1. Host a Blog on Your Corporate Site
Creating a blog and hosting it on your corporate site can give your company an added sense of legitimacy as there is an opportunity to build trust, credibility, and thought leadership. According to JupiterResearch’s recent Viral Marketing report, 40% of users find company websites to be trustworthy when researching product information. This approach allows you to establish an online dialogue with your customers and prospects (typically your best customers and prospects), and connect with them on a more personal level. It can serve as a conduit to share information and insight on new products and services, and encourages contribution from your readers, which can result in valuable feedback.
Blogs tend to have an abundance of fresh content, which leads to more frequent crawling, indexing, and updating by search engines. Many successful blogs also employ RSS functionality, which provides yet another window for communication with your target audience. Lastly, this approach affords you the opportunity to control what content gets published to the blog.
Creating a blog and hosting it on your corporate site requires set-up and maintenance resources, and could become a target for spam. Keep in mind that an infrequently updated blog soon becomes nothing more than another static marketing piece and will be ignored rather quickly. Also worth considering is the fact that negative information could appear on the corporate page. While you have editorial control and can limit the negative content, a blog that is 100% positive will be seen as biased, subjective, and rather vacuous. Lastly, given that the earlier-mentioned Jupiter report indicates that 60% of users do not necessarily trust information found on a company website, you may be speaking to a limited audience.
2. Host a Blog on an External Site
Creating a blog and hosting it on an external site can be an effective tool to combat negative information about your company or brand. It’s also an opportunity to build goodwill, as there may be looser restrictions on what can be said on an external site compared to what’s allowed on a corporate site. In addition, this strategy provides inbound links from an external site, which of course are highly desirable and SEO-centric. Lastly, this approach also provides both editorial control and ostensible objectivity.
Creating a blog and hosting it on an external site requires ramp-up time to build credibility, so the inbound linking benefit could take a while to materialize. In addition, if the content is not genuinely objective, it could be considered a mere marketing tool and your readers will see right through the hype. Lastly, with enough content and inbound links, this approach could potentially result in the blog outranking the corporate site on specific keyword phrases.
3. Get Your Site Referenced By Third-Party Blogs
Securing corporate site references in third-party blogs is an effective strategy to generate goodwill and positive press from an authoritative site. After all, if someone evangelizes about your brand on your corporate site, it rings hollow (of course the corporate site touts the benefits of your brand), but if someone unaffiliated with your company advocates for the brand, it legitimizes the content. In addition to the legitimacy this approach offers, it is also an effective strategy to acquire inbound links.
When you secure corporate site references in third-party blogs, you forfeit control. With this approach, the opportunity to remove potentially damaging information is limited (unless you take the legal route), and you may only have the opportunity to refute it. Also worth considering about this strategy is the fact that Jupiter’s Viral Marketing report shows 69% of consumers do not trust product information within social media when evaluating a product for purchase. Lastly, with this approach, the possibility exists that a third-party site could potentially outrank your corporate site.
Overall, word-of-mouth marketing is a highly effective medium that has clearly withstood the test of time, and is even more applicable today than ever given the emergence of blogs. However, keep in mind that while SEO initiatives will benefit from this new viral channel, a blog should not be created solely to maximize SEO benefits. In fact, if that’s the only reason you had in mind, employ the third strategy and aggressively seek to have your site linked to from credible blogs. The reality is that blogs should be created because they make business sense and will benefit your prospects and customers.
After all, that is what the search engines look for — relevant content that will benefit their customers. Otherwise, do what Truman Capote did. Provide a great product, let the people know about it, and they’ll do all the work for you.