Blogs and Search Engines – The Secret Love Story!

While there’s always been lots of debate as to what criteria SearchEngines use to rank web pages in their search results, what there islittle debate about is that appearing high up on the Search EnginesResults page has become of key importance to most businesses. Why?Simply because currently, Search Engines are the preferred researchtools in today’s marketplace.

As a result, Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) has developed into a thriving (if often maligned) industry as organizations, both large and small, strive to gain higher positions and greater visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs).

The other thing that has become increasingly apparent is that blogs(and business blogs in particular) have a number of attributes whichhelp them rank highly in the Search Engines, making them an important or even, dare I say, a key part of Search Engine Marketing. To understandwhy, first let’s have a quick reminder of how Search Engines work.

Search Engines: a few basics

The main Search Engines – I’m thinking here primarily of Google, Yahooand Live – collect information from websites using electronic programscalled “robots” or “spiders”. They find new sites and content generallyby following links and then reading and indexing the code which createsthe individual pages (and hence the text they contain). This is allstored on their servers so that when a search is submitted, the SearchEngine sifts through all the relevant pages in its index and then ranksthem in terms of relevancy using a mathematical algorithm. The result of all this is what we see on the Search Engine results page.

They determine this relevancy using over 100 different criteria, ifwe are to believe the experts in this field, though some criteria areobviously considered more “valuable” than others. Those consideredparticularly important include the text itself, the inbound and internal links, focus and relevancy of the information and some key onpageelements such as the Title tag. It is also worth reminding ourselvesthat search engines rank individual pages rather than whole websiteswhen they create their results pages.

So how can we apply this to blogs?

Armed with an overview of what Search Engines are looking for to rankpages highly, it’s clear that blogs do in fact fulfil a number of thesecriteria perfectly, which goes a long way to explain why they rank sowell. Specifically:

  • Text: Business Blogs tend to be focused in their content and that is ideal for what Search Engines look forwhen they are searching for pages which fit with specific searchcriteria;

  • External Inbound Links: the overriding philosophyin the blogosphere is to reference other blogs by linking to relevantsources; so blogs offering good (and often specific) content are likelyto attract a greater number of links;

  • Internal Links: blogs are automatically structuredin such a way that the internal linking is excellent with highlyrelevant anchor text (the words that actually form the link) which is an extra bonus;

  • Up to date information: the most successful blogsare generally ones which are regularly updated and hence offer a growing resource of recent and relevant content;

  • Onpage elements: good blogging software hasexcellent flexibility which gives you the opportunity to have specificonpage elements (such as the Title Tag) for each individual page.

Blog Search Engines, Pinging and Instant Indexing

Although blogs appear in the main Search Engines like any other onlinesite, they also have their own set of Search Engines which focusprimarily on blogs. This is important because the way that these BlogSearch Engines find new content is different to the main Search Engines.

If blogs are set up correctly, they will automatically “ping” thesesearch engines – this is the digital equivalent to a ‘tap on theshoulder’ telling them that there is new content for them to index. This happens instantly and, with one of these Blog Search Engines belongingto Google, this means that Google’s main index can pick up your post almost immediately – my best is 6 minutes.

Of course, if the blog is part of your main website then there isalso the greater chance of the rest of your site being indexed morefrequently too, let alone all the pages benefiting from the value of the inbound links coming into the blog, linking to your new articles! Ah,is there no end to the benefits!!

Conclusion: keep developing your Business Blog

If, like me, you already use a blog for your business, then these Search Engine benefits will not be anything new – no doubt you will havealready have seen the sort of great results that you can achieve. If you haven’t, then we really need to talk! However, they are particularly impressive when you consider that youare probably writing your blog with your readers uppermost in your mindand these benefits are merely a welcome (albeit very beneficial) sideeffect.

Business blogs however are not a magic solution and nor should theybe used in isolation – they are at their best when used in conjunctionwith other marketing activities, both online and offline. Equally, theyare not trying to manipulate Search Engines – an accusation sometimeslevelled at SEO companies. Simply put, wellwritten and focused blogs give Search Engines exactly what they want toprovide for their users – good, specific and up to date information onthe subject matter that they are searching for.
And providing that is of course where both the challenge and the benefits lie!

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