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Web U: Why Not Begin Blogging?

There's nothing like a blog to build a brand

Want a great way to communicate to a highly relevant audience, to build traffic for a site and to further your brand name on the Internet? Then, it's time for you to start a blog. With sharp daily content, blogs attract links from readers and have great potential to show in natural search results, bringing your name and message to an ever wider audience. The best part? They're easily optimized for search.

Here are some tips to make sure the search engines find your blog.

>Coding/Structure: Write unique title, meta description and meta keyword tags throughout the blog. These tags should also include the brand, post title, and any relevant keywords.

Be sure to write in code that can be read by search engines. In other words, skip the JavaScript and Flash and use crawler-friendly HTML.

You should also make use of header tags - especially H1 tags, which indicate headlines and top content, and H2 tags, used for subheads in the body of the copy.

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Include Add Alt tags with all images. In other words, if there's a picture of Lebron James, the alt tag should read "Lebron James."

Finally, create keywords in your URL structure. Put them in post titles, directory names and/or category names.

>Features: There are also steps you can take when creating content to increase the odds that search engines will find you.

You should include permalinks for every post. This preserves each post on its own page, which in turn makes the blog bigger, invites deep links and keeps things organized.

Archive older posts and include links to those archives. Doing so allows engines to continue to index old posts, making them potential traffic drivers forever. If you change domains, bring all of your old content with you.

Create tags for each post by using keywords that you want to rank for in search engines. At the same time, be judicious. A healthy density is preferred, but not at the cost of readability.

Breadcrumb navigation also can be helpful. Breadcrumbs might come from popular tag or product names such as "This post filed under Basketball/Athletes," where each category reference links to that category.

Create and feature a section just for recent posts. Your most popular posts (based on links or comments) will make the most relevant and popular content easy to find.

Add links to send posts to social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon, etc., for every article.

Create feeds for the site. Set an RSS auto-discovery tag for each feed offered in the header of every page. Offer your feeds in the most popular forms (RSS, Atom, etc.).

>Content: To increase your inbound links, you should include a blogroll of similar sites or other sites you like on your blog.

The blogging community is very social and blogroll links are a great way to get direct traffic by vouching for each other.

Additionally, include next/previous post links on permalink pages. Using top keywords as anchor text for these instances is a great opportunity to help boost rankings for specific terms. Links also should be embedded in the body copy, to make it easy for your readers to enjoy the same products and services you're evangelizing.

Finally, remember that the world has a short attention span. If you're not updating your blog regularly, your readers will drift away.

Just like your main site, blogs provide effective optimization opportunities that can improve your brand's visibility while also giving it the user-based testimonial power of Web 2.0.

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