April 2006

... would smell as sweet – with all due apologies to the Bard himself!

In my opinion, a Blog by any other name would in fact sound much much better! If there is one thing that annoys me, it is when companies have gone to the effort of installing a blog system, planning what to do with it and identifying the blog’s target audience, they then take the ground breaking decision to call that section of their website . . . BLOG!

Why do it?

To me, it shows a total lack of imagination, a lack of planning or probably both. It’s like an author writing a thriller, perfecting the characters, carefully developing the plot, creating an unexpected cliffhanger of an ending . . . and then calling it “book”. It doesn’t add value and it should do! So use a name which lets visitors know what they’re going to find in that section and don’t make them have to guess what you are hiding there.

So when you implement a blog for a specific purpose, then don’t be shy about letting people know what you are providing them with. If you are using it to share details of Case Studies, White Papers or latest industry news then call it something appropriate such as “Information Centre”. If you have created an interactive Q & A section giving answers to your prospects’ questions then “Your Questions Answered” might be be suitable. But don’t go to the trouble of developing an area where you encourage input into new product developments from your current users in an effort to create new product evangelists . . . and then call it “Blog”!

If it frustrates you like it does me (hey, or even if it doesn’t!), then leave a comment and let me know about examples of companies doing this that you’ve found.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments Off 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Calls to action while doing the painting
  2. Don’t ignore your Profile page
  3. Lessons learned when Starting a blog
  4. Planning your Business Blog
  5. Building Blocks for a Successful Business Blog

It is always an exciting if slightly nerve racking time when you start to write your Business Blog but it is also very important because you will be laying down the ground rules for what your readers can expect from you in the future.

To help get through this initial period, there are certain things that you can do which will make it easier to get the first posts in place from which you can then develop.

Set yourself realistic goals for posting
Make sure that you set some goals in terms of how often you are going to blog – make them realistic and then stick to them. You should decide during your planning phase how much time you want to dedicate to your Business Blog and then split that time between researching your posts and writing them.

Plan ahead
As you start, map out what you want to cover during the first few days and weeks, and note down the topics that you feel comfortable with. This will provide you with a framework to work with. You dont need to plan every post, in fact you shouldnt. If you are intending to create a blog which will get people coming back on a regular basis then you will also be commenting on breaking news or articles that are posted by others. However, setting out in your own mind a series of topics that you wish to cover will really help in your initial writing.

Set out your stall at the start
Within this first set of posts, try to include at least 2 3 key articles, ones that sum up a number of the areas and concepts that you are going to be focusing on in your blog as a whole. They might be simply instructive or could outline a number of different ideas and concepts that you will expand on in later posts over time. If you are unsure about the type of things to include, then you could do a lot worse than go back over some of the presentations that you have made to clients or partners. These are likely to include a lot of the ideas that you will now have the opportunity to expand on and develop over the course of writing your blog.

Plan a short series of posts on a specific topic
A series of posts on a subject which is important to your overall subject area is a good method of getting you going and establishing a relevant area of focus in your Business blog. A series can help in a number of different ways, but in particular will allow you to go into detail on a single topic you feel is particularly important and that you are comfortable writing about. This will help to get you started and gain some momentum in your writing.

Comment on news in your industry
If you are aiming to position yourself as a key source of information for your readers in your industry or niche then you will need to keep up to date with developments and be prepared to give your opinion on them. In any case, this is a great way of adding content to your site which also helps build the level of trust and confidence in you and your knowledge.

Sitting there with a blank screen in front of you is always a difficult time so use some of these methods to get you started and you can certain that you’ll be up and running more quickly that you expected.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments Off 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Starting to write your Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
  2. Blogging Tips: write a series on a specific topic
  3. 10 Key things to do before starting a Business Blog
  4. Lessons learned when Starting a blog
  5. eCourse Part 4: First Steps in Writing your Business Blog

Everything in SEO seems to refer to tags – if it isn’t Title Tags, then it’s Metatags or there’s alt tags for images. Well, here is another type and one that will probably become much better known than any of the others, particularly in connection with Blogs.

In this instance, a Tag is like a subject or category, and it is one of the few elements in SEO which is unique to blogs because of the way that some of the Blog Search Engines use their own type of Tags to help categorise posts. They are not used instead of a normal search function but alongside it and it is the author of the post who attaches the Tags to it. The rationale is that rather than just rely on the Search Engine to categorise it in the way they wish, the blogger can also indicate where and how they think it should be categorised as well.

Probably the best known of the Blog Search Engines which use these extensively is Technorati, though there are a number of others which offer the same format such as Del.icio.us. You also have sites such as Flickr offering the type of categorisation for photos.

Some people believe that this is the direction in which indexing information on the web is likely to go that remains to be seen, but in the meantime it is certainly worth including relevant tags for Technorati at the least so that your visibility with the users of their Search Engine is improved. In wider SEO terms, they have the additional benefit that they contain your keywords or ones relate closely to the subject matter of the post which in itself adds to the keyword levels in the post and on the page.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Blogworld, SEO and Title tags
  2. Basic SEO in Blogs – Overview
  3. SEO in Blogs 4: keyword rich URLs
  4. Basic SEO in Blogs 1: Content, content, content!
  5. Blogs and Search Engines – is the love affair over?

One of the elements that you will need to consider as part of the process of planning your Business Blog is to decide what you want to call it. You may have chosen a name for it earlier on, indeed in many cases this has been the first thing that people have decided about when they first thought about setting up a Business Blog!

It is important, however, and so certainly worth spending the time to look at the elements which might influence your decision. It’s important because this is what people will remember first and foremost, this is what they will use to recommend your blog and this is what the blog search engines will use to refer to your Blog at every turn.

The name of your Blog is likely to be mainly a personal decision you may want to choose a name which reflects its contents, which incorporates the name of your business or which you simply liked and just wanted to use. A couple of words of warning on this:

  • you need to choose something that you will feel comfortable promoting. So be aware that a name that you think is funny or clever now, needs to still be clever or funny in 12 months time;

  • you may want to have the same domain name as the name of your blog, so it might be advisable to check on the availability of the domain name as well;

  • in most blog software, the name of the blog is automatically included in the Title tag which is important in Search Engine Optimisation, so you may like to consider using one of your keywords in the Blog’s name.

The decision on the domain name that you use for your Blog is important as well, as I touched upon above – there is a fuller look at this area in the article Choosing a Domain Name for your Business Blog which covers the areas that you need to consider during the process.

An additional point, some blogs give you the opportunity to have a tagline as well which is also used in the Title tag on the first page of your blog. Since you are given the opportunity, then select something which is catchy and works for you or add a short description about what the blog is aiming to do.

It’s a competitive world on the internet, so do make use of any opportunity to publicise the contents of your blog and this is a useful one – if you want to see how many people forget about this, then just type “just another wordpress weblog” (including the inverted commas) into Google. There are so many blogs using WordPress which have left this default setting which then gets picked up by Google – each of these could be improving their ability to be found simply with this small change.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment 
Tags: , , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Choosing the domain name for your Business Blog
  2. Business Blog: separate domain or on your website
  3. Naming your blog: choose one that helps
  4. Starting a Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
  5. Separate blog or blog on my own website?

Whether they publish their work in the form of seminars, white papers, ebooks or “real books”, I always encourage independent consultants to use their Business Blogs to pick up on the ideas and concepts they have raised, expand on them and use them to initiate discussion.

This of course has the dual benefit of not only opening a dialogue with new potential customers and re-affirming your own expertise in the area, but also provides an ideal extra outlet to promote the book or event that the ideas come from.

I was therefore delighted to see that yesterday, Ted Demopoulos in his post Book Blogs for promoting and marketing Books wrote about some advice given by Michael W McLaughlin (co-author of Guerilla Marketing for Consultants) during an interview with him.

One particular comment stood out, which was

“Take advantage of the intellectual capital in the book. Expand, update, and take it in other directions, and do something with all the great material you wrote that didn’t make it into the book”

I couldnt agree more! As a consultant, the Blog you use for your business is the perfect place to disseminate and expand on these ideas so benefit from it. You are able to develop the concepts if your blog readers request it and can add to their understanding as well.

But you want them to buy the book and attend the seminar, do I hear? Well, if they like what they read then they will and by publishing it on your blog and gaining their interest in the subject you are making it much more, not less, likely.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Books, media and blogs (using blogs to promote books)
  2. Ways to gather ideas for your blog posts (from Twitter friends)
  3. Where to get ideas from for your Business Blog
  4. 52 of the Best Ways to Promote your Blog and your Business
  5. How many people does it take to develop a great blog?

A useful article from Robert Plummer last night on the BBC website entitled Business bites the blogging bullet gives a nice overview of certain aspects of Business Blogging and from two separate standpoints.

On the one hand, he looks at the world of Blogs from the standpoint of the large corporates which need to monitor what is being said about them in the blogosphere, ideally so they can enter into the conversation and participate in the debate to put their own side. On the other hand, the article identifies the ability of blogs to act as a powerful promotional tool to drive awareness, develop brands and ultimately create sales.

For me, I particularly enjoyed the headings which summed up a number of different aspects of Business Blogging:

Dell Hell
The example of Dell and Jeff Jarvis’ blog, Buzzmachine, is well founded because of the impact it has had on their reputation. The viral nature of blogs in developing ongoing conversations is powerful with negative commentary as in Dells case, but equally so when used to positive effect.

Its good to read the word opportunity associated with Business Blogging I still all too often see the word threat used, generally by companies which worry about not being able to control what is being said about them or PR companies worried about the changing face of their marketplace. One of the opportunities is now you know what is being said and can do something about it.

Marketing Disruption
Just as the change from mass media advertising to a more individual and personalised marketing focus caused a great deal of consternation in the marketing, so Business Blogging as part of emarketing has taken it a step further. Its now given the opportunity to interact with a vendor, develop a relationship and build trust with them.

Micro-brand boost
Blogs have also given businesses the opportunity to develop their own brand like never before and the tools to communicate to a wide audience both what they do and what they stand for. Dominating a niche is clearly not easy but the new marketing opportunities on offer, such as Blogs, does make it possible.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments Off 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Small Business Blogging
  2. Business Blogging: UK and Europe still learning how
  3. Survey indicates corporate blogging taking off
  4. Dell launches their one2one blog
  5. Why Small Businesses should have a Business Blog

Earlier in the week, I referred to the results of the UPS Europe Business Monitor survey which showed that a large percentage of executives in Europe were blissfully unaware of blogs and hence the opportunities and changes that were going on around them. Others, it seems, were aware of them but didn’t use them either as a source of information or as a tool for their own companies.

The obvious question is “why”?

Have they not yet discovered the business uses of Business Blogs or do they still consider them to be simply online diaries and so ignore them? Or does the reason run deeper and they are actually afraid of what they might do?

If so, what are they afraid of?

It could be that companies are still worried about opening a dialogue with their customers, perhaps afraid of what they might hear. They might also feel that they involve giving out information which their competition could use to copy their ideas. Effectively, it seems to be communication that they are resisting. Or is it perhaps the technology which is off putting? It shouldnt be it is important to ignore the technology and concentrate of what you can do with it.

Perhaps what they should be more afraid of is the advantage that their competition is gaining over them by creating a more open dialogue with customers, suppliers and partners. They might also be a rightly concerned about what is being said about them which they are not monitoring and not being able to respond to.

Business is all about Communication and so are Business Blogs.
Business is also all about Relationships and so are Business Blogs.

There seems to be a perfect match here so it is important to get out there and get involved in the conversations. They present an opportunity and not a threat! If you make sure that you listen to what is being said then you become part that communication loop and have the opportunity to lead what is being said. Customers will talk to each other using the tools that are available so make sure that they hold these conversations on your Business Blog where you can answer their concerns and direct the dialogue.

Don’t be afraid of Blogs – get involved and use them!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment 
Tags: , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. 8 types of companies that can really benefit from a Business Blog
  2. Business Blogging: UK and Europe still learning how
  3. Which companies can particularly benefit from blogs?
  4. Business Blogs aren’t about Conversations
  5. Business Blog Design: Comments

When you start to put a Business Blog together, the planning phase is very important and ideally you should spend time working on these elements rather than diving straight in and writing your first post – as we all want to do!

In this planning phase, you should identify what you hope to achieve with your blog and who you are writing for. These initial elements will really help you to focus the content of your posts and align them as closely as possible with the requirements of those who will be reading them.

What is important is to answer three key questions:

What is the Blog looking to achieve?
You need to able to clearly identify why you wish to start the Business Blog. Are you looking to build a network of contacts for your company, or perhaps position yourself as an expert in your field, or promote a particular service or product using ‘educational marketing’ or even help create a group of evangelists for your new product? All of these are perfect goals for your Blog, but you should identify and focus on the one that you want to achieve in order to make it really successful.

Who is the Blog aimed at?
You need to decide who is the target audience for your Business Blog, just as you do with your products or services, and consequently who you are writing for. This will dictate the content of your posts and also the way in which you write them – both elements will influence how you are perceived by your readers.

What results are you looking for?
You should also have an idea of want you wish to achieve with the Business Blog in terms of results. A Blog is not a direct sales tool and yet there are many ways in which you can measure its direct effectiveness. These might include number of visitors, subscribers to your RSS feed, sign ups to a newsletter, contacts or clients initiated through a contact form on your Blog etc.

Make sure that you spend time on this part of the set up of your Business Blog. If you do, you will reap the rewards because you will ensure that the Blog maintains its focus in terms of its content and, as a consequence, provide your readers with what they are looking for.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Planning versus spontaneity on your blog
  2. Starting to write your Business Blog – BBB Quick Guides
  3. Business Blog Design: Categories, Archives and Search
  4. Help in starting to post to your Business Blog
  5. Anatomy of a Corporate Blog: Layers and Building Blocks

Neville Hobson in his post Business Blogging: Hills to Climb in Europe gives an interesting overview on the current level of understanding about Business Blogs based on the findings in the UPS Europe Business Monitor survey.

What is clearly shows is that there is still a lack of awareness as to how Business Blogging can be used effectively from a business perspective. It indicated that even when it came to using blogs as an information resource, fewer than 10% of the executives were making use of the opportunities on offer. These figures dropped further when it came to monitoring their companys profile and reputation in blogs or using them as marketing or communication tools.

All of these aspects are ideally suited to Business Blogs and its certainly worth restating the reasons why.

  • Business Blogs as information resources
    As an individual or as a company, we need to keep up to date with the latest developments and information. This is increasingly difficult using traditional media where papers and TVs select the items that they believe will be of interest to us rather than what we want to read. With Blogs, and to a lesser extent other online media, we can subscribe to the RSS feeds from Blogs covering the specific areas that we wish to read about and have the information delivered to us. Instantly.
  • Using Business Blogs to monitor your companys profile
    While PR companies offer services to monitor what is being said about your company in the traditional media, this is now only one of the avenues used to distribute comment and opinion, as well as being the slowest. News spreads much faster online so ensuring that you know what is being said as soon as it happens gives you a headstart in being able to deal with it or take advantage of it. Online resources such as Technorati or BlogPulse offer the opportunity to do this quickly and easily, giving you the ability to react much more quickly to what is being reported.
  • Using Business Blogs as a proactive marketing and business tools
    There is then the use of Business Blogs to as communication tools, allowing you to interact with your customers (and potential customers), display and share your knowledge in your area of expertise, undertake educational marketing etc., all of which will help to develop your own companys reputation on line.

There seems to be a change of mindset required to realise that the information sources and the marketing methods that we have traditionally used have changed substantially over the past 10 years. They shouldnt be discarded totally but rather integrated with the newer methods such as Business Blogging – it also seems clear that companies in the UK currently taking steps in this respect are likely to gain a real advantage over their competitors.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments Off 
Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Are companies afraid of creating a Business Blog?
  2. Businesses starting to appreciate what Blogging brings
  3. Blogging and the Press: news at light speed
  4. Predictions for 2007
  5. Reasons for not Business Blogging are entirely valid … for some

The Title Tag is one of the most important aspects that you can look at when you wish to do some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on your Blog, so it is good to get it right from the start.

The Title tag is used in two principal areas: when you are using a browser, it is what appears in the blue bar right at the top of your screen and tells the reader what is contained within the page. Secondly, on the Search Engine Results page, it forms the link that you click on to reach the page shown in the results.

In the code itself, the Title tag appears in the head part of the code that makes up the page – the code will look like:

< title >Better Business Blogging < /title >

In this case, Better Business Blogging will appear as the Title tag information.

You dont have many words to play with in your Title tag (between 8 and 10 is considered the most that are given relevance) so its important to use them, and ideally have your keywords included. The order that they are used allows adds weight, with words appearing earlier having more importance.

In Blogs, the Title tag is generated automatically and usually takes the format of the name of your Blog followed by the title of the post. So if we take this page as an example, under normal circumstances, the Title Tag would be:

Better Business Blogging >> Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag

However, ideally I would like to highlight the reference to “SEO in Blogs” and so by changing the order in the title tag using my template, I can achieve this. This gives a new Title tag of:

Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag” – Better Business Blogging

This will help to the highlight the term “SEO in blogs” more because of its placement in the Title Tag and will give better results for these key terms with the Search Engines.

While this should not be done in isolation, the Title tag is an important element and so due attention should be paid accordingly. Try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Tags: , , ,

Recomended Reading:

  1. Basic SEO in Blogs 1: Content, content, content!
  2. Blogworld, SEO and Title tags
  3. Basic SEO in Blogs – Overview
  4. Blog SEO: What’s the most important element?
  5. Blog Post Titles: what are the important factors?