Lee Odden’s firm TopRank Online Marketing provides Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And is it any wonder that his blog, The Online Marketing Blog, has become one of the top ranked blogs in the world? This new media guru took the time to answer a few of our questions about blogging, SEO and social networking. Here’s what Lee had to say…
How did the Online Marketing Blog become one of the highest ranked blogs in the world?
Links. It’s all about the links. Actually, I’d like to think that we’re offing unique value to our readers. While we’re not a huge company, we do pretty well in our category and I am very open about providing both strategic and business issues information as well as tactical recommendations related to search engine optimization, blogs and social media as well as online PR.
Like every other SEO agency out there, we’re finding answers to the questions and problems of clients on a daily basis and tend to wonder out loud on the blog about how we’re finding those answers along with industry trends. Between the interviews, conference blogging, photos, videos, how to articles and industry news, people seem to respond well to that.
How has blogging benefited your business?
Blogging in conjunction with blogging and speaking at conferences has been the most profitable marketing investment we’ve made. For a consulting business like TopRank, a blog is a goldmine for creating thought leadership and attracting interested potential clients. Our best client conversations have started with, “I’ve been reading your blog for the past 3 months and we’d like to find out how to work with you.”.
How critical are blogs to search engine optimization efforts?
SEO for a web site can certainly succeed without a blog. That said, some websites use content management systems that are not practical for optimization. A blog can offer such a site an easier way to provide users and search engines with easy to find and understand content. Blogs are also prone to link to each other which drives traffic and can help search engine rankings. In the right hands, blogs can be formidable tools for creating a competitive advantage in search engine visibility.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the blogosphere?
It used to be blog scraping and comment spam which are still problems, but now I think it’s just plain noise. It’s so easy to publish content using blog software and so many people are blogging that it’s become more difficult to find original, insightful content.
But for those marketers and PR professionals that really know what they’re doing, it’s still a pretty straight forward thing to make a blog stand out from the crowd. Those that have been publishing for a while also have a distinct advantage over new blogs.
What tips would you offer other business bloggers?
Set measurable objectives for the blog according to the business goals you’re trying to reach. Based on the type of blog and your goals, seek to understand your audience and create an editorial schedule that feeds both your communication needs and the interests of your readers. Ask others in your organization for help in making posts and socialize with other blogs in your niche. Use analytics to monitor performance, make adjustments and measure results.
Do you see social networking as an art or a science?
Both! Being creative (the art) cuts through the noise of all the social networkers out there that are not offering anything of value. At the same time, you have to be disciplined about it (the science).
For example, before attending a conference, I make a list of people that I want to connect with in person. Between those people and people I meet at random, I come away with a great group of new contacts. The focus is on a quantity (science) of quality (art) contacts and at the end of each day I make notes about each.
Within a day and no more than two after the conference I send a personalized message offering something relevant from our interaction. It is at that time that I send an invite to connect on a network like LinkedIn on a follow up email. I think the art is being creative and relevant. The science is in the planning, execution and discipline of follow up.
Last December’s Time person of the year article really seemed to legitimize blogging and other web 2.0 technologies. What’s next for the blogosphere?
One thing I thought we’d see more of by now is ecommerce blogs. I think the blogosphere could be significantly affected if it was easier for bloggers to monetize their content in ways besides contextual ads and affiliate programs. Tying blog software to a shopping cart platform could be a big opportunity for millions of small businesses seeking to conduct commerce online.