April 2007

The recent survey by Vizu Answers and subsequently reported on by eMarketer was interesting reading but I believe somewhat distorted if we are looking at blogging from a business point of view.

One element that I was surprised at was the fact that the report stated that only some 20% of blog traffic comes from Search Engines (blog specific or otherwise). In my own case, across the blogs that I manage, the split is nearer to 50% which either means that either:

  • I am doing something right; or

  • I’m missing out on attracting even more readers of my blog; or,

  • the report is skewed in some way.

I think that the truth lies somewhere as a mix of all three.

I get the impression that the way that Vizu ran the survey meant that the questionnaires were primarily on personal blogs in which case the figures make more sense. Recommendations from other bloggers are important when it comes to personal blogs – they are also very important on business blogs but, since business blogs should be very focused in terms of content, they also attract readers through Search Engines as people carry out product research or are looking for specific information sources.

You do of course have the added element that there is no reason why the unitiated should have any idea that they are on a blog. A blog is a website with special characteristics after all and the people who arrive there via Search Engines are simply looking for the specific information that they contain rather than a site which is a blog or is not a blog or contains a blog or … well, you get the picture.

So will the Vizu report make me change my focus in terms of marketing my business blog? No. I believe that people will continue to use Search Engines and will continue to focus on finding the information they want rather than worrying if it is on a blog, website, forum etc. However, at the same time I will be looking to encourage readers to refer to my blogs either directly or via social networking and social bookmarking sites.

Of course, the only way to do that is to try to continue to write posts which are worth recommending.

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Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

While Ive written on this subject before, I feel that it is worthy of inclusion again as part of the Business Blog Design series.

It’s all about communication!

When we talk to someone face to face, either at a personal or business level, there will be a point when the conversation turns to questions such as “what do you do?”, “where are you from?” or something akin to “what team do you support?”. Why? Because we are interested in knowing more about the people that we deal with – its in our nature

In the same way, blogs are really all about communication too, as well as interaction and conversation. Personal blogs approach this with certain goals in mind – getting in touch with people with common interests or just wanting “to be heard” for example – while companies using business blogs have a different agenda and may be looking to generate trust, differentiate themselves and ultimately develop additional business.

In both cases, you need to make sure that people can find out more about you … and also find you! When you are reading a business blog and find what is being said interesting, it can be very frustrating if you want to contact the person or find out where they are based only to discover that that little (but crucial) bit of information is nowhere to be seen. Not only is this frustrating but it can also be damaging from a business point of view too!

Make your details easy to find

So make sure that you provide your readers with a clear way of finding out about the person who is writing the blog and who they are communicating with. They’ll already have a good idea but what you write and how you write it but help them on their way – always remember to put up a profile up on your Business Blog as well as a way for your readers to get in touch with you, though of course those can be on the same page.

If you prefer to include your details as part of your sidebar then keep it short and sweet thats part of your prime real estate that we talked about in the original post so youll have lots of business specific stuff that you also want to be highly visible there. I personally prefer a link through to a separate page where you have a little more space to include whatever details seem appropriate to you. And a photo … always remember a photo! Most of us work visually, so that help your readers picture you, even if you’re not totally comfortable with it like me.

What to include?

Some profiles will focus on past work and experience ( no CVS though, please), others will have more of a current focus and outline future plans. What ever you put there, try to make it personal though and don’t forget that picture as well! :) Remember that from a networking perspective, your Business Blog acts as the hub at the centre of that network – people are therefore going to be interested in the real you and what makes you tick so give them some insights into the person behind the Blog.

You also want people to be able to contact you. They can do this by posting comments on your blog, but they may also want to get in contact with you directly. So, make sure that you also have your contact details on your blog, either as part of your profile or in a separate section or both!

Don’t forget your legal obligations

Finally, in Europe at least, a new law which came into force at the beginning of 2007 requires that emails and websites (and hence blogs) to display certain details about the company and/or individual that is writing them so make sure that you comply if necessary. Theres more information about this here.

Make sure that your profile and your contact details are clearly visible on your Blog – make it easy for others to find out more about you and contact you!

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