The usefulness of blog chains for marketing

I was asked (by colleague and nature writer JJ Murphy) this weekend if a blog chain was good for marketing. She asked me several questions:

1. What is the marketing value, if any in a blog chain?
2. Does it make sense to reply back to a comment on your site?
3. Is there a marketing advantage to guest blogging?
4. Does any of this help in search engine ranking?

I’m certain this question was a result of my recent meme on blog marketing, in conjunction with her own recent invitation to do some guest blogging.

I think the value of a “meme” or blog chain is partially marketing boost, but mostly personal awareness boost. By participating in the meme, you (and others) are much more likely to investigate new blogs you may never have found before.

This is great for virtual networking as well as providing “link love” in other blogs. This works if the meme isn’t so filled with links that it becomes unsavory and “spammy” IMHO. Just don’t do too many memes — and make sure the ones you do create excellent content of value to your reader. What will lower your credibility is the blog version of the chain emails which don’t add any value to your blog or to your readers. Don’t waste a reader’s time with fluff — especially fluff that’s cookie-cutter. (Your own fluff, on occasion, is fine!)

On her second question, YES! Responding back to comments encourages the readers who take the time to comment. It makes them feel special and it encourages other readers to take the time to comment. It helps to begin the dialogue or continue the dialogue on your blog and that’s the whole idea.

Third question: YES. Guest blogging, if you are given a link back to your own site, helps with basic back links. On a more personal level, guest blogging introduces new audiences to your work, your thoughts, your pet issues and to YOU. It will encourage those impressed with your work to seek you out and read more on your own blog.

And her fourth question: Yes. It does help with search engine rankings. Do beware not to duplicate the content from guest blogging sites on your own blog, since that will hurt your SEO. I’ve done some of that on, when I did a regular column for another site for over four years and it did negatively impact my page rank — so it’s not just something “experts” say — it’s true.

You should ensure that your guest blogging doesn’t take you so far away and keep you so busy that you don’t maintain your own blog, however. Balance in all things, JJ.

I hope this helps my friend and others who are considering the impact of guest blogging, commenting comments and blogging memes.

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