Blogging for your business – It’s a numbers game

In Blogging for your business I shared that one of the reasons a business blog is a valuable business building tool is because you can quickly and easily publish content to the web.  The value of this ability is often lost upon those who don’t eat/breathe/sleep the web.

The Web Game is Just Another Numbers Game

Most “ordinary” business people think that a single web site with only three or four pages can effectively compete when it comes to the web.  What they frequently overlook is that many of the results returned on the first few pages of a search query are often web pages which are part of mega sites with hundreds – in some cases – thousands of pages.

Take for example – Wikipedia.  Do a search for specific information and chances are – a Wikipedia article will  be listed on the first few pages of the search.  According to Wikipedia – the official count for the number of articles which appear there numbers in the 750,000 range. Because these articles are very specific in scope – they often provide exactly the information a web visitor is seeking.

This is why I sometimes have been known to snarl and foam at the mouth when a blog owner who has written 5 blog posts over the past year complains to me that his or her blog is not “working” because it’s not appearing at the top of highly competitive searches.

Winning the web game is in part a numbers game.  Wikipedia has over three quarters of a million “articles” in there competing for a top spot when the search engines provide a list of links containing the information the web visitor has entered to search.   Most of those articles link liberally to other articles on the site.  Because the articles are frequently displayed on the first page of various searches – blog owners and webmasters liberally link to the articles as well.

Compare this “winning” web strategy with the typical “set it and forget it” static web site preferred by most business owners.  The business owner creates a web site and populates the three to ten pages with the content a copywriter created years ago for the company brochure.  The content was stale before it was published to the web – and it continues to languish in the deepest, darkest corners of the web.   It’s like buying 10 tickets for the lottery on the day you launched the website – and then not buying any more tickets yet expecting to win.

Winning the web game is a numbers game.  The business blog with 300 blog posts – created over the course of three years – stands a much better chance of coming up on what is known as a “long tail search”.  Long tail searches are words not searched upon frequently.  Often, these “long tail search” terms are often performed by people who are actively researching a purchasing decision.

For example, 1,000,000 people used the term “lower back pain” to search the web last month.  That’s a LOT of people searching for information on lower back pain.  However, while there are a lot of people searching for the term “lower back pain” there are relatively few who are searching for “lower back pain relief in Boca Raton, Fl.” If you’re a chiropractor – you want to be sure your business web presence is one that is seen by the person who types those words into a search engine looking for answers.

If you’re a chiropractor with a blog though – it’s easy to create a blog post on how chiropractic can help relieve lower back pain.  By the simple act of creating this informative blog post – you instantly create an “article” much like the 750,000 articles which are featured on Wikipedia.  This blog post joins your other blog posts – where you’ve written about how you’ve helped patients with severe lower back pain, chronic lower back pain, and even lower left back pain.  Before you know it, by simply blogging about the different conditions you see in your practice – you’ve created a robust library of helpful “articles” (a.k.a. blog posts) on various specific topics which your prospective patients might use to find information on the web.

Will you create such a robust repository overnight?  Of course not – but one of the best reasons to begin blogging for your business is over the course of time – you can create a robust online resource which will continue to provide a stream of prospective patients long after you’ve written the initial post.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Start blogging today so tomorrow your blog posts have a chance of “showing up” when your prospective customers/clients go searching for answers on the web.

Your Business Blog is Good for Business

I’ve been saying for a long time that business blogging is by far the best investment of time/energy/resources you can make for your business.  Well’ now it’s official –  a recent study proves that your business blog is good for business.  Emarketing commerce reports:

Majority of Business Blog Traffic Comes From First-Time Visitors

Two-thirds of respondents to a survey conducted by Compendium Blogware found that more than 80 percent of all of their blog traffic was from first-time visitors.  For the survey, Compendium Blogware, a social media and search platform provider, gathered data from 266 companies about blogging traffic, visitor trends and Twitter usage. … First-time visitors come from two major sources, Compendium said: referring sites and search engines.

These results are hardly surprising.   Blogs – especially the WordPress variety – are extremely search engine friendly in their architecture.  Combine that with the fact that the act of blogging about your business tends to create content which is rich in the keywords your desired prospective customers/clients are using to find the very solutions you and your business offer.

However, the fact that your business blog can be found more easily by your ideal customers is just the tip of the iceberg.   Once those prospective customers/clients discover your business blog – the blog posts you’ve created over the months/years go to work establishing your authority.

So if blogging is indeed good for business – why aren’t more business owners blogging?

One of the most common objections I hear from business owners about blogging is that they don’t have time to blog.  Sometimes this objection is based upon the mistaken belief that to “blog” means to write incessantly – creating multiple blog posts each and every day.   However, it’s been my experience that most objections about perceived time poverty are instead a cover for the “real” objection to business blogging: not knowing what to write about.

In Unseen Business Killers, I offer a sure fire way to determine if  “I don’t have time to blog” is a reason or an excuse.

It’s easy to determine if “I don’t have time to blog” is an excuse or a reason.  If you really don’t have time to blog for your business, you can either

  • hire someone to blog for your business or
  • hire someone to assume some of your duties so you can find time to blog.

It’s just that simple.  You can usually find time to do what’s important – and blogging is important for your business.  It’s a great way to get found by prospective clients/customers – and it’s a great way to establish enough trust with them so they’ll take the next step and contact you.

The act of business blogging can be as simple as reworking emails you (or members of your staff)  have sent to both current and prospective clients/customers. As a matter of fact, sometimes the subject lines of those incoming emails make GREAT blog post titles.

Once you’ve got a great blog post title that gets your blog found by the search engines, then get to work creating relationships.  Once people find your business via the search engines, they then needed to form a relationship with the people behind your business.   Building a relationship is part of  the whole TRUST thing I go on about here.  Building trust is what social media does best.

THAT is why business blogging is so darned good for your business.  Not only can those blog posts act as bait to bring in first time visitors who are seeking the solutions your business provides – those same posts can also carry some of the “trust building” weight as well.  Prospective clients/customers find your blog – read your blog posts – and decide after reading a few dozen articles that – yeah – you really can help them achieve their Goals – quench their Desires – or solve their Problems.  In other words, not only can your blog posts act as bait – they can also start to work on establishing your connection to your prospective client/customer’s GDP.

No wonder business blogs are so good for business!

Shameless Self Promotion in a Graceless Age

There was a time, not so very long ago, when female cultural icons were the likes of Grace Kelly and Jackie O.  These two women were not only stunningly beautiful, but both were the epitome of class and grace.

The AMC series Mad Men is a critically acclaimed television series for good reason.  The superbly written and acted scripts provide a behind the scenes glimpse into the lives of people working at a second tier ad agency in the early 1960’s.  This was a time when Marilyn Monroe was controversial,  Grace Kelly was the “it” girl and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy’s monogram didn’t include an “O”.  In one episode, a client of the fictional advertising agency refuses to allow their spot to run during a controversial television program episode.  In the “too hot to handle” program the word abortion was mentioned.

That was then – and this is now.  Heather Rand sums it up beautifully in her post Marketing in a Graceless Age:

This idea of grace, of making informed decisions and acting with poise and self-awareness, a countenance of dignity and beyond reproach has me thinking of Grace Kelly and Jackie O.  These ladies seemed the epitome of class, and represent a bygone era where acting with circumspect and moderation were important self-governance attributes.

In her post – she’s railing against Pepsi’s New Suicide-Themed Ads and makes the observation that marketing in the new millennium seems to be “continuously pushing the boundaries of propriety”.  (Thanks Liz Strauss for introducing me to Heather’s blog!)

This is an age where our cultural icons are Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan.   To get noticed, to create a marketing message that “goes viral“, you’d better be pushing the boundaries of propriety.   It seems that morality is joining traditional media in the death march to extinction.   Unfortunately in the age of reality television, that feat is becoming more and more difficult to achieve without making the commitment to acting like a Filthy Marketing Whore.

Well – there is another way and that’s to file a frivolous law suit – which is exactly what Liskula Cohen, a Canadian model, has done.  If you’ve never heard of Liskula Cohen – well, you’re not alone but that’s about to change because she has obviously embarked upon a campaign to raise her visibility.  Her act of shameless self promotion is a graceless age is to sue Google because one of it’s many blogger blogs is the now infamous Skanks in NYC.

This act of shameless self promotion has been remarkably effective.  According to Caroline McCarthy over at Cnet news:

Meanwhile, the search terms “Liskula Cohen” and “Skanks in NYC” skyrocketed to the top of (ironically) Google Trends, earning “on fire” ratings. Hey, considering that I’d never heard of Liskula Cohen before, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one, this might’ve been the best thing that ever happened to her.

Gyutae Park assures me that being Snarky will come back to bite those seeking shameless self promotion in a graceless age.   Tom assures me that authenticity is still the necessary ingredient in the search for success. Stacey assures me that this too shall pass.

I certainly hope they’re right.

Smart Business Blogging and the Smartest Dog Contest

This is a GREAT time to start a business, as long as you don’t create a bad product (Windows Vista anyone), and try to promote it with a poor marketing strategy and a website that does almost nothing.

Running a bad business poorly usually doesn’t make the news.  However, when it’s a HUGE company in the US which chooses to embrace a relatively recent phenomenon of expecting the government to come to the rescue them from their own bad business practices, the story definitely makes the front page.

GM’s recent holiday charity request of the US government was recently denied,  which brings to mind a joke which recently made the rounds.  This joke illustrates a truth we all embrace and that’s the difference between “government” and “business”.

The joke begins with four men who were  sitting at a bar one night.  As the alcohol flowed, the four men started bragging about how smart their respective dogs were.  One thing lead to another and before you know it, a challenge was issued.  The next night, the four men arrived back at the bar with their dogs to prove whose dog was indeed the smartest.

The first man was an engineer who called to his dog, “T-square, show these jerks what you can do.”

T-square took out some paper and pen and promptly drew a picture of a two story home.

The other men were impressed and all agreed that T-square was a pretty smart dog.

The next man,  an accountant thought his dog could do better. He called his dog and said, ‘Spreadsheet, show these guys what you can do.’

Spreadsheet went into the bar and returned with three dozen peanuts. He divided them into 6 equal piles of 6 peanuts, each perfectly stacked into a carefully constructed pyramid.

All the men agreed that Spreadsheet was pretty smart.

But the third man, who was a chemist thought his dog could do better. He called to his dog and said, ‘Precipitate, show these guys what you can do.’

Precipitate brought out a quart of whiskey from the bar, got a 10 shot glasses and poured each shot glass to the brim without spilling a single drop.

All the men agreed that Precipitate was pretty smart.

The fourth man was a government employee – and the pressure was on.  He called to his dog and said, ‘Bureaucracy , do your stuff.’

Bureaucracy jumped to his feet

  • pooped on the paper
  • ate the peanuts
  • downed all the shots of whiskey, one after another.

When he finished the final shot, he then proceeded methodically to hump each of the other three dogs with enthusiasm previously unseen.  However, in the middle of the act with the third dog, Bureaucracy yelped and  then collapsed to the ground.  He immediately announced that he had injured his back.

Bureaucracy filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions… applied for Workers Compensation… and went home for the rest of the week on sick leave with full pay.

AND THAT ILLUSTRATES WHY EVERYONE WANTS TO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT!!

Jokes like this make us smile because we can recognize that the story perfectly illustrates what goes on when a “company” doesn’t have to answer to “customers”.   The business that doesn’t respect its customers is destined for closure unless that “business” is a form of government!

Unfortunately, GM has been operating their business like they’re a branch of the government for the past few decades.

The “problem” with this business model is that GM doesn’t have taxpayers which have no choice on whether or not to support the business.  Instead, GM has customers who cast their “vote” in the market place every time they purchase an automobile.

Unlike government, GM has competitors who are making cars that customers want to buy.   Unfortunately (for GM), they don’t have easy access to the US taxpayer’s tax dollars.

Fortunately, the representatives in Congress must face their own “customers ” a.k.a. the “voters” decided it was best to just say “No” to yet another charity request from a bloated inefficient business.

I personally think the uproar in Web 2.0 is part of the reason for the recent denial. I honestly think that if there hadn’t been a thousand voices speaking out in the blogosphere about the facts that the vote would have gone much differently.  Not only were blogs pointing out the fact that GM just received a huge sum as recently as in September 2008 – but they were also pointing out the fact that the unions weren’t participating in the proposed “bailout” at all.  I believe that bringing those “facts” to the public attention played a HUGE role in the vote.

If you’re wondering what all the “fuss” about blogging is all about – the information disseminated by tens of thousands of blogs may have actually changed the course of US history.

With that in mind – you might be tempted to think that perhaps a business blog, properly launched and leveraged,  might actually be a powerful and effective of a marketing tool.   Maybe your buisness blog won’t change the course of history – but it might just change the course of your business.

Shedding Light into the Darkest Corners of the Web

If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out – either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time.

David M Ogilvy

If there’s one HUGE disadvantage to doing business on the web it’s that it is REALLY easy for people to be – well, let’s say “less than authentic”.

Unfortunately, it’s very, very easy for those who are NOT “web savvy” to be taken in by someone who “baffles them with BS!”

A few weeks ago, I was “virtually introduced” to a small business web marketing consultant and SEO “expert”   During the initial introduction, this small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert shared that she wanted to talk to me because she would like to enter into the dazzling and exciting world of blogging.

This statement is causing red flags are going up ALL OVER the place for me.

A small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert needs MY SERVICES to set up a blog?!?!?!?

No, no, no.  My clients are people who use Hotmail and AOL because they can’t figure out how to set up Outlook Express.    My clients want an easy to use and effective internet presence because if it’s not easy, they can’t use it.   A few of my clients don’t know the difference between an email address and a URL -yet they’re successfully blogging – blogs rock! My clients are the reason I wrote my 8 Week Power Blog Launch course… because once they “mastered” the mechanics of blogging, they didn’t know what to do next.

One thing is certain, my clients usually do not proclaim that they are small business web marketing experts  OR experts in SEO!

One of the things I share in the course are the “secret authenticity discovery tools” available for free  which allow you to see exactly HOW much someone who claims to know SEO really knows.   I mean, if you claim to be a nutrition expert, then I don’t expect you to have a six digit or less Alexa ranking, but if you’ve written books on SEO and claim to be an expert, I really expect to see better than a 4.6 Million Alexa rank.

Yet again, another reason I LOVE blogs!!! 

Blogs can act as a great “authenticity” meter.

Since the small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert doesn’t have a blog, all you can do when you get to her website is to read the three articles on her website or buy a copy of her book.  Did she write the articles?  Who knows – she doesn’t write regularly enough to see if she wrote that copy or if she stole it from someone else.

Did she even  write a book?   (There’s no link to purchase it on her website – but she references it frequently in her email to me.)   Again,  I have no idea, but one has to wonder how “authentic” her expertise on SEO is with an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million.

There are plenty of people who hire others to write for them.  There’s nothing wrong with this practice – unless you’re hiring someone to demonstrate expertise that you in fact do not possess.

As I was publishing my book I discovered someone was doing just that with articles I had written and published on my old static website.   Turns out a web development firm in New Zealand that had copied every single word of my old HTML static website and published it as their own work.  After I got over the shock, I had to laugh.  The secret spy tools told the whole story.  Let’s just say it was obvious that GOOGLE was giving me credit as the original author of the content.

Here’s the deal – you can hire the “published author, small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert” I recently met who has an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million to act as your virtual mentor.  You can go to her website, read a few articles and if you want, call her to set up an appointment.  (Oh, good luck with that – you have to schedule an appointment with her VA to talk to her – her time is VERY valuable!)

OR you can have Naomi Dunford of the blog IttyBiz with an Alexa Ranking in the  100K range give you advice on building your online business and SEO.  I’ve never tried to call Naomi but she responds very quickly to email – unlike the “expert” above!

The kicker – you can access Naomi’s “wisdom” by picking up a copy of her SEO Ninja course OR you can pay 10 times that price to book an hour of the SEO pretender’s time.

TRUST -TRUST-TRUST-TRUST-TRUST!

If you get the feeling I don’t “trust” this new contact – you’d be correct!   Oh, and if you get the feeling that I do trust Naomi – well, you’d be right on the money again.

I trust Naomi because of MONTHS of reading her regular blog posts – post I miss now that she’s gone “big time”.

I’ll bet there are people you trust because you’re a regular reader of their blog as well.

Which is why, if you’re selling your expertise and you don’t have a blog – you need one.  There’s no better way to demonstrate your expertise.