Top 10 Reasons to Blog (Part 1)

by Carl Weiss

Like it or not, if you own a website, you are forced to compete for exposure online.  With 242 million websites already in existence and nearly 130,000 new sites coming online every day, is it any wonder that being found is getting harder and harder to accomplish?  Well, the good news is that while it may take a little sweat equity to put your web presence in the winner’s circle, the task can be accomplished in short order if you blog just once per week.  Below are the top 10 reasons to blog.

1.  Blogs generate an audience – Life is the ultimate reality show.  As anyone who has ever watched HGTV knows, people love to watch other people work.  It doesn’t take Hollywood to turn your business into must-see-online-tv.  In fact it doesn’t take video at all (although it helps).  The easiest way to generate an audience online is to document the drama that every business person goes through on a daily basis.  The simplest way to accomplish this is via blog. Think of blogging like a diary that enables you to document the everyday trials and triumphs of running a business.  Done properly, this is compelling stuff that readers will want to follow and pass along to friends and family.

2.   Blogs engage readers – The most important thing to keep in mind before creating a blog is that readers crave drama.  If you want to keep readers on the edge of their seats, you need to first identify the elements in your business that either solve a problem, create suspense, or make readers laugh.  The best way to do this is to carry a notepad and pen around with you.  Somewhere during the course of doing business you will stumble upon an idea or scene that can engage your audience.  The problem is that if you don’t make not of it (and shoot a few photos with your smartphone), it will be a case of in one ear and out the other.  By taking notes you will be surprised at how much drama occurs in your business.  Then it’s simply a matter of sitting down and detailing the episode for your readers.

3.  Blogs are a great place to use mixed media – Speaking of smartphones, I can’t emphasize enough the value of photos and video in bringing your business home to readers.  By spicing up an otherwise lackluster blog post with a few photos, or a quick video blog, not only will you find your audience more interested in you and your business, but it also serves to improve search engine optimization (SEO) as well. 

4.  Blogs create backlinks - For many years the major search engines have put a premium on how many sites link to your site.  Not so long ago this concept actually caused a great deal of conflict, since it spawned backlink factories that turned out backlinks like linked sausages.  You’ll know you have come across someone who has worked with these firms if their backlinks are in Farsi or Chinese.  The good news is that the search engines cracked down on these bad boys big time.  The bad news is that most search engines still rate a portion of your worth on backlinks.  Is that’s what’s bothering you, Bunky?

Other than spending hour upon hour of identifying and emailing firms in your industry begging for backlinks, or spending thousands of dollars on software that does virtually the same thing, what if there was an easier way?  In fact, what if you could develop backlinks every week as part of your normal website update procedure? 

How do you do this? By always making certain that you include links to your sites at end of each and every blog.  Better still, sign up for article posting sites that will offer your reposted blog to other online businesses looking for content.

5.  Blogs are free advertising – Being a business consultant, I am always pitted against financial reality when it comes to helping a business grow online.   Most small businesses are on tight budgets. If money is tight, then one of the best reasons to use blogging week in and week out is due to the fact that it doesn’t cost you a penny to employ.  Provided that you are prepared to take as little as an hour out of your busy schedule to create a weekly blog, this could be one of the best investments your business can make.

Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including and
He also co-hosts the weekly radio show Working the Web to Win every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern on

The Tao of SEO

by Carl Weiss

When it comes to search engine optimization, most people think of it as some kind of religious cult where members speak in tongues, intoning such mantras as “SERPS,” “Meta Data,” “Linkbait,” and “AJAX,” as though they were trying somehow to transmute lead into gold.  Worst of all, there is so much conflicting data out there regarding the ever changing world of SEO that keeping current is almost a full time job in itself.  Add to this the fact that no sooner do you get a bead on what the search engines want, when they up and change their algorithm (as Google recently did with their Penguin Update), making the analogy to sorcery even more poignant as your listing disappears like a puff of smoke.  So, if you don’t want to have to start the process from scratch every time the search engines decide to do a little spring cleaning, this is what you need to know:

1.      Stop trying to please the search engine spiders and work on pleasing your audience instead.  In the good old days before the turn of the century, many SEO experts would generate page one results by stuffing their homepages with as many keywords as possible.  Some would even take this to the extreme, by generating nonsense paragraphs using white text that more or less guaranteed that they would have higher keyword saturation than the competition.  While this tactic may have worked back in 1999, today’s spiders are trained to flag keyword spamming, along with other black hat techniques as link farms.  Besides, who wants to read a website that is nearly unintelligible?  If you really want to score points with both the search engines and your readers, start creating better content on a regular basis that engages, educates and intrigues your audience. 

2.  Having a blog isn’t the same thing as blogging.  If your idea of a blog is to write an occasional paragraph about your business that would make the minutes of your next board meeting seem animated by comparison, then you really don’t understand what blogging is all about.  The best way to maximize your blogging results is to generate weekly installments that solve problems, provide insight and/or provoke a reaction.  Properly employed, blogging can be one of the best ways to increase your audience, create backlinks and get on page one of search engines.  (Note: Google is gaga for blogs.  A properly optimized blog will many times wind up on page one of the world’s most popular search engine in as little as 24 hours.)  If you repost your best blogging efforts on article posts, zines and other blogs then you will not only create an opportunity for your blog to go viral, but you will also enhance your SEO at the same time.

3.     Why read the book when you can wait for the movie to come out?  I can’t stress the value of YouTube too much in terms of SEO worthiness.  In the first place, YouTube is itself a combination of video portal, social network and search engine all rolled into one.  Secondly, YouTube streams more than 3 billion videos daily, making it the most watched Super Station on and offline by far.  Third and more importantly, it is owned and operated by Google.  What this means is that a properly optimized video can jump from YouTube to Google page one. Better still, having a video on page one is 5 times as powerful as having your homepage in the same spot.  Why?  Because it is a fact that people prefer watching a video to reading text.  Best of all, you can enhance your website, blogs, social networks and even your print literature by embedding videos in all of them.

4.       How social are your social networks?  Social networking is again another free marketing tool that makes your web presence 100% interactive and sticky.  Just as with blogs, social networks are only useful if you feed them on a regular basis.  This doesn’t mean that you have to write a blogpost a day to succeed online.  But you also don’t want to post only now and then.  Especially with timeline driven social networks like Facebook, having long gaps between posts is not likely to help you build readership.  One tip to making the job of feeding the social nets less of a chore is to link or repost your blogs on your social networks.  Make sure the posts have links and offers embedded at the bottom of the post.  This way you will kill two SEO birds with one stone.

5.      How many websites should your company have?  (Note: the correct answer is never one.)  Four or five years ago, the consensus was that all a company needed to do was create one website chock full of as many pages that described the business as they could generate.  Back then it was hoped that someone arriving from a search engine query would click around the site for ten minutes or so in order to determine if they should do business with you. 

Today, the average website visit lasts less than 2 minutes.  More importantly, if a visitor has to click onto a subsidiary page in order to find the item they seek, the next click you will hear will be the prospect clicking back to the search engine for a new search.  Heck, it's next to impossible to get web surfers to scroll beneath the fold nowadays.  To give your business a competitive edge, you need to look at a search engine query as a question and the website or landing page as the answer.  If you want to maximize not only your SEO potential, but also your conversions as well, then you need to research the keywords and phrases that correspond to your business and create a number of landing pages that contain a video, text and offer related to each keyword or phrase. 

What it takes to cast an SEO spell

While it doesn’t necessarily take eye of newt to get the magic formula right, what it does take is imagination, interaction and persistence if you are going to make the Tao of SEO resonate for your business. 

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a company that specializes in putting client websites on steroids.  Carl also operates a cutting edge viral video production facility.  Carl can be heard live every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern on

Move Over 800 lb Gorilla. Here Comes the Elephant in the Room.

By Carl Weiss

If you have been keeping up with the rhetoric surrounding the impending Facebook IPO slated to launch this Friday, you have definitely gotten entertained.  Everything from wardrobe gaffes by Mark Zuckerberg (apparently Wall Street bankers don’t like hoodies), to co-founder Eduardo Saverin renouncing his US citizenship in the hopes of avoiding taxes on something on the order of $1 billion post IPO, was bandied about by the press.  This has made the pre IPO coverage something that would make even PT Barnum blush.   In order to try and make some sense of the three ring circus over this long awaited public offering, below I have sorted out the facts.

Show Me the Money

When one compares the first quarter of 2011 with the first quarter of 2012, Facebook increased its user base from less than 600 million to more than 901 million, which represents an increase of 33 percent.  Subsequently their revenues also rose from $731.5 million in the first quarter of 2011 to $1.058 billion in the first quarter of 2012.  So when you hear pundits lament that Facebook’s net income dropped in the first quarter from that of the previous year, you need to take into account several factors:

 1.  Facebook’s costs and expenses grew more than revenue, due in part to a significant increase in share-based compensation expenses not incurred in 2011.
 2.   Facebook had $1.21 average revenue per user in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 6% from the same period in 2012.
3.  Facebook also paid $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock to acquire Instagram in the first quarter of 2012.  I don’t care how deep the pockets, a billion dollar purchase is going to take a bite out of anybody’s wallet in the short term.  The question is whether the acquisition is going to make a decided difference to the bottom line over the long haul.  (Remember that Google paid $1.6 billion to acquire YouTube in 2005, in a move that was unquestionably their best buy to date.)

To put Facebook’s revenues into perspective, let’s not forget that in all of 2009, FB’s revenues amounted to only $740 million.  2012 estimates put this year’s ad revenues at $5.74 billion, a six-fold increase from three years ago.  So excuse me if I don’t quake in my boots regarding a slide in net revenue.  I mean, how many businesses can boast a 600% increase in revenues in less than 4 years? 

Send in the fashion police

That brings us to the much ballyhooed IPO Road Show.  Not since Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Superbowl XXXVIII has a fashion faux pas gotten so much media attention as when Mark Zuckerberg chose to wear a hoodie to his first Facebook road show event in NYC.  You’d have thought that Mark mooned the investment bankers.  Talk about much ado about nothing.  That a 27 year old CEO considers himself above the stodgy fashion norms set down by his elders is not without precedent.   If you Google Steve Jobs, you will find precious few photos of him wearing a suit.  And when it came to building big businesses, everyone agrees that he was a rock star.  How many rock stars do you know that go onstage in a suit and tie?

Love him or hate him, when it comes to helming one of the world’s most popular online destinations, Zuckerberg is most certainly driving the bus.   And this bus is going places, IPO profits notwithstanding.  While a number of analysts have compared Facebook’s IPO to those of Zynga, LinkedIn and Groupon, this is like comparing a Chihuahua to a Great Dane.  As Google proved to their competitor's chagrin in 2004, when it comes to staying power SIZE matters.

900 million users can’t be all wrong

So, no matter the outcome of the IPO, from an online marketing point of view, giving Facebook a $60-100 billion war chest means that its online muscle is only going to increase.  That and nearly a billion users is going to make even the 800lb gorilla named Google sit up and take notice of the elephant in the room. 

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, an online marketing firm that specializes in cutting edge Internet technology.  He also co-hosts Working the Web to Win every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern on  He also owns

Holy Algorithm, Batman, the Penguin Strikes Back!

by Carl Weiss

Many website owners were shocked and dismayed to find their sites had suddenly disappeared from page one of the world’s most popular search engine after Google launched its Penguin 5 Update at the end of April.  While Google’s recent action has left many website owners blindsided and scrambling to recover lost rankings, the move, while ruffling more than a few feathers, was hardly unprecedented.  So if you have suddenly fallen out of favor with the 800 lb gorilla in the room, what you need to ask yourself is whether you want to get mad, or whether you want to get even.

Even Gorillas Get the Blues

More importantly, you need to ask yourself what is it that the gorilla wants that you aren’t currently providing.  For the most part, the Penguin Update was seeking to redress issues regarding link spamming, where sites rely on paid links that have little relevance in the real world and only exist to game the search engines.  So if you have been dabbling with link farms, or otherwise engaging in building links with questionable sites, it is time you stopped this practice. 

Google also took issue with such tactics as keyword stuffing, where keywords are dropped without rhyme or reason throughout a site in order to influence the search engine spiders.   If your text is peppered with keywords that have little relevance to your storyline, or you have hidden text readable only by the googlebots, then you need to clean up your act.

Time to Spring into Action

In fact, one of the best ways to get back in Google’s good graces would be to conduct a bit of spring cleaning in order to prune old or irrelevant content, links and keyword spam.  Instead of crying over spilt milk, perhaps you should look at this as a wakeup call that could be put to good use.  If it has been more than a year since you updated your site, this would be the perfect time to add some sizzle by dropping in a video or two, or adding Google+ to your social networking scheme.  Both these and additional blogs will do more to boost your links and ranking, as well as giving your site a fresh new look.

While there are a few additional and highly technical details that the Penguin was designed to curtail, for the most part what every website owner needs to know that if you are more interested in gaming the search engines than you are in engaging your audience, then you can only expect to get as good as you give.  What I mean by that is that if you provide consistent, relevant content on a regular basis that improves visitor experience and delivers value to your customers, then you are going to wind up not only wooing the search engines, but wowing your audience as well, which is why you should be working the web in the first place.

So, if you really want to create a web presence that is more or less bulletproof to the ever changing whims of search engine operators, then you need to stay focused on creating the kind of site that people will want to come back to read time and time again.  And always beware of booby trapped umbrellas.

Carl Weiss is president of and co-hosts the weekly online radio show Working the Web to Win on