This interview with Internet marketer Stephan Spencer is the fourth in a series of interviews by B.L. Ochman examining the business models and marketing tactics of successful bloggers.
Stephan Spencer, publisher of the Internet marketing blog bearing his name, quit a PhD program in 1994 to start an Internet business. He quickly landed a couple of hundred million dollar clients. “Pretty big for someone with no business experience and no other clients,” he says.
Today his agency has 40 employees and he uses his blog as a reputation builder that opens doors and lets him “build relationships with other people that might not have been possible or might have been more difficult.”
Blogging since 2004, he’s built his audience organically to 800 to 900 visitors a day by:
– getting mentioned in other bloggers’ posts,
– commenting on other blogs,
– sending trackbacks to other posts,
– search engine optimizing his posts and category pages,
– plugging his blog whenever he does speaking engagements,
– getting on blogrolls
But there’s much more to his success.
How to Build a Broader Blog Audience
Now he’s begun a link-building campaign with high PageRank sites, like his company does for client sites. “It’s surprising,” he says, ” how few such links you need to dominate Google rankings. When a site with a PageRank score of eight links to one of our sites, we get a huge lift in search visibility.”
He’s also thinking of buying blogads on other people’s blogs, carefully selecting the link text based on keyword research.
Spencer uses the FeedBurner Pro service from Feed Burner with his RSS feed, in order to track the number of subscribers, clickthroughs, and item views that are coming in through his RSS feed. He cautions: “If you use a service
like Feedburner, SimpleFeed, or the like, careful to publish your RSS feed at a URL that you own and control. Don’t just use the default URL at feeds.feedburner.com because then you are trapped into using their service forever, or notifying all your subscribers to update the feed URL in their RSS reader/aggregator.” You can learn more at http://www.stephanspencer.com/archives/2005/06/28/control-your-rss-urls/
Feedburner Pro embeds web bugs (tiny invisible gif images with unique file names) into Spencer’s posts to track how many people viewed each RSS item through a newsreader and when. “As blog technology matures,” he notes, “more blogging packages will include RSS tracking and metrics reporting by default.” “Someday, I hope to see WordPress and others offer web bugs automatically, without having to use a third-party service.”
Podcasting & Screencasting
Spencer has also done a bit of podcasting on his blog. in the form of monologues, interviews, and roundtable discussions. He is thinking of also doing screencasts, in the form of an Internet marketing tip of the day..
“Maybe I’ll demonstrate how to create a podcast or how a particular search result ends up in the top slot,” he says.
“Or perhaps I’ll show how one can add a video component to a podcast or I’ll do a primer on how to create a blog on blogger.com in three minutes or less. A lot of people are kinesthetic learners. It will help them to watch the process unfold right in front of them on their computer screen.”
Advice to new bloggers: focus, focus, focus
His advice to bloggers starting out:
– Pick a very narrow topic. Nowadays even a blog specifically about Google is too broad. There is a blog about Google AdSense – now that’s nice and narrow, he says. “You are more likely to be seen as an expert in a narrow topic area.”
– Make sure you have enough content to be able to keep the blog going.
– Really put some thought into the name of the blog. B2B Lead Generation blog is number one in Google for the phrase “lead generation”, primarily because it’s the name of their blog.
– Do a good job of tracking your RSS subscribers. Maybe get into offering customized or personalized RSS feeds based on the subscriber’s interests on your company site.
– Write articles for other sites and get a byline with a text link back to your blog. Do webinars for other sites on your topic and create podcasts and screencasts of those webinars and publish them in your RSS feed.