(originally published in The
Jerusalem Post, March 2005)
Easy as Falling Off a Blog
Blogs (Web logs) have come a long way. While in 1999 only
a handful of people published them, today there are millions.
Just as websites have become a necessary tool for modern
companies, blogs are now becoming an integral part of these
WHAT IS A BLOG?
If you're not familiar with the concept or format, click
over to AtarChef for
an example. This is a food/humor blog I hammered together
in less than an hour -- partly to illustrate this article,
but also to see if the process is really as easy as claimed.
The first bloggers were, by necessity, of the geek persuasion
-- since only they had the requisite skills for producing
Web pages. But user-friendly new software has made blogging
easy for even the least technically inclined. Since all writing,
formatting, and uploading is conducted from within your browser,
producing Web content is now as easy as reading it.
What are blogs about? Any topic you can name. Many are still
faithful to the original concept: an intimate, no-holds-barred
online diary. Subjects range from confessions and obsessions
to politics, technology, hobbies, and topics-defying-definition.
But all share a personal tone of voice far removed from corporate
babble. Another prominent feature is a column with a list
of links to other recommended blogs on similar topics.
But perhaps the most compelling feature is the high degree
of interactivity that popular blogs achieve. Most encourage
visitors to post their own comments. The resulting online "conversations" --
or arguments -- often rival the original post for interest.
BLOGGING FOR PROFIT
Blogs are not the sole domain of geeks or exhibitionists.
They have tangible benefits for commercial companies and
even non-profit organizations: Blogs boost search engine
ranking; furthermore, they enhance credibility and foster
a sense of personal connection, huge considerations for achieving
customer interest and loyalty.
Search engines reward sites with a large quantity of incoming
links and lots of fresh content. This is exactly what blogs
provide. Because adding content is so simple, it's done more
frequently. And many blog directories have a high ranking,
so simply registering your blog can have a significant effect
-- which will be further augmented once you start getting
links from other blogs.
The personal connection provided by blogs pays many dividends.
Surveys on website credibility state that visitors are favorably
impressed by transparency, which they interpret as honesty
and reliability. The Guidelines for Web Credibility, published
by Stanford University, advise: "...show there are real
people behind the site and in the organization...For example,
some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies."
A typical blog entry leaves no doubt about the character,
interests and personality of the person behind it. Even if
the main section of the site is more businesslike and impersonal
-- with an emphasis on transmitting either facts or a particular "image" --
the blog section is frank, casual, infinitely more friendly.
This unique voice can encourage a casual site visitor to
actually contact the site owners directly, a primary goal
for most sites.
Blogging also facilitates exchange among members of a particular
group or profession. A good example is the Air
Conditioning Contractors of America's blog. This trade
association, with 4000 member companies, maintains its blog
in addition to a traditional site and weekly newsletters.
This is how the now thriving blog was introduced to members,
a group not noted for being particularly Web-savvy:
"ACCAbuzz is a new way we will be communicating with
our members and the entire HVACR industry. It gives us
an easy way to post quick news items, commentary, and links
to articles of interest…it's here that our staff
and members can keep everyone in the loop, ask questions,
and get real-time feedback. In announcing this new site
to our members, we called it a "daily newsletter on
steroids," because it just keeps growing, all day
Joining the "blogosphere" can kick your business
website into high gear -- greatly increasing your site's
interest, credibility and responsiveness to your target audience.
Blog search engines and directories: