An owner of a small business and I recently discussed whether she should start a blog for her business. Like virtually all small businesses owners, she is resource constrained and wondered if the time investment would really pay off based on the benefits that would be realized. While the answer to that question is not necessarily "yes" for all businesses, it is for most. Here are some of the benefits of a business blog:
If your business model is in part dependent upon obtaining traffic from Google's Adwords pay per click program, the escalation in cost of clicks has been painful. As an example, in the real estate field, the cost of a paid click has increased from about $0.35 in 2003 to over a $1.00 today. The escalation in bid prices has been relentless. However, in today's low inflation environment bid escalation can not continue indefinitely. The cost of buying traffic has become so expensive that in many cases it can only be justified via dubious lifetime customer value calculations. Well, buried within Google's blow out earnings report (net income of $2.73 billion in Q3), is a note that the average cost per click declined by 5%.
My record as a prognosticator was fairly good until Twitter came along. I totally missed the boat on that one. Thus, it may be appropriate to take my prediction that Google Plus will not gain traction with the mainstream crowd with a grain of salt. However, the rationale for my opinion that Google Plus will not go mainstream is based on a judgment that Facebook has gained too much critical mass for Google to overcome (at least in the next few years).
Consider this situation - you just received an invitation to be a presenter at a prestigious conference. Before you automatically post information promoting this appearance, consider a recent headline from the UK, "New Survey: Burglars Use Social Media to Plan Crimes". Thus, there is a bit of risk associated with publishing information about upcoming travel plans. My rule of thumb is that given the benefits of promoting upcoming business related opportunities, I continue to post them if it will enhance my reputation and/or help to promote attendance at the presentation. However, I draw the line at posting information online about upcoming vacations.
My Facebook "friends" are a hodge-podge of friends, family, former co-workers, bicycling buddies, and professional contacts. Given the diverse nature of my list of friends, in the past I've followed the advice that no more than 25% of posts should be professionally oriented. However, it has become so easy to create lists on Facebook that I think this guideline can be thrown out the window.
My assumption as I began working on this post was that Google took advantage of their ownership of Blogspot to track activity on Blogger sites and use this data collection opportunity to enhance their search engine rankings. However, my research into this issue has led to more questions than answers. I can not find evidence proving that Blogger activity factors into Google rankings any differently that that of other blogs.
Early this year during the height of the Groupon craze, I attempted to find a good domain name for a "deal" related website. I probably reviewed over 200 potential variations of domain names that included either the term "deal" or "coupon". It was stunning that some of the combinations I considered to be really obscure had been purchased. I finally stumbled across "Deal Magik" after hours of fruitless searching for an available domain name. However, the domain name hoarding that led to it being so hard to find a suitable name may be on its way toward becoming an antiquated strategy.
I was recently asked how to optimize a blog to rank well on Bing. I could not immediately come up with a good answer, but recalled that a while back I had read a post that discussed Bing ranking factors. But before digging into optimizing for Bing, it seems appropriate to ask the question of what is the likely benefit of doing so?
I would be shocked if the marketing folks working on pills, porn, and gambling sites are not already hard at work trying to game Google+ in attempts to gain better rankings on search engine results pages. However, for anyone that has an online business with a long term focus, my perception is that it is going to be challenging to "game" Google+. The only tactic that seems like a sure fire way to be able to use Google+ to boost search engine rankings is to become an authority figure -- which is easier said than done.
Google records lots of information about its users. Increasingly, it is using this information to attempt to serve up search results that are personalized based on the location or previous activities of a searcher. While it may seem big brother-ish, there is nothing terribly sinister about Google using the information it has collected in order to attempt to provide a better user experience to searchers. However, if you are reviewing search engine results pages for specific terms to check where your site ranks versus the competition, viewing personalized results may not be very informative. The good news is that there is an easy way to turn off some of the personalization in Google search results and view a result that is much closer to what a broader audience is likely to see using the same keyword term.