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Is Blogger the worst free blogging service?

I’ve got an interesting thread started at Blog Herald on an interesting topic that should be of interest to Probloggers: Is Blogger the worst free blogging service? that some readers might like to contribute to, but I’d like to add a little here. As a “Problogger” I’ve got to say that I’d NEVER set up a serious blog on a free service. Why? it’s a matter of control. If you are serious about blogging you’ll want to be sure that forever more you’ll have 100% control over your blog and will not be dependent on Google for your hosting. Every time I see a commercial or “Pro” blog launched that uses Blogger I cringe. Don’t get me wrong, personally I’ve always thought highly of Blogger and there is no argument that the service has played an important role in popularising blogs. But in business I wouldn’t risk my time and money on a third party where I’ve got no control over the hosting and future direction of a site, particularly if your site was on a blogspot.com domain. Using a free blogging service, even with Google behind it, is always a risk. I’ve got mixed responses on the actual service, as you’ll see from the post at the Blog Herald, but my advice: if you are serious about blogging you won’t host your blog on a free service.

Blogs, Links, and SEO

Blogs and links are the perfect couple. Of course, everyone knows that. You don’t have to be a hopeless romantic or some SEO techie type to figure that one out.

Talk about stating the obvious.

As we all know, almost everyone talks about how powerful blogs and their linking power are for search engine optimization (SEO). The reasons for the strength of blog links in achieving high search engine rankings are discussed much less frequently. It’s time to change all of that.

Let’s talk blogs and links and SEO.

Blog links have search engine power for several reasons. One of which is the different types of linking featured on blogs. All blog links are not the same, and that is part of their secret search engine rankings power. Different types of links provide different rankings boosts, in several different ways. In the end, the links add up to your blog being placed highly, for your most important keywords, in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search.

Links appear on a blog’s home page as links to other blogs. Other blogs link to your blog from home page link lists and blogrolls as well. As the most powerful page on your blog, the home page passes along quite a bit of search engine power. The problem is that home page mojo is divided among many different blogs. The piece of the pie for each one is not that large.

On the other hand, the age and permanence of that link has some real value. The links also get value from arriving from other blogs sharing similar themes and topics. Interlinked blogs on cooking help one another more than a cooking blog and a welding blog. All links have some value, but theme related ones provide even more.

Links also appear in posts. Those are expecially valuable links. When someone links to one of your posts, they often double link to the home page as well. Because of the strong and obvious theme relevance of the post, the search engines give in post links some real power. As such, writing interesting posts that attract natural inbound links, and trigger discussions on other blogs are especially important. Note the value of providing great information to your readers.

Trackbacks provide a bit of link power, but not as much as some bloggers believe. Being open to spamming has reduced their link strength. Links in comments have little if any link power these days as a result of abuse. Trackback links provide their power more indirectly, in attracting discussion links and finding new potential linkers to your blog.

There is some evidence that linking out to other blogs helps gain search rankings for the generous blogger. Instead of being a drain, linking out can result in a net SEO gain. Now beat that for great karma!

Keep in mind that your goal should not be to game or trick the search engines. On the contrary, those sorts of tactics are counterproductive and fail to provide the desired results.

Instead, think of the needs of your readership first. Provide them with good useful and interesting blog posts. Links will arrive naturally, and as a result of your generous linking habits, your blog can rise to the top of the search engine rankings.

WOMMA Measuring Word of Mouth Conference

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is holding a conference July 13 called “Measuring Word of Mouth.” Targeted to those interested in marketing metrics, WOMMA says the conference is the first-ever on measurement, metrics, and standards in word-of-mouth marketing.

It will be held in Chicago. Cost is $295 for WOMMA members, $545 for non-members. I’m happily able to pass on a $50 discount code WOMMA gave me to share with my readers. When you register, use the case-sensitive discount code “Blogsareawesome”

WOMMA Measuring Word of Mouth Conference Web site

Looking For Online Revenue Bloggers – ReveNews

ReveNews is a trusted, unbiased source focusing on Internet related industries such as online marketing, SEM, affiliate marketing, retail (e-commerce), analytics, spyware, blogging and much more. ReveNews authors consist of highly respected thinkers, commentators and business people who have real experience and insight. ReveNews readers include industry gurus, top-level executives and CEO’s, plus many of the industry’s top net-repreneurs; all coming together to create a global Internet community to distribute, discuss and analyze the industry at hand.

Interested in writing for us? Applications are being accepted now.

“I was standing in line at an industry show when someone grabbed my arm and introduced themselves saying they read my blog at ReveNews all the time and wanted to ask a question. Turns out it was a senior developer from Google. He couldn’t say enough about the good things he reads on our site. Pretty cool. And a nice contact to have in the future.” – Wayne Porter, ReveNews Blogger

More thoughts on defining blog (but much more intelligently put!)

It seems my “I goofed” post, or rather my attempt to explain the difference between a web site and a blog has got some folks thinking. Taughnee at endeavor creative (do you have any idea how hard it is for a Canadian to spell endeavor? I spell in endeavOUr every time!) has a very interesting, totally relevant story to share. It’s a fun read too.

EDIT: URI is fixed.

Blogs Must Earn Their Keep

Sounds like Darren is having a wonderful time on his well deserved holiday. From a ProBlogger fan, it’s been great fun reading the variety of posts by guest bloggers.

Over the past few months, I’ve been talking to marketers around the country about how blogs can support business initiatives. Most folks are intrigued and want to explore ways to incorporate this new tool into their strategies. However for some the deal breaker is how to justify to their management that blogs are not a resource drain.

If blogs are going to be accepted as a credible marketing tactic they must be able to earn their keep within a company’s master marketing plan. Let’s save the “people talk” for blog conversations. In “marketing talk” that means accountability. As with any interactive strategy “blog” metrics can be tracked and ROI can be established. Compliments of Diva Marketing here are a few suggestions.

Blog Specific
*May be measured by unique or total posts

-Search rankings
-Visitor hits*
-Page views
-Trackbacks *
-In bound links – general*
-In bound links – “high ranked” blogs/sites*
-Comments* such as customer feedback/new ideas
- Newsreader subscriptions

Conversions
- Newsletters subscriptions
- Sales
- Leads
- White paper/other down loads

Buzz
- Speaking engagements
- Podcasts, vlogs and other interviews
- Media mentions/quotes
- Mentions and links on other blogs/websites

Intangibles
- Customers’ emotional involvement with the brand
- Increase in brand loyalty
- Providing customers with the opportunity to talk with people within a company and ensuring that customers are heard, responded to and respected by those people who are assuming the role of the public “voice” of their company.

Customer Evangelism & Business Value Blogging

Blogs have been labeled next-generation marketing tools by a few because of its use as a powerful vehicle for voice and influence in delivering business level communications of a wide variety. Also, the voice of the customer has been heralding a new era of customer control and evangelism that is weighing heavily on business decisions and influencing business behavior. Consumers are having their say and the businesses that are listening are also winning. Blogs are now a major force at the center of this dynamic relationship between businesses and customers.

One important aspect of this relationship dynamic is ownership and control. The customer influence is far reaching and is having an impact on the business bottom lines. Control of the marketing and control of the message is no longer the domain of the corporate suits or Madison Avenue. The business imperative here is to determine how to handle and react to the ever increasing effects of customer activism and evangelism. This is where your business blog can shine and help your small business or solo enterprise. Next-generation marketing is simply consumer generated marketing. It is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It is the open and deliberate evangelization of a business product or service by consumers turned citizen marketers.

Of course customer evangelism is not new, however blogging allows customers to amplify their voices and choices for their favorite providers of products and services. This is a big deal because the speed, reach and influence of blogs has a viral affect. Blogs maintain links that think, and carry thought with talk. No longer static but an highly active and participatory medium, the Internet is more open and community driven than ever before.

A business blog provides you with the means to collaborate and cooperate with your customer community and allows you to control important elements within these viral conversations as they occur among consumers. One of the most important elements you have greatest control and influence over is your “business value”. Your business value is both the real and perceived desirability and quality associated with your brand, business, products or services.

A business blog will allow you to convert your expertise (about your products and services) into an authoritative content value stream which can have a significant social impact among your customers. Your business value then becomes a conversation with your customers that is distributed within a social context and which can position you for a far more cooperative and collaborative relationship with them.

If you think like a community builder and help influence the types of conversations that happen around your products and services you can create a real win-win relationship that is sure to produce positive results. Your cooperation and collaboration can spark passionate customer evangelism. The results for your bottom line may be surprisingly better than expected.

Additional Reading & Resources:

Blogs Will Change Your Business
BlogPulse Conversation Tracker
Church of the Customer: Customer Activism
Consumer Generated Media

Is It Time to Talk More About Conversion?

My background is B2B sales and marketing, more sales than marketing to be precise. I’ve worked with many sales people, teams, and organizations – each go through cycles of activity and business. One staple is the objective remains constant – close more business.

We need more leads and fresh contacts will be the mantra when new business is in decline. Once new contacts are in supply We need more demos and trials is usually the next mandate. Lastly, We need incentives and more closing activities surfaces once it’s noticed a plethora of field activity isn’t producing as much revenue as required or expected. Then the cycle tends to complete and begin again – more new contacts, more trials, more closing. But the objective remains constant – close more business.

Are there similar cycles of Internet presence?

SEO is big. A lot of focus is put on building more and more traffic. We each want our audience to grow. Is it time to talk more about conversion? There are some out there that have moved to what I believe is the next step in the Internet cycle. But the majority appears to remain focused on getting more clicks to their site than clicks to convert once they arrive.

If you have 1,000 or 10,000 visits to your site a day and 1 visitor accepts your call to action, isn’t the net result the same? At the end of the day, you had one visitor that purchased, registered, clicked, etc. If you could get two people to heed your call to action, your results double.

Does it make sense to you the time has arrived to move the discussion from How do we get more people to our site? to How can we can get more people to convert on whatever call to action we offer?

Riley on Easy Bake

For any Problogger readers interested in blogging related topics Duncan Riley from the Blog Herald is doing a Q & A free-for-all on a phone hookup with Andy from Easy Bake Weblogs . Any one can join in from Tuesday June 14th @ 9pm US EST 1-858-400-4040, Access code: 60657. Questions are open, but the main topic areas he’ll be chatting about will be
* Understanding bloggers and blogging: embracing blogging or insulting bloggers
* The international blogosphere: understanding that the blogosphere has no borders and the opportunities this presents
* Marketing blogs and increasing traffic

(yes, shameless self promotion and talking about myself in the third person, but some people might miss that I’m not Darren)