SEO Smarty usually has some interesting things to say about Search Engine Optimization and Internet marketing. I like her blog because she usually comes up with stuff that no one else is talking about or writing about the same things in a way that no one else is. Her uniqueness is a major selling point.
Of course, she is my competition. But I like what she has to say about niche blogging and branding. It got me thinking about websites in general and how this applies there as well.
Her final question, “How do you manage to balance between niche and general blogging?,” is a good conversation starter and I have a few things to add to the conversation:
- First, good online business practices begin with your website, not your blog. A blog is a marketing tool and can be used for branding purposes, but most people don’t purchase from blogs. They purchase from websites. I like the idea of driving traffic to my static website from my blog. Because the blog is updated daily, whereas the website is updated much less frequently, I have a lot more potential for Search Engine Optimization through the blog simply because it will get crawled more often. Therefore, each blog post should be treated as a branding tool, but also as an Search Engine Optimization tool. Keywords and anchor text are very important.
- Secondly, since your success begins with your website (that doesn’t mean you can’t build your blog first then your website later), you should give your website, or websites, a lot of careful thought before you build it (them). Do you want just one website for your business or do you want several niche-related websites? There are advantages to doing it both ways. Personally, I like the idea of one static website and several niche blogs. The website is designed to serve a general audience interested in the type of services that I offer. The blogs are designed to appeal to a particular niche within that general area – in my case, Search Engine Optimization and Internet marketing. I can see that in certain industries you might want to build a general website and several niche static websites, each with their own blogs, to draw in traffic. As I said, there are benefits to doing it both ways.
- Whichever way you decide to handle the general/niche breakdown of your branding strategy, you must give careful thought to your linking strategy. Owning several websites and blogs can lead to a confusing mix of interlinking that will hurt you more than help you. There are two areas to think about heavily – traffic channeling and Search Engine Optimization benefits. Sometimes, linking from one site to another can provide one benefit to the detriment of another. Other times, you can achieve both benefits at once. Think about that very hard before you start throwing links around.
- An elaboration of the last point: Networked sites are now frowned upon by Google, especially if they are not related. If you are going to link from a blog to a static website or vice-versa, or if you’re going to link between blogs, then make sure the links are not going to penalize any of your sites. This is one reason I like the niche blog with one static website idea – because all my blogs link to my website, but they do not necessarily link to each other. Since I have individual web pages on my various topics on my website then the links from each blog to my website serve my Search Engine Optimization purposes and my traffic generation purposes.
When it comes to branding yourself online, Search Engine Optimization must play a part in that. Don’t get so wrapped up in image that you forget about the basics of search engine placement. You can do both simultaneously through blogs and static websites.