This piece was originally published in the Ellsworth Chamber Of Commerce newsletter.

Blogging has come a long way from computer savvy types writing their personal lives for all to read online. In the past few years, blogging has become a force itself, gaining credibility as it becomes mainstream and breaks some major news stories before traditional media. Some bloggers are now considered experts, intellectuals, and even celebrities.

A blog, which is short for “weblog” is a type of web site where entries are listed in order of date. Entries are used to share ideas, thoughts, and web site links. All entries (called posts) are archived and searchable by date and keyword, making information easy to find. They can be categorized by type of weblog (a photo blog is a photolog for example) or by genre (such as political, personal, or business). Blogs can be found through a search engine like Google or blog directories like Technorati. Between 27-45 % of Americans currently read blogs and this number continues to grow. Worldwide, bloggers (people who write blogs) number over 112 million. More information about blogs and how they work can be seen in this short video: The best way to understand the purpose of blogs, however, is to read a few; many of your favorite authors or journalists as well as larger companies have their own blogs.

Blogging may seem to be a frivolous way to spend precious business resources of time and personnel. There are ways, however, that your business can benefit from a blog. The first part of this series will discuss how blogging increases your web presence. The second part of the series will explain how blogging can enhance relationships with your customers as well as ways to start a blog for your business.

It may not be news for you to think of your business web site as a publication. To move your web site beyond general information, however, you must consider how you use the internet. You probably don’t use the internet to search for new businesses or ways to spend money but instead, you search for answers to questions. If your business web site provides this information, your web site is more likely to come up in a web search and people are more likely to visit it. Also, updating your web site regularly with information will keep customers coming back to your site to see what else is new. According to some studies, blog readers spend longer on a web page and often have more disposable income than other web users, making them exactly who you want to attract to your site.

Blogs can help with the age-old questions small businesses struggle with: how to get people to their web site and how to keep people coming back. Your business blog could be used answer some frequently asked questions, highlight new products and upcoming events, or instruct people on how to do something with a product you sell. These strategies will no doubt increase your web presence and, more importantly, your web traffic. 

Next Post: How blogging can enhance customer relations and how to get started blogging for your business.

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