Hi Dave. I work at a small, new company and I’ve been hounding the CEO to start a corporate blog. He mainly interested in increasing Pagerank and I’ve explained that a corp-blog will help with Pagerank, page views, branding, et al. (That is correct, isn’t it?) Well, he’s warming up to the idea and I want to give a roll out plan, but my tech knowledge only goes so far.
Ideally I’d like propose something that means nobody else has to do more work, so I can own it. When I saw that Blogger is now offering custom domain names (or whatever it is), I thought that might be my ticket. Would that be a quick solution to what I’m trying to do? What exactly happens behind the scenes there? The URL shows our site, but the blog is actually on Blogger’s servers? Will that undermine the Pagerank goodness we’d get from (the inenvitable) in-bound links to our (high quality content) corporate blog?
There’s no question in my mind that blogging can significantly improve the findability of your business, and since just about every business lives or dies by whether customers can find them when searching for their specific product or service, well, being more findable is a good thing!
But why is blogging such a great benefit? The main reason is really by contrast: if you don’t have a blog in place, I bet that your company updates its site and adds new content less than once a month. If your site stagnates, well, the search engines can pretty easily detect this stagnation and figure that it’s less important, less valuable, less useful than a similar site that has more frequent updates.
So the greatest value of a business blog in my eyes is that it makes it really easy for you to add new content and by doing that, your site gains freshness and, over time, more and more content. Both of those are just what the search engines love.
Of course, there are lots of other characteristics of a blog that make them interesting, including the ability to open up a no-holds-barred dialog with your marketplace and customers. By itself, that can be well worth the time and effort, because it’s long been shown that focus groups are inherently biased and rarely of value. Let every proverbial Tom, Dick and Harry comment, however, and you’ll quickly gain insight into the market into which you are selling, and the features that really are critical to a buying decision.
From an SEO perspective, comments serve an additional purpose: they add fresh content to your site. Consider a page that garners two or three comments per week from your customer community. Not only are you gaining valuable insight, but the search engines keep seeing new content on those pages and concludes that those pages are a veritable hotbed of discussion, definitely valuable and worth highlighting. The result? Your ranking goes up and your placement in search engine results for relevant keywords goes up too.
Now you also ask about PageRank and let me say that most SEO experts believe PageRank is just a bunch of hooey at this point. Really, even the Google Toolbar probably doesn’t offer up accurate results and even if you do know that you’re a PR7 instead of a PR6, for example, it’s just one of many, many different factors that go into calculating the all important search engine results placement (known in some circles as SERPs). Personally, I have no idea what my PageRank is for my sites, and when I did pay attention it was more a question of “zero or non-zero” than considering a specific value.
Finally, I would caution you a bit with using the Blogger service for hosting your weblog if you already have a site online. The reason is, if you put it at a different domain (even blog.yourbiz.com, a mapped domain), you aren’t really gaining any branding or visibility for your company and its site. Better, in my opinion, is to use www.yourbiz.com/blog, though that’s probably a six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other sort of thing. Either way, I would definitely design the blog to have a similar look and feel to your site, and cross-pollinate: have blog links prominently on the Web site itself, and have links to the site (perhaps including featured products or similar) on the blog pages.
Two more quick thoughts: stay focused on your business with this blog, but focus on your customer needs, not your products. It’ll be a far better strategy in the long term, and pop down to your local bookstore to buy a copy of my popular Growing Your Business with Google. It’ll be good reading for everyone in your company, I bet!
I hope that clarifies your thinking. Good luck with this project and we’ll look forward to your blogging efforts on behalf of your company!