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Corporate America Can Learn a Lot from Bloggers

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If you're in charge of a B2B (business to business) corporate Web site, you may have wrestled with the decision of whether or not your company should create a blog. If you'd rather not engage in blogging, there are alternatives that can still help you drive qualified traffic and leads to your corporate Web site, as a blog might, and to get the search engine ranking benefits a blog might bring.

You don't have to be a blogger to take advantage of the latest blogging techniques. In fact, you can learn a lot about promoting your company's products and services online by "doing what the bloggers do."

The corporate world has traditionally been very slow to adopt blogging. After all, adding a blog to a corporate Web site is a big decision – and could have an impact on the company's brand, as well as how the brand is perceived. Additionally, there are a lot of maintenance requirements of a blog. For example, who in the company will be responsible for the writing and posting on the blog? How often will it be updated? Will the traditional blog "comments" be added as a feature? If so, whose job would it be to "moderate" those comments?

The United States Government recently launched their "GovGab" blog, in an effort to reach out to more citizens. Several managers are assigned a day of the week when they're responsible for posting on the blog. Each manager is charged with posting something on his or her designated day, and with moderating any comments left by the blog's readers, which could quickly become a full-time job in itself. A few other managers serve as backup bloggers.

If you decide not to implement a blog on your corporate site, there are still several ways that you can benefit from using the techniques of successful bloggers. Let's take a look at the many techniques they are using today to become popular, and apply them to the online promotion of a corporate Web site.

Embrace Networking

Probably the biggest, most important "technique" that successful bloggers use today is networking. Networking with other bloggers, linking to and commenting on each other's blogs, and even "guest blogging" for others' blogs is common.

Sure, corporate America does a lot of networking. After all, that's how a lot of partnerships are made and how a lot of deals get done. But there's not enough "networking" going on amongst corporations' Web sites and those responsible for maintaining the corporate Web site, including those in the marketing department.

Bloggers link to each other and recommend each others' blogs; why not link to your corporate partners and ask that they link back to your corporate Web site? If one company is an official "partner" with another company and will work together to provide solutions to their customers, why not continue this partnership on the internet level by linking both corporate Web sites together and recommending each others' solutions?

The same goes for industry trade groups. Corporations should help promote trade groups and associations to which they belong. Likewise, it's helpful if the trade group or association lists its member companies, providing links to the corporate Web sites.

Besides your existing partners, it's important to reach out to new partners as well. Why not start networking with the bloggers themselves?

In most industries there are at least a few popular bloggers who keep a close watch on the industry as a whole – and constantly write about what's really going on. When your company issues a press release, keep these bloggers in your outreach plans. Making your news and access to company executives available to the top bloggers in your industry can pay off tenfold in backlinks and blogger goodwill.

If a blogger receives a press release directly from a company in their industry, most likely they will pay attention to it. After all, bloggers are always looking for something to write about. And it's the bloggers who have the power to link directly to the corporate Web site, which will ultimately help your site's search engine rankings.

Additionally, the publicity your company will receive is wonderful: many tech industry bloggers have thousands of regular readers and subscribers who will instantly receive notification of the company's news.

Use Technology to Get Your News Out There

Another technique bloggers can teach corporate marketers is to make technology your friend. Corporate Web sites could use the latest blog publishing platforms, such as WordPress, TypePad, or BlogSmith, to publish content to the Web site.

Besides being easy for marketers to use and update the site without IT intervention, blog software has the added benefit of automatically creating an RSS feed from the content. RSS feeds allow customers to keep track of your site's content. Additionally, the blog software sends out a "ping" to search engines and other sources, alerting them that the content of the site has been updated.

A corporate news and press release section, or a company newsletter are appropriate places to provide the content in RSS format. By doing this, journalists, industry bloggers, company employees, and anyone else interested in the company's information and news could subscribe to the RSS feed and be notified instantly whenever there's news to announce.

Adding an RSS feed and the latest blogging technology to a corporate Web site doesn't mean that the company has to have a blog on the Web site. In fact, the site's visitors don't have to know what technology is being used behind the scenes. The "look and feel" of the page is still up to the site's Web designers. Pages created with blogging technology can be made to look exactly like the rest of the Web site.

By embracing online networking and adopting the latest technology that bloggers are using, a corporate Web site doesn't have to be static anymore. You can gain valuable traffic and visibility with the search engines, and build a sense of community with others in your space by applying those techniques to your corporate site.

Bill Hartzer is a search engine marketing, social media, and website marketing consultant. His primary focus is on the optimization of business to business Web sites. He is the founder of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM), and a frequent speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences.

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