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What is a blog? Getting started with blogging

I had a client contact me today about starting a blog and she asked me a series of questions that turned out to be a great primer for those considering starting a blog. I love blogging and I believe it can be an amazing tool for SEO and website promotion. If you’re considering getting started in the Blogosphere, the information below should be a quick primer to get you on your way.

Question: What are the relative merits of a professionally designed blog over using the freeware that’s available? My boss is going to want to know why he should pay for this when we can, in theory, do it for free.

Free is good but there are many reasons why you should pay if this is a serious endeavor. First, the blog can be presented within your existing site design if you use software like WordPress on your own server. You can’t do this with free services like Blogger or the hosted version of WordPress.

Second, part of the purpose of doing a blog is to create content that the search engines will find and index it so you show up better in the search listings for relevant keywords. Obviously it makes sense that when a potential client finds the content and links to your blog, you’ll want them to be within your website and not some rogue free website. This will allow them to dig further into the services you offer and find contact information, etc. Free services are hosted as a sub-domain of the blogging site like yoursite.blogspot.com which is not good if you ever start to really take your blog seriously and need to move to a unique domain name all of the hard work that you’ve done with promoting your site and content will have been in vain. You’re best bet is to do things right from the start and host your blog on the same server as your website and use blog software that allows you to customize the design and interface to your liking.

Question: How would a blog connect to our website – would you have a blog module within the website?

I would recommend including a “blog” link or “advice” link within the website navigation. Actually, don’t waste an opportunity to label your nav links with descriptive keywords! Anyway, including your blog withing your main site has two purposes. If someone comes to the site they can find the blog. If they come to the blog first they can find the rest of the site content.

Can you give us some idea of what the charges would be to set up the blog and then maintain it?

Setup of the blog will entail integrating your existing site design into the blog software. We use WordPress and it takes a little bit of work to get a custom design integrated. We’ll also get you setup with a couple other important services like Feedburner and Technorati that help promote your site and allow people to easily subscribe to your blog feed.

The software we recommend is free to use because it’s developed by a huge network of “open source” developers and distributed under the WordPress name. It’s actually the industry standard and the best that I know of. That said, the software is under development constantly. It’s improved all the time and they do release “bug” and “security” updates. We MUST update the software to keep our servers secure and we charge a fee or maintainence and support ongoing.

Is there any other information I should have before I discuss this with my boss?

WordPress is easy to use and should be a no-brainer. If you have any trouble they have great support docs and a support community that loves helping others in need of advice. I’ve interacted and asked for help many times.

Having a blog is a great tool for promoting your site. Especially if you use industry specific, keyword-rich content that will be found and indexed by the search engines. It’s also a great way to position yourself as an expert in the industry as other people start to link to your content, news and advice. Also, due to the way the blog software is built, it’s an ideal solution for announcing “press releases” and news info to the search engines where it will be indexed and found by relevant sites and searches. Lastly, in addition to all the other SEO benefits, a blog is a great outlet for your business to communicate with the public in an informal way and get immediate feedback. What more could you want in a marketing vehicle?

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Chris Auman is a veteran Internet marketer, website developer, and designer with over 20 years of experience in the trenches. As President and Senior Strategist at Sanctuary, Chris has successfully guided the online marketing efforts for companies large and small. Chris’ clients range from family owned & operated retail operations with a local footprint of 1-10 stores to multinational Fortune 500 companies.

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