Just last month Google announced the completion of their new web indexing system called Caffeine. This new indexing

According to Google,

“Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.”

This change means that having fresh content is more important to your business than ever before, and how do you do that?  According to Google’s Matt Cutts,
“Blogging is a great way to show people the human side of your company and provide information to customers and visitors. Blogging is also much lighter-weight than a press release. The only time I’d refrain from blogging is if you don’t anticipate updating your blog very often. If you only do a blog post every year or so, it makes your site look more like a ghost town than a vibrant community.

I’m assuming that you already know what a blog is, so I won’t go into that here.  But suffice it to say, a blog can be a very powerful marketing strategy.  But before you get started on this social media marketing strategy, here’s what you need to know.

1.         Blogging is free! You can use free blog platforms like WordPress.com, blogger.com, Typepad.com or Tumblr.com to get started.  The great thing about all of these platforms is that you don’t need to know coding or design.  Once you set up your account, you’re ready to publish.  For many of these websites you can even purchase a custom domain name for your account if you don’t want to have the platform name such as wordpress.com in your website URL.

2.         Blogging is easier than you think! Come on admit it, your website was built 5 years ago and is ready for an upgrade, but your wallet is not.  Fortunately, you can use your blog as your new website!  It has all the functionality of a website and then some.  Plus you can update it as you need to as often as you like without having to pay a programmer.  This keeps your blog fresh and timely-search engine friendly!

3.         Blogging doesn’t have to be hard! The beauty of a blog is that it can be as short or as long as you like.  You don’t have to write a new chapter of War and Peace every time you write a post.  Sometimes a sentence is all you need!  And if you don’t want to write, try posting photos or videos instead.  What about “before and after” photos of work you’ve done or virtual tours of your product, facility, office, or process.

4.         Your website is like a yellow pages ad, but your blog is like a journal. Which would you rather read?  A blog invites people to read it because it is reveals the inner thoughts of the owner.  Don’t worry if you start a blog and the only one who reads it is your mom.   That will change as you keep at it and word spreads.   The key is to update your blog regularly.  The rule of thumb is that the more you update your blog, the more traffic you have.  At minimum you should update your blog once a week, with articles of 500 words or less, but blogging twice a week is optimal.

5.         Blogging establishes you as an expert.  With so much competition out there, it can be difficult for consumers to make decisions, however a blog sets you apart from your competition as an expert.  This increases your credibility to your potential buyers which translates to increased sales.  An added benefit is that the media also rely on bloggers as experts.  Case in point, the blog “Get Rich Slowly” is frequently referred to by Money Magazine.  The blog, The Pioneer Woman.com, led to a New York Times best selling cookbook.

So what are you waiting for?  It’s time to get started!  Have a blog?  Feel free to post it here, but business appropriate only please.