October 24, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Measuring Business Blogging Success

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/10/07

It’s easy to start a blog. Not so easy to be successful. But what is success? Especially for a business blog?   Some of the measurable outcomes from business blogging include:

  • Media attention
  • Speaking requests
  • Customer loyalty
  • Inbound links to the blog
  • Search engine ranking for the corporate site
  • Corporate website traffic
  • Leads/sales initiated
  • Volume of blog traffic
  • Technorati and other credible rankings
  • Search engine ranking for the blog
  • Increased company visibility within the industry
  • Increased media coverage
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Increased sales leads/revenue/new customers

And there are more depending on the purpose of the blog, whether it’s to create thought leadership, announce new products, offer SEO friendly content for a troublesome CMS or ecommerce platform, generate leads, support media relations initiatives or simply serve as a sounding board for ideas.  The true measure of success for a business blog is entirely predicated on its purpose.

Once defined, implemented and measurements are put in place, any business can create a successful blog. It’s simply a matter of time, resources and a willingness to try until “what works” reveals itself.   Here’s a more detailed exploration of this idea as well as a long list of considerations that companies need to be aware of when starting a company blog. If you’re into checklists, then be sure to read Stephan’s “Essential Checklist for Starting a Blog“.

Technorati Adds Authority Metric

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 05/11/07

Technorati launched a blog authority widget last month but now that Authority score is showing up next to blog search results and on a new and improved blog profile page. I’ve been paying a lot more attention to Technorati since Online Marketing Blog the top 100 Favorites list and made an appearance on the top 100 Popular blogs list recently.

Basically, the Authority score is based on the number of blogs linking to your blog within a certain period of time. I had someone ask me if they should start promoting their blog differently in order to up their “Authority” score. My recommendation is, don’t do anything that isn’t going to further the main goals of the blog. Getting on a list that can send you traffic and build credibility is nice, but if those visitors don’t respond well to your content, they’re just drive by traffic.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging from a Legal Standpoint

Too many articles about the legal ramifications of corporate blogs focus entirely on the negative side of blogs. This makes sense; corporate lawyers are hired with the intent of keeping the company safe and limiting risk. Marketing, extending your brand, and keeping employees and customers happy are someone else’s responsibilities.

However, As Blogging Grows, So Do Its Do’s and Don’ts, over at Law.com’s Legal Technology is a much more even-handed approach. (In fact, its do’s outnumber its don’ts about 2-to-1.)

There’s advice for public companies (do be mindful of security laws…risks associated with…making material misstatements that could manipulate the stock price and expose the company to liability for securities fraud under Rule 10b-5), companies with trade secrets, and just about anyone else.

The article can be summarized by the final quote:

The key to sticking with the “Do’s” is remembering that corporate blogging is like any other business communication that represents the company: Honesty and common sense go a long way to keeping the company (and its blog) on the right side of the law.

Jumpstart Traffic to Your Blog with these Web 2.0 Steps

I stumbled upon this post about 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Website [or blog] over at College Startup.

It leans heavily on Web 2.0 sites like Reddit and Digg and some upstart called Netscape. However, if you’re looking to reach a new audience this post has the links you’ll need to try out.

I took the author’s advice and posted Top-Level Domain Survey (or what to do when your .com is taken) to his number one recommendation and got about 30 hits in 30 minutes from the source. Not bad for 2 minutes of work. (Not including the hour or so I put into creating the survey and blogging about it.)

YMMV depending on your audience, post and title.

Extend Your Blog’s Reach with a Blidget

Blidget is a new tool/service/offering from Widgetbox that allows you to create a widget out of your blog. (What is it about Web 2.0 that requires every new tool to have a celebrity couple name?)

By turning your blog into a widget you can make it easier for people to syndicate your content while still maintaining some of your branding. Creating a Blidget only takes a few minutes, and depending on your blog software, installing it may be a one-click affair.

If you’d like to add BBC’s widget to your own blog, click below:

Get this widget from Widgetbox

Blogs as SEO Tools

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 01/23/07

Can blogs be optimized for search marketing? Absolutely! Blogs are basically content management systems with additional functionality such as comments, trackbacks and RSS. In many ways, blogs are no different than web sites.

If a document can be optimized and that document gets indexed, categorized and ranked by any kind of search engine, it’s an opportunity for search marketing. As such, marketers should be aware of how document optimization within various channels can be used within the overall online marketing mix. Blogs are one of many platforms that benefit from optimization.

At a minimum, using blog software to manage certain kinds of content on a web site such as an online media room, to archive newsletters, post frequently asked questions and to provide product updates can make a site that is otherwise very search engine un-friendly, become a viable source of great rankings. This applies to both regular search engines as well as blog search engines. These are applications for a blog besides the common use as a platform to increase credibility and communicate a more personalized voice for a company.

Blogs are no silver bullet though and require working hard and smart – especially smart. However the payoff can be significant. To prove the point that blogs are effective tools for improving search engine visibility, I can offer that my own blog (Online Marketing Blog) receives the majority of it’s traffic from search engines.

Here are a few Google ranking examples of the top referring search phrases in the past month for Online Marketing Blog:

Even more niche phrases bring in quality search traffic such as:

which are all services our search marketing agency provides. Of course the rules can change slightly over time, but here are a set of benefits I often find myself explaining to people wondering about the search engine optimization benefits of having a blog.

  1. Structured content – Blog software with category features allows the aggregation of content according to themes. This makes it easier to algorithmically categorize content. If you can make it easier for search engines to understand your content, you have a much better chance of ranking well on those topics.
  2. Crawlable URLs – Most blog software offers uncomplicated URL structure, making it fairly easy for search engine spiders to find and crawl blog content.
  3. Internal links – Blogs that post product or service related information can deep link anchor text to product information or purchase pages deep within the web site. This is very beneficial for ranking on long tail phrases.
  4. Inbound link magnet – One of the biggest benefits, blogs link freely to each other – much more than web sites do. Blogs are also a significant source of many posts to social news and social media web sites. Text, audio and video are all easily supported for syndication by blogs. The more media available, the more likely it will attract incoming links. Additionally, there are many widgets and plugins that make it easy to share blog content, thus encouraging links and traffic.
  5. RSS – Links to RSS feed urls that use the blog domain name will assist in building link popularity and when RSS content is syndicated or cited by other blogs, any embedded links will also assist in sending traffic.
  6. Fresh content – Both readers and search engines reward fresh content with repeat visits. From a search engine perspective, that means your site can be crawled more frequently, allowing your new content to become searchable more quickly. Fresh content is also indicative of a more authoritative web site.
  7. Active community – Comments and trackback features in blog software encourage interaction. An active blog community creates the kinds of citations or signals from other sites (annotated and contextually relevant links) that search engines tend to reward in the rankings. Loyal blog readers can boost a site’s visibility through advocacy on other blogs, in forums offline at conferences as well as on their own blogs and within the comments of your blog.
  8. Non-Search traffic – I think the greatest benefit of having an active blog has little to do with improving your search engine rankings though. The best thing about blogs is that they allow you to generate substantial amounts of traffic via RSS and links that have NOTHING to do with search engines. My recommendation to marketers in 2007 is to pursue traffic alternatives to search engines as aggresively as their budgets and marketing programs will allow. The result will be incremental increases in site traffic with search engine referred traffic an added bonus, if not correspondingly enhanced.
  9. Blog & RSS Directories – With a blog and corresponding RSS feed(s), your site can now benefit from visibility within blog and RSS search engines. Web sites without feeds (your competition maybe?) are not included in these kinds of directories and search engines.

Felllow BBC’er Stephan Spencer has also written extensively about optimizing blogs and using blogs as SEO tools.

So there you go. A basic list of practical reasons a blog can be beneficial as a site optimization tool and for improved web site traffic along with practical examples. What SEO benefits have you found from having and promoted a blog?

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed

For many of you this may seem basic, but there’s a first time for everything….

Have you ever wondered how us “blogging experts” keep up on dozens or even hundreds of blogs a day? Do we visit dozens or hundreds of Web sites a day hoping that each one has posted new, worthwhile post(s)? Don’t we have lives? Don’t we have businesses to run?!?

The answer is that we subscribe to the feed from these blogs and collect them in one central location. I prefer NetNewsWire (Mac only!) while others prefer the browser-based Bloglines.

Unfortunately, subscribing to a blog feed is counter-intuitive. The very action we’ve been trained to do with Pavlovian perfection–clicking on a link–instead presents us with a page of XML mumbo-jumbo.

To that end, I’ve put together this little movie (at 10.2 MB it’s actually not that little) that walks you through the subscription process. Soon you’ll be able to subscribe to blogs with the best of ‘em, keeping up on important industry information and staying ahead of your competition.

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed: The Movie!

Defining ROI on Business Blogs: HubSpot.com cracks the code and delivers solid answers

Posted by: of andrewbourland on 11/6/06

No doubt about it: the most complex problem business bloggers face is coming up with a clear definition of what ROI their blog has produced.

How many sales did it result in? How many subscriptions did it sell? How many seats to your conference did it fill? How many solid leads did it generate for your sales force?

Brian Halligan, a former VP of Sales at Groove Networks and MIT Sloan graduate launched Hubspot.com to provide solid answers to that very problem. Hubspot tracks visitors at each stage of involvement in your blog’s content, and tracks that visitor as they move down the funnel to an actual sale. Every day and with every post and with every event you can track where you stand with the visitors you have attracted to your website.

Though still in beta mode, Hubspot.com’s solution is definitely worth checking out.

If you would like to hear the full story, watch the video above.

It’s not too long, just under 20 minutes. Time well invested, given the amount of time you would otherwise spend wracking your brain seeking answers to this very complex problem.

Blog PR

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/8/06

Blogs are increasingly competitive sources of information for users’ time online compared to mainstream media and many marketers and public relations practitioners persist at stumbling about the blogosphere like bulls in a china shop.

Since my own blog gets about 5-10 pitches per week on average, I think I have a pretty good idea of the variety of ways blogs in general are getting pitched these days. The verdict? Not good.

The emergence of such blogs as The Bad Pitch Blog which is updated a lot more frequently and far more popular than The Good Pitch Blog goes to show that there’s simply not enough attention paid to what constitutes a good pitch. And we all know what Rick thinks about a crappy pitch.

On the topic of blog relations, you hear a lot about being careful of pitching bloggers and that you shouldn’t pitch blogs the same way as you would a print journalist. That’s true for the most part, but there are also many similarities.

To help pros and flacks alike, here are a few of my own tips on pitching blogs which may help PR practitioners resonate more with the blogging community.

  1. Be relevant. It seems so simple and obvious, yet it is the biggest mistake made when pitching bloggers. Look at the categories of the blog and look at previous blog posts. Is your pitch REALLY relevant for the blog? With a lot of the pitches we get, you can tell there’s been no attempt to look any further than the title of the blog. For example, on my own blog I get pitches about things like online advertising or creative interactive advertising campaigns ala Adrants and a quick look at the categories or previous blog posts reveals that the blog clearly does not cover advertising.
  2. Personalize. Getting an email pitch with no personal reference at all, or just a press release and no message is a sure trip to the trash folder. Even more annoying is when there is an attempt to personalize, but it’s copy/paste and the fonts are completely different between the template text being used and the “personalized” content, which often ends up not being very accurate anyway. Take the time to research the blog, make comments and get involved. Be honest about who you are in the comments and provide thoughtful insight that is of value and relevant to the blog post.
  3. Make it easy. Time and time again, I get pitches with one sentence and then the full press release copied into the email or worse, attached as a MS Word doc. This can be very annoying and shows there has been very little effort made. Most bloggers don’t write 600 word stories in response to a press release. They are far more prone to link to a press release. So provide a summary of the release in the email, and a link to the full version of the press release hosted elsewhere. Some bloggers might just copy and paste your summary, add some commentary and a link to the full release you’ve provided. Remember, popular bloggers are very busy. Make it easy for them to blog your story.
  4. Schwag is good. I’ll admit it. I don’t mind getting books sent to me to review. In almost all cases I will at least mention the book in a post if it’s relevant to the topics we cover. I know one thing is for sure, if a search engine or company sent us schwag, we would absolutely post a photo of it along with some honest commentary. Does it suck or is it cool? People want to know!
  5. Be persistent. Don’t be offended or give up if a blogger doesn’t take your story the first time. Be courteous and smart about repeat attempts though. Watch to see if they really do pick up on your story before sending another pitch. Of course, this is not a problem if you actually read their blog.

Here are a number of additional resources on blogger relations and pitching bloggers:

In case you’ll be attending the DMA06 conference in San Francisco later this month, be sure to check out the session on Blogs, RSS and Podcasting with Dr. Amanda Watlington, BBC co-contributor Stephan Spencer and myself where I will be presenting on using blogs for public relations.

Business Blogging Seminars from SixApart

SixApart is hosting a series of Business Blogging Seminars in cities across the US. According to their informational page, participants will:

  • Learn how to create effective blogging strategies and policies
  • Hear dynamic use cases from specific industries
  • See the latest blogging technologies demonstrated, including RSS and podcasting
  • Have your specific business blogging questions addressed in our Q&A sessions

Now, of course this will undoubtably feature how to use a TypePad or Movable Type blogging platform to create a presence in the blogosphere. However, there will probably be good information even if your a dyed-in-the-wool WordPresser.

Current cities include:

  • Washington, DC (9/28) (10/19)
  • Detroit, MI (10/30)
  • Boston, MA (11/2)
  • San Francisco, CA (11/13)
  • Chicago, IL (11/16)
  • NYC, NY (12/11)
  • Miami, FL (12/14)

Hey, Six Apart! How about Portland, ME? I’ll even put you up.

If you’d like to get more information or register, go for it. (BTW, in the interest of transparency, that’s an affiliate link.)

New Social Media Tools

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 08/31/06

One aspect that gives social media its power punch is the ease in which we can share and link information. Tools are being developed as fast as the growing blogosphere. Just when you finally figured out how to spell del.icio.us up pops a toy box of new fun – from a tool that sounds like a disco dance linkaGo Go to something that you’d find on a dessert bar Raw Sugar.
How to keep track was a nightmare for most people. Offering more than a couple of options to your readers was even more frustrating. Lee Odden, Online Marketing Blog, has developed a couple of nifty social media tools that make all that a snap. In true blogger kindness, has provided them gratis. Of course, what would you expect from one of the Business Blog Consultant site contrbutor bloggers.
The first tool allows you to add a social bookmark menu after each post or on a static web page. The jazzy thing about this tool is the social bookmark links are presented in a drop down menu to save screen space.

The second tool is an RSS Button Maker. By placing your cursor over the orange RSS icon a list of the top RSS readers folds out so you can subscribe using your favorite reader.

Sweet!

TypePad Adds Technorati Tag Support

Adding Technorati tags to posts has never been easy in TypePad. In fact, I created a little movie a while back so that clients could watch it as many times as they like.

But now TypePad has added a Technorati Tags field near the bottom the New Post page. Just separate your tags with commas and you’re all set. No need to muck around with the Edit HTML tab.

While this is a good solution for most users, not being able to get under-the-hood does frustrate me on a few points:

  • I don’t like to brand my tags as “Technorati Tags.” I prefer the more agnostic “Tags.”
  • I like the flexibility of sending those links to places other than the Technorati tag pages. I.e., a tag on Search Engine Optimization could point to my page on SEO at my own Web site.
  • I prefer pipes over commas. (I know, small thing.)

However, if you’re a TypePad user and you’ve wanted to take advantage of tags (which help drive additional traffic to your site) without learning HTML, this is a great solution for you.

Now, what to do with my movie?

Blog Marketing: Online Seminar

For those of you looking for rules (I hate that word–how about “guidelines?”), case studies and advice on how to market with blogs, you may want to clear your calendar for this Thursday, July 27th at 12pm EST.

Co-blogger Jeremy Wright is hosting Truths of Blog Marketing: Reaching Customers, Building Your Brand, a Web seminar for MarketingProfs.

The seminar goes for $99, or is free for Marketing Profs’ Premium Plus members. Another argument for becoming a member is Kelly Goto’s Tuesday, July 25th seminar: Demystifying Website Usability: Rapid Research for Marketers.

New Business Blog Directory

A nascent blog directory, iBlogBusiness, has recently launched to serve people looking specifically for business blogs.

The concept isn’t revolutionary, but it could become a good resource for those looking for other business blogs.
Since adding your own blog is free, it’s probably worth the two minutes it takes to submit your URL to iBlogBusiness.

Getting quality incomings is essential to good search engine ranking; since iBlogBusiness hasn’t been around long enough to provide good PageRank, you should also submit to the blog directories listed in Robin Good’s Best Blog Directory and RSS Submission Sites page.

TypePad Offers Widgets to Enhance Your Blog

Recently SixApart began offering Widgets (add-on modules) to increase the functionality of TypePad blogs.

TypePad bloggers can view the gallery of widgets and choose from such categories as:

Some of these widgets are painfully beta, while others will appeal to a very small audience segment. However, if you’ve been looking to add search to your TypePad blog or promote your eBay auctions, be sure to check out the new TypePad Widgets.

Blog Search Engine Optimization Article

Recently I wrote a post on optimizing your TypePad blog titles for the search engines. Today I read a well-documented article called Search Engine Optimization for Blogs by Bill Hartzer.

In it he discusses techniques to use if WordPress or Movable Type is your platform of choice. He also has some good information on promoting your blog. (Although, how he forgot Stephan Spencer’s fantastic collection of WordPress plug-ins I’ll never know!)
If you’re using your blog as a lead-generation tool be sure to check this article out.

Business Blog Seminar: PowerPoint Handouts

How to Plan, Build and Promote a Business Blog - PowerPoint Cover

Click image for free report

Last Friday I spoke at the annual conference for NAPO: The National Association of Professional Organizers, on the topic of “How to Plan, Build and Promote a Business Blog.”Since this is a constantly evolving seminar for me, there were significant changes from what I submitted in January and what I presented in March. I posted the handouts to my Web site for any attendees who wanted to download them.

I then decided to open that up to anyone who wanted to download and review the handouts. The target audience for the seminar is entrepreneurs and small business owners, but there’s a lot of information in there for anyone.

The download is free, but an email registration is required. (1MB, PDF.)

Analytics for Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/14/06

With the growing number of businesses launching blogs, there’s a huge opportunity in the blog metrics and analytics space. Many blogs use free programs with limited functionality and some use the same stats programs as for a regular web site such as Google Analytics.

There is a distinction to be made though, since the measurable outcomes for a content publisher, particularly a blog, are different than for an ecommerce site. Therefore Google Analytics and many other stats programs are not the best fit for blog metrics.

What options for blog focused analytics are out there?

blogbeat is a fairly new hosted blog stats program that caters specifically to the needs of blog content publishers. It plays well with FeedBurner and offers tabs of information separated by: Posts, Visitors, Referrers, Searches and Links. There’s a free trial period and then a small monthly fee.

Google recently purchased Measure Map which also pays more attention to blog-centric information, but they are not adding any new accounts at the moment. I have not been able to try it myself, however Solution Watch offers a rundown and screen shots of Measure Map.

Performancing Metrics stands out as a measurement tool meant for blogs. To get an idea of the features offered, see the post by Ahmed Bilal who reviews Performancing Metrics or the breakdown by Darren Rowse who also includes screen shots.

Performancing Metrics offers ad tracking, real-time blog stats, the ability to track mutiple blogs with one user account, RSS 2.0 feeds of your stats (how cool is that) as well as many other features.

I did a short interview yesterday with the Nick Wilson, co-founder of Performancing where he clarifies the Performancing mission as well as where their blog metrics offering fits within the services being developed for pro bloggers.

Performancing Metrics public beta launched today and is now taking on free accounts.

Get the Most Out of Technorati

Recently I was meeting with a couple of blogging clients and one asked me, “How do I get the most out of Technorati?”

I thought that was a great question, and worthy of a few posts. Although I’m sure there’s more than what I’ve written below, this is a good start for any one who’s interested in driving more traffic to their blog and finding like minded business bloggers. I’ve even included a couple of how-to movies.

If you have any Technorati specific questions or issues leave a comment below, and I’ll try and add them to this list.

Technorati Adds Blog Favorites

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 02/22/06

When visiting Technorati.com this morning I noticed Dave Sifry’s mug on the lower right corner promoting a new feature called Technorati Favorites. From the Sifry’s Alerts blog:

“The blogosphere doubles every five months. As I’m writing this, Technorati is tracking 28.4 million blogs. That’s a whole lot of voices. Here at Technorati, we want to make the world of weblogs accessible, searchable, and fun for everyone to explore. Today we’re taking another step in that direction with a brand new feature: Technorati Favorites.”

You can add blogs manually, through the blog finder, through buttons you can place on your own blog, a bookmarklet or whenever you see the star icon on Technorati.com. There’s a search function just for your favorite blogs (sort of like Rollyo) and you can share your your favorites publicly with a static url.

Each Technorati account can add up to 50 of their favorite blogs. You can start now by adding Business Blog Consulting as one of your favorites by clicking this image:

Add to Technorati Favorites

 

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