Blogs- A blog (short for web log) is a website where journal-like entries are made and publicly displayed in reverse chronological order.

Forums-An Internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as web forums, message boards, discussion boards, (electronic) discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards, fora (the Latin plural) or simply forums. The terms "forum" and "board" may refer to the entire community or to a specific sub-forum dealing with a distinct topic. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions. Beginning with Blogs, these are like personal journals that you can comment on different subjects. Blogs are a combo of text and links to other websites and other blogs, but there are other variations of blogs that are becoming more popular.

Here are a few:

1. Photographs (photo blog)
2. Sketches (sketch blog)
3. Videos (vlog)
4. Audio (podcasting)

i.e. MySpace, Blogger, etc.

The good news is that Google and other search engines are beginning to understand the significance of blogs, and are awarding blogs high Google Page Ranks, and high search engine rankings. This means that links that you might get on blog sites through stealth linking are generally high-traffic and high PR links. These links can increase you websites page rank.

In order to tap into this type of marketing there is two methods that are quite effective:

1. Leaving your digital signature
2. Adding a Blog to your site

The StoresOnline Pro Platform allows you to add a Blog directly on your site.

Follow these simple steps:

1. Go to the Pages tab and then click on Forum on the right.
2. Click the Add button.
3. Name the forum and put a check in the Require Audit checkbox to make it a blog.
4. Put a check in the checkbox next to the Allowed Group you would like the blog responders to be in.
5. Click on Posts on the right, and then click the Add button to add your first post to the blog.

Next, add this forum to a page on your web site:

1. Go to the page to which you would like to add your blog and then click the Chose Element drop down menu.
2. Click on Forum and then click the Add button.
3. Click the Ellipsis button next to Forum and click on the forum you just created and click the Select button.
4. Click the Done button

Since the only difference between a forum and blog is that other people have more of a say in a forum, you can restrict what customers say to make it a blog. When you check the "Require Audit" option, you get to review everyone's response before posting it on your site. This allows you to make sure their comments are relevant and that they are something you would like to display. After you finish accepting someone's comments, or adding another one, publish your site. Search engines look favorably on this constant updating of your website.

If you would like to create a blog outside of your website you can do this as well. These blogs can get you some traffic, and if you create an interesting one, and get the right links to it, then it can be high ranking. This kind of blogging should generally be done if you have a personal reason to do it, or were going to make one with or without your StoresOnline website. It generally takes time and effort to get going and you would only get ranking for one of your links back to your site.

Some people like to add their blog onto their site. You can do so by adding an external link onto the page you would like your blog to show on.

Utilizing blogs can increase visitors to your website and increase your sales. Adding a blog to your website or joining an existing one can provide feedback on your website, links to improve your ranking with search engines, and visitors that read the blogs and comment on them. Commenting on other blogs can be a fun and enjoyable way of increasing the number of incoming links to your website.

Blogs are great marketing strategies and can be utilized in different ways as displayed above.

Now I would like to go over Forums and the marketing that can be done there. It is easy to find forums based on the product that you are selling; you can definitely use this to your advantage.

On the next page you will find great information on Stealth linking. Link trading is critical to increasing your relevancy based search engine placement. Unfortunately one of the new link criteria is that links from low ranked pages do not counts toward your site's rank or placement. This means it will be harder and harder to find willing link trading partners. The answer is stealth linking.

Stealth Linking:

Many popular sites and vertical portals contain a forum or message board. Forms allow visitors to edit the content of the page by adding posts. These posts can contain links to your site!

1. Search for forums relevant to your product
2. Create an account and sign in to the forum.
3. Add a link to your site in your signature
4. Take an active and real part in the discussions on the forum.
5. Ask questions relevant to your product and answer any questions you can.
6. Each time you take part in the forum you will be adding a link to your sites for forum users to see.
7. Search engines will count any number of links in a single forum as one link so don't waste your time spamming the forum
8. Forum moderators will delete your posts if they suspect you of advertising your site, so add value to the discussion.

Stealth linking not only increases your ranking, but it also puts your link in front of a group of interested potential customer. Read the full explanation of Stealth linking in Merchant Services or refer to one of our earlier blogs in Feburary 2007.

Visit again next week!
Robert Schow
StoresOnline, Inc.

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