FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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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...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
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    CONTENTS


    eCourse Part 3 - Course Download1. What are you going to call your blog?
    2. Choose your Domain Name
    3. Look and Feel of your Blog
    4. Put up a profile
    5. Categories, Archives and Permalinks
    6. Dealing with Comments
    7. Tracking who visits

    So, we have looked at what we want to achieve with our Blog, who we are writing for and how we are going to promote it – hopefully we have also decided which blogging software is best suited to what we want to do.

    We are now ready to set up the blog and get started. The more things that are set up correctly at the start, then the more smoothly the development of your Blog will be effectively, youll want to get on and work on the content of your posts rather than worrying about set up.

    1. What are you going to call your blog?

    First things first, you need to choose a name for your Blog. You may have done this right at the beginning, indeed it may have been the first thing that you decided upon when you first thought about setting up a Business Blog.

    The name of your Blog is likely to be mainly a personal decision you may want to choose a name which reflect its contents, which incorporates your business name 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.

    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.

    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.

    2. Choose your Domain Name

    You are also going to need a domain name for your Blog. Just like the name of your Blog, the domain name that you choose is very much a personal decision, with the additional proviso that it is available, of course.

    There are, however, elements which might influence what you decide to choose and which you should at least consider when making your choice:

    • Name of your Blog: you may decide to simply make it the same as the name of your Blog which is probably the easiest way for people to remember it;

    • Subject matter of the Blog: to have a descriptive domain name for your blog will make it all the more memorable for those people reading it and also more memorable when they want to recommend it!

    • Branding elements for your business: you may wish to have a branding element incorporated into it as a special attribute of some sort;

    • SEO elements: from a Search Engine Optimisation point of view, the domain name is an important element and so, from this respect, would ideally include the primary keyword or keywords for the blog;

    • Length of domain name: while it is good to have a descriptive name, you should avoid one which is too long and also ideally avoid one with lots of words separated by hyphens which has spammy overtones – something you want to avoid for your business;

    • Top Level Domain: thats to say whether it should be a .com, .co.uk, .net etc. As with a normal website, it may well be sensible to cover all bases and take the main ones that are available and so safeguard yourself from a branding perspective.

    There may or may not be a suitable mix of these elements and so you will need to find a sensible compromise which combines the points which are most important to you. These should be based on the aims of your blog and also your target audience, two of the key elements of the planning process. Dont get hung up about it but do remember that its going to stay with you so make sure that it is something that you are comfortable with and that you are going to enjoy promoting.

    You might of course be intending to integrate it into your own website in which case it will sit in the sub directory that you are intending to use by the way, there really is no need to call the subdirectory blog unless you are really feel at a loss for ideas! Try to use something more relevant to your audience which reflects what it actually contains.

    3. Look and Feel of your Blog

    While the content and the writing style of your Business Blog is important, so is its look and feel which in itself reflects on you and your business. All blog packages come with a basic template but there will be many thousands of blogs which will use it you can imagine what would happen if all websites looked the same!

    To avoid just fading into the crowd, make sure that you customise the template or create a new one to give your Blog its own look and feel. If you feel uncertain about doing this yourself then I recommend that you get it done for you. If you are serious about using your Blog then you will want it to impress your visitors at all levels. If you have selected WordPress as your blogging software, then these templates are called themes and there are many available free of charge that you can use.

    If your blog is integrated as part of your website, then it should have the same look and feel as the rest of the pages. In most cases, people have no interest in knowing that they are looking at a blog, all they are concerned about is that relevance and quality of what they are reading. So make sure that your blog doesnt make it seem that they have just been suddenly transported to a totally different site when they read the information you have posted on it.

    4. Put up a Profile

    Let people know who they are dealing with. Remember that we have talked all along about blogs being much more personal in outlook and not just another website full of product information and marketing speak. A Business Blog is interactive and people like to know who they are interacting with so let them!

    You can include whatever details seem appropriate to you. Some profiles will focus on past work and experience (without getting into a CV format), others will have more of a current focus and outline future plans. Try to make it personal though and, as an extra tip, put up a picture as well.

    You also want people to be able to contact you. So, although people can get in touch by commenting on the posts on your blog, make sure that you have your contact details on there either as part of your profile or in a separate section or both! I still find loads of Blogs which seem very interesting but give me no way to get in touch with the author and that really defeats the object.

    If your blog is integrated into your website then there may be no need to do this as you will have your full contact details built as part of that. However, if you have set it up on a separate domain then make sure the profile and contact details are there for all to see and use.

    Some hosted systems have a profile as a separate element which you have to fill in when you register for the others, incorporate a small introduction into the sidebar or create a page which sits outside of the chronological structure of the blog. This will give you more space to communicate the details that you want to.

    5. Categories, Archives and Permalinks

    The are the three main ways in which your posts are stored on your Blog: as part of a Category (or grouping), as a monthly or weekly Archive and as an individual post using a Permalink.

    Access to the Categories and the Archives usually sit in the sidebar of your Blog. You can choose whatever categories you like and then, when you write a post, you simply assign the post to one or more categories according to its content. It is then automatically filed in that Category as well as appearing in the main body of the Blog. It is also filed in the Archives section usually this is done by month although some systems will file by week.

    When you set up your Categories, make the description short and to the point. It will help visitors to identify the type of posts that they may be interested in and, in addition, this will form part of the address (or URL) of this page for the benefit of Search Engines. Therefore if your Category is called Small Business Marketing then this will form part of the URL address for the category containing all posts relating to Small Business Marketing very beneficial!

    The Archives are created automatically for you and the posts placed in them according to their date, so there is nothing for you to do in that respect.

    As we saw in the first email, the Permalink is the web address of the individual posts and as such is very important. The default address in many blogging systems will simply give the number of the post such as www.yourblog.com/?p=18. You are able to change this to reflect the title of your post and other criteria which would give a much more descriptive URL, such as www.yourblog.com/2006/small-business-marketing/seminars-which-work.htm. The decision is yours but the second is generally perceived as much better both from a visitor and a Search Engine perspective.

    ** Important: Be careful when you set up the permalinks. If you change the structure or format of the permalinks in the future then addresses of all the past posts will change as well. This means that if people click on pages indexed in the Search Engines they will be sent to the old address and told that the page cant be found, so its good to choose a good format right from the start and stick to it.

    6. Dealing with Comments

    One of the key characteristics of a Blog is the ability for people to comment on what you have posted. It opens up channels of communications and in many cases can help forge the start of a business relationship.

    Hopefully you will receive many comments on your posts – though dont worry if this doesnt happen immediately! Remember, the audience will build up over time as people find the information that you are posting of interest, return or sign up to your RSS feed and recommend you to others.

    You will, however, have to decide how you wish to handle the comments that you receive and there are two aspects to this which are sensible to plan out in advance:

      i) How to let people post comments?
      Unless you specifically decide that people cannot leave comments, then they will be able to post them on every post that you write. Within the blogging software, you should decide if you want comments from only registered posters, if you intend to allow any comments to appear immediately or whether you want to moderate them (ie. check them yourself) before they appear.

      While you really want to keep it as open as possible, the downside is that there is a lot of comment spam where people (or more often automated engines) post spurious and irrelevant comments so that they can simply get links to their own site. There are ways to control this, however – in WordPress, for example, you have a number of plug-ins which are excellent at reducing this.

      At the start, I would recommend that you moderate comments while the number you receive is low but increasing, and then switch to a software solution to filter out as much of the spam comments as possible.

      ii) How to respond to the comments
      The second is how you respond to the comments. In most cases, you are looking to engage with the people who leave comments, so if they respond and ask a question then just make sure that you reply to it.

      There will be cases where the comments will not be favourable this is to be expected. You cannot please all the people all of the time and, lets face it, it is highly unlikely that we are all going to share the same opinion. You should never be rude but you should try to respond to their points and argue your point of view. Its best not to ignore comments like this and in any case you are there to argue your case. You will often gain greater respect by handling objections with grace and tact doing it this way.

    Comments and the interaction they bring are a key element of what make a Business Blog so effective, so if you were considering not allowing comments then I would urge you to reconsider your reasons for it.

    7. Tracking who visits

    You should aim to record the number of visitors that you are getting, where they came from and the pages that they visit, just as with a normal website. This will allow you to get a better understanding of which elements appeal most to them, which topics they are reading about most often and therefore how to improve the stickiness of your Blog.

    You may already get a statistics package that will give you the information that you require from the company hosting your Blog but if not, or if the information you get from them is not sufficient, then you should look to incorporate your own. Although you can go for a complete package such as Webtrends (www.webtrends.com), there are also some free stats packages such as Statcounter (www.statcounter.com) or Freestats (www.freestats.com) which will probably provide you with sufficient information to start with.

    The more that you know about your visitors, the more you can ensure that you provide content which will keep them coming back and also encourage them to spread the word about your Blog.

    8. Whats next?

    So, with the structure of our Business Blog in place, we can forget all about the organisation side, confident that it is set up just as we require, and concentrate on writing our Blog.

    So:
    -How do we get started?
    -How often should we post?
    -What should we consider?

    This is what we will be looking in the next part of the course.

    Link to Part 2 of the Better Business Blogging eCourse