Online stores and other sites become successful in part when many of their pages are ranked highly in search engines. Getting online stores (or any other website) ranked highly in search engines is a matter of putting lots of unique text content on the website. Search engines reward unique content with higher rankings. Also, other websites will tend to link to your website if your website has useful content on it, and these so called “in-links” also get your site ranked higher with search engines.
Blogs are just a quick and easy way to enter content into your website, and so for the reasons in the preceding paragraph, blogs tend to get your site more highly ranked and therefore more highly trafficked. So for this reason blogs are a marketing tool.
The blog owner can determine whether readers have to sign up in order to comment on their blog posts. In general, this is a good idea in order to discourage spam comments. Blogs can be set up so that there are multiple authors, with one editor approving new articles, or the editor can also be the sole person entering content into the system (whether written by you or collected from other people).
What would get people to the blog in the first place is the same thing that would get them to any website: that the blog contains useful and/or entertaining unique content. People would stumble upon the blog either from: links from related websites, random search engine traffic, word of mouth. Ideally, the blog would be a piece of ‘free candy’ that would encourage readers to come back again and again, and eventually buy stuff from the store (or whatever it is you want people to do at your website).
The blog posts every now and then should link to a product in the store, but not be overly
commercial. For example, a blog post at a website for a sculptor could be about different kinds of wood and their properties when carved, and there could be a helpful link to a wood carving for sale in the store as an example of cherry wood carving.
Of course, one could forgo the whole blogging platform and just make sure that every product’s description was long and entertaining, or there could be a ‘resources’ section of the site with tutorials about how to carve different kinds of wood. The point is that there should be some kind of interesting unique content in addition to the product catalog. ‘Plain Jane’ stores and sites tend not to be very successful unless they’re selling high-demand items.
There are other things one can do related to search engine optimization, and Crunch42 can handle most of that, and then also provide suggestions for additional search engine marketing.
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