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Blogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are blogs anyway?

A blog is a regularly updated website consisting of regular article postings. Links to and from other blogs and traditional websites are a prominent feature of most blogs. A blog tends to be focussed on a single topic or issue, and usually invites comments from readers on the posted articles, starting a conversation between writer (called a blogger) and the readers. A blog usually reflects the personality of the writer, and is most often written in a personal and informal style.

Isn’t a blog just an online diary?

An online diary, or personal blog is only one type of blog. Along with personal blogs, there are many types of business, technology, and professional blogs. The personal blog was once the predominate form of blog, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Are there different types of blogs?

Blogs can be in the form of written blogs, hosted on a blog server or on the webmaster’s own site. Blogs can also be found that use audio postings rather than written posts. There are blogs for every type of business, profession, and technological concept. Writers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, search engine optimization experts, marketers, and public relations professionals are just a few of the professions making use of blogs in their businesses.

What value does a blog have for a business?

A blog opens up the lines of communication between the blog writer and the reader. By becoming accessible to the public, a business can be seen as more than simply a faceless company, but a group of real people. The blog provides a powerful element of personal contact with the reader, building trust and confidence in the business and its personnel.

What type of businesses could benefit from a blog?

Any type of business that requires communication with potential readers in the general public can benefit from maintaining a blog. The public can be current and potential customers and clients, the news media, other business or professionals in the industry, or simply casual readers interested in the topic.

What business uses does a blog have?

A blog is ideal for opening the lines of communication between the business and the current and future customers. Communications builds trust that goes far in the areas of marketing and public relations. The blog puts a human face on the company and builds the level of trust. People are far more likely to purchase products and services from other people who they know and trust. A blog is also a very powerful tool for improving search engine rankings because of the keyword rich fresh content and the abundant incoming links.

Are blogs a useful networking tool?

Because of the intensive personalization involved with writing blog posts, the blog is a natural networking vehicle. Readers interact with the writer through the blog comments and by e-mail. The contacts often lead eventually to many shared business opportunities. Successful business arrangements formed between two blog owners, and between a blogger and a reader, occur very frequently.

How could I start a blog?

A blog can be started readily by opening an account with the many free and fee based blogging platforms. Most are very user friendly and a blog can be underway in a matter of minutes. Most blog hosts allow the business to FTP the posts to the company’s own website, providing additional onsite keyword laden content.

Can I start a blog for free?

There are a number of free blog hosting companies. The best known free blogging platform is Google owned Blogger . There are many other free hosts as well, including tblog http://www.tblog.com and blog-city http://www.blog-city.com. As with all free hosts, there are limitations on services and features, so careful examination of the blog hosting service is recommended.

Can I host a blog on my own website instead of the blog host?

It is very popular for businesses to host the blog on their own business website. Most blog tools feature an FTP that enables the file transfer of the blog posts directly to the main business website. The post is entered at the blog host, and then printed on the business website. The additional content and inbound links provided by the blog, along with the additional traffic generated to the business site, are the main reasons for the file transfer to the main site. WordPress is one of the most popular systems for onsite hosting of a blog.

Where do I get ideas to write about on the blog?

A business blog can include articles about industry and company news, new products and services, research and development efforts, business tips, and product reviews. Ideas for selecting and using the industry’s products and services are also good topic idea generators.

What value are blog comments?

The comments section of the blog post is very important. By providing feedback from the blog’s readers, the blogger can build a conversation with the customer base. The readers’ comments are also an excellent source of product and marketing ideas and mini surveys. The comments section of many business blogs is often the most widely read part of the blog. The opinions of the readers can help steer a company away from some bad marketing ideas, and often toward some very good ones. The comments section starts that business and customer interaction in a very positive way.

What is an RSS feed?

RSS stands for either Rich Site Syndication or Really Simple Syndication (no one agrees on the definition). RSS provides an instant update of the latest blog posts. To send an RSS feed, blog must use and be coded for broadcasting an RSS feed. It is very easy to set up an RSS feed and so coding is not really a major concern for most website owners. The RSS feed is read from an RSS aggregator which collects the feeds in the subscription. They are read by the subscriber in a manner similar to reading e-mail.

Should a blog have an RSS feed?

A blog should definitely include an RSS feed. The feed increases the blog’s readership to include many subscribers who would not otherwise visit the blog. The ease of reading an RSS feed increases the likelihood of the blog enhancing the site’s sales, marketing, and public relations efforts. The RSS gets the message out in a timely way to the general public, including the media, and prospective customers.

Do blogs have value in the search engines?

A blog component to a website is a powerful search engine optimization technique. The combination of fresh theme relevant content and incoming links is just what the search engine algorithms ordered. The strong Google PageRanks displayed by blogs, combined with frequent blog updates, ensure that a blog is crawled and reindexed often by the search engine spiders.

Why do blogs perform so well in the search engines?

Blogs perform well in the search engines for several reasons. First of all, blogs are updated regularly with fresh keyword rich posts. The posts tend to be centered around just a few major themes, making the entire blog strongly themed for those keyword phrases. Incoming links from the vast majority of other blogs and websites share that same theme, providing the blog with the full power of their link popularity boost and Google PageRank transfer. Links from within the posts on other blogs are not only powerfully theme related, but often contain some desirable keyword laden link anchor text.

Are blogs posts classified as theme relevant content?

A blog post is usually very theme relevant as most blogs are written around very few topics. A blog tends to be very focussed in its subject matter. For that reason, blogs have high keyword density for their most important keyword phrases. Not only are the blog posts theme relevant but most incoming and outgoing links and link anchor text are theme relevant as well. Even though blog posts scroll off the blog’s home page very quickly, they are replaced by other theme relevant posts, maintaining the blog’s overall themes and topics.

Can a blog be optimized for the search engines beyond links and content?

Blog title tags can be optimized to contain the most important keywords. The h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6 tags are part of most blog templates offered by the many blog hosting companies. Search engine sensitive code can also be used to ensure ease of spider crawling in the same way as with traditional websites. Individual blog pages should have their own title tags and not the same ones as the home page. Some blog platforms require coding workarounds to get individual title tags on a page.

Are there different types of blog links?

There are main types of links found on blogs. There are the links to other blogs on the link list, referred to as a blogroll. Secondly, there are links to other blogs from within the blog posts themselves. Thirdly, there are internal links from one referenced blog post to another, either from within a blog post or as categorized and archived links. Fourthly, there are links from blog comments.

Are blog links downgraded by search engines like guest book links?

Because there are many types of blog links, there is often confusion about their treatment by the various search engines; most notably by Google. The links from the blogroll and from within the posts are treated like any other inbound, outbound, and internal website links. They are awarded Google PageRank transfer and link popularity value in accordance with the search engine algorithm. The links that are being downgraded are links sent out from blog comments, as a result of spamming activity by other webmasters. Normal blog links are not affected.

Can a blog be listed in any free internet directories?

There are many free internet directories that are open only to blogs. Not only do the blog directories provide link popularity value, and Google PageRank transfer, but they are known to also supply some regular fresh visitor traffic. Blogs are also eligible for inclusion in the many free internet directories designed for traditional websites. Because a blog is simply another type of website, blogs are deemed acceptable for submission and inclusion in the mainstream internet directories.

Do the DMOZ and Yahoo! Directories accept blogs?

As with any other type of website, blogs are eligible for inclusion in both the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and the Yahoo! Directory. The DMOZ Directory has recently created a blog specific category to accommodate the many blogs submitted, while also including many blogs in the standard website categories should their subject matter be suitable.

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Comments

  1. DaEMoN says:

    Nice FAQ!

  2. Steve says:

    That pretty much sums it up!! :o)

  3. Paul -V- says:

    My definition when asked: A blog is an easily updated website that organizes its content by reverse chronological order.

  4. Funbie says:

    Regarding the FAQ posted about Should a blog have an RSS feed? I dont seem to fully understand what exactly is the benefit of having RSS on your blog, i mean reading an article when its colorful and interactive becomes more appealing to a reader rather than reading it as if reading a Black and White Newspaper with no image whatsoever and no life (no colors)!??? What do you have to say about this?

  5. Cool faq. Would just like to add a few things…

    I believe blogging has evolved from the fact that it’s getting very difficult to produce what could be considered a successful ‘professional’ website these days.

    At the earlier days of the web, this could be done relatively easily, however, as things have progressed, there are so many organised companies out there that are taking over, making it harder for the little guy. They have their plush offices and 5 or 6 development staff, design staff and content editors, and already have that distinct advantage.

    Blogging allows the little guy to still be able to compete, as it only takes one person per blog(or per blog-section in the case of blog networks).

    Blogging will continue to evolve also, and I am sure as it’s popularity grows, it will becomre more and more difficult to compete even in the blogging for money market. I am sure there will be something new when this starts to happen, but until then, I’;m gonna ride this monkey!

  6. Shaun Carter says:

    Wow, that was thorough! Great resource for you to pose Darren. Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the article feedback everyone.

    An RSS feed is helpful for multiplying the blog’s readership. While many people will visit the blog live, not everyone has the time to click to to all of their favourite blogs. As a result, a growing number of blog readers are using RSS feed readers to get the latest posts delivered right to their desktops.

    The RSS feed can benefit the blogger in several ways. The RSS feed can get posts, from a favourite blog, read that might ordinarily be missed. The feed reader can get a wider sampling of blogs than could ever be reached by surfing blogs live. RSS works as a constant reminder that some blogs are updated on a regular basis, giving the blog added exposure to a wider audience. The RSS feed multiplies readership for the blogger as well, because of the convenience factor.

    Just because a blog is read sometimes in RSS, doesn’t mean that the blog is not also visited in person at other times; and vice versa. RSS adds a dimension of flexibility that is very blog reader friendly. That is a good thing as well.

  8. rols says:

    nice faq, lot of good questions. Here are some questions that came to my mind when i started blogging.

    How blogs differ from traditional sites?
    Hos blogs are different from forums or newsgroups?
    And how is the blog different from Photoblog, Moblog and lesser known Clubbox?

    Its good to know that there are such posts available to help confused souls.

  9. chase says:

    Blogs are fun!!

  10. Great answers, Wayne. I did not know that about the value of different types of links to search engines.

  11. Ohad says:

    Very nice FAQ.
    I especially liked the way it relates to a business’s need to communicate with it’s customers. Having just started a blog about digital culture and the way the internet is changing our lives, I found that problogger is a very impressive source of knowledge on the biz/art/science of blogging.

    Keep up the good work.

    Ohad

  12. dogergy says:

    Best of the best,
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    Apple 10 GB 2nd Generation iPod M8740LL/A. Every month draw between subscribers.

  13. blog-squad says:

    I still don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to blogs. Thank you for sharing your faqs. I’m still confused, but at least I’m learning and trying.

  14. William says:

    I just set up a blog two weeks ago and then signed up for a domain name and hosting to start another blog. Over these two weeks I have discovered that blogging can be very, very time consuming. To be honest, there is just too much to learn. I have had to learn so much so fast that my brain is fried.

    Specifically, learning about hosting, getting a template, modifying the template, setting stuff up, changing settings, and so fourth has been a nightmare. Finally, I am taking the first steps back to recovery.

    I worked on my blog for a days with wordpress just to have it twist, contort, stop working, change, and screw up. Finally, I now have resorted to making my blog as simple and bland as possible, because anything else just was not working. Just sorting through everything from SEO, to hosting, to CSS, to HTML, and so fouth has been wild. At one point I had my blog looked at least better in IE to find out it looked horrible in firefox! So the only thing I could do after spending more hours trying to adjust things is to make my blog look even more simple.

    I wish I knew someone personally who could have helped me out but I don’t. Probably someone with a good knowledge of CSS could have done more in one half hour than I have accomplished in two weeks.

    I hope things get better. Anyone willing to help me out with my blog? I really need someone I can trust. I don’t care for the fanciest of blogs, but just something functional. Mine is still not the way I want it to be, and I am about to pull all my hair out. But at least my eyes are no longer on fire from staring into my template making changes for 8 hours at a time…..

    I really like problogger though! This is a great site and great advice is given. However, I just need to get my blog decent first so I can use the great advice given here..

    I am open to all the suggestions and even criticisms anyone can give me.

  15. William, I’d be happy to help. Just let me know where to find your blog.

  16. William says:

    Hello Easton Ellsworth,

    Thank you for the response. Please email me at [email protected] and I will email you back with the address for my blog.

    The general feeling I have is that over the past two weeks I have learned a little about a lot of things and a lot about nothing. Any help you can provide me would be tremendously appreciated.

    Thank you very, very much.

    PS: I would post my blog address on here, but truthfully I am not that impressed with it at this point.

  17. adfi says:

    Yes. Very good site!