One of the newest trends in blogging, and particularly in business blogging, is to have a team of bloggers who write to your blog every day. the most popular blogs have ten or more posts every day of the week. If you skim through Technorati’s top blogs then you’ll see this trend very clearly.
Now you are likely not competing with the likes of DoshDosh, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post. Still, smaller blogs are starting to move in this direction as well. It may be soon that once a day is not enough to be competitive.
Right now, as it stands, if you blog once a day to your small business blog in your niche market then you are well ahead of 70% of your competition. In some industries it is less than that and in other industries it is more. But once a day is the minimum if you want to be competitive.
The first thing you need to know about blogging is your competition. If you know that five of your top competitors blog more than once per day then you should probably do at least what they are doing just so you can keep up. If your top competitors are only blogging once per day then you should do at least that and you probably want to think about blogging twice per day. The main thing is to keep it competitive.
When it comes to outbound links, there are two ways of thinking: Do it and don’t do it. Most people are in the do it category. A few people are in the don’t do it category. I’m in the “do it if it makes sense to” category.
So what does that mean exactly?
Well, first, let’s cover the other two categories and see what the arguments are there:
Linking Out Adds User Benefit
This is Google’s official position. Read:
When linking out, am I sending visitors away forever?!
Hmmm… visitors may initially leave your site to check out relevant information. But can you recall your behavior on sites that link to good articles outside their domain? Personally, I always come back to sites I feel provide commentary and additional resources. Sometimes I stay on the original site and just open up the interesting link in a different tab. It’s likely that with relevant outbound links you’ll gain repeat visitors, and you won’t lose them forever.
This is the most common response to the outbound link question. But one thing to keep in mind is that different users respond differently. Not everyone knows you can right click on a link and open it up in a new tab. New Internet users have a learning curve.
Also, you do stand a chance of some users leaving your site and forgetting where they’ve been. Again, new users who have not learned to bookmark sites they like or haven’t learned all the ins and outs of how to write a search query effectively or type the URL in the browser window may leave your site and never go back. How many users that will be exactly depends on the nature and target audience of your website. The more local, and more rural, your site focus, the more likely you’ll have readers who are new. That isn’t a statement of prejudice. It’s a demographic fact. And if your target audience is older than 50 they likely are not as web-savvy either. You must consider these things.
All of that aside, however, the stated principle is a worthy one. Outbound links can, and often do, provide value for your visitors. That’s the most important thing to consider when thinking about outbound links.
Outbound Links Cause Visitor Leaks
On the other end of the spectrum is the idea that outbound links are exit holes and invitations to leave your site. If your content isn’t high quality, well-written content that provides value then, yes, your outbound links will serve as invitations to say “bye bye” and never return. However, if you consistently provide high quality content then your visitors will have a reason to return. And they will.
I’m a proponent of what I call intelligent linking, not gratuitous linking. Gratuitous linking is linking out to everyone and anyone just because you read somewhere that outbound links are good. Do you really want to send your visitors to your competitors? For many niches, probably most, you don’t want to link to your competition. This is especially true if your competition is considered the front runner in your industry or they have a higher perceived value among your niche market. This is essentially the equivalent to Mom & Pop Burgers sending its customers across the street to McDonald’s because they have better fries. Not a good practice and it’s a sure way to go out of business.
Intelligent linking is the practice of linking out to sites that do provide value to your visitors but that don’t encourage them to do business with the competition. In other words, you don’t want to link directly to the competition itself, but you also don’t want to link to sites that are affiliates or partners with your competition. You run a much safer bet when you link out to third-party sites that aren’t affiliated with anyone in particular. That way, you can provide your site visitors with good quality information and resources without helping the competition and hindering your own business.
You’ve installed Google Analytics or you are using Sitemeter to look at your traffic stats. But how do you know that you are getting good traffic?
There are a number of indicators. Traffic source is one indicator, but you should also judge your traffic numbers by how old your own blog is and what your competitive benchmark is. Another thing to look at is the keywords people use to find your blog organically.
I’ve had blogs that attracted 3,000 readers after six months and some that have attracted 3,000 visitors in the first month with minimal marketing efforts. That as a lot to do with niche. If your blog is in a popular niche then you could get a flood of huge traffic quickly. A small niche blog might actually be doing well with modest traffic. That’s why it helps to know your niche.
But what about those stats? Your primary traffic sources should be organic and referrals. Take a look at your referral stats to see who is referring you. Is it social networking sites like StumbleUpon? You might get a lot of traffic from those types of general topic communities but your traffic may not be targeted. On the other hand, if your referral traffic is coming from another site or blog within your niche then you can bet that it is targeted traffic.
Organic traffic is usually targeted to your niche. Those are people who found you through an organic search engine search. Check your keywords to see which phrases people are finding you for. If there are any oddball phrases not related to your niche, you might want to find out which blog post generated those and stay away from blogging on that topic. But you may use that strategy also to draw in traffic on a general search term not related to your niche by blogging outside of your niche. If you have an art or entertainment blog, a political blog, or another type of blog that might appeal to a general audience or a broad cross section of people then that might be a valuable way to blog if you don’t overdo it.
One other thing you should be doing with your analytics package is looking at benchmarks. A benchmark is a rolled up stats that measures what other blogs in your niche are doing compositely. For instance, if there are 100 blogs in your niche then the benchmark stats will take the average or mean of those and compare them to yours so that you can see how you fare against the competition generally.
Blogging is the new marketing. Companies that don’t have a company blog in two or three years will fall behind their competitors. Here are 7 reasons to start your blog today:
- It’s great for SEO
- You get a new page added to your website every day
- You become the voice of authority in your industry
- You can outpace the competition (because they probably don’t have a blog)
- It increases sales
- You can receive customer feedback on important company moves
- It is one of the least expensive methods of marketing in the world
When it comes to marketing your business, don’t settle for less. Start your company blog and take advantage of these methods of marketing sooner rather than later.