Two of the main marketing reasons for keeping a blog are to improve your reach via search engines and increase visitor engagement with your content.

These two tasks can sometimes seem to be at odds, especially if you’re from the "write lots of keyword-stuffed blog posts" school of search-engine optimization.

But it is possible to reach new site visitors and create more engaging content if you’re able to put in the work and write consistently about things that are relevant to your audience (you know, provide something of value to customers).

Zemanta is a browser plugin that can help you quickly locate images, other blog posts and media that may be related to your content. It can help you improve your reach via search engines by creating another venue for receiving "backlinks" (incoming or inbound links to a Web site, which are the holy grail of most SEO campaigns).

Zemanta works with most major blog platforms via a browser plugin. This means you don’t need to call your Web site developer to use it. If you can install the Flash plugin on your computer, then you have the capability of using Zemanta within the next five minutes.

Let’s dig in.

Objective: Improve SEO via backlinks and create more engaging content without calling your Web developer or Internet marketer.

After installing the Zemanta browser plugin (at you can begin making use of one of its main features: adding links and media to your blog posts. This works on the "create more engaging content" part of the objective.

With the browser plugin installed, you’ll notice a few extra widgets in your blog backend. As you write your post, Zemanta is "reading" it and making suggestions for media and links to add to your post. You’ll see suggestions for technical terms that link to Wikipedia, for example.

You’ll also see image suggestions pulled from Creative Commons-licensed sources: no more excuses for having image-less posts. There will also be links to other blog posts that may be related to the post you’re writing for a "related items" section at the end of your blog post. …CONTINUED

Finding images and relevant links can add significant time to writing a blog post. Zemanta does it on the fly. Big time-saver.

You can fine-tune Zemanta’s suggestions by registering (for free) and specifying sources (those of you who pursue a greedy social media strategy can list only your Web site or blog).

If you register your social media profiles, Zemanta will notice when you mention a friend and provide social media links for them if they’re mentioned in a blog post. If you follow me on Twitter and mention @gahlord in your blog post, Zemanta will suggest that you link to my Twitter profile, as an example.

The important thing to note is that if you’re greedy, you can limit the source recommendations — and if you’re into spreading the love you can do that, too. I like this aspect a lot because it means the spread-the-love vs. greedy-bastard argument doesn’t get in the way of using a tool to speed up the creation of content.

But I bet you’re really here for the SEO part, so let’s get to that.

One way of extending your reach via search engines is by getting backlinks. SEO folks love to talk about working on the backlink campaign. I’ve mentioned how Zemanta allows you to link out to other sources. But from an SEO standpoint, you really want other people to link to you.

When you use the plugin in your blog posts, Zemanta learns about your post and what it’s about. It stores and uses this information to make suggestions to other Zemanta users, who then may see your blog post as a recommendation as they write their blog posts. If your headline and blurb text is intriguing enough to them (and if your content is good enough), they may choose to link to you.

Zemanta is really just a recommendation engine. It makes recommendations for relevant links to you and others who use the plugin based on the information you provide. Using the plugin is a way of increasing your exposure to bloggers who are interested in providing relevant links to their readers. That’s a great, qualified audience for your backlink campaign.

I wouldn’t recommend using Zemanta as your sole backlink campaign tool. But it’s a great way to increase the passive value of the blog posts you were going to write anyway. In addition, it should help your site visitors find more relevant content (on your site, the sites of your social media friends, or from anywhere).

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors. He will speak during a Bloggers Connect workshop at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7.


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