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  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
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    Marketing your Blog: here are all the key posts


    While there’s always been lots of debate as to what criteria Search Engines use to rank web pages in their search results, what there is little debate about is that appearing high up on the Search Engines Results page has become of key importance to most businesses. Why? Simply because currently, Search Engines are the preferred research tools in today’s marketplace.

    As a result, Search Engine Optimisation (aka SEO) has developed into a thriving (if often maligned) industry as organisations, both large and small, strive to gain higher positions and greater visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs).

    The other thing that has become increasingly apparent is that blogs (and business blogs in particular) have a number of attributes which help them rank highly in the Search Engines, making them an important or even, dare I say, a key part of Search Engine Marketing. To understand why, first let’s have a quick reminder of how Search Engines work.

    Search Engines: a few basics

    The main Search Engines – I’m thinking here primarily of Google, Yahoo and Live – collect information from websites using electronic programs called “robots” or “spiders”. They find new sites and content generally by following links and then reading and indexing the code which creates the individual pages (and hence the text they contain). This is all stored on their servers so that when a search is submitted, the Search Engine sifts through all the relevant pages in its index and then ranks them in terms of relevancy using a mathematical algorithm. The result of all this is what we see on the Search Engine results page.

    They determine this relevancy using over 100 different criteria, if we are to believe the experts in this field, though some criteria are obviously considered more “valuable” than others. Those considered particularly important include the text itself, the inbound and internal links, focus and relevancy of the information and some key onpage elements such as the Title tag. It is also worth reminding ourselves that search engines rank individual pages rather than whole websites when they create their results pages.

    So how can we apply this to blogs?

    Armed with an overview of what Search Engines are looking for to rank pages highly, it’s clear that blogs do in fact fulfil a number of these criteria perfectly, which goes a long way to explain why they rank so well. Specifically:

    • Text: Business Blogs tend to be focused in their content and that is ideal for what Search Engines look for when they are searching for pages which fit with specific search criteria;

    • External Inbound Links: the overriding philosophy in the blogosphere is to reference other blogs by linking to relevant sources; so blogs offering good (and often specific) content are likely to attract a greater number of links;

    • Internal Links: blogs are automatically structured in such a way that the internal linking is excellent with highly relevant anchor text (the words that actually form the link) which is an extra bonus;

    • Up to date information: the most successful blogs are generally ones which are regularly updated and hence offer a growing resource of recent and relevant content;

    • Onpage elements: good blogging software has excellent flexibility which gives you the opportunity to have specific onpage elements (such as the Title Tag) for each individual page.

    Blog Search Engines, Pinging and Instant Indexing

    Although blogs appear in the main Search Engines like any other online site, they also have their own set of Search Engines which focus primarily on blogs. This is important because the way that these Blog Search Engines find new content is different to the main Search Engines.

    If blogs are set up correctly, they will automatically “ping” these search engines – this is the digital equivalent to a ‘tap on the shoulder’ telling them that there is new content for them to index. This happens instantly and, with one of these Blog Search Engines belonging to Google, this means that Google’s main index can pick up your post almost immediately – my best is 6 minutes.

    Of course, if the blog is part of your main website then there is also the greater chance of the rest of your site being indexed more frequently too, let alone all the pages benefiting from the value of the inbound links coming into the blog, linking to your new articles! Ah, is there no end to the benefits!! ;)

    Conclusion: keep developing your Business Blog

    If, like me, you already use a blog for your business, then these Search Engine benefits will not be anything new – no doubt you will have already have seen the sort of great results that you can achieve. If you haven’t, then we really need to talk! :) However, they are particularly impressive when you consider that you are probably writing your blog with your readers uppermost in your mind and these benefits are merely a welcome (albeit very beneficial) side effect.

    Business blogs however are not a magic solution and nor should they be used in isolation – they are at their best when used in conjunction with other marketing activities, both online and offline. Equally, they are not trying to manipulate Search Engines – an accusation sometimes levelled at SEO companies. Simply put, well written and focused blogs give Search Engines exactly what they want to provide for their users – good, specific and up to date information on the subject matter that they are searching for.

    And providing that is of course where both the challenge and the benefits lie!

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    Wordpress plugins for Business BlogsRecently, I’ve seen a spate of posts about WordPress plugins and focused on a variety of different areas, particularly after the release of WordPress 2.7. These plugins are important pieces of software which add specific functionality to the self hosted WordPress platform. They are also one of the key reasons that WordPress, for me, continues to offer greatest opportunities for bloggers and their businesses going forward.

    Do these opportunities come from the fact that it’s good to have the latest flashy, whizzy things (technical term) on your blog? No, simply that if you have software which automatically promotes, distributes and encourages people to read your posts then, as a consequence, that allows you to settle down to the real key task of blogging – writing content that people want to read.

    What makes a good Plugin?

    I get asked quite frequently which are the best WordPress plugins to use and, for me, it’s a question that I find impossible to give a simple answer to. The trouble I have is that selecting the “best” WordPress plugins is not only totally subjective but is also approaching the issue from the wrong direction.

    Plugins are designed to offer additional functionality to the blog. Rather than focusing on the plugins, I believe that it should be a case of looking at the business goals of the blog and then identifying which plugins best achieve and support these.

    In addition, since my aim is to make sure that the companies I work which are as self sufficient as possible, so it’s good to ensure that the plugins are not only robust but also likely to be updated to ensure compatibility with future software releases. This saves having to potentially change the plugins should an upgrade to WordPress make them redundant.

    Plugins offering general business functionality

    Having said that, there are certain features that I feel are particularly useful for the majority of business blogs because of their generic value and utility, and so I have decided to focus in one those here. With that in mind, what I have done is outline the plugins that best support those features and which hopefully follow their development.

    Are these the only ones I recommend? No, not at all. There are very many excellent plugins lovingly created and distributed by their developers which I use but are not mentioned here because I consider them specific to particular needs and purposes. However, these put down a good framework which will help support your content and your blogging:

    1. Facilitating content sharing

    • WP-Email: gives you “email a friend” opportunities to include with your posts and hence a easy way for readers to share or recommend your content

    • Social bookmarking: There are a number of options covering the social bookmarking sites rom SEM Bookmark to Social Bookmarks. There is also a plugin available for the increasingly popular Share This service. Alternatively, there are plugins which focus in on one of the larger communities such as Digg and offer greater functionality dedicated to that platform

    • WP Print: don’t forget that many still share content in printed format (not to mention for our own consumption) and this helps ensure that the article is printed cleanly and in full

    2. Search Engine optimisation

    • All in One SEO: gives the ability and flexibility to add a custom title tag and meta tags to each post or page. It also lets you set a better automated structure for these tags across the blog and exclude indexing on certain areas. Nice functionality – to help you with SEO, not optimise it for you! [See also Title Tag SEO]

    • Meta Robots: For full control, you might also like to include a Robot.txt function allowing page level control of what is indexed and not. Useful to control the flow of Page Rank value

    • Simple Tags: allows a great deal of control and automation of tags and their use – very useful in conjunction with the categories and posts.

    3. Onsite Functions

    • Dagon Design Formmailer: it’s important to have a minimum of a contact page on your blog and this allows you to include a contact form too – highly flexible for other purposes, signups etc.

    • Related Posts: an important addition to help readers to navigate your blog and for you to introduce other relevant information you have written to them

    • Search Everything: while the standard search function focuses on the content of the posts, you’d now want to include tags and various other useful elements. This plugin allows you to achieve that.

    • Page Numbers: allowing your readers to quickly navigate around your blog helps their experience of it and allows them to browse your content as they wish. This allows them to delve more easily into your archives.

    4. Back Office

    • Database Backup: backing up your database is a key element of your blog admin. With this plugin, you can do it automatically and there’s no need to even know what PHPMyAdmin stands for, let alone how to use it.

    • Google Analytics: this is about plugins so here is a good one to help include Google Analytics – however, you could also add the code to your footer. What is key for your blog is that you do track your visitors.

    • Akismet Spam Control: comment spam is an ineviatble result of a successful blog. CAPTCHA methods are good but my preferred version puts no onus on the commenters and that is Akismet as a Spam control method.

    5. Comments

    • Subscribe to Comments: comments are the lifeblood of a blog based community. Being informed of new replies is important and this plugin does just that. It gets people returning to your blog too.

    • Get Related Comments: bit of a reward to those who have commented and also a way to encourage others to do so and to read your blog. Very versatile!

    Are these the only plugins that I use on blogs? Absolutely not! On the contrary, there are a vast number of excellent ones which I use to achieve certain business requirements – the ones mentioned here are just those that I believe all business blogs can benefit from? I would love to hear which others you would include in yours!

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    Well, according to Comscore’s latest report, YouTube has now overtaken Yahoo and sits in second position (behind Google of course) when it comes to online search. Quite an achievement! But, to be honest, it some respects, it really doesn’t matter where they are in the rankings – the fact is that the 60m+ visitors it attracts on a monthly basis speaks volumes on its own. It also begs the question – how are you using video to benefit your blog and your business?

    Where videos prove their worth

    Video, together with the increasing use of social media such as blogs, social networking and podcasts in marketing, has been winning new fans because of the extra dimension that it can give to our marketing activities. Using video not only helps to differentiate you from your competitors, it also allows you to convey your message in a different way.

    The use of video has had a huge rise in popularity over recent years, with steeply rising user numbers. YouTube, with its estimated 64 million visitors every month leads the way, (more…)

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    Optimising your Blog for Search EnginesWarning – Long Post (even for me!)

    Remember that when it comes to “Optimising your blog”, looking at the factors which will be picked up by the Search Engines is only one part of the equation. You also need to consider optimising the blog for your readers and optimising for your business objectives – creating a blog which happens to rank highly for certain relevant key word phrases is going to be of zero value to you if you can’t back that up with things that your readers are interested in. (We looked at Optimising for your Readers in part 1 and optimising for your business comes in part 3).

    Most of the elements mention here can be applied to all full blown blogs – however, hosted blogs (particularly free ones) are unlikely to offer the flexibility to allow you to change all of these elements. So, if you are looking to really benefit from a fully optimised blog then I recommend you check out what’s on offer before you begin. For me, the full WordPress system, particularly because of the wealth of specialist plugins, is extremely powerful in SEO terms (and my first choice of blogging system), and so I will be referencing suitable sources from the WordPress community where possible.

    While we will be looking at individual SEO elements, you have to remember that there are very few factors which will cause a major shift change to a post or page ranking on their own. Rather, it is the cumulative effect that has real value a prime example of “the sum of the parts being greater than the whole”. So on each page, decide on the specific keyword phrases you wish to target and make sure that all of the individual elements come together to support them. Although vitally important, I won’t be looking at inbound links here, but rather concentrating on elements on the blog itself.

    1. Title Tag

    Generally considered to be the most important individual item so well worth spending the time and getting right. While opinions vary, general consensus is that you have about 8 words to play with, with greater relevance awarded to those at the start of the tag to gain most benefit from this, ensure that as a default format, the title tag displays your “Blog post title” followed by “Blog name” so that the keywords in your post title are highlighted at the start of the tag.

    However, whenever possible, you should take the opportunity to write a custom Title Tag – with WordPress you can use the plugins such as Stephan Spencers SEO Title Tag or All in One SEO which will allow you to do this easily. What to write? Well, remember where the Title Tags appear youll find it at the top of your browser window and, more importantly, as the clickable link on the Search Engine Results page. So while you should look to include your keywords to appeal to the Search Engines, you also need to write something which will inspire your readers to click on that link!

    2. Post Text

    The old adage of content is king still holds true and perhaps is even more compelling in blogs as the writing is intended to be more “personal” than the normal text penned by a corporate website scribe. In any case, what you write about and then the actual words that you write is clearly crucial in all good business blogs, there should be a clear focus or direction for the blog overall, and it is likely that the content in each post is going to be focused on a certain subject matter as well. This will naturally lend itself to a keyword targeted post but and it is a big “BUT” it must be written in a way which will attract and then appeal to your readers. They must be your primary concern and focus!

    (more…)
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    Linking Business Blogs and Corporate BlogsLinking is part and parcel of blogging and its an important part of it as well. The blogosphere thrives on links & connections and those blogs which create those outbound links will tend to thrive with it.

    Put simply, linking out is good good for your blog and good for your business.

    As you link to others, you strengthen your own position. Partly because you are validating and supporting the content of your posts but also because you are developing a repository of information which will benefit the readers who are attracted to your blog.

    In fact, there are lots of positive reasons for linking to other blogs and sites which I tend to categorise as follows:

      Informing your readers and Supporting your posts

      Links are probably the sincerest way of recommending other blogs as valuable sources of information – you are effectively giving them a big thumbs up. Equally, they are an important way of providing reference sources to support and corroborate the arguments or assertions you are making in your own posts.

      Business & Blog Promotion

      By linking out, you will also be spreading the word about your own blog. If you use trackbacks to the sites you link to, then youll appear in the comments section of the post you’re referring to, giving more people the chance to find your blog. Owners of blogs are also generally interested in who’s referencing them, so you’ll often get a visit from them, and hopefully they’ll like what they find!

      Developing Reputation and Creating Value

      You will get more readers using your blog as the start point for their research, primarily because they trust the information and the links that you provide effectively, in your area of specialism, you act as their online directory and general resource. For them, you become THE person to go to.

      Creating Community & Networking

      By linking to other sources, you are creating a mini resource in your area of expertise this in turn can start to generate a community or network of readers using it with you and your blog at its centre. The links you provide help your readers to learn more about the subject and direct them to discussions going on elsewhere. Essentially your blog becomes the place where your readers know they can get up to date information on issues that they consider to be important.

    So next time you worry about linking to other sites, blogs or resources of any type, try to think instead of the business benefits instead – not just to your readers but to you as well.

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    Start or set up a blog: Key question 1This is part of a 3 part mini-series looking at the planning phase of setting up and starting your business blog.

    Each post will focus on one of the 3 key questions that you should have clear answers for as you set up your blog before you start to write it.

    Question 2:
    Who are you writing for?

    Unless you are writing a personal blog, and thats really not what we are dealing with here, then you are writing your blog with a business purpose in mind just as we looked at in the 1st Key Question. This in turn means that you are writing for someone, for an audience, who you are hoping will not only read your blog but react well to its content and to you as the author.

    To achieve this, need to be clear about this audience – your readers – and what they are going to expect from you and from your blog. You’ll also need to know how best to go about getting those reactions and building on them. This knowledge needs to influence every aspect of your blog including:

    • what your blog looks like

    • the content of your blog

    • the style of how you write it

    • the length and frequency of the posts

    • how you elicit comments and feedback
    In fact, what you are looking for is to encourage your target audience to engage with you and your blog in what I term the 5Rs:
    • Read: first of all you need to create subject matter which will encourage people to visit your blog and then read what youre writing about.

    • Return: once they have visited for the first time, you have the opportunity to give your readers something theyll wish to read more of, hence encouraging then to return to your blog.

    • Reply: you are looking to encourage dialogue and communication so you must find subjects and a style which encourages them to express an opinion about it and reply to the post.

    • Refer: provide your readers with enough compelling, relevant and interesting content and they’ll want to recommend it to everyone.

    • RSS: encourage them to sign up and receive what you are writing as and when it appears using RSS either directly or via email.
    So just how do you find out what they want? Well, first and foremost, you are as much a part of the target audience as you are the author! Its your area of specialism, so bear in mind your own areas of interest as you write, but a also look at what you are doing and writing with a critical eye from time to time and check you are still on track. In addition, take the time to listen to your readers. Listen to what they are saying in the comments they post on your blog or in the emails you receive from them. When you are at conferences and exhibitions, note down what are the hot topics that everyone is talking about they are literally giving you your killer content posts on a plate!

    But do remember that different blogs have different aims and therefore very different audiences. An internal blog, for example, will be aimed at talking primarily at employees, while an external blog with a customer support focus will need to provide exact information and specific answers within tight timeframes. Of course, the more than you can prepare for this in advance of starting the blog, the better focused and (probably) more successful it will be.

    To take a look at how all elements of a blog come together to fit with the audience it is targeting, Id like to recommend that you take a look at Sony and the two blogs that they launched last year for different parts of their business and for very different audiences.

      1. The first was the Sony Playstation blog which is heavily branded with a very specific topic range and audience in mind which has been attracted in droves to the site. Everything about the blog caters to this audience, their interests and ultimately the games that they are being encouraged to find out about and buy. Language, content and imagery all support this beautifully.

      2. The second was the Sony Electronics blog dealing with a very different part of the business, a very different product range and therefore a very different audience in terms of both interests and priorities. The frequency and content were both targeted towards their expected readers and they responded in their own way which, of course, also needed to be handled correctly.

    In summary, you need to ensure that you are always encouraging your readers to act on an appropriate aspect of the 5Rs. So, make sure that your business blog has a well defined theme and, once you have decided that, write your posts with it firmly in mind (remember keeping your aims on your monitor). Dont forget to use your RSS reader to keep up to date with what is happening in the areas that your blog covers and keeping offering your opinions on relevant and interesting items in your posts. Finally, keep encouraging feedback from this target audience and make sure that you respond to the comments that your readers leave.

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    I’ve mentioned a number of times how important title tags are and how useful they can be (and need to be) in different aspects of search engine optimisation for blogs. So I was glad to see that in one of the first sessions at the recent BlogWorld conference over in Las Vegas, that this subject was covered again by the speakers.

    However, as I listened to extracts from the session, there was one element that I picked up and hadn’t considered that was mentioned by Andy Beal from Marketing Pilgrim, and it’s one I’d like to pass on here. But first a little background.

    The title of the post (or Post Title) appears at the top of each individual post on the blog, whereas the words which appear at the top of the browser window is the so called Title Tag. Hopefully, the image below will show the distinction between them.

    Normally in blogs, there is a close relationship between the two elements because most blog software automatically creates a Title Tag from the title of the post, usually mixing it with the name of the blog something like

    “Better Business Blogging >> Title Tags are great”

    To an extent this is good because it it gives a distinct and relevant Title Tag for each page (which is positive) and it’s done automatically for us (which saves us time). However, even better is to have control over both elements individually which is where the SEO Title Tag plugin comes into its own if you’re a WordPress user as it disassociates the post title from the title tag.

    Anyway, where exactly do these two elements appear :

    • RSS feed – Post Title

    • Blog Search Engines – Post Title

    • Main Search Engine results – Title Tag

    • Search Engine Optimisation – Title Tag (primary) and Post Title (secondary)

    Anyway, what is the suggestion? Well, simply to change the title and the title tag after a few days so that you can appeal to the different groups that will be reading them. Basically, different people use the RSS feeds and blog search engines from those who might be searching with the main search engines. So target each.

    When you publish your post, use an attention grabbing headline for readers who may find you in amongst their other RSS feeds – often something time related is good and aimed specifically at your readers. But after a few days, you will have been seen by all those who are likely to find you via RSS or Blog Search Engines (which are also time sensitive) so we need to turn our attention to the main search engines. In this case, we need to make sure that we appeal to search engines with keyword phrases that we want to be found with as well as our readers, and this needs to be done in our title tag.

    So, as ever, pay attention to the needs and interests of your readers but be savvy enough to know when you have to change your focus to the search engines to give your blog posts even more longevity and ‘findability’.

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    How many hats do you wear as a blogger?Do you run your own business blog? Then you are amazing, absolutely A M A Z I N G !

    Whys that I hear you cry? Well, just think about all the different activities that go into developing and maintaining a successful business blog. Larger companies will probably have a small team working on their blog or blogs but you have to run it all on your own. And you manage to do it usually without even realising all the things you are doing automatically and the different hats that youre wearing.

    But if we break it down, its really quite impressive!

    • Researcher: keeping an eye on the RSS feeds and Google Alerts can help speed up your research as you plan and build your own posts. Phew – a full time job in itself.

    • Writer: right at the centre of everything, there’s the writer in you who actually puts pen to paper and without whom you just don’t have a blog!

    • Storyteller: no, not in the sense of “telling lies”. Shame on you. People love stories so if you can convey your message as a story when you write it, that will make it all the more memorable.

    • Editor: some tough decisions sometimes have to be taken to keep the writer in check, so you’ll need to have an editor in you working hard to keep the writer on the straight and narrow.

    • Expert: with the research done, you let the expert in you come shining through to add the depth to the post.

    • Project Manager: well someone has to keep the whole thing together!

    • Designer: you need to have the blog looking the part in order to support your business goals. Luckily there are some good templates available and, if you can’t do it yourself, people who can help you to stand out from the crowd.

    • Techie: with your technical hat on, you may want to get “under the hood” which for WordPress would include the set up, adding plugins etc. Even with the other systems, understanding how a blog works will allow you to make your blog more targeted to your readers.

    • SEO expert: with Search Engines a key consideration, make sure that you think about optimising certain aspects of your blog as part of your online marketing. Even if it’s just “Title Tags” and ‘friendly’ permalinks it’ll help.

    • Social Networker: or at least a networker. Offline it’s a great way to develop awareness and contacts, while online by your contributing to other blogs, it helps immeasurably to raise profile and awareness.

    • Market Researcher: you need to make sure that you are writing on topics that your readers are interested in so make sure that you carry out market research. Start by simply asking them. :)

    • Marketer: you’ve created a great blog so now get out and market it. And don’t forget that you need to do offline as well as online.

    • Diplomat: sometimes you’ll get comments on your blog which aren’t so favourable but be the diplomat, argue your position and remain your persuasive (but polite) self.

    • Businessman: at the end of the day, your blog is therefore for a business reason, so make sure the businessman/woman in you doesn’t let you have flights of fancy which aren’t helping those goals.

    • Strategist / Planner: you’ll want to make sure that the blog is heading in the right direction and that it’s developing properly, so keeping developing the plan of where it’s going and how it’s helping your business.

    • Housekeeper: sometimes there’s a lot of extra jobs you need to look at to keep the blog in order so try to tidy up loose ends when you spot them, answer comments, update software etc.

    • Accountant: though it pains me to say it, keep an eye on the bottom line even with a blog. There are costs involved and the main one is your time so try to remember that you’re looking for a return on your investment of time here.

    • Analyst: don’t forget to keep a check on what posts are attracting most readers, where you are getting referrals from and whether you are getting the search engine positions you wanted. Once you’ve analysed it you can do something about it!

    • Therapist: just in case you are feeling a little schizophrenic by now! ;)

    So how manys that? I think I make that 19 in all and doubtless, youll be coming up with lots of others.

    Dont panic, I know it sounds daunting …. and, in a way, it is. But don’t forget, that you don’t need to do it all yourself if you don’t want to. Some aspects you may decide not to bother with, others you’ll link up with other people to work on together and with some you’ll perhaps get an expert in to help.

    But the main thing is that you are already doing it, you’re out there communicating and connecting with readers, prospects and customers in your blog and that’s hard work in itself. So, after all that effort and hat changing, may I suggest a quiet moment and a cool drink might be in order – and maybe I need to add Bartender to the list as well.

    Image Photographer:Lisa F. Young | Agency: Dreamstime.com

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    5. Promote your book or seminar – develop the ideas in your Blog

    Looking for Business BlogsWhen starting a blog of our own or one for our company, hopefully we take time to plan out the content and look at what we want the blog to achieve for us and perhaps follow a process such as the one I advocated in the Green Cross Code of Blogging.

    One of the key parts in this process is the “look and listen” phase. This is when you take time out to research what is already going on and what is being discussed around the blogosphere in your industry or area. By following other blogs which address the same subject areas as your own, you should get a better feel for some key elements which will help you with your own blog, such as:

    • what others are writing about

    • what conversations are ongoing,

    • what topics are already being covered and by whom

    • who the main players are

    • which are the key blogs to read and be seen on

    • ideas on how to present your own blog




    But of course first of all, we have to find them!

    So what are the best places to find what blogs are already out there in the area that you have an interest in. Personally, I’d always start any search of this type with a Blog Search Engine and specifically Technorati which I suppose doubles as a Blog Search Engine and a Blog Directory. Being able to see who is linking to whom allows me to easily trace a route through to find the blogs that I am looking for. Others you could also check are Google’s own Blog Search Engine and Icerocket.

    However, there are other ways of locating blogs which would be of interest to you (and then of course adding them to your RSS reader – makes life a lot simpler afterwards!) and here are some which should make the job easier:

    • Blog Directories and RSS Directories: check through some of these blog focused directories which are usually organised along business and general interest lines. Choose your sector and start reading.

    • Social Networking / Business Networking sites: with the proliferation of the sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Ecademy, Xing etc, there are a good bet for finding information on relevant blogs. This may be listed on the profile page of the person but it is also worth checking the “signature” text that appears under their posts on the discussion forums where they are often promoted;

    • Other Blogs: once you have a blog you are interested in then use the links and recommendations that they provide. These links may well be in the text of the post itself or in the Blogroll (or Recommended sites) in the sidebar of the blog;

    • Press Releases: as companies take on board the fact that press releases should contain more social media tools and be aimed at their target audience rather than editors, they are including blog addresses in their contact details. Get a Google Alert set up to include their News section and get a daily email on who’s making press releases which contain your keywords;

    • Blog Awards: there seem to be a number of Blog Awards now, either at national level or in specific sectors. Either way they should throw up blogs which are worth looking at;

    • Search Engines: of course the main search engines also include blogs along with the other websites and so may throw up different results to the blog search engines. In any case, always worth a look because of their “firepower”.

    • Blog Carnivals: Blog Carnivals are generally arranged around a theme so check out ones that might be happening in your area of interest and see who is getting involved.

    • Corporate Sites: as more and more companies realise the benefits of a having a blog (or more likely multiple blogs) you will find links to them from their sites. So check the company you are interested in and have a look around!

    • Google Alerts: don’t just use Google Alerts for Press Releases, make sure that you cover all the Google sections available – you can find some research ideas with Google Alerts here.

    Of course, since these are good places to find blogs, they are also excellent places to promote your own. As a first step, do make sure that you have your blog submitted to the various blog and RSS Directories and that your blog software is automatically pinging the Blog Search Engines every time that you post. After that you can look at some or all of the other methods for your own promotion purposes as time permits.

    Try to pick up as much as you can from the ones that impress you most but above all enjoy reading the blogs you find – that’s what they are there for!

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

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    SEO - Title TagThere has been a recent revision to a report which first made an appearance last year, where 37 of the finest minds in the SEO arena were asked to appraise the various elements which can be used as part of a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) programme – White Hat SEO programme, of course.

    Their opinions and comments were recorded and distributed in Search Engine Ranking Factors V2 which is probably the most comprehensive report of its type in terms of listing and appraising individual factors that I have seen. In any case, particularly given the people involved, it is certainly something to take a careful look at as you embark on any type of optimisation of your blog.

    So what is the most important?

    The element which was given the greatest value overall, and hence considered the most important individual factor in SEO terms, was Keyword Use in Title Tag.

    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 (SERPs), it forms the link that you click on to reach the page shown in the results.

    As a result, not only is it valuable in terms of Search Engine rankings but also in terms of the click throughs that you get. Why is that? Since it appears in the main Search Engine Results page, it can act as an attention grabbing headline for the person conducting the search.

    Creating a “good” Title Tag

    Ideally, you should be aiming to create a Title Tag that will attract the attention of both human readers and the Search Engines – this means that it is likely to be both marketing focused as well as keyword rich. Sounds good in theory, but in practice you are likely to veer more towards one “audience” than the other.

    Opinions vary, but a good rule of thumb is that you have about 8 – 10 words (circa 60 – 65 characters) that you can use effectively in the title tag, so it’s best to make use of them. As a result, you should look to try to:

    • include your keyword / keyword phrase for the page – ideally, focus primarily on these keywords and avoid too many “the” and “and” connectors

    • rather than full sentences, consider using “|” or “-” to break up the phrases (but do remember that it needs to attract your readers too!);

    • include the important terms at the start of the Title Tag, as they seem to carry more “weight” than those at the end;

    • every Title Tag should be distinct and focused – each page and each post is different and so the Title Tag it uses should reflect this.”

    In blogs, the Title Tag is usually generated automatically using the title of the post and the title of the blog. This isn’t necessarily going to best suit your purposes so you may like to consider ways of modifying this – you could alter the template itself or you may find the tools below helpful.

    Tools to help you

    Firstly, a page which I think expands well on the themes that I have mentioned here is Best Practices for Title Tags over at Seomoz and is well worth studying.

    As for tools to help with the actual implementation, if you are using WordPress, then in my opinion, the best option is the SEO Title Tag plugin by Stephan Spencer, who certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to SEO. This gives you full rein to do what you want with a fully customised Title Tag option, as well as an improved default Title Tag as well.

    For those who have strayed down the Blogger route, then these two articles, Control your Title Tags in Blogger and Changing the Blogger Title Tag seem to cover two options (though I haven’t tried them personally) while Rank better in Google bay adding dynamic title tags to your Typepad blog seems to cover a possible solution for Typepad users.

    Conclusion

    So there you have it – the SEO elite confirm that they believe that the Title Tag is the SEO element that will do most for your Search Engine Ranking. One word of warning though (other than the fact that the Search Engine “goalposts” keep moving, so keep on your toes!) – if the content on your page doesn’t deliver, then the best Title Tag in the world will not help you. So before dedicating hours to creating great Title Tags, I’d always recommend paying just as much attention to the content it describes. :)

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