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If ever there was a secret weapon in the Internet marketer’s toolkit, it’s the blog (short for “Web Log”). The web site marketingterms.com defines a blog as a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and observations. “Frequent” is the part you need to remember. For a blog to generate repeat traffic, it must be updated often. And to continue to rank well in search engines, the blog must be updated often. There are several good web sites where you can do a blog at no cost and little effort. Two such sites are blogger.com, which is owned by google, and blog.com. We use blogger.com. We like the fact that it’s owned by google, so we know google is looking there for content to index, and that it allows you to easily upload blogs to a web server. Even though our blog is created at blogger.com, we have the content on our web site at icanbefound.com. So it’s the best of both worlds – the ease-of-use and marketing effectiveness of a blog and the ease-of-remembering and professionalism of our own web site.

When writing your blog, try not to be completely commercial with your message, unless you really feel that’s what your potential customers want to read. It is more effective to use your blog to discuss news and issues related to your industry. Use your blog to paint the picture of yourself as an expert in your field. Be a trusted advisor in your field. If you sell services, this is easy. You have knowledge people need or you wouldn’t be in business. Talk about your line of work and give useful advice (but not too much, since you want people to pick up the phone and call!). If you sell products, come up with a way to discuss your products or industry that doesn’t just sound like a sales pitch. For example, if you sell automotive parts, your blog could focus on automobile industry news or a discussion of the advantage of certain parts over others. But don’t just regurgitate what’s in the news. Add your own spin to it. It’s okay for your blog to have an attitude (but try not to alienate potential customers). And as mentioned above, update your blog often, every day if possible.

Yahoo! loves blogs, plain and simple. From the time Work Media wrote its first blog, it was only about a week before we ranked highly in Yahoo! for our main areas of interest. And we did not have to manually submit the blog. Yahoo! charges a fee to be listed in its directory, but you can get into its search results for absolutely free with a blog. For clarification, Yahoo! has two components to its catalog of web sites – a directory, which is a hand-edited list of web sites broken out into categories, and a search index, which is a search engine like Google. This was the original Yahoo! concept. We recommend paying for a listing in the Yahoo! directory if you can afford it, but your blog is a way to quickly get your site listed in its index without paying a dime.

Google loves blogs too, but doesn’t treat them with quite the same love as Yahoo! Recently, news of a possible Google “sandbox” has spread throughout the Internet marketing community, causing much confusion and hand-wringing. “Sandbox” is a term used to describe google holding back on listing sites, even after indexing them, for a period estimated to be around three months (no one really knows the exact details). So a well-optimized, well-linked site, even a blog, will likely not rank for several weeks. One theory behind the move by Google is that its purpose it to discourage web sites from purchasing thousands of links and artificially boosting their page ranks. Page rank is a score that Google assigns to a site indicating its popularity in terms of other sites linking to it. Google may believe that by forcing a delay in the time that it takes to have a site indexed it will discourage web sites from trying to trick or buy their rankings, and will have to rely more on site content. What this means for you is that your blog will likely be ranked almost instantly by Yahoo but not all by Google for several weeks. But if you continue to fill your blog with regular, consistent content related to your area of business, eventually you will rank in Google. Just look at it as a bonus for being patient.

Blogging is hot. It is hot because it is not something that exists for marketing purposes. It’s a genuine phenomenon that has given rise to the independent reporter. Blogging has become a way for every man to be heard. It just so happens to also be an excellent Internet marketing strategy. When combined with RSS, which will be discussed in a later article, you have a way to drive your message straight to peoples’ desktops. So go open an account at one of the blogging web sites and give it a try!

If you need help, call or email Work Media.