Enjoy the Ride: The Weblog Bandwagon

The past two years has seen an incredible influx in the number of weblogs or "blogs" available on the Internet. With topics ranging from marketing to Martians, companies and individuals alike are blogging for a reason - when it comes to sharing a message on the Internet and having others share in that communication there is no better tool than a Weblog.

With as many weblogs as standard websites, site owners and marketers are struggling with how to get Internet users to their website in order to read the information they have published. The other dilemma is how to get those same people to return and review additional content in the future. In essence, the same problems that website owners experience in regards to publishing content and promoting that content (and its implied products or services) on the Internet via static websites still applies. Luckily, weblogs offer some salvation, or in the very least, an alternative.

Publishing SEO-Ready Content
One of the biggest challenges facing website owners before the popular weblog trend was the ability to keep up with consumers demand for fresh, relevant and SEO ready content - established components in generating top placement on return lists. Blogs enable even the most technically inept of website owners to publish content and in turn publicize products and services on the Web without the assistance of finicky Web designers or high priced search engine optimization/online marketing firms. Weblog software (which in essence is the blog) requires only an ability to point and click in order to share content. As most blogging software helps publishers develop very refined site architectures (through an ability to archive dated material) and optimized content (through the use of separate header tags for headlines and sub headlines for example) the content that bloggers are developing is seeing more and more individual visitors from popular search networks.

What To Blog About
The questions for many website owners comes down to what they should actually blog about. The value of blogs for many organizations is that they enable direct contact with consumers who regularly use their products and services. Many companies use weblogs to convey essential news such as critical updates to software programs while other online enterprises use blogging as a means to build a topic based community. Regardless of what you blog about, it is important that it is of value to readers and fosters a model of open communication between you or your organization and your customers or readers.

Instant Survey: Blog Publishing
How often do you publish content on your weblog?

Promoting Your Weblog

It is not enough any more that you simply have a weblog. You need to give visitors access to the well developed content you have created and have other bloggers write about your content - specifically about what you are saying. Granted, this is easier said than done. Manually submitting to specific weblog search engines and directories is the first step in getting visitors closer to your content - but it is not the only step. Bloggers must also let the blogosphere (the entire blogging community) know that new content has been published. This is done through a process called pinging. A ping is a way of determining whether a specific IP address is accessible by sending a message and waiting for a reply. Bloggers can ping blog tracking services individually from their blogging software or use services such as pingomatic.com, kping.com or pingoat.com to notify multiple blogs simultaneously of new weblog posts.

Beyond Your Blog
Prospects can even read your weblog (and your message) away from your site. RSS feeds (depending on who you ask RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Real Simply Syndication) and Atom files are provide by weblogs and accessed by that weblog's community through feed aggregators, which collect information as it is published by Weblogs and provides it in a simple form. RSS readers all but eliminate the hassles of bulk email and let a weblog community access the content you have created when they are away from your site.  

Do Not Go It Alone: The Power of Comments & Trackbacks
One reason for the popularity of weblogs is that they assist website owners in building a community around an industry, a point of view or in some cases actual people. Most blogs come equipped with resources such as commenting and trackbacks which enable your visitors to comment on the content you have written and let other website owners know that bloggers are blogging about their content.

While most services such as TypePad, Moveable Type and Blogger include comment features, more popular bloggers have had to disable commenting because of user abuse. In some highly publicized cases, comments posted by some users are resulting in legal action against the weblog owner. As a result, many bloggers have joined a movement towards the "no follow" attribute in comment tags which prevent search engine spiders from indexing comments posted by users. With that said, comment features do enable bloggers to develop a community around their weblog, potentially increasing the number of visitors that return to their site.

Trackbacks are a system devised to make it easier to track conversations between weblogs. For example, you write something on your weblog. I think it's a creative post and comment on your post on my weblog. I then send a Trackback "ping" to your site to let you know that I have commented on your original post. From that point forward, my weblog will automatically link to the comments on your post. The value of Trackbacks is that they help amass the collective commentary of the blogosphere and let readers know what is really important or useful information on the Web.

Enjoying the Weblog Ride
It is difficult if not impossible to determine the actual number of weblogs on the 'Net as the quantity is increasing rapidly but the Web has yet to see a trend as useful as blogs to convey time sensitive information such as press releases or express an individual or corporations general or particular point of view. Enjoy the weblog ride; it's here to stay.