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    BBB Bloggers Guides: here are all the key posts


    Not so much blogging tools, but rather tools I use in the course of blogging, if you see what I mean! Anyway, here are 12 tools that I find massively useful in and around my blog.

    1. Feedburner

    One of the blogging tools I would recommend unreservedly. While I may not visit the site every day, I run all of my RSS feeds and my clients feeds through Feedburner which allows me to use them so much more effectively than I could otherwise. It isnt just so I can see how many people are following my blog through my feed or that they can automatically receive updates via email if they are not familiar with RSS. I can also use it to brand the RSS feed, create a signature using the feed to promote my blog on my email or on forum postings, add messages about my services to the feed and much more. Oh and its free.

    2. Aweber

    Although I use a bespoke email marketing system for the larger client campaigns that I run, I also run a number of mailing lists including my own free Business Blogging eCourse (over 2500 takers now, BTW!) via Aweber. This started life as an autoresponder system as well as a bulk email system which seems to have gradually expanded so you can do tracking and all sorts now. In addition, they launched Blog Broadcast which will automatically create an email newsletter from your blog posts that you can schedule according to your needs.

    3. Google Webmaster Tools

    Now at the end of the day, a business blog is still essentially a website and as such can benefit from the tools that Google makes available to webmasters everywhere. Lets face it, businesses may run blogs as an interactive mouthpiece with their clients and the good ones benefit from all of the intangibles in terms of trust, relationships etc they can create; however, this doesn’t stop businesses also tapping into the fact that they are inherently attractive to search engines and so ideal to help develop your online marketing. So check in with Google Webmaster Tools over at Google Webmaster Central.

    4. Statcounter

    Its essential to keep track of whats going on your blog, which posts are attracting most attention, where readers are coming from and what keywords they are using to find you. These are all things we need to know to improve and get the most out of our business blogs. For this, I use two tools – Google Analytics, which is comprehensive but the 24 hour delay in getting the stats can sometimes be frustrating if I need immediate feedback on posts or when I get a surge of visitors from sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. For this reason I also use Statcounter free up to a certain limit but not too pricey on the upgrade if you want some additional bandwidth.

    5. RSS Reader

    To keep up with what is going on in my industry or those of my clients, I rely on two tools. Essential tool no.1 – my RSS reader, which provides me with the news and views of selected sites delivered straight to me. Personally I have gone with an offline reader called FeedReader and I like it. However, I would be remiss if I didnt also point you in the direction of the two most popular readers when it comes to people who follow me: Google Reader and Bloglines. My only advice is to check them out and see which ones appeals to you most. Actually Im wrong my real only advice would simply be – get one!

    6. Google Alerts

    Essential Tool no.2 – Google Alerts. A great little tool which keeps me up to date by sending me emails with any blogs, sites and news articles which mention any of the topics or companies that I am monitoring. Daily updates on some keywords but for others I prefer to get immediate notification so that I can follow up if necessary, perhaps leave a comment or be the first to share the information with my own readers.

    7. WordPress

    Im a WordPress fan, I cant deny it. All the blogs I run for myself and those I set up for clients are based on the WordPress platform powerful, flexible and, in my opinion, the best tool to future proof your investment in blogging. (Oh dear, that sounded a bit like marketing speak!) However, there are often things that I want to do with a blog to achieve a business aim that I need to research from a technical standpoint. Enter the WordPress site. Not only an invaluable source of information on themes and plugins but also the support of other developers and users in the forums. Fab!

    8. Yahoo Site explorer / SEO plugin of Firefox

    Linking is such an important element of the development of a blog that it’s great to keep a close eye on who is linking to you. Specific sites like Technorati are really good but I also like to use another tool (or rather tools) to give a view across all areas of the internet – firstly you’ve got Yahoo’s Site Explorer which allows focus on inbound and internal links and secondly there is the SEO plugin for Firefox (from Aaron Wall of SEO Book fame). Both excellent.

    9. Core FTP

    While I could use WordPress to load images and pdfs etc onto my blog, I guess my years on the business development and marketing side of things havent totally suppressed the techie within (I blame my years at Psion for that) and I like to use an FTP program to load stuff onto my blog. Of course it also comes in very handy for setting up WordPress in the first place together with the plugins I use as part of creating fully optimised blogs for clients. Many recommend Filezilla but I still love the rather bare simplicity of Core FTP bless!

    10. SnagIt

    After trying a number of other products to capture images on screen, I finally forked out for SnagIt and dont regret it for an instant not that that makes me a big spender either at $50. Whether it is for putting together my training courses on blog promotion, creating manuals so clients can really use their blog properly or just to liven up posts or forum comments, its easy and very flexible. Well worth the money.

    11. Dreamstime

    Having looked at a number of different graphics sites, Dreamstime is the one that I use the most when I am looking for images and graphics to use in my posts. There are a number of others such as iStockphoto or Big Stock Photo which are widely used but I found that Dreamstime has an excellent range of images and a reasonable price structure so have stuck with that.

    12. Technorati

    Still the daddy of Blog Search Engines and Blog Directories all rolled into one. If you want to find a blog in your chosen area of expertise then Technorati is where to start and then just follow the links that you find there. Since its important to check out blogs that already exist as part of your own setup process, then this is definitely a site to be familiar with.

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

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    Successful Corporate BlogsI guess that this is probably the key question for any organisation looking to create their own corporate blog. My answer: one which fulfils the purpose that it was created for.

    This may sound evasive – a “cop out” if you like – and I suppose that, in a sense, it is. However, with so many different types of corporate blog, it’s simply not possible to give a single definitive blueprint for creating one.

    For example, the style and goals for a so-called CEO blog are going to be very different from one designed as a product blog. Likewise a corporate blog which brings together a community of users and developers for market research or product development, will have a very different definition of successful from an “expert blog” written by a specialist lawyer looking to directly improve his/her profile and reputation.

    However, what they will have in common is likely to be a clear set of objectives, albeit all different, which they are focused on achieving. These objectives would have been identified as part of the planning process and should always be in the back of your mind when writing and promoting your corporate blog.

    What might your objectives be?

    Ideally, aim for specific objectives and where possible ones that you can measure – attempting to quantify the ROI of a blog may seem a long way down the line when you start but believe me you will be asked the question at some point! However, in reality, you are more likely to have a mix with a number of general objectives and some specific targets thrown in.

    In most cases, people start with general objectives such as increased branding, improved reputation or a greater level of recognition. But, if you can add in areas where measurable results are possible, then this will help determine whether the blog meets those objectives and hence “qualifies” as a success.

    Some possible metrics that you could consider, include:

    • Increased enquiries generated through the blog using specific email addresses or forms

    • Incremental sales which can be tracked back to the blog

    • Sign ups either to your newsletter, white papers or other sources of information

    • RSS subscribers to the blog or individual categories within the blog if the level of content warrants it

    • Inbound links generated by the blog when others reference and link through to the content

    • Better Search Engine positioning because of the blog’s regularly updated content, internal structure and inbound links

    • New products identified and developed through the market research or product development carried out on the blog

    • Customer queries answered leading to reduced customer service or technical support calls

    Of course, not all of these will be relevant to you so use specific criteria which focus on the reasons for establishing the blog in the first place. In some cases, there will be a single overriding criterion which will be the sole indicator of a blog’s success or failure.

    Some pointers for your Corporate Blog

    If I had to make some suggestions as you start a corporate blog, which I believe will help it to achieve the goals that you have set for it, then I would recommend:
    • Don’t try to be everything to all people: the best type of corporate blog will identify the people it wishes to appeal to and will be written in such a way that it attracts, retains and develops that audience;

    • Plan, focus and stay true to your goals: you planned your objectives when you started, so try not to be distracted from them. If those are what you want to achieve, then make certain that you concentrate on them and don’t get pulled off in different directions;

    • Write interesting, compelling, focused content: you know the audience you wish to attract and hopefully you also know what will interest them. So try to present them with that information in a way which is authentic and which communicates the passion that you have for the subject;

    • Launch it properly: Plan the launch and make sure that you use all of the means at your disposal to tell people about it. Get your Foundation posts in place, use your mailing list, pre-announce it if applicable, create online press releases to support it and ensure that you put some weight behind the activities. If you believe it’s worth reading (and let’s hope you do!) then tell people and enthuse about it;

    • Market it religiously: there is no point in having a blog and just letting it sit there – tell people about it. Use all the methods available both online and offline, generic and blog specific and then use all of them again! While your writing will hopefully attract readers over time, you should still “spread the word” at every opportunity.

    Ultimately, the person best placed to judge whether the corporate blog you are running has been a success is … you! So give yourself the best chance to make it a success by knowing what you want to achieve with it and then going all out to make it happen.

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

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    I’ll admit that usually I’m not a fan of lists, hence you won’t find many long ones here at Better Business Blogging. However, when they are recommended by people like Brian Clark at CopyBlogger or Darren Rowse at Problogger then who am I to argue?

    Although I have presented this as a single list, there are really three distinct groups of techniques that I would recommend that you consider in here – firstly what I would call “Blog methods”, then the more general online marketing methods and of course offline marketing and PR techniques. We’ll be looking at all of these on an ongoing basis at The Blog Coach.

    In the meantime, here are 52 Great Ways to market your blog:

    1. Submit your site to the main web directories – you�ll find a good list at Directory Maximiser

    2. Make sure that the whole of your blog is indexed on the main Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN/Live

    3. Get a Google Sitemap on your blog to help to get it fully indexed

    4. Participate in online business networking sites such as Linked In, eCademy and SoFlow

    5. Make it easy for your readers to bookmark your blog on the social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Furl etc.

    6. Make sure you submit your blog to the main Blog directories (Good list here and here)

    7. Also submit your blog to the main RSS directories

    8. Ensure that you automatically ping the main blog Search Engines and Directories suach as Technorati and IceRocket to get instantly indexed – good list of pinging addresses

    9. Join a number of relevant online communities or discussion groups for your market area

    10. Maximise the design of your own blog: highlight posts or subjects that will attract and retain readers

    11. Add comments – relevant, useful comments – to other people�s threads or blogs

    12. Use Pay per Click (PPC) advertising like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing

    13. Advertise on sites such as Gumtree or Craigslist

    14. Make sure that you run an ezine (e-newsletter) alongside your blog and make the two work together

    15. Make sure that you link out to other blogs in your blog posts and, for special recommended blogs, in your BlogRoll

    16. Join MyBlogLog to be able to make contact with other MyBlogLog users and develop relationships

    17. Set up a social network part of your blog with Ning

    18. Write your own e-book (perhaps using content from your blog) and give away free chapters to encourage visitors or subscribers

    19. Start your own meme or viral networking idea (such as 2000 Bloggers)

    20. Attend local networking groups such as BNI, BRE etc – tell them about what you do and reference your blog

    21. Set up and develop a profile on online social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo etc.

    22. Create a free account on BT Tradespace

    23. Interview people for your own regular podcast – perhaps you could make it like your own online radio show

    24. Contact other relevant ezines and offer to write articles for them

    25. Submit your articles to article directories (Ezine Articles, Article Alley etc.)and link to your blog in the signature

    26. Submit your own ezine to ezine directories such as Ezine Directory or Best Ezines

    27. Include podcasts as part of your blog to distribute interviews, informational pieces etc.

    28. Convert some of your existing articles into podcasts

    29. Create a lense at Squidoo

    30. Distribute and syndicate your articles and podcasts via your RSS feed

    31. Offer free white papers or specialist documents which are branded with your blog and RSS details

    32. Set up teleconferences or teleseminars focusing on your main content areas

    33. Write a review of books on Amazon.com linking back to your blog

    34. Distribute press releases via online news services such as PR Web or Press Box

    35. Add a poll or survey to your blog and post/distribute the results – try SurveyGizmo if you are a WordPress user

    36. Read other blogs and leave your own comments on them

    37. Use trackbacks when you reference other bloggers� posts

    38. Create podcasts of your best posts and syndicate them, as well as submitting them to iTunes and other podcast directories

    39. Sign up to Feedburner and include the Headline Animator in your email signature and the one you use when you post to forums

    40. Make sure you include your blog address on your business cards and company stationery

    41. Customise and improve your RSS Feed using Feedburner – include special offers, sign up opportunities and make sure the feed delivers the full post

    42. Increase RSS feed sign ups by offering a sign up bonus to subscribers – how? Just ask!

    43. Offer readers the chance to sign up via email (Feedburner and Feedblitz offer the service

    44. Put files and follow ups to presentations, conferences and seminars on your blog for attendees to read and download

    45. Offer to become a Guest blogger on other blogs and invite Guest bloggers to write on your own blog

    46. Make sure to submit articles to and participate in Blog Carnivals (more on Blog Carnivals here)

    47. Optimise your blog where possible and particularly the Categories, Title Tags and Meta Tags

    48. Participate regularly in conversations on other blogs

    49. Post answers on LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo Answers

    50. Try LinkBaiting using controversial subjects or opinions � be careful though!

    51. Contact the main bloggers in your market area and introduce yourself or send details of a particular post that might interest them

    and above all,
    52. Write great content that people will want to read, recommend and link to!

    What other methods (or which of these methods) do you find work best for you as you promote your Blog? Please share them with us by leaving a comment!

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

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    Better Business Blogging - Quick Bloggers GuideFirst a little bit of background

    When you first create a website, one of your main concerns is how to get it indexed by the main Search Engines so that it is included in their searches. Later, when you update your site or add pages to it, you want those included too and as quickly as possible.

    The trouble is that you have no control over the process and no way to tell Google, Yahoo and the rest that your website has new information on it even submitting it again just puts it in a queue and effectively on hold. This is because Search Engines find websites by following links and then index them in a generally sporadic way. The more regularly you change the content, the more often Search Engines will return to index your site however, for most, it is still rather hit and miss.

    Blog Search Engines work in a different way. With Search Engines like Technorati, you can let them know that you have posted new content and that they should come along and index it immediately! This is done by Pinging.

    What is Posting and Pinging and why is it important?

    Most people use the internet to find information and whenever they are doing research for anything from local florists to the Big Bang theory, Search Engines are their first port of call. If you want to be found when they do this research, then your Blog first needs to be indexed by the Blog Search Engines. You can do this by first creating your post and then pinging.

    As soon as you have written and published your new post on your blog then you should ping the various Blog Search Engines to let them know that they should come and index it. Posting and Pinging! In fact, the concept of posting and pinging is something we would all love to have for our websites as well – it is effectively a way to ensure that your new content is indexed and available as soon as you post it.

    What exactly is Pinging?

    Pinging is in fact a generic computer term that has come to mean something more specific in the world of blogging. A ping is commonly used to check the connection of a server/computer on a network – its like a very short test message and if the computer responds then you know the connection is okay.

    [A quick too much information moment: the word ping comes from the name of the utility that sends out this test message called a Packet INternet Groper.]

    In blogging, this idea of pinging is used for a specific purposes: we ping the server of a Blog Search Engine to let it know that there is a new post which they need to come and look at Technorati reacts to the ping by visiting the blog and registering the post, immediately updating its index. The ping is merely the prompt to do these things, its the blogging system set-up that then carries out the actions. Result – no more waiting and wondering when your new page of content will be found as you have to with the main Search Engines.

    How do you ping?

    In an ideal world, you should not need to worry about pinging, you should set your blog up so that the software does it for you. In WordPress, you will find this in the Administration section in Options > Writing; at the bottom of the page there is a box called Update Services and this is where you put the ping address.

    If you need to do it yourself, then rather than doing each one independently, there are some services which will ping a number of different servers for you free. The best known are probably Pingomatic, Pingoat and PingShot which is part of the Feedburner services.

    Where should you ping?

    Ideally you want to ping as many of the major Blog Search Engines as possible to ensure that they have indexed your new post. The pinging services mentioned above will help but I have gathered a list of places to ping from a number of different sources which I will be keeping updated. Just add these addresses to the Update Services area in your Blogging platform and let the software work for you.

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

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    Better Business Blogging - Quick Bloggers GuideAlthough they say that you can’t please everyone all of the time, I say that here’s no harm in trying! (Don’t quote me on that!!)

    So, in response to some of the requests that I have had to create a series of shorter guides to complement the more in depth eCourse on Business Blogging that I offer on the site, I have created a series of Better Business Blogging “Bloggers Guides” which will each focus on a particular aspect which is important to anyone running a Business Blog.

    While not as in depth as some of the longer articles here, they will present an overview which should give you ideas and additional resources to explore the area further.

    Some of the initial BBB Bloggers Guides planned are:

    • Bloggers Guide to RSS Directories

    • Bloggers Guide to Feedburner

    • Bloggers Guide to Marketing your Blog

    • Bloggers Guide to RSS by Email

    • Bloggers Guide to Posting and Pinging

    • Bloggers Guide to Pitching Bloggers

    This will be an ongoing series of posts, rather than a short independent series, which is intended to grow into a resource of its own. I hope that you will help it to develop in the right direction!

    If you have areas that you would like to have covered here , then let me know and I will look to include it in the Better Business Blogging Bloggers Guides.

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

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