BLOG stands for Better Listings On Google!
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard the buzz about blogs. It seems you can’t fire up your browser without reading a story about how blogs are changing the way people communicate and do business online.
But beyond the hype (it does seem like everyone and their cat has a blog these days), blogs just may have also stumbled upon the perfect formula for the ultimate high-ranking page in Googleâ€”here’s why:
Â Â Â Â Â Blogs are updated frequently and visited often by Search Engines
Â Â Â Â Â Blogs gain PageRank quickly
Â Â Â Â Â Blogs easily acquire an abundance of inbound links
Â Â Â Â Â Blogs are content-rich and topic-focused
Â Â Â Â Â Blogs can attract intensely loyal readership
What if your online business could harness the power of the blog?
Developing and maintaining a successful blog isn’t easyâ€”it takes dedication and hard work. But once you’ve established loyal subscribers and high visibility, you’ve created a way to intimately communicate with online customers and send targeted traffic directly to your commercial web siteâ€”not to mention the fact that your blog can now link to your online business, sending some high PageRank fallout your way.
Sound to good to be true? Well, like I said, it isn’t easy. But if a blog can help you make money (and, if done right, it certainly can), then isn’t it worth it?
Anatomy of a Blog
What is a blog, anyway? How is it different from other web sites? And what are those trackbacks that everyone’s talking about? Let’s demystify the jargon and walk through the blogosphere (the global network of blogs) step-by-step…
What exactly is a blog?
The word blog is short for web log and refers to a web site written in a diary format, with regular entries, or posts, by the blog author. Blogs can cover any topic and can even be written by multiple authors. Perhaps the best way to familiarize yourself with blogs is to read one of the more popular ones:
Â Â Â Â Â
FastLane Blog â€” This blog is one of the best examples of a business using a blog to promote itself. GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz writes about cars (particularly GM cars) and the auto industry in a candid and interesting way, and his blog has created a huge following.
Let’s face it, most car buffs don’t have much reason to check out the GM corporate site everyday, but they do tune in regularly to hear what Bob Lutz has to say about cars (because he says it so well). As for Lutz, he gets to interact directly with his consumers, link to GM’s official web site, and promote GM and their products.
A FastLane blog post.
What do blogs look like?
Blogs tend to list the most recent post at the top of the page, with the posts getting older as you scroll down. This tends to be the model your readers will expect, and most blogging software is configured this way.
A typical blog post includes a title, the body of the post, optional images, the date and time of the post, a permalink (or permanent link to the post), a comment link for readers to leave their feedback, and a trackback link (which we’ll cover in a moment).
What makes blogs different from other web sites?
There are a few important ways blogs differ from regular web pages. First, blogs are designed to be frequently and easily updated. Creating a new blog post usually involves nothing more than entering some text into a form and clicking Submit. No HTML or programming skills are required.
This is great from a search engine point of view because search engines love frequently updated pages. If a search engine finds that your page is being updated every day, it’ll return to re-index your page every day to ensure that it always has the most recent copy of your site.
In contrast, if your pages never change, search engines will usually only return to re-index your pages every month or so. This lack of search engine attention can put your site at a ranking disadvantage. Further, search engines will also take longer to find new pages on your site, since they’re visiting your site less frequently.
The second important way that blogs differ from normal web pages is that they actively promote and distribute themsleves throughout the Internet using a technology called RSS.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (It can also mean Rich Site Summary, depending on which version you’re talking about). But what the acronym stands for really isn’t importantâ€”it’s what RSS can do for your blog that’s hugely important.
RSS is the technology that allows people to subscribe to your blog. Instead of people coming to your site to read your blog posts, they use software called an aggregator, or feed reader, to make your blog posts come to them. Your blog posts are automatically sent to the subscriber’s computer where they can pick and choose which of your posts interests them.
Using RSS saves time because now subscribers don’t have to repeatedly check back with a site to see if there’s been an update. Instead, the information is fed to them as it’s created. As the amount of information we have to process each day continues to grow, RSS gives us a way to automate our web surfing, allowing us to absorb even more information more quickly. Now even your web surfing (and your procrastinating) can be done more productively!
And RSS isn’t just for blogs. Most major news outlets, including the Associated Press, Business Week, and the New York Times, all provide RSS feeds of their content to make it easier for people to keep up with the latest headlines. E-commerce sites like Froogle and MSN Shopping are also getting in on the action, providing RSS feeds of their latest products and prices.
RSS may sound innocent enough, but it may bring with it some profound ramifications. As more people rely on RSS to bring their information to them, fewer are going to be using search engines to go out and find that information themselves, which could have a great effect on the way web pages are optimized for traffic.
If blogs and RSS are here to stayâ€”and we’re predicting that they areâ€”then ranking highly in search engines is likely to become less important, while getting customers to subscribe to your RSS feed will become increasingly critical to your business’ success.
What’s a Ping?
Similar to RSS feeds, pings are a way to automatically let people know that your blog has been updated. However, where an RSS feed sends actual data to your subscribers (in the form of the title and possibly a short description of your latest blog post, or even the entire post), a ping is simply a small electronic message sent from one web server to another. This message allows you to notify other sites (including blog directories) that you’ve recently added new content to your blog.
Rather than sending specific information about your blog post, a ping just tells a site or blog directory that they may want to stop by and reindex your blog because it contains new content.
There are a number of blog directories and services. For example, Weblogs.com maintains a list of recently updated blogs, which it then distributes to other blogging services all around the Internet. Setting up your blog to automatically ping Weblogs.com is one way to help your blog reach the widest audience possible.
Most blogging software can be set up to automatically ping several blog directories and other services. If you find that you’re using blogging software that doesn’t allow you to specify what sites to automatically ping, you can also use Ping-O-Matic to easily accomplish your pinging.
What’s a Trackback?
The fact that a good blog creates large amounts of frequently-updated and topic-specific content plays a huge role in helping blogs rank highly. However, the single biggest current advantage blogs have over traditional web sites may come from a technology called the trackback.
Here’s what a trackback does: When you link to someone else’s blog post, their blog post automatically links back to you.
Sound like an easy way to build links? It sure is, and it’s a big part of why blogs are so important to search engine optimization. Whenever you create a blog post, just link out to a few other blog posts, and you’ll automatically get a link to your post back from them. It’s the world’s easiest reciprocal link campaign.
However, when linking to someone else’s blog post, it’s important that you do it for reasons other than just getting trackback links. Many blogs have started disabling trackbacks because people have begun abusing them by linking to blog posts hundreds of times just to get the trackback links. This is trackback spam and one reason why trackbacks may soon disappear from the blogosphere.
To avoid becoming a trackback spammer, you should only link to blog posts that are discussing the same topic that you are, and your link should be a way for your readers to get more information on the topic you’re discussing. It’s also important to let your readers know why you’re linking to a blog post and what it is about that post that you find interesting.
Most blogging software supports trackbacks. One notable blogging software that does not support trackbakcs, however, is Google’s popular (and free) Blogger tool, though it is possible to add trackbacks to Blogger through code provided by HaloScan.
Although trackbacks are a great tool for optimizing your blog, they do have some negative consequences to the Internet as a whole. There’s the aforementioned trackback spam, of course, but trackbacks also typically generate their own HTML page, which gets picked up by search engines like Google, even though these pages usually don’t contain any actual content.
Try doing a search for just about any popular keyword followed by the word trackback and you’ll find these pages clogging up the search results. Here’s a typically empty trackback page that can be found in Google’s search results.
Problems like these lead us to believe that trackbacks may not be around in their current form for much longer, so take advantage of them while you still can. But be sure not to abuse them, at least not if you value your company’s reputation and are serious about blogging.
Starting Your Blog on the Right Foot
Getting your own blog together is actually quite easyâ€”just pick up some blogging software and start writing a few posts. But if you want to maximize your blog’s potential, you’re going to have to work hard at creating a blog that people will want to subscribe to. Try following these tips…
Choose the right blogging software
Your first step into the blogosphere will be to find the right blogging software and, as with most software, there’s going to be a trade-off between features and ease of use. If you’re technically adept, you’ll probably want to go with one of the more powerful, full-featured blogging tools. On the other hand, if you’re not comfortable installing software, there are plenty of extremely basic blogging tools to get you started, though you may begin to find them constricting as your experience with blogging grows.
Â Â Â Â Â Blogger â€“ This is Google’s free blogging tool, and it’s probably the easiest tool for a new blogger to get started with. It requires no technical expertise. You can be up and blogging in ten minutes or less.
The other nice thing about Blogger is that Google owns it. That means that anything you post to your Blogger blog gets indexed almost immediately. In fact, if you’re having a hard time getting pages on your regular site indexed by Google, simply link to those pages from your Blogger blog and they’re almost guaranteed to be indexed by Google within a few days.
The drawback to using Blogger is that it lacks some of the features that makes blogs so powerful, such as trackbacks (although they can be added using the HaloScan tool). Also, Blogger can run extremely slow at times.
In general, Blogger is an easy and decent way to get started, especially if you just want to test the waters and see if blogging is for you. But if you’re committed to blogging for the long haul, then you’re going to want something a bit more powerful.
Â Â Â Â Â Movable Type â€“ This is one of the most powerful blogging tools available and a tool used by many of today’s top bloggers. It’s also one of the most complicated to install and configure, but will also reward you with a great amount of flexibility and features. Highly recommended if you’re serious about blogging.
The cost for Movable Type ranges from $69.95 all the way to $1,2999.95, depending on the level of features and support you’re looking for. However, most users will find that their $99.95 unlimited-user, unlimited-weblogs version meets all their blogging needs.
Movable Type also offers a version that they host on their own servers called TypePad. Licenses cost between $4.95 and $14.95 per month. TypePad is a nice middle ground between the easy-to-use Blogger and the complicated-but-powerful Movable Type.
There are a number of other excellent blogging tools available, such as WordPress, BlogHarbor, and Radio UserLand. Each has its supporters who swear by them and they all seem worthy of a test drive.
Regardless, our advice is, if you want a full-featured blog that will support all your blogging needs over the long term, go with Movable Type. And if you just want to play around and experimentâ€”especially if you are just getting started, go with Blogger.
Know your audience
Before you begin writing a single post, you should ask yourself… Who’s my audience? It really helps to have some idea about who you’ll be writing for. Typically, your blog will be focused around some fairly specific industry or topic. For instance, a blog on search engine optimization would be targeted towards SEOs and other people interested in online marketing.
Choose your topic and write interesting content
Once you know who you’re audience is, you can target your posts towards topics they will find interesting. Now it’s time to start looking for things to write about.
Blogs are really all about content. If you think about it, who’s going to read your blog if your posts aren’t interesting? But how do you generate interesting blog content?
Begin by writing about topics you find interesting and inject your own personality into your blog. Blogs aren’t meant to be dry, technical affairs. People read them to be informed, entertained, and to experience the unique and personal perspective of the blogger.
This advice also extends to the title of your blog post. In fact, your title is arguably the most important part of your blog post, since that’s all that will show up in many blog aggregators and that’s what people will use to determine if they want to read the rest of your post. Your title has to capture the busy reader’s attention if you ever hope to get them to your blog.
Marketing guru Seth Godin has a saying:
You only get one chance to make a second impression.
In other words, it’s easy to get someone to come to your blog the first time, but you’ve got to be offering something pretty great for them to return a second time. And in this age of information overload, that saying gets more true every day.
Make no mistake: creating great content for your blog everyday can be extremely challenging. That’s simply the reality of writing a successful blog. Anyone who told you a blog was an easy path to online success was lying. You have to work your butt off.
One way to find great blog content is through other blogs. Chances are very good that there are already several other people blogging about your topic. Use a blog search engine like Technorati to find blogs relating to your topic. Or, better yet, just do a Google search for your topic followed by the word ‘blog.’ That’s guaranteed to turn something up. Check out these searches:
Â Â Â Â Â Golf Blog
Â Â Â Â Â Car Blog
Â Â Â Â Â Real Estate Blog
As you can see, there are blogs on nearly every imaginable topic. Find some that appeal to you and read them regularly. Not only will they give you lots of ideas on what to blog about, but you can link to them in your posts in order to generate trackback links.
Furthermore, most blogs feature a blogroll, or list of other blogs that the blogger finds interesting. Following other blogger’s blogrolls is a great way to find new blogs to read.
Note: Though other blogs really are a great source of inspiration (not to mention trackbacks), be sure to avoid simply filling up your blog posts with tons of outbound links and no real content of your own. All you’re doing is re-routing traffic away from your blog and eventually no one will even bother to see what you’re writing because they’ll know that they won’t find anything of real value on your blog. Good blogging (that is, creating informative and interesting content) can be hard and time-consumingâ€”don’t give in to the temptation to cheat or take short-cuts. If you do, you’ll probably just end up with a failed blog.
Google Alerts is another great way to find relevant topics to blog about. This service lets you subscribe to a list of keywords. Then, whenever Google finds a new page in either its news results or its regular search results, Google will send you a notice by email, with a link to that new page.
This let’s you keep track of the latest news on any topic and provides you with a continual source of new blog post material.
Make sure your site feed is clearly visible
Most blogs will have a little orange icon somewhere on the page. This indicates the link to their RSS feed. Adding this link to your RSS aggregator will allow you to subscribe to their blog.
If you don’t have a similar link clearly visible on your blog, readers will not know how to subscribe to your blog and your subscribership will be severely limited. There are a few different images that all serve the same purpose. Feel free to use the one that you feel fits the look of your site the best:
Many popular online aggregators offer similar buttons that allow readers to subscribe to blogs with a single click. For example, Yahoo, MSN , and Bloglines have the following buttons:
Click the buttons above to find the proper way to add these buttons to your blog. The easier you can make it for readers to subscribe to your blog, the more subscribers you’ll get.
Note: If you like the look of these buttons, you can find more buttons here that are suitable for a variety of uses.
Make your blog posts do double-duty
Your best blog posts can be rewritten or expanded slightly to function as articles, which can then be submitted to article directories such as EzineArticles. Getting your articles in these directories not only supplies you with a new source of traffic, but you’ll also get a link from every directory your article gets listed in. This can help your site rank higher in the search engines.
Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines
Submit your site to the major blog directories and services
There are a number of sites you can use to promote your blog. Some of these sites are directories that will list your blog for free, and some are blog search engines; some rank blogs according to popularity and monitor the activity of various topics in the blogosphere, and others are online services that will send out notices to various sites around the Internet whenever you ping them to let them know your blog has been updated.
Submitting your site to these services when first starting out will give your blog a big boost when it comes to traffic and ranking well in the search engines. Let’s cover some of the important blog services:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Technorati â€” A gigantic, continually-updated blog search engine, currently tracking over 10 million blogs. Many people find new blogs to read through Technorati, so it’s a good idea to make sure they’re monitoring your blog. Here’s a tutorial on configuring your blog software to automatically notify Technorati whenever you post to your blog (this is known as a ping). You can also register a profile of your blog with Technorati.
Link: Submit your blog to Technorati
Â Â Â Â Â Â Feedster â€” Another popular blog search engines that you’ll want to be sure is monitoring your blog.
Link: Submit your blog to Feedster.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Blogwise â€” Likewise, a popular blog search engines that maintains a list of recently updated blogs.
Link: Submit your blog to Blogwise.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Globe of Blogs â€” General blog directory, organizing blogs by topic, as well as author name, location, and birthday. Not the most important blog directory on the Internet, but provides nice, direct links, mostly from PageRank 6 and 7 pages. Highly recommended, though it can take some time for your blog to get listed.
Link: Submit your blog to Globe of Blogs.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Blog Search Engine â€” A large blog directory and search engine, organizing blogs by topic. This site has a lot of pop-up ads, so beware. Nonetheless, it’s an easy source of free, direct links to your blog, and they are very good about listing all your pages.
Link: Submit your blog to Blog Search Engine.
Â Â Â Â Â Â GetBlogs.com â€” Another good blog directory.
Link: Submit your blog to GetBlogs.com.
Note: Adding your blog to many of these services means adding the address of your blog’s RSS feed, not the address of your blog. You may have to search around to find it. Typically, if your blog’s URL is http://www.your-blog.com, then your RSS feed would look something like http://www.your-blog.com/index.xml. On Blogger, the feed URL is usually the link behind the little orange box.
Create a list of keywords for which you want your blog to be found
In many ways, optimizing your blog to be found in the search engines is just like optimizing your normal web pages. You should create a list of keywords you want to be found for and be certain to work some of them into each of your blog posts. Chances are, your blog will have more pages than your regular website and therefore you can expect to find it comparatively easier to target a wide range of keywords.
In general, try to target keywords that are not too competitive but still get a fair number of searches. The Overture Keyword Selector Tool provides a quick-n-dirty shortcut to finding keywords that are both popular enough to send you traffic, but not so popular that they’re too competitive to easily target. And, of course, for more in-depth research into exact keyword search numbers, we highly recommend the Wordtracker service.
Make sure to use those keywords in your blog posts
Once you’ve created your keywords list, start looking for ways to work them into your blog posts. The title of your post is the most important place for your keywords to be found. That’s because the title of your post also becomes the title of the web page the post is found on! And, as we all know, search engines place a lot of importance on web page titles.
Next, try to use some of your keywords three to four times in the body of your post. And if you link to other pages in your post, you should also try to work some of your keywords into the anchor text of those links.
Some bloggers like to keep track of how often they use each of their keywords over the course of a month. Such a system helps insure that they use all of their keywords at some point during that month rather than just repeatedly focusing on a comfortable few.
Make sure each post generates its own page
Most blogging software, including Blogger and Movable Type, will generate a unique web page for each post you create. However, some blogging software, such as Radio Userland, will group all your posts for the day onto one page.
It’s really better to have each post become its own page. This not only makes it easier for readers to link to specific posts, but it gives search engines more pages to find and index. And the more pages you have, the more potential keyword variations you can target, and the greater possibility of people finding your blog pages in the search engines.
If you want a search engine to re-index your blog every day, then you’ve got to post every day. Search engines are pretty unforgiving about this. If you slow down the frequency of your posts, you’ll find yourself getting fewer visits from search engine spiders. That will likely cause your blog’s search engine ranking to begin sliding downward.
In addition, more frequent posting means that your blog appears more often in the blog directories and search services and also means that more of your content is available online, increasing your chances of someone finding you in the search engines.
Read other blogs and comment in them regularly
Most blogs have a feature that allows readers to comment on a particular post. Usually, this comment feature also allows the commentor to include a link back to their own blog.
By finding other blogs that interest you, and posting your own comments, you not only get a link back to your own blog, but you’ll also make people aware that your blog exists. Such is the winning formula for boosting your blog’s traffic and readership.
Be sure that your comments are relevant to the blog post. Comment-spam is a major problem with blogs. Some unscrupulous individuals use automated software to use the blog comment feature to post large numbers of links to their own site in an attempt to boost their site’s link popularity.
If your comments are good and contribute something to the blog in which you are posting them, then people will be happy to have you post comments on their blogs. If it looks like you’re commenting just to get links to your own blog, you could become very unpopular very quickly.
The Power of Business Blogging
Creating a business blog is a great way to communicate directly with your customers. Blogs don’t just add a unique, personal touch to your online business, they also give visitors a reason to come back to your site again and again. And this loyal traffic translates into one thing… more and greater business opportunities for you!
Just remember, your blog is an extension of your business, so don’t blog lightly! Once you post something on the Internet, it’s out there forever. Make sure it’s something that you actually want read by complete strangers before you blog it!
Keep on bloggin’,
SEM Specialist and Technical Analyst
Dynamic Lab: URL Bidding feature added to Dynamic BidMaximizer
How does it work?URL Bidding is a smart feature that enables you to bid based on the position of another URL. This bidding strategy allows you to bid above or below a specific URL. It can be used for both competitor or friendly bidding. For example you can choose to bid above your competitor or bid below your affiliates:How to set this up?
Â Â Â Â Â
Â You can activate the URL bidding feature under the Keyword Property:
1. In the “URL Bidding” tab, simply check the “Use URL bidding strategy” box.
2. In the “Compare URL” text box, type in the URL you want to adhere to.
3. Choose the position options by selecting “Always bid above this URL” or “Always bid below this URL”.
Then the program will calculate the bidding value of your keywords according to your settings.
If you have any specific questions in regards to URL Bidding, please contact our Customer Service.
Tips, Tricks: Dynamic Software Success Story
Westerware is a small affiliate marketing business based in Stockholm, Sweden. At www.webshoplinks.com, the company markets products like Oreck vacuum cleaners and FranklinCovey day planners, for a commission.
Westerware spends around $3,500 a month on search engine advertising. They have approximately 35,000 keywords that require a lot of administration. The company wants to grow its business, and spend as little time as possible on everyday management of existing advertising efforts.
Westerware has chosen Dynamic Bid Maximizerâ„¢, automated Pay-Per-Click (PPC) bid management tool in order to manage their online campaigns in the most cost-effective way.
“Both Google and Overture automatically adjust your bid down to just one cent above your nearest competitor. However, some of the major search engines like Enhance may leave a bid at $0.15 or higher, even when there is no other bidder. With Bid Maximizer, we never bid more than absolutely necessary, which saves a lot of money over a month. Also, Bid Maximizer allows us to target other positions than just to be the top bidder. Going for number 2 or 3 can be very profitable, and still give you a lot of clicks”, says Magnus Wester, the Managing Director of Westerware.
Dynamic Bid Maximizer helped the company to save its advertising money and hours of time they would have wasted without using the software.
“With Bid Maximizer, the average cost-per-click in Overture was reduced from 0.22 to 0.14 (30%). Over the same period, the gross margin (sales commissions minus advertising costs) for Overture improved from 53% to 67%,” says Magnus.
“Since Bid Maximizer is a Windows tool, it’s very fast and easy to use. You can find a specific keyword and change its bidding rules in one tenth of the time compared to doing the same thing directly on the search engine’s web site. Just for the ordinary maintenance of keywords and bids I believe we save at least twenty hours a month,” says Magnus. “If you look at all the 24 by 7 constant monitoring and automatic bid adjustment provided by Bid Maximizer, well, we’d never be able to afford to do that manually. It’s so amazing that you just set the rules for it and it goes to work, relentlessly and persistently.”
Making the right choice
“Some of the competitors are web-based, which must be a real drawback in terms of speed-of-use. Furthermore, Bid Maximizer support is formidable and we feel we have even been able to influence development of the product by describing our business needs to the developers,” says Magnus.
Magnus’ final words …
“Even with very few keywords, Bid Maximizer adds important value by constantly monitoring what your competitors do to their bids. Using the simple rules you have set for it, Bid Maximizer then adjusts your own bids so that you always get exactly what you pay for. I believe we save almost $1,000 a month with Bid Maximizer, which is very close to what we paid for it. If you work with search engine advertising, Bid Maximizer just has to be profitable for you too, regardless of the number of keywords you have.”
About Dynamic NetMarketer
Dynamic NetMarketer is published once a month by eDynamicSoft, a division of Apex Pacific Pty Ltd, developer of Dynamic Submission – award winning web promotion software. Each issue covers the latest information and trends in internet marketing and web promotion.
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By David Lin