Strictly speaking, a “blog” is a journal of comments that a “writer” (you) post online. Sometimes comments may be posted to respond to the original comments.
Blogging started as a nice personal mode of communication. Thousands of people were posting notes to their “online diary” that no one really wanted to read.
As often occurs in technology, an interesting thing happened.
Blogging evolved to the point that certain blogs have become the most interesting and influential websites online.
Sure, there are still thousands, probably millions of blogs online that are ramblings of interest only to one’s family.
But “professional blogs” have developed that are like online newspapers. Featuring one or more top-notch writers, they are regularly updated with news and commentary. They seldom identify themselves as “blogs.” You have probably seen them as you surfed the internet.
“Professional” blogs are installed on your own website, not on a common “blogger” website. They offer a number of special advantages:
- Once it’s installed and designed, online blogging software is easy to use for content management, not requiring special software installed on your home or office computer.
- You can post changes from any internet-connected computer, anywhere.
- Some of the best blogging software is free. It’s one of the amazing things about the internet.
- Search engines tend to scan your pages more often (because content changes often), and rank them higher.
- The best blogging software automatically notifies search engines when updates have been made. In fact, most people who use blogging software don’t even know this is happening; they just enjoy better rankings.
Blog: Short for “Web-Log.” Say it fast (like one word), and it’s the second syllable. It’s an online journal or diary where you can “log” your ideas, comments, and news.
Comments: Text posted by registered visitors to your blog. Generally, you may choose to enable others to comment, or not.
RSS: Technology which allows your postings to be picked up by software programs called news readers. These programs track new postings on syndicated blogs and offer quick summaries.
Themes: The layouts, graphics, colors and backgrounds used on your blog. Sometimes called “skins.”
Trackbacks: If enabled, a feature which shows which other blogs have written about yours.
Can I try out blogging free? Sure. Go to spaces.msn.com and start a free MSN Spaces blog. It will probably take 15 minutes or so to set it up. Post a comment. Tell your friends.
Do I have to have my own website to have a blog? No. You can use free services from Blogger.com, Yahoo.com, LiveJournal.com, Xanga.com, or MSN Spaces. But a “Professional Blog,” representing your business and presenting itself like an online newspaper, should be on your own website. (See Hosting.)
Why do you say I shouldn’t use a free blog service for my buisiness? Because you want your business to look professional, not like the kid down the block who started a blog to talk about rap music in middle school. And because you want control, over the appearance, the web address, and the other elements you can control at your own website.
Should every website be a blog? Certainly not. But most small companies can probably use a content management system as the basis for their website, and if that system incorporates blogs, they can grab all the associated benefits.
How do I make it work with the search engine strategy in your book? Since every article you write becomes a page in your website, determine your target search phrases, and write an article for each one. Then start writing new articles to add additional information to your website, re-targeting those search phrases, and adding any new ones you find appropriate.