When I’m not pondering the status of the Internet I help a graphic designer friend by writing code for her clients’ websites. One of our clients owns a hip and trendy spa that marries a massage clinic with a gallery featuring work created by local artists. As I spoke with this client, I discovered that this was more than a business for her. It is a reflection of her passion for wellness, a holistic sense of being.
In addition to her knowledge of the musculoskeletal systems she treated, she considers artwork to be a form of therapy that provides healing for the mind. When she talked about her clinic, her passion was contagious. Fairly soon I began to see the world through her eyes, and started to want what she wanted: for the world to experience total wellness.
Our conversation developed along the lines that she should capture these thoughts and release them on her website as a blog. I suggested this to the graphic designer, who immediately kiboshed this idea, saying, “When I visit a website to read about a spa, I don’t want to read a stupid blog.” So that was the end of that. I promised myself that I would not let this die.
Maybe your business isn’t a massage clinic, but you are probably as passionate about the heart of your business as my client is about hers. I’m not talking about what you do. I’m talking about your business being an extension of who you are. For your business, I believe a blog is the answer. But not a stupid blog.
Why a Blog?
When I told the graphic designer that we should incorporate a blog, her first thoughts were that it would be a collection of meaningless posts amounting to nothing more than naval gazing. I explained that she described “Twitter”, and that a blog doesn’t have to be like that. I’m sure she also thought about how managed blogs on blogspot.com and wordpress.com don’t give users explicit control over the layouts.
A blog engine is a content management system (CMS) that provides the simplest means for content entry and publishing on the planet. Engines differ in scope of features, but most users would find it easy to enter and edit articles, and installing the software on your own web host provides the ability to customize your page layouts. Most engines provide a means to install plugins and widgets that extend the functionality of the blog, adding really cool features that average website users would never have thought possible to include on their own sites.
What Do I Blog About?
My intent is not to convince you to use your blog as a marketing tool, which is the most common use for a blog after random sputtering, but rather an online repository of informational articles, discussions of subjects of interest, news and notes, and in the case of my spa friend, upcoming events and reviews of past events at the clinic.
My spa friend considers herself a “wellness practitioner”, and could write about the role ergonomics, diet, meditation, and regular treatment play in maintaining wellness. Also, their esthetician is passionate about using organic products in her treatments. If they didn’t feel confident about writing their entries, I could have written the articles for them based on our discussions about what they were interested in.
How Can Blogs Help My Business?
While the impression is that blogs are a one-way, “push” communication mechanism, blogs are designed to be conversations. News sites post articles about recent events (hello—that’s a blog entry) and other users respond to that entry by posting comments. The most controversial articles incite discussion between comment writers themselves, and that adds new value to the existing content on your page. Now, instead of only reading your post on the wonders of caffeine to stimulate your dreams in sleep, readers can participate in the ensuing discussion, more than likely quoting studies of the effect of caffeine on the nervous system, the loss of REM stage activity, et cetera.
The reader community improves the quality of your content, and suddenly, your post takes on a life of its own.
If you don’t feel like you have the time nor the talent to write the quantity of quality entries you want to see on your site, you can hire content creation specialists who can blog for you. You can work out in your deal if the work is meant to be in your voice, or if the writer will receive public credit for their work. Several such services exist, and many content management specialists will contract out to them.
Frequent blog posts of consistent information quality also help your business by adding to the content from your site indexed by search engines. Your site’s page rank is driven first by popularity—the number of external pages that link to your site, and then by currency—how recent the pages were most updated? Content quality is rated by relevance and keyword frequency—the number of pages within your site that emphasize the same subject matter.
Search engine algorithms are actually a lot more complicated than that, and change often. However the basic rule still applies: websites that contain well-written, quality content, properly structured for machines to read and index well, supported by accurate keywords and summary descriptions, rank higher in search engine indexes. While it’s not a good practice to try and fool Google, it is possible to use blog software to create a site with valuable content that drives your site to the top of the search engine index for your chosen subject matter.
And that can no way be considered a stupid blog.