12 Most Important Blogging Terms and Definitions for Business
Among the average, everyday business people of the modern world, there is great confusion as to what exactly blogging is. Small business owners I meet often say they don’t have time to blog but, really, I think that’s a red herring for the real issue — they just don’t get it. Maybe they’ve heard stories about how beneficial it is for generating leads or customer loyalty, but they just can’t shake the stereotypes they have about what “bloggers” look like.
They think “bloggers” are angry college students ranting about politics, tech-savvy computer geeks talking about the latest gadget, or pre-teen girls talking about their crushes. They’re personal diaries — not professional publications. That’s how most business people see it — blogging is unprofessional. They don’t write blogs. They write copy.
But the perception is all wrong. “Blogging” itself is not a message; it’s a medium. Blogging is subject-agnostic. It’s merely a platform for communication — whether that communication be personal or professional. Blogging is just a megaphone — the words you speak into it are what give it context.
If you are completely in the dark about blogging, I’m going to make it easy for you. Let’s discuss some of the most important buzzwords you may have heard about blogging for business. Hopefully, this will help you more fully understand what exactly it is… and why it is so important.
“Blog” is short for “Web Log.” A blog is a website. Let’s get that out of the way. Yahoo.com is a blog. ESPN.com is a blog. Forbes.com is a blog. People don’t typically think of them as such, but that’s what they are. But not every website is a blog. Ebay.com is not a blog. Visa.com is not a blog. BMV.Ohio.gov is not a blog. What’s the difference between these two sets of websites? The former contains a collection of consistently published articles; the latter contains only stationery web pages. That’s what makes a website a blog: it contains articles that are published on a regular basis. It’s an online magazine — as simple as that.
2. Blog post
A blog post is an individual article published on a blog. So, when you finish writing an article, you don’t say that you’ve written a blog; you say that you’ve written a post. For example, on Yahoo.com right now is an article (the square boxes that flash across the center of the screen) called “Layoffs and Store Closings After Best Buy Sales Disappoint.” This article is a blog post.
3. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed
An RSS feed is the format in which most blogs are published. It is a stream of articles that can be subscribed to via email or online reader. The RSS feed for the article mentioned above, one of many on Yahoo’s site, is called Top News. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, you automatically receive the article in your inbox or reader immediately upon publication.
4. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO involves engaging in activities that make your blog more likely to show up in search engines. Using the right keywords is probably the most important aspect of SEO. This makes sense, because keywords are the words people use to search. For example, one might find the article above by putting the words “Best Buy Layoffs” into a search engine like Google.com. The most important place to put keywords within a blog are: in the URL (http://www.espn.go.com),
the name of the blog (ESPN), and the title of each blog post (“Separate Jumps for Female Athletes“), as well as subheadings and tags for images.
5. CTA (Call to Action)
Including a call to action on a blog or in a blog post is important if you want to use the blog to generate leads. The CTA could be a free eBook for signing up for a newsletter, a coupon for liking a Facebook Page, or just a simple request for your audience to do something… like leaving a comment (see my final paragraph).
Comments are reader responses to your articles. It’s like an instantaneous letter-to-the-editor. When readers “comment” on your posts, you can “reply” to their comments. Then, they can “reply” to your “replies.” Quickly, a fascinating dialogue can take place. Comments usually link to commenters’ online profiles–which provide opportunities for you to connect with them. To use comments most effectively, check out commenting platforms such as Livefyre, Disqus, and CommentLuv.
An image is a picture used in a blog post. Generally speaking, every blog post you write should include an image. Images are visually appealing to readers and help break up the text to make the article more readable. Also, a picture can truly be worth 1,000 words if you can choose one that’s relevant enough to the article you are writing.
Depending on which blogging platform you are using, you may see words like these but they all mean the same thing. They’re tools that you can use to make your blog more productive. Probably the most important are social media tools like Digg Digg and Social Media Tabs. Tools like these make it easier for people to share your articles and connect with you on your social networks.
Categories and tags are ways to lump your articles together into groups that have similar themes. While categories and tags can be used in the same way, a “category” is typically like a section in a magazine and a “tag” like an index. Use keywords for tags and general headings for categories. For example, our ESPN article may have a category of “Skiing” with tags including “female athletes,” “winter sports,” and “Kristi Leskinen.”
The blogging “platform” you use refers to the content management system you use to blog. It may be something that is custom-created for your website, a sophisticated open-source system like Joomla or Drupal or, as is the case for most bloggers, a free user-friendly service like Blogger or Tumblr. The most popular platform for serious business bloggers is WordPress — because it provides a healthy balance between ease-of-use and functionality. WordPress provides a user-friendly service with limited functionality at WordPress.com and a slightly more involved but incredibly more functional service at WordPress.org.
Your archives are a listing of your past articles available for readers on your blog. They are typically arranged on pages chronicled by year and month. For example, here is a web page (accessed from the main site), listing articles written by Marcus Sheridan in October 2010.
12. Guest posting/authoring
Guest posting is when one other writes a blog post for another’s blog. You can gain a lot of traffic back to your website both by writing articles for other peoples’ blogs and by inviting other people to write articles for yours. Many (or, depending on how loosely you define the term, possibly all) of the people who write for 12most.com are guest authors writing guest posts. If you would like to guest post for this blog, check out this web page.
Okay, there you have it — 12 important words for you to understand before you start blogging for your business. I hope that it’s clear to you by now that blogging is a tool that can be used for business just as easily and effectively as it can for journaling. It’s just a platform for you to write, connect, and share your expertise. What’s your excuse again for not taking advantage of it?
Now, in light of #6, it’s go time! Drop me a comment and let me know (A) what questions you have about these terms, (B) what additions you might have to this list, (C) any other thing you want to chat about, or (D) your favorite superhero (not relevant, but it’s probably my favorite question). Yes, this is a call to action. Will you answer?
Featured image courtesy of Ed Yourdon licensed via Creative Commons.