BLOGSCANNING

Janelle-92X185Flip.jpgThere are at least two million web pages that point to that post, giving his blog serious Google juice.

Builds business, beats boredom

By Bob Janelle
From SCAN's Print Edition

“I was bored,” says iotum Corporation CEO Alec Saunders, one of Ottawa’s best-known bloggers, when asked how his tech blog began. As a high school student, Mr. Saunders wanted to be a writer. But when real-life took over a career in the technology industry didn’t allow much time to focus on the craft. That changed in 2002. A few years after returning to Canada following a stint at Microsoft, he launched a personal blog, dubbed Saunders Log, which can be reached at http://saunderslog.com. Five years and several thousand blog postings later, Saunders Log has become fairly popular. There are more than 2000 subscribers through RSS and it has been saved 50 times on the popular social bookmarking site del.icio.us. Saunders Log has also caught the attention of some of the technology companies he writes about, which occasionally send him products to review – a favourite perk among bloggers.

But it did take some effort to bring an attempt at relieving boredom to popularity in the blogosphere. In the beginning, Mr. Saunders would post his thoughts about three times per week on almost any topic: politics, technology, travel, wine. Anything that interests him was fair game.

He realized he needed to make a few adjustments after a conversation with Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano Inc., a California public relations firm that specializes in blogger relations. Mr. Abramson suggested that Saunders.Log needed a narrower focus. Mr. Saunders responded by recasting Saunders.Log as a technology site, often focusing on the voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) industry.

The tipping point came from a single posting in 2005 – Voice 2.0: A Manifesto for the Future, which can be found at saunderslog.com/voice-20/. The lengthy article delves into the disruption caused to the traditional telecom industry by the ability to transmit voice over the Internet for free. According to Mr. Saunders, there are at least two million web pages that point to that post giving his blog, in his words, “serious Google juice.” The number of in-bound links are among the criteria the search engine uses to rank the relevancy of a web site.

Although the focus has been narrowed, Saunders Log doesn’t focus exclusively on VOIP. There’s plenty of information and commentary on the mobile communications industry, product reviews and social media. Wine and politics can still make their way on the site some days.

Mr. Saunders is also able to pull in a little bit of extra traffic by maintaining a long list of local blogs. A separate page on Saunders Log contains links to more than a hundred blogs written from the Ottawa area.

Another slice of advice from Mr. Abramson was to post far more frequently than a few times a week. Taking heed, Mr. Saunders is now up by 6 a.m. writing for the blog every morning. On an average day, he’s able to pound out three posts before most high-tech workers have arrived at their offices.

Why does a company CEO put so much into communicating his views? Mr. Saunders says that he’s seen a direct correlation between traffic to his blog and traffic to the iotum corporate web site. He believes popular blog can also help make the company behind it popular.

Along with direct exposure to potential customers, having a blog with thousands of pages indexed in Google provides a boost in search results, getting Mr. Saunders’ own name associated with VOIP technology more and more. That’s a far better boost than most can get by spending thousands of dollars on search engine marketing consultants.

Bob Janelle is a freelance journalist who has plied his trade at the Citizen and Kingston’s Whig-Standard. A bilingual grad of Algonquin’s J-School, where he won awards for both writing and photography, he is a self-confessed video game addict.

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