “It isn’t a diary or journal, it doesn’t have to be updated with any frequency, it doesn’t have to have date and time stamps and it doesn’t have to open up your innermost life to the public at large.”
Hmmm, that seems to be the common perception of just what blogging is. So what is it, then?
Written by the Business
“It’s a sophisticated content-management tool,” Taylor told me recently, “allowing anyone to separate the content of their site from the delivery of that content to the visitor.” One of the big advantages from the business perspective, Taylor told me, is that it allows the company to “wrest control of their content from their webmaster.”
In other words, a blogging tool is one that allows anyone authorized in your company, regardless of technical skills, to post information to your Web site. No longer do you need to write something, pass it over to your IT department or Web designer and wait who-knowshow-long for the information to appear on the site.
The end result of setting up blogging tools on a corporate or small-company Web site is, because posting information to the site becomes so easy, the site content is likely to be more accurate, timely, up-to-date and in sync with the needs and interests of customers.
A company’s technical-support or customer-service department can post answers to the day’s issues into the support area. The sales team can update details about all your products. HR can update the “Management Team” area and job postings, and so on.
No longer is the technical team a bottleneck. All your staff are “empowered” (I hate that word, but it seems to work here) to become content creators for your site.
Benefits of Bottleneck Busting
Why does it matter? Well, most companies have found this bottleneck frustrating, so removing the blockage has to be a good thing. But what you’ll find is not merely that the content you wanted posted now gets posted quickly and easily, but that the simplicity of the process actually increases the amount of content … all of a sudden you are posting information that you never realized you wanted on the site.
That’s good for customers looking for product-sales information or product-support information, which means it’s also good for your company, of course. It’s also good for your company because the more content your site contains, the more traffic you’re likely to get from the search engines.
The foundation of search-engine optimization is “content,” text related to your products and services. Each page containing the keywords that your prospects are likely to type into a search engine is like a lottery ticket. The more pages, the more likely you are to “win” traffic from the search engines. And it can be a way to promote yourself or your company as an “expert” in your field.
As Taylor puts it, “I believe the 21st century will be characterized by the cult of expertise, and that the successful companies will be those that are widely recognized as experts.”
One way to establish expertise, according to Taylor, is through the use of blogs. Which brings us to AskDaveTaylor.com and Blog.Intuitive.com, Taylor’s blogging sites. On the first he answers questions about a variety of technical subjects, while on Blog.Intuitive.com, he writes about a variety of technical and business subjects.
His blogging helped him build a reputation. Taylor — who helps companies integrate online communications in all its forms (including blogging, of course) into their operations — has been interviewed by Wired magazine and MSNBC and has been quoted by Tom Peters and many fellow bloggers out in the “blogosphere.”
It does take a commitment of course — not so much money, but time. Taylor spends at least 30 minutes a day or so on his blogs. But his sites make money directly (through Google Adsense ads) and indirectly (through consulting projects).
Get the Blogging Started
So what does it take to get started? Blogging is cheap. You can use a “hosted” blogging system such as Blogger.com (a free system owned by Google), or Typepad.com (which Taylor recommends for hosted business blogs; from $5 to $ 15 a month). Or you can install a system on your own Web server such as WordPress (a free “open source” program) or MoveableType, a program that costs $70-$100. Both programs can be installed with a couple of hours of geek time.
Blogging isn’t for every business. You, or someone in your company, has to have something to say, and the ability to say it reasonably often.
If you own a shoe store in the mall, it’s probably not for you. But if your company has scads of hidden information that should be exposed to the world, or if your business could benefit by positioning itself as a source of expertise in your industry, perhaps it’s time you took at this simple and affordable new tool.