Online Sales

Blogs and the art of business maintenance

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It’s amazing how useful a tool a blog can be, provided you go in with the right view. CHRIS THOMAS

Chris Thomas

By Chris Thomas

Blogs are a relatively cheap method to drive traffic to your website. It was something that I was asked about during the Drive More Traffic to Your Site webinar that SmartCompany hosted recently.

By utilising free blogging software such as Blogger or WordPress, the only expense is the time it takes to set it up and begin populating the blog with content.

Benefits at a glance

  • Great way to create and share content.
  • It puts you at the forefront of your industry (leader perception).
  • Blogs are topical and relevant to your audience.

Over time, a blog creates a lots of content, which provides “free” traffic and search engine optimisation benefits.

All sorts of content can be added and mashed up together; text, audio and video to make it really interesting.

Some of the most popular free and commercial blogging tools include:

  • Blogger (free).
  • WordPress (free).
  • BlogEngine.NET (free).
  • Community Server (free & commercial).
  • Graffiti CMS (free & commercial).
  • SubText (free).

But there are a number of risks associated with a company or corporate blog, particularly if employees are regularly contributing.

Non legal or reputational risks include:

  • Employees could make personal disclosures about other employees.
  • Disputes between employees and or internal departments could be publicised in the blog.
  • Employees have varying levels of writing skills, which can create a “patchy” style across the blog.
  • Accidental or deliberate disclosures relating to an organisation’s inner workings could undermine confidence in the organisation.

I’m not a lawyer (thank goodness!), but legal risks could include:

  • Employees could inadvertently make libelous statements in a blog about other people.
  • Employees could inadvertently disparage competitors’ products or services which could result in trade libel actions.

While I don’t think the above risks to be too serious, blogs have a typically more conversational and informal style, which can lead to some contributors effectively “dropping their guard”. If you’re in a medium to large organisation, a policy framework should be created around blogging contributions, which would put in place checks and systems prior to publishing.

Overall employee blogging should be seen as a significant asset to the organisation rather than a risk to be avoided.

There are excellent search engine optimisation benefits to help boost the rank of your “parent” website via optimised linking. This can be achieved by developing targeted anchor text linking strategies to relevant pages at your website.

Of course the blog itself will also rank at search engines for various key phrases, usually in the form of the long tail (defined as quite long key phrase searches – five words and above) which are often low volume, but highly targeted.

Blogs are an excellent form of online marketing. Posts can be spun into the social networking world, where other users can engage, share and comment on blog content. In turn this creates opportunities where other websites can link to the original comment, creating new links and increasing the search engine rank of the blog.

Your blog should also be categorised into topics. This allows for numerous people within your organisation (or experts on each topic) to contribute semi regularly. This lowers the burden on a single individual to continuously come up with ideas and contributions (a feeling I sometimes know all too well!).

Like most new things online, blogs take a little time to establish. In the early days, traffic and engagement will likely be quite modest.

Your blog will require time and discipline to maintain a regular and consistent posting regime. Often blogs will start well, but stakeholders can lose interest and contributions dwindle. The blog effectively fails, which can be damaging to the organisation as visitors perceive a lack of long term commitment.

The blog will require contributors. Again this needs to be negotiated within your organisation so that contributions become scheduled and “habitualised” rather than be ad hoc and inconsistent. I recommend you create a dedicated role where one person organises and oversees contributions.

Technically there are a couple of ways you can approach resourcing. You can:

  • Create or install a dedicated server (probably a bit of overkill for most).
  • The blog can live on a shared server.
  • Free software platforms can be used to host your blog.

I know blogging is now seen as “so 2007!”, but it is amazing how many people visit, subscribe, comment and actually read blogs. Kinda like what you’re doing right now…

 

Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

For more Online Sales blogs, click here.

 

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