There are many technologies out there today that have been getting a lot of play in the media lately. Amongst the blogs, RSS, wikis and podcasting: What are they? How they affect your search engine rankings? And what can they do for you? Let's find out.
First up, blogs. Web logs have been around for several years, mostly serving as personal commentary in a diary format. A local Chicago blog is Gapers Block, highlighting Chicago area happenings. However, many companies are finding blogs useful in their businesses. Blogs can work as an extension of your email newsletter, communicating on a daily basis, or with press releases that search engines pick up based on relevant content. It can also encourage a public forum of comments, leading to interaction between you and your clients, and eventually, sales. You control your blog, so you can read, delete and block unwanted comments and users. A blog marketing tip: They are favored by search engines too, since they offer more content, which the search engines like, and often have many links from them.
Your next question is likely, "How can we create content every day?" I struggle with this now as I've started my own Chicago blog — a resource for blog marketing tips, design trends and more. But, consider the great resources you come across every day: Work issues you've overcome, funny anecdotes, networking events and great web sites. They all can lead to conversations, which can lead to relationships and raised earnings. Or consider getting your employees to write quick blurbs. Get 10-12 postings ready behind the scenes, or utilize old articles and tips, and you'll be going in no time. Overall, it just makes sense to put a human face [or faces, if you include your employees] on your business.
Aside from your own blog, it can be useful to monitor other blogs via search engines [some blog search engines include Bloglines, Feedster and PubSub for information on your company or products, if you have a strong brand in the marketplace. Protect your name with comments, or s imply offer advice that will point back to you.
Wikis [pronounced wee-kees] are similar to blogs, but are editable by many people, whereas blogs allow you to keep whatever control you'd like. Wikipedia is perhaps the best-known wiki, serving as an editable online encyclopedia. If you want an open forum for people to write, add comments and modify according to their knowledge, it can be a great tool. This can work within organizations as a communications tool or to encourage creative thinking, in a fun way [think "create your own story"], or as just a free-form blog.
Next, RSS, or Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication [depending on who you're talking to]. It breaks down content — anything from a blog to news stories an d even web sites — and is read by news aggregators like Userland and my.netscape.com who push it out to the web. A site can then grab your feed and publish your content — increasing your link popularity and pushing up your search engine rankings, but also keeping your copyright intact. It's already an incredibly useful service used by CNN, Disney, Forbes, Red Herring and others. RSS also lets users link more easily to your content — meaning more links into your site, which many search engines like. Yahoo! in particular is making it easy to add RSS feed s into their search engine, and RSS now can feed into your cell phone! The potential for connecting to an even broader audience is great.
Lastly for today, podcasting. Using RSS, podcasting can push out your news to the web - but it can also push o ut to iPods®. Instead of text blogs, these are audio files [most often MP3] that the user can listen to at their leisure. Much of the technology out there is still open source and unexploited, so there is still room for business development and new technology. Creators of teleclasses, or just those who prefer to discuss vocally, will certainly fin d this to be a great way to offer clients your knowledge — and put a teaser out for those not yet familiar with your business. If you offer interviews with industry gurus, advertise based on their name power. The Cubs are already on the bandwagon locally.
But how can this work for your search engine ranking? In a few ways: You can transcribe your recording and submit it in an RSS feed. Or perhaps you build keywords around the page it is located, and why not add MP3 tags while you're at it? They aren't searched, yet. Let others know that you're doing it—podcasting is still rather new and unique, so you'll be a thought leader.
Of course, if you have further questions or want to add any of these new technologies to your site, give us a call.