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On the subject of blogging

Martina Martina

December 2nd, 2010.

The nature of the ‘NoFollow’ tag… and some reasons you should avoid it.

Blog spamming is inevitable. It occurs when people post numerous links within comments sections in a blog article with the intention of readers of that article scrolling down to the comments bit to add their two pennies worth, seeing these links posted by other “readers” of that article and clicking on those links.

Whilst this is unfortunate for the blog owner, since many of these links drive traffic elsewhere, there is one proposed solution to this, and it goes by the name of the ‘NoFollow’ tag (written in HTML as (rel=”nofollow”)) – its one aim? To block search engines from following such links in comments.

Problem solved right? … Wrong! Regardless of the intention of the tag there is one overarching issue here – spammers haven’t hung up their spamming hats just yet, so if the tag does little or nothing to stop spam, ultimately it has failed.

Here are 5 more reasons why the NoFollow is a NoGo:

  • It’s Pointless - It doesn’t work. Spammers still spam. If you want don’t want spam then perhaps you should use an(other) anti-spam tool such as ‘math’ alongside useful plug-ins like ‘SpamKarma’.
  • It’s Pointless – The use of ‘NoFollow’ in comments on WordPress blogs (which are widely used) is default, hence – you may already be using it.
  • It’s Pointless - There is no value, in terms of search engine indexing, & if the search engine indexes can’t find your link, and having many indexed links is your aim (and it is) then there is no point.
  • It’s Selfish – Leaving a comment on another’s blog post is a nice thing to do and the right comment can even lead to more comments. If someone takes the time to do this for you, why not give back a little. Sharing is caring.
  • It’s … Pointless – Guess what, Search Engines such as Yahoo, actually follow ‘NoFollow’ tags and have been known to count them as back-links in SiteExplorer. So, if you’re goal in comment spamming is to build such back-links in the hopes of building your site’s value … NoFollow is of no use to you here either.

The choice is yours…choose wisely.

Martina Martina

November 2nd, 2010.

The importance of blogging regularly.

Blogging regularly is important for many reasons. The most obvious being that if your want to retain a degree of professionalism (assuming your blog is not a personal one) then it looks better if you are continuously finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.

Honestly, how eager are you to get involved with a company or a business through its website, when you visit its blog and see that the ‘most recent’ entry has a date stamp of 6 months ago…?

Besides, there are some little gems you may be sacrificing if you neglect your company’s blog – such as:

Being fresh and innovative!

A blog post is an article that varies in length, can be about anything you want and is usually beneficial to the target audience it was written for.  Through blogging, you can use it to encourage people, persuade them or simply to entertain them. Why lose out on something this beneficial? If you are a company or a business that has something you are trying to sell, your blog is the place to do this!

Being seen!

If you want to improve your chances of being visible in search engines (and you do) then well structured posts are essential. A great post can start to rank in search engines over time and could potentially bring in web traffic to your website. (For tips on how to write a great post you can read my earlier article titled ‘Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs’)

Being communicative & media savvy!

Simply because blogging and social media marketing must coexist when it comes to marketing a business, communication is essential.

Social communities, such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook among others, can be used as a platform for your blog, and so being a consistent (but quality) blogger could create the opportunity for more traffic to find drive its way to your blog. Perhaps most importantly, through these social networks you could gather new business opportunities.

Being heard!

Blogging is a way to explain to your readers who you are as a company. Distancing yourself from the competition is what your brand and your website will attempt to do, but a blog can add that extra panache needed to make your business really stand out. Much like a chronicle, your blog can be how you document the goings on in your company – which will give allow it to develop a voice and a personality.

So blog & blog often!

Rob

March 26th, 2010.

Write a blog to help your business

It is a difficult thing running an online business.

The number and variety of companies offering comparable products and services can make it difficult to stand out in a crowd.  Your site has to look the part and match the expectations of your target audience. 

Your offering has to be priced on a par with your competitors, or the premium justified by quality, environmental friendliness, scarcity, or some other characteristic that matters to your customer.

And then on top of all that, the customer has got to trust you enough to hand over their hard earned cash.

How is a blog going to help?

Within most B2B and B2C websites, there are only so many opportunities to talk about your organisation. You have the product/services pages, the FAQs, press releases and so on, but there comes a point where it looks like you are creating pages just for the sake of it

Blogs have become mainstream due to their personal feel, and writing without a corporate angle means that the content will not appear awkward or contrived.

Yes they require effort and time to maintain. Agreed – you have to think of interesting things to say. OK maybe your competitors don’t blog and they seem to do all right without it.

Here’s why we blog

  • it adds extra unique pages to the website
  • our blog posts allow us to explore topics at length that don’t necessarily “fit”   within the core pages
  • well written content attracts links to the site which improves rankings in search results

Still not convinced?  Try searching in Google for Twitter small business guide , or emailing cold contacts.

Getting started

There are a number of choices out there when it comes to blogging, and your web developer may even have their own bespoke software.

We use WordPress  for our blog – the software is free (a perfectly sound reason in itself), it can be configured to behave exactly as you want, and WordPress posts get picked up very very quickly by search engines.

Plan your first posts

List some topics that you are knowledgeable about and feel confident enough to write on.  You may even find that some areas need a separate piece in their own right.

Don’t force a style

After you have written a couple of pieces, the articles develop a rhythm of their own. The content will influence the tone and certain topics will lend themselves to humour, sarcasm and so on.

Set a schedule you are comfortable with

You don’t need to publish a new post with clockwork like regularity, and inevitably there will be other things during the working week that require your attention. The more frequently you post the better of course, but keep an eye of the quality of the article.  Ask yourself “Is this interesting / useful / important information that my customers should know?”

Have a point of view

You are not the only operator in your market, but your (well presented) opinion is valid. Stay on top of goings on within the industry and have an eye on events at the periphery. In doing so you’ll start to garner the trust and respect of your audience, and they will have confidence in what you say.

Your blog is not a direct sales tool

It is all to easy to list your latest product, special offer and so on in the blog. Don’t. Your blog is an indirect marketing channel and you are writing content that is supposed to get them interested in you, and your ideas. Keep it interesting, resist the  urge to sell directly, and your audience will engage with you over time.

If you use the above ideas as a springboard you’ll have the beginnings of a great blog.

Now isn’t there something you want to say to your potential customers?

Matt

September 17th, 2008.

Corporate Blogging – What’s The Point?

Corporate blogs have become far more commonplace over the past few years as companies begin to realise their importance in the marketing mix and how valuable they can be as a communications channel. Some of my favourite business efforts include,

Kodak – I love this effort as it doesn’t focus on cameras, but what it’s target audience is interested in, the photography.

Innocent Drinks – Kind of wacky and crazy, just the kind of thing you would expect from the company really! It does a good job of keeping things interesting and engaging the audience.

Southwest Airlines – A really nice showcase for the company, great design, interesting content and does a good job of passing company news while keeping things light-hearted.

ASOS – A good example of what can be done with an ecommerce site. It does a good job of focusing on products, but also scatters in industry news.

BBC – Obviously the huge manpower at their disposal and being able to tap some the finest journalistic minds gives the BBC an unfair advantage, but their blog network is among one of the best online.

Marriott – A self-confessed technophobe Bill Marriott proves that it’s never too late to start blogging. Not only that but the resulting blog is an extremely useful communications channel.

Waitrose – A great example of what can be achieved when a not so traditional web company takes blogging seriously.

I deliberately left out examples of tech and web based companies to prove that it can be done well for traditionally non-web based companies.

Okay, so what is the point?

Audience engagement – Blogs are a great way of engaging your audience with topics that you wouldn’t normally cover on the main section of your site. You can keep company news and conversation clearly defined from the ‘corporate’ sections of the site while at the same time offering your audience more in-depth information should it be required.

Information gathering – Blogs can be used to gather opinions, get product feedback, collect email addresses and collect RSS feed subscribers. Over time a growing audience is a valuable commodity in itself.

Communications channel – Corporate blogs have been used as an instant communications channel between retailer and customer. Product information, manuals, corrections, notifications and recalls can be made available instantly.

Content creation – An increased number of pages of your site will generally increase the amount of content leads to an increase in the number of search engine visitors. With clearly defined calls to action this should lead to an increase in sales.

Social media – Blog are a great way of opening up the marketing power of social media sites. Visitors can easily submit posts to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, this directly leads to an increased number of visitors, links and the visibility of your site as a whole. Active blogs generally encourage more incoming links from other sites, so can be a great way of supplementing a link building strategy.

Things to remember….

  • Get started using a simple blogging script like WordPress. It’s pretty much the industry standard, it’s easy to use, and best of all it’s free.
  • Keep the blog on your commercial domain. You’ll get little benefit from using a hosted blog or a seperate domain altogether. The idea is to get additional visitors to your commercial site. blog.company.com or company.com/blog is ideal.
  • Define a writing policy. Be clear who your audience is and what will interest them. Also be clear on exactly how much information you’re going to make public.
  • The writing style is important. Traditionally visitors expect a less corporate and more conversational writing style. The use of humour can work well. Ideally your posts should be short and punchy.
  • Avoid over promotion. It’s fine to link to your products and services from within your posts, but visitors won’t come just to read a rehashed product catalogue.
  • Keep things fresh. Your blog should be regularly updated, sharing writing amongst your staff is the ideal solution, outsourcing the writing is another, though is no substitute for your staff knowledge and expertise, staff participation should be encouraged.
  • What do I write? Traditional topic areas are company news, staff news, product news, industry discussion and thoughts, how to’s and resource lists. Ideally the more diverse the topic areas, the easier you’ll find things to write about and the bigger the potential audience.

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