Blogs are becoming a widely used devices for publishing information on the web. They can be used either to communicate general information, or as a marketing tool to promote products and services. Although the blog format has been around for a number of years, the way it is being used is still evolving.
The most distinctive thing about a blog is that it is “content-rich”. Most blogs consist of a number of posts entered on a regular basis. These posts can be short references to some other resource on the net (connected by a link), or long posts which are essentially articles or essays on a specific topic with embedded references to other related sources on the web. This makes them ideal for writers, reporters, journalists, as well as marketers wanting to systematically report on current activities, news of the day, or the features of products.
For instance, blogs are used extensively by bloggers in China to comment on the political and economic scene there. They are used by political advocates in most parts of the world who want to push a certain point of view. They are used by journalists as an alternative medium to communicate their experiences and ideas without them being filtered by large publishers. And blogs are used by corporate communication people to keep in touch with employees and customers by carrying corporate news and comments on the developments within a company or industry.
They are also increasingly used by marketers who want to promote certain products and enhance the search engine exposure of specific websites. If you have a website, or are promoting a website on behalf of a client, then planting references to it in blog posts is a very good way of bringing it to the attention of the search engines.
Blogs and Search Engines
Blogs are useful marketing tools because the major search engines pay close attention to them. The structure of blogs makes them easily spiderable, so the major search engines — Google, Yahoo, and MSN, etc. — tend to view them as sources of “news.” The more active a blog is, the more frequently it will be spidered. If a blog contains new posts every day, it will get spidered every day — and sometimes more than once a day.
That means that the information in an active blog will show up in search engine indexes much more quickly than changes made to ordinary static websites. Many people think that simply making a change to their website — for instance, posting a news item on their home page — will result in that chance of being picked up by the search engines. But this is not the case. The search engines can only reflect that change after the site is spidered. And unless a site has a history of being constantly updated, the search engines will only spider it occasionally.
Therefore when it comes to influencing the search engines, blogs can serve two useful functions. First, as we have seen, an active blog gets spidered regularly. So as long as it remains active a blogger can expect a regular visit to his blog from the search engines to see what is being reported. New posts will get indexed almost immediately, and will start to show up in search engine results.
Two Important Conclusions about Blogs
First, if you want to have something reflected quickly in search engine searches, writing about it in a blog is the best way to accomplish this objective.
Second, since the search engines follow links, placing links in your blog posts to other sites to which you want to draw attention to is a good way to get them spidered as well. For instance, say you introduce a new product on your website. The best way to have the search engines visit your site quickly and reindex the changed pages is to make an announcement in an active blog. The spiders will visit the blog, follow the links pointing to your website, and index the changes to the website.
This is why links placed in blog posts are generally the most effective way of drawing attention to other targeted websites.
Taking Advantage of Blogs
There are two fairly straightforward ways to take advantage of these important features of blogs.
The first way is to start your own blog. It is surprisingly easy to become a blogger. Many sites offer free blogs that are part of a larger “community” of blogs. For instance, go to blogger.com (owned by Google), sign up (for free), and you can have you blog up and running in a matter of minutes.
The problem with this approach is that you may not be a writer, you may not be interested in making regular posts, or you may simply not have anything to say on a regular basis. In that case you might try to find someone who will let you make posts every now and then in their blog — or at least create links pointing at your website.
Another interesting alternative is to pay someone to review your site, or feature your products every couple of weeks in their blog. That way you get all the marketing and search engine advantages of blogging without actually having to do any of the work.