Edinburgh Web Development

Increase business with a blog

by Iain Wilson

16 September 2006

In our first blog article What's all the fuss about blogs, we covered some of the history of the blog, where it came from, and how people use it generally.

For businesses though, the blog can play a huge part in the success of the web-site, both in giving useful information and driving visitors to your site. It is a fantastic business tool to create content for your website, without knowing anything about web design or development.

Why do we want content?

Why do we want content on a web-site? Two reasons:

Makes your visitor do what you want them to do Firstly, meaningful content on your website gives your business credibility, provides valuable information to customers and potential customers. Simply put, a website with a lot of interesting and relevant information represents an interesting, relevant and important company (this of course may not always be true, but stay with me on this!). This in turn increases the chances that a potential customer will do what you want them to do - pick up the phone and call you, purchase a produce, fill in a form - whatever.

Increases search engine rankings Secondly, search engines love good content. They gobble it up, index it and give you good behaviour marks. However it must be good content, unique, and relevant to your business with pages that are structured correctly. If it is all of these things, those good behaviour marks can lead to what Every Company Wants - higher search engine rankings!

How do we do it?

OK, let's assume that you have can write good, industry related articles for your business - how do you get going? The three key aspects for businesses when it comes to using blogs positively are publishing the articles and letting the search engines know about them. To address each of these we use:

1. The blogging software 2. The blog directories 3. The article directories

The blogging software From a business perspective, think of blogging software as an article management system. All the leading blog software providers give you a range of features that include:

  • Word processor to enter and edit the articles
  • Database to store the articles
  • Category system to group the articles
  • Archive system to group articles by date
  • Security system to guard access to your articles
  • Search facility to find articles
  • Discussion facility for visitor comments
  • RSS newsfeed (so subscribers will automatically get new articles

Most blog software is quite customisable, so some features can be switched on or off. For example, we usually switch off the visitor comment facility because it can attract spammers who leave non-relevant comments purely to get a link back to their own site.

So blog software provides a very sophisticated article management system, and some versions are free! There are two main versions of blog - hosted and integrated to your own site.

Hosted versions Hosted versions of two of the most popular blog software Wordpress and Blogger (owned by Google) are available, free of charge. Hosted versions of the software mean that the articles are stored on a website provided by the software company. The website address of the articles will not be your website but something that might look like http://yourname.blogspot.com/. While this will give you a site for your articles, the downside to this is that it does not enhance your site particularly because the content is on another site.

Integrated versions An integrated version of the blog software means the articles and the management software all live on your website. The benefits of this are that your site grows organically as you add articles and the search engines rate you higher (they love content, remember). It also means that the presentation of the articles is consistent with the rest of your site - i.e. it looks professional and businesslike - adding to your business credibility.

Wordpress again provide a free version for integration. The other widely used blog integration software is Movable Type for which a fee must be paid.

We prefer to use Wordpress, not only because it is free. It is also Open Source software, which means it constantly benefits from the thousands of people contributing to its development. It is also very customisable to fit with a web site design.

Integration is not something that should be undertaken lightly. It requires good web design and development skills, not just HTML, but CSS and programming. However, if you know what you are doing, you will end up with an article section on your web site that will match the rest of your site, that can have articles added to it in seconds, and are categorised and indexed for searching.

Summary

Invest in a blog and you will be achieving the two business objectives; displaying your credentials to potential customers and providing fodder for the search engines.

In our next blog article, we'll look at making sure your blog posts are written in the best way for search engines.

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