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Benefits of a blog
Relative to static ecommerce sites, search engines consider blogs more real and trusted because blogs tend to have fresh content and there is a less financial, more informational link between a blog and its readers. An ecommerce site should take advantage of this tendency by adding a blog to augment the overall site.

A focused, well-written blog can get readers hooked on the blog and promote repeat visits to the website or garner subscriptions via RSS feeds and email newsletters. These recurring communications will help to tie potential customers to your site, encourage natural link building and increase repeat visits. Journalists are also more likely to follow a blog or subscribe via RSS than to visit the corporate site repeatedly. So, several avenues of search optimization and online marketing can be addressed with a single blog entity.

Let’s go through the following areas. Choosing blog topics, choosing who will do the blogging and measuring cost versus return are important issues with regard to a corporate or ecommerce blog.

Who should blog?
It could be a single person, it could be open to a company’s entire staff, or it could be a person or group outside the company, though some blogs have been lambasted for trying to fool their readers with repurposed information or purchased content, so outsourcing your blog is a route to avoid. Employees make good bloggers because they understand the brand direction, and the message can be controlled more easily. Most importantly, bloggers need to let their personalities shine through. Introduce all bloggers with a photo; people want to befriend and link to other people, not faceless corporations. Or, at the very least, leverage a look-alike avatar for each contributor. Also, consider the occasional use of guest bloggers, especially if they are recognized in your industry. Don’t be afraid to invite knowledgeable leaders and other industry bloggers to write a post for the blog. There are often real benefits for them (including a link, which should always be offered in this situation), and the worst they can do is say no.

What should my site’s blog be about?
A blog’s theme should be consistent with the company’s focus, yet universal enough that the blog is not solely about things the company sells. A blog that only exists to link to its corporate site will not be trusted. A site selling cameras, for instance, should go beyond making the blog a secondary camera sales tool and get involved with photography as art and business. It’s secondary to cameras, but it is directly related to the interests of potential customers. A site selling pet supplies might cover pet ownership and pet health in its blog. Don’t be afraid to get a little “fresh” in the blogosphere; go ahead and state an opinion or poke a little fun, but do so in a tasteful and good-natured way. Always be professional, but look for angles in the story that will catch reader attention.

How much time should be taken to blog?
Momentum must be kept with regard to interest in a blog, and this can only be done through regular posting. Daily posting is ideal, but a couple times a week is sufficient. The higher the quality of the posts, the less frequently you have to post. If each post takes 30 to 60 minutes to write (a good average to go by), that’s one to five hours per week. A week or more of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Allocate a good amount of time (one to four hours per week) to commenting on other blogs. A minimum then would be eight to ten hours a month, with an ideal amount of time being closer to 25 to 30 hours a month.

Will blogging really help my ecommerce site?
If the blog is created and maintained optimally, with a transparent and sincere voice and a commitment to using it to building relationships as well as links, yes, it will help. The more you become part of the blogosphere, the more likely it is that the blog will help to boost the corporate site. If the blog comes across insincere, dishonest or overtly self-serving, it could hurt more than it helps. While there are many infamous stories about blogs gone awry, the vast majority of ecommerce blogs are helpful to and supportive of the larger website.

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