By Jason O'Connor
If your business Web site doesn't have a blog, get one. A blog, if done right, can act as a direct and indirect mechanism that brings large amounts of qualified visitors to your site, many of whom may become customers.
This is mostly related to the way blogs interact with search engines, and the traffic I am speaking of will come from search engines, mostly Google.
Before I explain how you can do this to help your Web site, let me give some background on how search engines work.
When it comes to optimizing your Web site (or blog for that matter) for search engines, you must always keep in mind two things: on-page optimization and off-page optimization.
On-page optimization is the elements of a Web page that better optimize it to be found and ranked well in the search engines. These elements can include on-page content such as the actual sentences and paragraphs on the page, the headlines (or headers or Hx tags), the links, the links' text, the title tag and much more.
Off-page optimization means the things that are done on sites besides your site, namely link-building. Off-page optimization is the process of creating links (or causing others to create links) on other Web sites that point to your site. Inbound links, as these are often called, have a major impact on how well you rank in search engines. Generally speaking, the more inbound links, the better. But the quality of the sites with these inbound links, or the way the search engines perceive the sites, is even more important.
To rank on the first couple of pages on the search engines requires work on both on-page and off-page optimization.
Two additional and important pieces of information that you'll need to understand are related to site content and internal links.
Search engines love to see your Web site regularly add new, original, quality content. You don't need to add pages every day, just add pages at the same rate over time. So, if you add a page a week to your site, keep it at around that same pace, or increase or decrease gradually.
A Web site can be considered a living entity in a sense. It certainly shouldn't be static. It should grow over time. And the fantastic thing about content is that the more of it there is on your site, the more chances you have of getting found in the search engines.
The idea that inbound links help your search engine rankings that I explained above can be extended to your internal pages as well. In other words, the more links to a particular page coming from other pages within the same site will boost that page's rank as well.
Think of it this way. If you had a 10-page site including a product page, every page on the site contained a link to your product page and all other things were equal, your product page would rank higher than the rest of your site's pages (besides the home page which is given a little extra weíght).
Now let's consider what would happen if there were only you and your competitor in your industry (if only that could be true!), and your site still had those 10 pages while your competitor's site contained 100 pages. Furthermore, your competitor set it up the same way as you where he added a link to every page on his site that pointed to his product page. All other things were equal, his product page would outrank your product page every time. Why? Because he had 100 internal links pointing to his product page and you only had 10.
If you put all these pieces together now, on-page optimization, off-page optimization or link building, content creation and internal linking, can you begin to see why a blog may be a good thing? A blog helps with all of these.
A regularly updated blog provides a mechanism for adding fresh content on a regular basis. Plus, it's so easy to use a blog that anyone can use them. So even if you or your employees don't know a thing about Web pages and HTML, you'll still be able to add new content to your site.
Consider this: If you add fresh, quality content to your blog on a regular basis by writing posts, something the search engines love, and within each post you link to an important page within your site, let's say your product page for instance, you're now building links to help your rankings using your blog. With this additional link your product page gets that much more boost in the search engines.
Remember how I explained that links from within your site help your rankings? Adding links within your blog posts pointing back to your other important pages that you want to rank well is a great way to help your rankings.
And every time you publish a new post, you're giving the search engines one more entry point into your site. Your site will quickly get bigger, and with each new page your site gets more visible.
Keep in mind that the links you make within your blog posts should be relevant. Only link to your product page from a post that has to do with your products. And blog posts ought to be useful to your site visitors. The less you talk about your products and instead offer useful, free information that people can use, the more traffíc and repeat visitors you'll get.
Remember that people really don't care about you, your Web site or your products; they only care about how you can help them. If you sell furniture, a blog post about how to find the best deals on furniture would be far better than a post about how your chairs are the best in the world.
One important thing to remember is that if you plan on creating a new blog for your business as a way to augment your Web site, be sure you put the blog on your actual domain. This means that you would not use a remote service like Blogger.com. Instead, you must have the blog on your business Web site's address (or domain). For example, if your Web site address is http://www.yoursite.com/ then your blog should be located at http://www.yoursite.com/blog or http://blog.yoursite.com/.
By adding a blog to your business Web site, you are creating a way to get additional traffic. You'll get direct traffic from your posts, which get indexed by the search engines and drive traffic to your site from searches. And, you'll get indirect traffic from your other site's pages ranking well in the search engines because they have links pointing to them from your blog posts.
You'll be regularly adding fresh content to your site, which search engines love, thereby creating more ways to be found in the search engines at the same time. And each post provides a new chance to create a link or two to other pages and blog posts on your site, thereby boosting those pages' rankings.
Like I suggested at the beginning, if your business Web site doesn't have a blog, go get one.
About the Author
Jason O'Connor is a Web business and marketing professional who produces The Net Gazette, a free online Web business and marketing periodical. The Net Gazette covers topics that range from blogging for business to Twitter. Read the September edition or visit the main Web site at: www.thenetgazette.net.