If you have decided to set up a Business Blog which will be separate to your main company website, then part of your planning process will be to select and buy a domain name for it.
In some cases, this is a very simple process but if you are in any way unsure, then there are a number of different elements that you should consider. Having a suitable domain name is important when it comes to branding and developing both reputation and credibility, whether it is dealing with a company, sector, service, product or individual niche.
So, what elements should you bear in mind when picking a domain name?
- Subject matter of the blog: to have a descriptive domain name for your blog will make it all the more memorable for those people reading it and also more memorable when they want to recommend it!
- Branding elements for your business: you may wish to have a branding element incorporated into it as a special attribute of some sort.
- SEO elements: from a Search Engine Optimisation point of view, the domain name is an important element and so will ideally contain the primary keyword or keywords for the blog
- Supporting the title of your blog: where possible either make it the same or incorporate the title of your blog in the domain name which will help recognition;
- Availability: it may sound obvious but do check that the domain name is available early in the process. There is no point agonising for days over the perfect domain name only to find that it isn’t available anyway!
- Length of domain name: while it is good to have a descriptive name, you should avoid one which is too long and also ideally avoid one with words separated with lots of hyphens which now has “spammy” overtones – something you want to avoid for your business
- Top Level Domain: whether it should be a .com, .co.uk, .net etc. As with a normal website, it may well be sensible to cover all bases and take the main ones that are available and so safeguard it from a branding perspective
You may or may not be able to get a suitable mix of these elements and generally you will need to find a compromise which combines the points which are most important to you. Try to base these on the aims of your blog and your target audience which are two of the key elements you should be looking at during the planning process before setting up a business blog.
Ah, but wait a minute, isn’t that just a page with some pdf documents on it? That’s not really a blog then is it? Stuart Bruce and Justin Patten would tend to agree and have already expressed their thoughts very clearly on the matter.
I guess that it is a “log” and it is on the “web” so in that sense it qualifies … but it is at that point that the similarities end. So what are the special characteristics that blogs have which make them blogs and such a potentially valuable business tool. Well, the main ones are:
- Readers can leave comments: your readers can respond to your posts so that you can get feedback, start conversations and develop relationships with potential clients, suppliers or partners. The perfect opener to creating a relationship and a network, though the more cautious among us may decide to moderate the comments first;
- Automatically organised: Blog software (which it is sensible to use) will automatically display your most recent posts first, making them easy to find, as well as organise all your posts into ‘categories’ and ‘archives’. This gives great organisation and structure to a blog, perfect for visitors and Search Engines alike and allows you to concentrate on the content
- Permalinks: every post and every category has its own individual address, forever! This means that you can refer to them in articles, emails, newsletters etc safe in the knowledge that they will always be found. Another great feature for the Search Engines.
- Multiple Authors: not only can one person add content but you can allow access to any number of people so that you have several authors contributing to a topic or a series of topics. It also opens up the possibilities for blogs as tools ideally suited to internal communications within a company.
- No technical knowledge required: you don’t need technical expertise to write a blog. You add pages or articles directly to the blog through a “Windows” type of interface with no need to rely on a web designer to update it for you;
- Internal and External Links: blogs thrive by links and referring to other articles so that conversations and ideas can be taken up and developed. At its best, this allows a viral effect in terms of promotion and helps develop both relationships and networks.
- Search Engine friendly: with regular posts, categorised content and search engine friendly links and addresses, business blogs become ideal places for Search Engines to find the type of content they love … and you can rank very highly! An added marketing bonus for your blogging!
I would also recommend any company looking to start its own blog to take the Green Cross Code of Blogging approach and make sure that they are aware of how other are using blogs and what they should be considering.
In my post about Technorati last week called Using Technorati to research your future Blog or your Market, I mentioned that there were two main blog site recommendations for anyone intending to use blogs. The second of these is Feedburner which provides some excellent easy to use tools that all bloggers can benefit from, right from the start.
Using your RSS feed is particularly important as the role and the profile of RSS is going to grow enormously over the coming few months particularly when Microsoft releases the version 7 of its Internet Explorer which will include an RSS reader and so will make it quick and simple for anyone to save and use RSS feeds to keep up to date with news and information.
Feedburner offers a number of paid services which you can progress on to as the need arises, but their free services are well worth taking the time to examine and incorporate in your Blog. There are ones which I particularly recommend because I feel that they help in utilising and developing your Blog’s RSS Feed in important ways.
The elements I would highlight are:
Subscriber information: by channeling your RSS Feed subscriptions through Feedburner, you can obtain additional information about those subscribing. Specifically, it allows you to identify the number of people that are actively subscribed to your feed, as well as providing information on the type of reader they are using and the articles that have been visited directly from the feed itself.
User friendly RSS feed: through Feedburner, you can make certain changes to the look and feel of your RSS feed which will help personalise them and use them more fully to market your business. These include giving you the opportunity to add your logo, which in itself reinforces the branding aspect, and changing the description of the feed. To do this directly to the feed yourself requires additional technical knowledge, but Feedburner makes it simple for everyone as is well worth doing.
Feed Reader Chicklets: the chicklets are the little RSS logos with “Newsgator”, “Bloglines”, “My Yahoo” etc which appear on many blogs. Feedburner provides the code and images required to create these quickly and, while not necessary to allow people to use your feed, any method such as this which increases the visibility of your feed on your Blog can only be beneficial to your promotional activities.
RSS Feed via email: for those people who don’t use RSS readers but still want to know when you have updated your blog, there is the option of an email subscription service. Feedburner provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz.
Headline Animator: this is a small image using an animated gif file, which automatically displays the titles of the last 5 posts from your Blog and allows people to click through a sign up for the feed. It appears in the form of a box (2 formats available) which can be used either in emails or perhaps in online forums etc.
PingShot: this is an ideal companion to the concept of “Post and Ping”, where PingShot notifies a number of servers at once that you have published new content on your Blog . No real difference from the other services available at Pingomatic and Pingoat (indeed it works through Pingomatic) but a good extra service.
How do you do this? Well, just head along to the Feedburner site, sign up for an account and then “burn” a Feed using your current feed, follow the instructions and away you go! There are some useful services there and with RSS destined to become more widespread as the year progresses, set up in the best way you can in readiness.
How Blogging is changing the face of the Media
which looks at the way political blogging is changing elements of the media and talks about an event held at Urbis to coincide with the start of the Labour Party Conference.
Blogging about Blogs about blogs …
appeared in The Stage and looks at how blogs can help the media in general and the world of theatre in particular.
Why MPS need to stop Spinning and Start Blogging
appeared in The Guardian Unlimited and outlined the role that blogging could play in making politice more open. Remember that in the US, it was the use of blogging during the Presidential elections which really raised its profile – could UK Politics play the same role?
Political Bloggers are having a right old time
shows that around Party Conference time there is clearly a lot of interest in political blogs at the moment.
Each week, I will be highlighting some of the Business Blogs which exist in the UK. The aim is to show a cross section of what people and businesses are writing about and how they are approaching the task of using blogs in their business activities. As a result, you’ll find that these posts will contain a mix of Blogs displaying a range of topics and styles.
In addition to this weekly selection, I am working with others to build a comprehensive list of Business Blogs in the UK. So if there are UK blogs which you have visited and would recommend (including your own!), then please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a message. Thanks!
It seems that whether you want to climb up a mountain or throw yourself off it on skis, then these guys will make you look good while you do it.
Presentation Skills – Telling People
Talking about looking good (or should that be looking good while talking?), this will help you in that even scarier situation of presenting to people.
Ellee Seymour’s blog taken from the position of a Press Consultant, Journalist, PR and Political Blogger
Realtime competitive intelligence – that’s just statistics isn’t it?
I’m Simon Dickson
Maybe not a Business Blog in the truest sense, but anyone looking to bring “new media thinking to UK news and government” deserves a mention in my book (figuratively speaking, you understand.)