I’ve said it before in Buildings, Like Blogs, Can Be Interactive: it takes two to blog – the blogger (or ghost blogger) and the searcher. That’s because the whole purpose of blogging is to establish a communications link between a business and potential customers of that business. Unlike brochures, billboards, or print ads, blogs are meant to start a conversation, answer questions, and generally get a two-way “thing” going. After all, the person browsing online arrived at that particular blog because something that business blogger knows or something that business blogger sells matches up with something the searcher came online to find in the first place!
I was thinking about that two-way aspect of blogging the other day while watching Butler University College of Business freshmen prepare to navigate the high ropes course as part of their Freshman Business Experience (an all-day orientation exercise to build leadership and team-working skills). Before each student began climbing the sailors’ rope ladder up to a platform 38 feet above the ground, the belayer offered coaching and safety instructions. In the sport of climbing, I learned, “belaying” refers to the technique of controlling the rope that is attached to the climber’s harness, so the climber cannot fall very far.
Communication between climbers and belayers, we were told, is absolutely critical. Climbers were taught to wait for verbal confirmation from their belayer that everything was in place for a safe climb. The student would call out, “On belay?”, then wait for the belayer to respond with “Belay on!”. As a second check, the student would then ask, “Climb?”, and then wait for the belayer to answer “Climb on!”.
Blogging doesn’t involve such formal exchanges between blogger and reader. But, as a professional ghost blogger, I’m keenly aware of the parallels between blogging and belaying when it comes to two-way communication. Business blogging involves another sort of climb, using SEO (search engine optimization) techniques with the goal of having the blog “climb” towards the top of Page One on Google, Yahoo, MSN, or other search engine. The higher the placement or “ranking”, the closer the blog is to “winning search”.
But, just as a rope climber can’t make it to the top without input from the belayer, blogs are indexed based on their relevance to what searchers want to find. The more visitors click on the blog, the longer those visitors stay around reading the blog itself, the more comments visitors post, the more they move on to the website of the business that posted the blog, the more “feeds” customers request to their email or to their own websites, the more these visitors “belay” the blog “climber” and help it reach a higher internet ranking. Bloggers can’t climb until readers encourage them by saying, in essence, “Climb on!”.