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Feed your search marketing

You’ve heard of blogs, of course, and probably read them yourself. Perhaps you even write one. You know they are great for keeping up with what’s going on, and maybe for getting a welcome message to your customers. But what can blogs and Web feeds do for your search marketing?

To answer that question, let’s first remind ourselves of why we do search marketing in the first place. Search marketing can do no more than to bring qualified traffic to your Web site. It’s true that the value of search marketing comes from conversions—the sales that result from the search traffic—but search marketing itself can merely send more people to your site. So our real question is, “How do blogs and Web feeds help search marketing campaigns bring more traffic to your Web site?”

Raise Your Rankings

Not many searchers click to page 14 of Google results, so if that’s where your Web page is found, you probably aren’t getting the traffic you are looking for (unless you are targeting the obsessive-compulsive segment). So how can you improve your search rankings?

One way is to improve the number of links to your pages, because search engines rank their results in part based on the number and quality of your inbound links. Why bring this up? Because blogs are a great way to get links, especially from other bloggers, helping your posts to draw traffic.

Blogs are a perfect way to bring out the problem-oriented content for your Web site. Often, I see otherwise great Web sites that have all sorts of information about products, but very little about the problems they solve. Blogs are a great way to fill the gap. Write a story designed to help customers understand how they know they have a problem and the five things they can do about it (of which you sell one). Write customer success stories that show how your product solved a real problem. Write about the most unique way a customer ever used your product.

But remember that providing all this content in your blog is not enough. You need to make sure that you are optimizing your content with the right keywords in your titles and your body copy—even in the name and description of the blog itself if that makes sense. That ensures you get search traffic for your great blog posts. Any of these stories will use great keywords that people with problems tend to search for—now they’ll find you. And all of those stories are more likely to draw links than your product catalog pages.

That should be enough to make blogs important to you, but there’s more. Blogs also have a special kind of link, called a trackback, which you can actually give to yourself. Trackbacks allow you to comment on someone else’s blog post with a post of your own. So rather than leaving a comment for a blog on the other blogger’s site, you can use a trackback to write your comment as a blog post on your site, causing the other site to automatically link from its blog post to your comment. It’s the only way I know for you to give yourself a link.

Add More Venues

Blogs do more than raise your rankings in Google and other mainstream search engines, however. They also open up your search marketing to new places for your message to be seen—blog search engines.

Google, Yahoo!, and other big search engines have their own blog search engines, but specialty blog search engines such as Technorati are increasingly attracting searchers who’ll find you only through your blog. Often, these new search engines provide ways for you to improve your blog’s search results. Technorati, for example, allows you to claim your blog, so that your own blog description can be shown to make your posts more attractive.

Keep Your Content Fresh

RSS and Atom are the names of the two most popular kinds of Web feeds, but it’s not really important which one you use. In fact, your blog software probably can generate either kind of feed to send all of your blog posts to your subscribers. Your subscribers then use a blog reader, such as Bloglines, to view your posts. But what can Web feeds do for your search marketing?

Just about all search engines index Web feeds and they index them quickly. To make sure that your feeds show up right away, simply ping the search engines every time you post. Instruct your blogging software to ping a free service such as Ping-o-Matic, which can in turn ping each search engine. As soon as the search engines receive the ping, their search spiders come to crawl the new page.

You can also use Web feeds to speed up the indexing of regular Web pages. You can create a Web feed for your product catalog, pinging the search engines for evey catalog change. The search engines will quickly index your new catalog pages, keeping them up-to-date in the search index.

If you haven’t discovered the power of blogs and Web feeds to power your organic search marketing, there’s no time like the present to try them out.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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