TopRank, a Minneapolis, Minnesota
search marketing agency is truly one of the best when it comes to natural SEO,
social media marketing and new media PR. Website Magazine contributor Dante
Monteverde quizzed TopRank's CEO Lee Odden recently (a sample is below) on the
keys to driving blog readership, the efficacy of micro-blogging, and what
attendees of SES San Jose can expect from his session titled "SEO Through Blogs
Why should a website start a blog? Would you justify starting a blog
for purely SEO reasons?
For business purposes, blog software can serve many functions. It can be
used as a content management system for archiving newsletters, product FAQ or an
online press room/news room with press releases and media coverage. Example:
As for adding a blog to a web site in the commonly understood definition,
it really depends on a number of factors: Does the company have something
useful/meaningful to say? Are there staff within the company that actively read
industry blogs? Can resources be dedicated to the blog on an ongoing basis? (IT,
writing and editorial, monitoring, marketing, PR). A company should not bother
with a blog if they answer no.
There are many types of blogs and purposes ranging from CEO blogs to
product reviews to private project team blogs. It’s a communication platform as
well as a content distribution platform. That leads me to answering the part of
your question about SEO. I don’t think for most businesses, a blog is worthwhile
“purely” as a SEO tactic. However, if a company starts ANY kind of public blog,
I can’t imagine why SEO would not heavily weigh into how it is setup, how
content is created and how content is distributed/promoted.
In other words, whatever purpose you have for setting up a blog, whether
it’s to distribute news, offer tips or share customer stories, SEO benefits
should taken advantage of.
2.) The key to gaining readership with a blog is developing fresh
usable content on at least a weekly basis. What if you don’t have time to write
blog posts? Is it ok and/or when should I consider using and employee or hiring
a 3rd party to write and/or manage my blog?
Readership does rely on frequency. It also relies on quality and
consistency of quality. People read blogs for different reasons. Some like to be
challenged, some educated, entertained or even recognized. Blogger burnout and
time are big issues with a long time blog. We’ve published Online Marketing Blog
(http://www.toprankblog.com) since Dec 2003 and I can assure you, with a high
demand marketing agency, plus distractions like Twitter and other social
networks, it can be tough to find the time.
To keep consistency and frequency of posts on a blog, it makes sense to
create an editorial guide. This can be reflected by the blog categories as well
as a document that outlines types of posts to be published on a regular basis.
For example, readers will appreciate knowing that every Wednesday there will be
some kind of poll or every Monday there’s an interview or list of practical
Also, sourcing other contributors is key, whether they are employees,
clients, marketing partners or prominent connections in the industry that the
blog targets. If the blog is popular, then people will feel recognized if they
can contribute to the blog. It’s important to maintain editorial quality though.
Allowing others to contribute to the blog requires time spent on editorial
oversight, at least in my opinion. I guess it depends on the blog. Some blogs
allow anything to be posted.
We’ve been hired as a third party to write and manage a blog many times
and the purpose is to get things started until the company can see how blogging
works and to get feedback from the blogging effort. Client staff get more
involved as they become more familiar with blog writing and are able to see
feedback in the form of comments, brand mentions on other blogs, links and
traffic sent to the company website.
3.) Recently there has been a shift toward sites like Twitter.com that
promote micro-blogging. What kind of effect do you think this is having on blogs
and more importantly SEO?
I think tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, Plurk, etc do distract people from
blogging. I also know that there are a number of smart people who use them
together. I don’t mean auto publishing blog posts to Twitter with Twitterfeed,
as that kind of micro content is ignored. But personally recommending resources
to a Twitter network can generate tremendous exposure if it’s done right and
relevant to the audience. Twitter can also be a great tool fro sourcing content
to put on blog posts. Just this week I polled my Twitter community with a
question and it generated 40 replies within an hour. Those replies became a
large part of a blog post which attracted quite a few links. Incidentally, feel
free to follow me at http://twitter.com/leeodden
4.) How much SEO value do you put on the syndication of your blog?
Other than getting traffic and exposure from your blog can you derive any SEO
value from your blog through RSS Feeds?
For us, the SEO value from RSS distribution comes in part from syndication
with embedded links back to the blog. For blogs that publish feeds using their
domain name in the url, links to the RSS feed can drive some link popularity.
5.) Can you give us some insight to how your run your blog:
Actually, we started as more of a news blog but changed a few years ago to
focus on original content. With the help of Jolina, Thomas, Jessica, Mike,
Ashley and Julie from Toprank, Online Marketing Blog covers conferences such as
Search Engine Strategies, Search Marketing Expo, Pubcon and other events put on
by PRSA and the DMA. We’ve also done many text and video interviews with people
including: Danny Sullivan, Guy Kawasaki, Matt Cutts, Tim Mayer, Barry Schwartz
and Rand Fishkin. In the past we published quite a few resources on tactics such
as blog and press release optimization and we maintain the BIGLIST of 500+
search marketing blogs, updated now about every 2-3 weeks. I tend to write a lot
of internet marketing point of view posts that tie into our agency strategy for
solving marketing problems for companies. Our staff also contribute posts from
time to time. In the cases where others contribute content, I serve as an editor
but will need to have someone help with that soon as finding time to do that
well is a real challenge.
6.) What can we expect to learn at your upcoming session at SES San
Jose, SEO Through Blogs & Feeds?
I’m speaking in two sessions at SES SJ actually, News Content Optimization
and SEO Through Blogs and Feeds.
With the News Content Optimization session, I’ll be presenting with Greg
Jarboe and Lisa Buyer. Dana Todd will moderate. My topic will cover the
distinction between optimizing content according to general SEO objectives,
which tend to focus on lead generation and sales vs optimizing news content for
journalists and buyers with the objective of getting selected as a subject
matter expert or topic for a story in the media.
With the SEO Through Blogs and Feeds session, I’m joined by Chris Boggs,
Amanda Watlington and Daron Babin. Rebecca Lieb will be moderating. With this
one I’ll be talking about “Blogs as the Swiss Army Knife of Internet Marketing”
and present a few case studies of blogs used with company web sites.