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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...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

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    Social Media - coming ready or notI have been doing a number of talks / presentations recently to business groups and networking groups entitled “Social Media – coming ready or not!” and I just wanted to apologise publicly for this.

    I’m really very sorry!

    It’s not that I feel that they weren’t full of good information or that they weren’t well received or even that they only scraped that surface of the subject at hand – although the latter is certainly true (but hopefully not the others!).

    No, I wanted to apologise because I fear that the title is misleading. I worry that it gives the impression that social media, with blogging sitting at its centre, is something which has still to fully arrive and that we can watch its approach with a type of detached intellectual curiosity. I feel that perhaps people might think that if we all collectively close our eyes, then it might disappear and be replaced with something more friendly to the business marketing status quo.

    Or perhaps, in the tried and tested disaster movie formula, we feel confident that the “social media asteroid” hurtling on a collision course with Earth will somehow be diverted from its course and we will all be saved … probably by Bruce Willis, if cinematic history is anything to go by.

    This is all untrue. Social media is here … now.

    It is already profoundly affecting what we do and how we interact. From a business perspective, it is impacting how we find, evaluate, promote, recommend and share information, products and services, as well as how we rate the companies and individuals which supply them. And of course, conversely it is changing the ways in which companies need to listen to us, their customers, and engage with us if they wish to succeed.

    There are still companies which seem to believe that they can ignore or avoid it – well, they can certainly elect not to actively participate but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be involved. If people are talking about them then they are involved, albeit implicitely. Their reluctance to actively join the conversation simply means that they have no say in the discussion and so no control over what is being said or its future direction.

    So, I say to those companies and individuals defiantly sitting there like King Canute hoping to stem the tide, don’t fight it but rather embrace it. At the very least, make sure that you have the tools in place to listen to what is being said, but ideally also make sure that you have the tools and knowledge to participate and, preferably, initiate conversations. It will certainly be beneficial and you never know, you might even enjoy it!

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    There have been a number of comments over recent weeks (and indeed months) about the imminent death of blogging, to be generally replaced it seems with newer tools such as Twitter and lifestreaming.

    For a small minority, it’s possible that this may well be on the cards – however, for the vast majority, and particularly those using these tools for primarily business purposes, I would say that this prediction is premature in the extreme.

    Indeed, with the growing presence of social media as a marketing and comms tool in its own right, are we going to be seeing a decline in the role of blogging as one part of that? My answer is a resounding no and I’ll explain why.

    Blogs will play a central role

    It is true that there are major changes afoot – the industry is currently developing quickly ahead of an undoubted period of consolidation. As a result, I am constantly looking at the variety of social media which now exist, of which a business blog is certainly one. In the future, while the number of potential avenues for social media continues to expand, I still see a blog playing the central role for companies wanting to engage with customers and prospects using social media and general online methods.

    For instance, if we take some of the more popular social media tools as examples:

    • Microblogging in the current guise of Twitter is great but a little restrictive – it’s difficult to save evrything in 140 characters, so is often used to make people aware of other sources of information or to initiate connections;

    • Social networks are proliferating in many different forms from the monsters such as Facebook to the niche forums on systems like Ning – they come and go (some quicker than others obviously) but each time a new one takes hold you need to establish a whole new infrastructure and set of contacts;

    • Podcasts and video have their own key sites like YouTube or iTunes but in most cases, businesses fail to achieve an independent identity or forum with them alone, although cases such as “Will it Blend?” from Blendtech prove that it is possible.

    A blog, however, allows a business to bring all of these other elements together, creates a focal point for a community of customers, provides the company with its own social network hub whatever else goes on in the market and allows it to expand on the information disseminated on Twitter, YouTube or iTunes.

    Business BLog as your online home

    A personal analogy

    To put it another way, if I make a personal analogy, if I meet friends in a bar or a coffee shop, then they will get a certain picture of me through a number of different factors: what I am wearing, what I look like, where we are meeting, what I’m drinking, who I am talking to and about what etc. All of these things give a certain picture of me as a person but it is still a superficial one.

    However, if you come and have dinner at my home then you have a much more complete view of me. You see where I live, the type of house, the décor, the books and music I’m interested in, the decoration and style of fixtures and furniture, what I cook and what I serve for drinks etc etc. In short, you get a much more complete sense of me when you visit my home because it is much more multifaceted.

    To my mind, social networking sites, discussion forums, Twitter etc are all types of coffee houses where you can a first image of me. My blog, however, offers much more of an insight and is essentially the online equivalent of my home.

    You need a place to invite people to online

    Don’t take this as putting down the other social media tools or indeed other general online marketing tactics – it is just the opposite. All the other elements are great when used in line with a business’ commercial aims, but you still then need to have somewhere to “invite” friends back to online rather than always meet in proverbial bars / coffee houses. That’s where a blog comes to the fore, bringing all the other elements together as well as contributing in its own right.

    Think also that as you engage with other bloggers on their own blogs, there is only so much that you can convey when you leave comments, no matter how erudite and pertinent they are. What you need to have in conjunction is a place to develop your ideas further. A place to continue that conversation that you have started – once again, a role that your own blog would ideally fulfil.

    Effectively, as you look at the world of social media and the innumerable opportunities that it brings with it, to me it is clear that a blog sits solidly at the core of this activity. Personally, I see it as driving and conducting the online activity that a company undertakes and as the place to develop a community of readers that links from other social media will help grow and promote.

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    Blog sidebars: adaptable in any situationAs we put together new posts for our business blog, our main focus, time and effort is centred on what appears in the middle of the screen, the place where we write and display the content for our readers. It’s the key area and it’s right that the effort we put in reflects this.

    Use your sidebars to your advantage

    Nevertheless, there is more to a successful business blog than just the writing. We have specific goals for it and we need to both maintain and direct our readers’ interest to what those business goals are. The blog posts will do a lot of this work but there is also a lot that can be achieved by careful use of both the sidebars and the header of a blog. Some of this will be to highlight our own services/products, others will help readers find other posts or pages in the blog and others will highlight certain aspects that we want to encourage them to look at.

    They play key roles in achieving our blog’s aims and the sidebars are “prime real estate” on the blog which we need to use effectively. We may find that a single sidebar works best for us, however, wider screen sizes that are now the norm give us the opportunity to include two sidebars without compromising the area displaying our main content. More area to work with! However, what we put in them and the order they appear are important considerations which combine good blog design and achieving our business goals.

    Many options – here are just some!

    There are lots of different options that could be used (and space is after all limited) but here are some ideas which you might like to consider as you develop your blog:
    • Contact Details: could be on a separate page linked to from the sidebar but should be prominent. It’s no good someone liking your work and then not being able to contact you!

    • Author Profile: blogs are personal so it’s important to let your readers gain an insight of the blogger whose posts and articles they are reading. Give them an overview of who you are and what you do, then let your writing fill in the gaps;

    • Purpose of blog: it’s often a good idea to give readers a snapshot of why you are writing the blog and what you want to achieve with it – it can help to give context to the posts and encourage them to read further and pass it on;

    • Promotion of future events: if you are running seminars, courses or presentations, then this would be a great place to make your readers aware of them and promote them to them;

    • Promotion of products and/or services: in the same way as you might promote your events, then you can also make them aware by linking through to your products or services and introducing them (in an appropriate fashion!);

    • Social Networking profiles: with the proliferation of social media sites and networking groups such as Linkedin, Twitter, del.icio.us etc. links to your own profiles on each of these platforms helps promote your presence on them;

    • Photo of the author: taking the idea of blogs being personal one step further. Let them see what you look like! Make it relevant to the tone of your blog, though.

    • Most commented posts: one possible way of demonstrating what has created most interest with your readers and inspired most comments;

    • Last 5 posts: let people have easy access to your latest posts. This is particularly good on the individual post pages rather than the main blog page where, of course, the most recent posts are generally visible;

    • Recent comments: whether you show the last 5 or last 10, let people see who is commenting and on which posts. Additionally, it can act as a small “thank you” to those who have taken the time to leave comments as well as inspire others to do so;

    • Recommended sites: a list of sites that you are recommending to your readers as being well worth visiting. Adds value and helps make your blog a central resource of information;

    • RSS Subscription (RSS reader and email): you’ll want to encourage readers to sign up to receive your regular blog updates, so make it clearly visible and make sure that they can do so via email too! Not everyone loves RSS (unfortunately).

    • Newsletter Signup box: you should be running a newsletter in conjunction with your blog (there’s great complementary value) so explain what it offers and then get the signup box clearly visible;

    • Categories: one of the key structural elements and a principal tool in navigating your blog is through the categories, generally divided along main topic lines. Make them visible and keep them to 10 or 12 [unlike me :( ];

    • Monthly archives: again a key structural element of a blog though probably less used by readers now;

    • Search: the search box should be a standard feature on every blog so make sure it’s easily accessible and that it will look through both posts and pages;

    • Tags / Tag Cloud: a way to demonstrate the areas that the blog focuses on and a second navigation method to supplement the categories;

    • Testimonials: either testimonials or even customer logos can be a good way to link through to case studies or project overviews as well as showing the range of clients you work with;

    • RSS Feeds from other sites: bring in relevant industry news from other sites can be a good way to add specific information to your blog – and of course it’s all automatic;

    • Polls / Surveys: conduct your own poll on a topic relevant to your blog. Helps increase the interactive element and should provide you with some useful information as well;

    • Favourite books: recommended books which will interest your target audience, perhaps linked through to Amazon with or without affiliate code in the links;

    • Adverts: if you are looking to monetise your blog then adverts will feature prominently … but remember the distraction value;

    • Industry News: perhaps using the RSS feeds as suggested previously or using other inputs.

    As you can see, there are wide variety of elements that you can place in the sidebar or sidebars of your blog and this is probably only scraping the surface. What you place there and the order you show them will depend very much on the goals that you have for your blog, though, so choose wisely.

    What do you have on yours? Let us know below!

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    Business Blog DiaryDaniel was visibly excited – Monday was the day that he had pencilled in for the launch of a blog that he hoped would be the mainstay on his online presence, designed to help develop his business.

    While Monday was the day when the wheels were starting to turn in earnest, it had been some 4 weeks since Daniel had first decided that his business really needed a blog. He’d been noticing a drop off in prospect calls over the previous weeks (perhaps a factor of the credit crunch and the current economic situation) and had begun to feel that he didn’t have as much contact with his customers as he would have liked.

    What was certain was that he was determined that his would not be one of those businesses that didn’t make it through – that much he was very clear about.

    He’d also noticed that blogs were cropping up in lots of different places. Sure he’d seen that the BBC and The Guardian had lots of blogs and he particularly liked reading the comments that other people left on the articles. “You get a sense of what people really think rather than relying one person’s opinion”, he had explained to friends. “It’s more like taking part in a conversation than listening to a speech.” And he preferred that.

    More importantly, he had noticed a couple of his competitors had started blogs and were clearly getting attention because of them. One had even been featured in the main trade magazine which he had been trying to get a mention in! People were also leaving comments on them so clearly they were spending more time on his competitors’ sites than on his own.

    It was this that had swung it for him. He was just as much of an expert as they were, perhaps more so, and yet they were getting all the attention. He needed to make sure that more came his way and so it had been key to find the best way to get that information out in front of his prospective companies. He’d also been reading that it was important for sites to be “sticky” and have ways to encourage people to spend more time on them and he’d been advised a little about optimising his website for Search Engines.

    Lots to do, but a blog seemed to have a key role to play in all of these areas and Daniel was looking forward to see the results it could achieve for him and, more importantly, his business.

    Next Instalment: Part 2 – the preparation

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    Blogs for businessI had the pleasure of having some friends over this weekend – it was great to see them, as it seems so long since we hosted at home following the arrival of our first born aka “he who shall be obeyed”! :)

    After dinner, I was chatting with one of my friends and we touched on something that I wanted to share with you because it’s just so relevant to what we are doing.

    He kindly asked how my “blogging business” was going and I replied that at the moment there seemed to be a growing interest in both social media and blogging which meant that things looked positive for the coming year. He was very pleased for me but he went on to tell me that the while he knew of my interest in blogging, he had never actually read a blog himself. “Bollocks,” I thought. I said that I’d be surprised if he hadn’t, as I knew he was someone who liked to keep up to date with the news in general and the financial news in particular.

    So I asked him if he read the Business section of the BBC news website. “Everyday”, he replied. “I particularly like Peston’s Picks – it’s the best bit of the whole site.” (That’s written by the BBC’s Business editor, Robert Peston).

    “Yep, one of my favourites too”, I replied. “What do you like about it?”

    “Well, he always seems to have written it that day so it’s got the latest news – exactly what I’m looking for – and you know that he’s got the inside track on the stories because of his reputation from the TV. I also like that fact you can also leave your own opinion at the end of the article and, to honest, some of those are really interesting too.”

    Well, if those all sound to you like key characteristics of a blog then you’d be spot on and indeed Peston’s Picks is one of the most read blogs on the BBC site, particularly in the current economic climate, for exactly the reason my friend cited. But the fact is that although there are references to it being a blog, it just comes across as the place on the site where you can read what Robert writes. The fact that the technology he uses happens to be called a blog is frankly immaterial – it’s just the name we currently give to it.

    So, in fact my friend is an avid reader of a blog (and no doubt others) without even knowing it. Perhaps he’s also exactly the sort of person that we should be seeking out and listening to as we start blogs for our own businesses. Rather than focusing on creating a widely read “blog”, I believe that he reminds us that instead we should be looking to write widely read articles or to engage in conversations or create connections with people we want to associate with. The fact that we do so through something called a blog happens to be because it’s the perfect tool for the job.

    So when we plan our blogs, let’s put ourselves in the place of my friend and look at what matters to him – that’s all about content, authenticity, discussion and relevance. And it’s very little about the technology that we choose to use to supply him with those things.

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    Blogging domain namesIgnoring for a second, Shakespeare’s stated belief that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, in the blogging world, selecting a good domain name for your blog can make a great difference to its future success. So take time to consider the possibilities before plumping for yours.

    There are a number of different elements which you should consider when selecting a domain name for your blog. This is of course presuming that you have decided to host it yourself (certainly recommended) and not integrate it into your current website (thoughts on this here).

    For me, as any regular readers will already be well aware (sorry in advance for mini rant), I’d always recommend that you host it yourself rather than hand control over to a hosted service such as blogger.com or even wordpress.com (as opposed to wordpress.org self hosted blogs). If you then decide that there is more benefit in separating your blog from your own website, then running it on a domain name which supports your content is hugely important when it comes to branding and developing both reputation and credibility, whether you are looking at a company, sector, service, product or individual niche.

    Some of the elements that you should consider when making a decision are:

    • 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 will ideally contain 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 words separated with lots of hyphens which now has “spammy” overtones – something you want to avoid for your business

    • Future requirements: make sure that it is something that you’re definitely going to feel comfortable with in a year’s time. Changing a blog’s domain name is going to lose all the benefits you have accrued so avoid this at all costs by choosing sensibly at the start

    • Top Level Domain: 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 it from a branding perspective

    • Be legal: just be certain that you are not infringing (or flirting with) someone else’s trademarked or copyrighted name. You may be ok, it’s true, but why run the risk and, as outlined above, lose all the benefits you have amassed if legal sentiments change.

    • Avoid blog: there really is no need to include “blog” in your domain name – the point of the blog is to encourage information sharing and interaction, but there’s really no need to specify that you are achieving this in a blog. Concentrate on the other elements is my advice.

    • Check the past: hopefully, this would never hot you, but you might like to check that the domain name has never been registered before and has been left with a past which might damage your future use of it ie. spamming etc.

    Hopefully, you will be able to find a suitable compromise so that you manage to combine the points which are most important to you – unless of course there is a single factor which overrides all of the others. This compromise would ideally be based on the aims of your blog and also your target audience, two key elements of the planning process you should go through before setting up a business blog

    Dont forget that you also need to find a name for your blog, something which can be in line with your domain name if required. It is important because this is what your readers are most likely to see first on the site, so make sure that it conveys the right message. In addition, it is often automatically incorporated in the “Title tag” of most systems and certainly in WordPress – though of course you can modify this using the excellent SEO plugins available. You should always make sure that you use any opportunity to publicise the contents of your blog and so the tagline of the blog is also important as this appears alongside the blog title in specific search engines such as Google Blog Search.

    Whatever you decide, remember that the name of your blog and the domain name that you choose for it, no matter what your decision, is an important part of the process of setting up your blog, so choose carefully!!

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    Spotlight on UK Blogs - all postsNow back again on Better Business Blogging, I will once again be highlighting some of the Business Blogs which exist in the UK. The aim is to show a cross section of what people and businesses are writing about and how they are approaching the task of using blogs in their business activities. As a result, you’ll find that these posts will contain a mix of Blogs displaying a range of topics and styles.

    In addition, I am working with others to build a list of Business Blogs in the UK. So if there are UK blogs which you have visited and would recommend (including your own!), then please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a message. You can also reach me on Twitter @BlogCoach Thanks!

    Blah Blah Technology BlogBlah Blah Technology
    Blah Blah Technology was recently catapaulted to the top of the Wikio rankings – another overnight success, hey? Not really, Wayne Smallman’s been working at it for some three years now so all well deserved – good blog, accessible and, despite appearances, not just for techies! (Twitter: @Octane)

    Jim’s Marketing BlogJims Marketing Blog
    Lots of great information and a very dynamic approach to the benefits, approach and opportunities great marketing can offer with the focus very much on people not search engines. Check Jim out and get him in your RSS reader (or at least his blog to start with!) (Twitter: @JimConnolly)

    The New Adventures of Mr Stephen FryLateral Action
    Well what can you say – all the charm and wit of Mr Fry and a great new design which shows it all off just blissingly. You’ll also find Mr Fry keeping us updated on his travels on Twitter at @StephenFry where his arrival some few short weeks ago produced a veritable avalanche of followers.

    Lateral ActionLateral Action
    Creativity + Productivity = Success or at least so says Mark McGuinness and pals over at Lateral Action. Heavy and preachy? Not at all. It’s good, engaging stuff from some guys who really know how to do it and get the message across. (Twitter: @MarkMcGuinness)

    Marketing BlaggerMarketing Blagger
    Marketing Blagger is written by Andy Bargery where he covers topics on marketing, the internet, blogging and social media. If you are in the London area though, come and meet Andy in one of his other guises as the driving force behind the excellent London Bloggers Meet Up Group. Well worth a visit! (Twitter: @Abarge)

    Number 10Lateral Action
    Well even the PM (or at least the PM’s office) is in on the act and they have a blog which they are keeping updated. Even built on WordPress which gives extra kudos to my preferred blogging platform, I guess. (Twitter: @DowningStreet)
    Now, if only they could post on how best to get through the economic downturn … “use social media” did I hear you say? Great idea! :)

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    Blogging ideas from TwitterLast month, I wrote a post about “Where to get ideas from for your Business Blog” which covers some of the methods that I use and recommend.

    Yesterday, I asked people on Twitter how they went about it and what methods they used to do the same thing. There was a mixture of responses as you might expect, but the main thing that came through was that, understandably, we all draw on our own experiences when we put pen to paper … or should that be fingers to keyboard!

    These experiences may be drawn from talking with clients, reading posts, books or newspapers or indeed from just walking down the street. All around us there are examples we can use which are relevant to the topics that we write about. And, of course, by the very fact that they are our own experiences, we can bring through our own personality and take on things when we write. Exactly as it should be, both for personal and business blogs.

    So the message seems to be, keep your notebook at the ready and your RSS readers primed and you should have lots of content to work with.

    In the meantime, here are a selection of those people who replied on Twitter and added to the conversation. Thanks all!

    ________________




    Ideas for blog posts come from hanging out with the topic, say Calif. wine tasting road trips (mine)!
    Twitter: @winequester | Web: WineQuesters

    Everyday experiences, business knowledge, news programmes & websites, radio and other peoples blogs
    Twitter: @rocketrobin2 | Web: Dolly Char

    Everyday life mostly. I get ideas every time I interact with a business owner or set foot in a retail shop. I also read A LOT. (More comments here)
    Twitter: @originalquill | Web: Original Quill

    I set a schedule of topics for myself and then look for tips and links from my Twitter peeps. I will look at yours as well.
    Twitter: @15minutesaday | Web: 15 Minutes a Day

    I love that you do as I do and keep a notepad with you ! I have been derided as “old-school” for doing that. I see industry news & rip from headlines
    Twitter: @Cars4Causes | Web: Cars4Causes

    Life events are my biggest inspiration.
    Twitter: @justinlandis | Web: Justin Landis

    I use Google News to look for current sports business topics and RSS feeds from other SportsBiz bloggers.
    Twitter: @rscibetti | Web: Business os Sports

    I keep a pad to note Leadership questions posed by clients, coachees
    Twitter: @CoachEva1

    I learned from being a writer to keep a notebook with me at all times. You just never know when that great idea will come.
    Twitter: @weborglodge | Web: News from the North Country

    Setting up Google Alert to your topic can provide some useful things to blog about & keep “up to speed”
    Twitter: @David365 | Web: Confident 1

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    Today, I am focusing not solely on blogging but also on WordPress which, as regular followers will already be aware, is my blogging software of choice for business blogs. Why’s that I hear you ask? Well simply because it lets you run a fully fledged blog on your own website which is easy of use, has great functionality and is expandable. For me, that’s the best way to make sure that your investment in your blogging and your online presence in general is effectively future proofed.

    So where did it start?

    Wordpress started life as simply an open source personal publishing tool used by people wanting to run a personal diary on the web. However, since then, both the use of blogs in business and WordPress itself have developed at a frantic pace – for me, a blog is now an essential tool for businesses and WordPress fills the role of blogging tool of choice for individuals, small businesses and more and more large businesses too.

    What has also happened, though, is that it has also developed beyond being a simple blogging system and is now also an excellent CMS - Content Management System perfect for creating complete websites which business owners can then develop and update themselves as they require. Along with this it still has great Search Engine attractiveness and of course extends our ability to interact with customers and prospects from just the blog area to all parts of the site. This helps immeasurably to improve customer relations which are going to be more and more key for businesses in today’s environment.

    Ideal solution as money gets tight

    If this is starting to sound like a sales pitch for WordPress then my apologies, its really not meant to be. My goal is more to show the benefits that you can achieve by using WordPresss to create your online presence rather than a simple static website – all this at a time when costs are having to be shaved wherever possible and yet a strong presence on the internet is still going to be crucial for developing new business.

    Having a standard website is often the route that small businesses take as they first create their online presence and often its a decision which is taken on cost. The trouble is that it doesnt take into account ongoing costs cost of their web developer to add new pages or change text, cost for further development, or even the costs to add the interaction that customers are not only demanding but now coming to expect.

    Given this is the case, the advantages you can gain are:

    • the ability to add pages as and when you require which develops your web presence and your website content for both customers and search engines alike (which in turn adds to your web promotion opportunities);

    • the chance to interact with your prospects and demonstrate why you are the partner of choice;

    • the ability to modify text on the pages as and when you want to without additional costs or any delay waiting for someone to do so for you;

    • the chance, with appropriate knowledge, to run your own ecommerce section directly from the blog as well as link in with your enewsletter subscribers etc.

    • the opportunity to differentiate your business. When theres less business about to be had the need to stand out and be able to adapt quickly is important;

    • easy and instant dissemination of key information out to sites and subscribers intereested in what you offer.

    Conclusion

    The point that I wanted to get across is that, while WordPress opens up huge possibilities as a blogging platform, it offers so much more than this as well. For a small business needing a strong and developing online presence, it is the perfect tool – having it set up correctly at the start gives an interactive, SEO rich website which can be developed by the owner at will. In addition, with a seemingly never ending stream of plugins being developed, the expansion possibilities are also hugely impressive.

    So whether you are looking at setting up a standalone blog, integrating one into your current website or looking at a full website for your business, take a look at what WordPress can do for you in this respect. And if you have any questions, why not give me a call?

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    Google Blog SearchGoogle Blog Search has just had a bit of a facelift, though it’s not so much of a ‘new look’ as a ‘news look’ given that they have essentially taken the format that they use for Google News and applied it here.

    In many respects though, that’s a very sensible route to take. Blogs do tend to fulfil a dual role of providing the latest news on topics where timing is critical as well as being a type of interactive website where good information is always in demand no matter when it was posted. In the case of Google Blog Search, their results are skewed massively towards the most recent information posted – even when sorted in terms of relevance rather than date. Probably better this way or we would simply be looking largely at a rehash of Google’s main index and that’s not what we are after here.

    So what Google Blog Search is good at is letting you find the latest information appearing in blogs – does very much what is says on the tin, so to speak – and so the redesign is clearly playing to its strengths. It also benefits from Google’s general uncluttered approach which I sometimes think that Technorati might like to be mindful of again. So check it out and don’t forget to use the RSS feature – will save you masses of time!

    A quick run through

    So what do you get for your beta now and how can you use it. Well, on the homepage, you now get a pre selected set of blog posts in the main results area and, in the lefthand sidebar, you can select one of 11 other pre-ordained categories to look at. Alternatively you can of course head straight for the search box at the top.



    Once you’ve searched on a term, you’ve got the chance to do some filtering, essentially on how recent you want the results to be – you can also sort the results either by relevancy or time, though this makes less difference than you might think. From a business perspective, a really important function sits rather inconspicuously at the bottom of the lefthand sidebar where you can quickly set up either a Google Alert or an RSS Feed for the search terms you’ve just used. Can save you loads of time and keep you up to date!


    So overall, it’s a change but not a revolutionary one by any means – more a shuffle forward and to the side rather than a giant leap. I do, however, find myself using it more than Technorati now for general searches, although to track links etc I still return to the Big T.

    As an aside, at this time of intense political as well as economic debate over in the US, I like the fact that Google chooses to re-iterate at the bottom of the homepage “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program”. So that’s all okay then …

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