A few years ago the investment firm Merrill Lynch coined the term “We’re Bullish.” It became the company’s corporate mantra of sorts. In stock trade terminology, being bullish represents a rise in value. I’m bullish on blogging, and for a number of reasons. I think it is a technology tool that provides business with great value.
Blogging provides a company with the ability to set itself apart from the competition, positions the business owner or entrepreneur as an expert in her field, and affords media and public relations opportunities. Chief among the panoply of blogging benefits is the ability to attract search engine attention, an absolute necessity in today’s marketplace. Quite simply, blogs are search engine magnets and provide their own unique form of search engine marketing. Let me outline a number of reasons to support that claim.
Blogs are frequently updated
Search engines are ravenous creatures, constantly spidering the Internet for new information to consume. Unlike static websites which rarely change, blogs are meant to be updated with frequency. As such, they provide a continuous stream of fodder to satisfy the cravings of the hungry behemoths.
Blogs are filled with content
Content is king. It always has been and always will be, particularly where search engines are concerned. Google and other such engines don’t care one whit about flash animation or graphics. They look for certain types of information like metadata contained in keyword and description metatags, title tag information, and body content. Blogs are rich sources of those forms of information.
For example, each blog post becomes its own searchable html page with a unique URL. Most blog platforms use a portion of the blog post title in the URL, which further magnifies its appeal to the engines. The title of each post is turned into a title tag, something Google really appreciates. Well-written, keyword-oriented blog posts containing content relevant to the topic of the site also enhances its attractiveness to search engines.
Blogs generate back links
Active participation in the “blogosphere” creates opportunities for back links, which are links into your site from others. Google uses a site ranking system called PageRank™. According to Google, “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.” In other words, the more sites that link to you, the higher your PageRank. Not only that, but the higher PageRank value another linking website has, the better. Both quantity and quality are of importance.
If you update your site frequently, leave salient comments on other’s blogs, talk about and link to commentary made on other blogs, and include other relevant sites in your blogroll (list of links), the greater your chances others will do the same for you. Participating in the greater conversation is essential not only to good blogging etiquette, but to garnering a greater and higher share of search engine attention.
Blog-specific search engines
Speaking of search engines, Google, Yahoo! and MSN are not the only players. Did you know there are over 100 blog-specific search engines and directories? In fact, a list commonly referred to as the Robin Good Top 55 (Google that phrase and you’ll quickly find the site.) contains over 150. Some of them are industry-specific, but most are useful for any company. One of the services my company offers, for example, is submitting blogs to each of these directories.
There are some of that are particularly noteworthy:
This site is, for now at least, the blog search engine of record. Technorati is unique in that it returns the latest information relative to a given search. For example, type in any keyword or keyphrase and you will see returns from blog posts written as recently as only a few hours prior, and in some cases even less! Technorati refers to itself as the search engine that “brings you what’s happening on the web right now.”
Technorati uses a classification taxonomy called “tags,” which are themselves keywords. It is commonplace when writing a blog post to include some Technorati tags (The site provides special HTML code for that purpose.) to identify the category the post falls under. Doing so helps up the ante on getting your blog indexed more quickly and included in search returns.
Google Blog Search
Google may someday BE the Internet. The term “google” is already a part of our pop-culture nomenclature. Instead of searching for something online, we google it. For certain, getting indexed by Google should be of primary importance in your marketing efforts, and that includes not only the main site, but their blog search site as well.
Google’s blog search engine indexing relies heavily on site feeds (RSS or Atom). If your blog doesn’t offer such feeds, you likely will not show up here. Fortunately, most blog platforms include RSS and Atom feeds by default. You can include additional feeds by using a service like Feedburner, which offers customized feeds for MyYahoo!, MyMSN, Bloglines, and other such portals.
PubSub is like a search engine, but different. Using PubSub, you create a subscription based on a keyword or keyphrase. PubSub will then check thousands of RSS feeds and match messages to subscriptions and deliver those to subscribers in real time. This engine is particularly useful for anyone searching for the same type of information over and over and is proving to be very popular among bloggers. You can submit your RSS feed for inclusion in the directory.
Another task you will want to be sure and accomplish is what’s known as “pinging.” Using a service like Pingomatic or PingGoat you notify a number of other services that keep track of blogs and publish them.
The term “ping” is used both in noun and verb form. A ‘ping’ is a basic Internet program that lets you verify that a particular Internet address exists and can accept requests. The verb form means the act of using a ping utility or command.
The term as it’s applied in blogging is somewhat different. There are certain services that scan blogs regularly for updates and publishes the most recent information. Letting such a service know you have updated your blog is understandably important. To accomplish this, you send a ping to the service. These services then crawl and index your site, publishing your content, thus increasing your blog’s popularity.
This is not something that necessarily has to be done manually either, though it can be. Most blog platforms, particularly WordPress and Movable Type, provide places in the administrative interface for you to put URLs for Pingomatic and others once, then each time you update your site, a ping is automatically sent.
In summary, blogs help with search marketing in three ways: 1) Blogs rank well on major search engines and, thus, should be part of your overall search marketing strategy. 2) Submitting your site to the many blogrelated engines and directories will serve to enhance your presence and increase PageRank. 3) Using Pingomatic or similar such ping service will help to keep your blog fresh on the minds of Technorati and other such sites. Over time you will find your blog paying deep dividends for many reasons, but if the search engine benefit was the only one, blogging would still be worth the effort. Happy blogging!