Why is a blog important?
It can be charming to listen to people telling you how things used to be.
Your grandfather, for example, staring over an enormous shopping complex with houses on all sides and saying, “Once upon a time, all this was fields. And trees. And there was a little stream. I wonder what happened to the fish?”
Yes, it can be charming. But when people tell you how it used to be in business – that isn’t charming. That can be downright irritating.
We’re thinking of the people who, not so many years ago now, set up a website to sell things from. The website was usually static. It didn’t change much from month to month or, indeed, from year to year. There certainly wasn’t a blog.
And yet – as those early adopters of online marketing never tire of telling us – visitors flocked there in droves, plonked down their money and bought stuff.
It isn’t like that anymore, and the reason it isn’t is that now the whole world has adopted online marketing. Instead of a novelty that people would go to the way they went to the first movie theatres, a website is now a “me-too.” Everybody has one, and if yours doesn’t have something to make it stand out from the crowd, you may not make a single sale from one year’s end to the next.
The Benefits of Business Blogs for Marketing
And, for many people, what makes a website stand out is the blog. You want to know why a blog is important? That’s why – a blog can make the difference between no visitors and lots of visitors.
You still need the website, of course, and it can no longer be static, but the website is the business and people today want more than that. They want to learn about you. What you’re like; why you do what you do; what it is that makes you sell this product or service.
It’s no secret; every good salesperson has always known it; people buy from people. If you want them to buy from you, you have to show you’re the right kind of people – THEIR kind of people (even if you’re not) – and you do that through your blog. Take care of it, cultivate it, make it stand out as interesting.
The SEO Benefits of A Blog
You also need a blog for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. Most websites don’t change often enough to move up the search engine rankings. Some blogs don’t, either, but they should. Attend to your blog; keep it updated; let it work for you.
All sorts of things contribute to good SEO, but the basic secret (that is in fact no secret) is that the search engines reward blogs and websites that visitors return to, bookmark, tweet and Facebook about, and generally show that this is a go-to site. And, strangely enough, one of the most important rules in reaching that stage is:
Don’t blog only about your business and things connected with your business
Now, let’s not over-egg this pudding. Most of your blog posts will be about your business and something connected with your business (current market conditions, innovations leading to new products, case studies of people/businesses that have used your product or service) but some will be at the very limits of relevance and a small and very occasional proportion will deal with something else entirely. Because:
How can you tell when your blog is catching people’s attention?
One way of knowing that people are listening to you is from your analytics. (You are using Google analytics, right? If not, you need to start. Without delay).
What are they telling you? How many visitors are you getting? And where are they coming from? Ideally, you want to see a nice spread:
- From tweets – your own and other people’s
- From Facebook – your own page and other people’s
- From newsletters
- From people who’ve signed up to follow you
- From links in other websites
- From search engines
The other thing you need to learn from your analytics – well, one other thing; it’s far from the only one – is: bounce rate.
How many people arrived on your site, took one look and decided it wasn’t from them, and left? (That’s bounce rate).
Knowing that will help you work out how to improve your blog; generally speaking, the lower the bounce rate, the more effective the blog.
But there’s another measure of how successful you’re blogging is: Comments!
How many people are commenting on your blog?
Does blog commenting boost SEO?
So: are we saying that comments on a blog will improve the blog’s SEO? Yes, we are saying that. But not all comments, and the wrong kind of comments can so irritate a search engine that the site ends up being blacklisted.
It’s possible to go very, very wrong with comments. We’ll come to that shortly but, first:
You need a comment box on your blog
Since we’ve spent this much time explaining how comments can boost a blog’s SEO, it must be clear that you need to make sure there’s somewhere for visitors to leave comments – a comment box, in fact.
Be aware, though, that there are lots of styles of comment box and they aren’t all equal in value.
Wherever possible, encourage positive reviews of your product or service. Why? Because trust is one of the most important factors in winning customers online. Visitors can’t see you. They can’t see your goods. Unless your brand is a household name, they probably never heard of you.
How can you give them enough confidence in you and what you offer to persuade them to part with their money?
Well, the knowledge that someone else bought from you AND WAS SATISFIED WITH THE PURCHASE is a very solid step towards giving visitors the confidence they need to persuade them to buy. The thought that, “those three people who have given good reviews all bought from this site and none of them regretted it” is a powerful trust builder.
So construct your comment box in a way that invites reviews.
Blog commenting software
For many people, of course, those words “construct your comment box” will produce a cold shiver down the spine. They’re able, competent people but writing HTML code to make a blog post work isn’t part of their skillset.
It does all the heavy lifting for you, but is flexible enough that you can modify the comment box to say exactly what you want it to say – to fit your website and your products or services and not someone else’s – just by following some simple on-screen instructions.
Now; we said we’d come back to how to go wrong with comments, and here it is:
Blog Commenting Mistakes You Need to Avoid at All Costs
1) Approving comments by spammers
You’re new to blogging. Your blog hasn’t been running very long at all. One day, you log on to the admin dashboard and you see that you’ve received your first comment. Bliss! Someone liked what you wrote enough to say something about it! You’re on your way to fame and fortune!
You click on the Comments tag so that you can approve the comment and get it on the page for everyone to see and this (or something like it) is what you find:
Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness for your publish is just nice and that i could suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
Well along with your permission allow me to take hold of your RSS feed to keep updated with coming near near post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please carry on the gratifying work.
Stop by my page; www.xxxx.xx
Apart from the URL at the end, which we have removed, that’s an actual example from a real blog. And it’s not a genuine comment at all: it’s SPAM.
Here’s another example:
Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.
Visit my site :: www.xxxx.xx
What is going on here is Black Hat SEO. Good SEO is White Hat; bad is Black Hat. (Think of the old western movies, where you could always tell at a glance who was the goodie and who the baddie because they wore, respectively, white and black hats).
The people who post comments like this know that visitors to a page, and links to a page, are good for SEO, so they want you to visit their page; they also want you to approve their post because, in doing so, you put a link to their site on your blog.
DO NOT APPROVE THESE COMMENTS. And don’t reply, either, even to say, “How dare you post this spam on my blog?” The spammers want you to do that; it’s as good (for their purposes) as just approving the comment. Instead, delete them.
When we said, “…visitors to a page, and links to a page, are good for SEO,” we should have added the word ”genuine” before “visitors” and “links.” Search engines can tell the difference between a genuine visitor or link and the black hat type. And these are not genuine visitors to your site because, as your analytics should tell you, they’ve never been there – they bought the URL they posted to as part of a job lot from someone whose activities are as nefarious as theirs.
Approving comments like this gets a tick against you with the search engines.
2) Don’t fail to reply to a genuine comment
If someone leaves a comment on your blog, respond to it. Even if the comment is negative, such as a disparaging review of your product. And, if the comment is negative, don’t lose your temper and don’t enter into a war of words with the commenter. You can only lose.
How to write good comments yourself
1) Use your own name
Don’t try to be clever with a nickname that says something good about your company. Blog commenting is trustworthy when people can identify the authors.
2) Remember why you’re doing it
You write comments on other people’s blogs because you like those people and you want to give them a helping hand? Well, that’s excellent.
You’re a nice person and we’re glad to have met you. But – without wishing to seem cynical – there’s another reason for blog commenting on someone else’s blog – and that’s to give yourself a helping hand.
You’re getting a link back to your blog and you’re saying to the world, “I know something about this subject, so check me out.” But don’t overdo it. This is a kind of self-promotion that demands the soft sell.
3) Show respect. Always
Being snappy and unpleasant online is always a mistake. Always. Don’t do it.
4) Make clear what you’re talking about
Mention the particular point in the original post that you’re commenting on. Of course, it looks obvious – to you. It may not to other people. Strive for clarity at all times.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post because making and receiving comments is a very important part of blogging. Now it’s over to you.
Why not get in a little practice by using the comment box (below) to tell us what you think?