This is the second of a three part series on blogging for business. It is such an essential issue for small businesses today that I felt it important to dedicate some real time to the topic. The first article focused on building a small business blog. Today’s piece investigates the decision to have a separate website verses using a blog as your website.
It used to be that all you had to worry about was having a website, now you need a blog and a complete social media footprint to go along with it to reflect the many ways that your customers are using the internet. Whether you have a professional services business, a brick-and-mortar retail establishment or an online business. Your business needs a website as the anchor of your online marketing! All websites should include a static home page that has been designed and written to clearly explain what you have on offer to people who visit your site. The question then becomes what kind of website do you need?
One of the most common questions I get about building an online brand is whether a small business should:
a) Have a website and a separate blog
b) Have a blog as the company website
c) Import a blog into an existing website.
“With the right web team, you can power the blog within the website using Wordpress.”
“Unless one can add value and maintain a blog long-term, I suggest just developing a website and importing dynamic content like Twitter feeds.”
“If your goal is heavy on the commercial side then go with a web site. If you want to create a community, go with a blog.”
Let’s define the basic business website terms: A blog is an online journal written by one person, or a team of staff people focused on a particular area of interest. Blogs are typically written in a conversational style and updated 2-3 times a week minimum. Search engines love blogs because of the fresh content. If possible, it’s best to have the blog as part of your website. Then, the fresh content on the blog attracts the search engines to your entire website.
Blog-based websites are cost effective, search engine friendly and can have both static information (like a traditional website) and dynamic information by way of blog posts. It is also very easy to update a blog without hiring a web designer every time you make a change. Cathy Larkin of WebSavvyPR.com says, “Blog posts are a way for service businesses to build trust in their brand. A blog, done well, gives you and your staff a way to showcase your expertise in a way that makes people think of you when it comes time to buy.”
A website is a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are available under a specific domain name on the World Wide Web. Websites are essentially online brochures designed to provide information, build a contact list, make money, and raise awareness of a small business. Information on a traditional website typically does not change very often. The static information on a typical website includes 5-7 pages: home page, about us, contact us, services/products, in the news, and an online store.
If you are just getting started, a self-hosted blog is the best option to help promote your business online. If you are starting from scratch, I suggest using WordPress.org, with your own hosting package. What I like about WordPress is that is designed to have both static pages and blog pages. Go for a hosting company that has a one button install for WordPress.org blogs. Customizing a WordPress blog can be tricky, but once its rolling along it’s pretty much maintenance-free.
If you already have a website, adding a blog section to it can be a way to update your online presence, and bring more traffic to your existing site. It’s best to have the blog as part of your website, but this isn’t always possible. “You may have started a blog a long time ago on a free hosted site such as blogger or typepad and may not want to go through what it takes to transfer a hosted blog to your website. In this case, you should link your blog from your website (and vice versa) and add frequent new content to your website, such as articles, white papers and special reports to provide fresh content on the website,” says internet marketing consultant, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Millermosaicllc.com. The only downside is you will need to engage a professional web designer to upgrade your website to import your blog, and add the additional content unless you learn to do it yourself.
When would you use a blog and website separately? If your blog is targeted to a very specific niche market and your website is targeted to a larger market, two sites make sense. Some advocate creating a completely separate blog and stand alone website if you are an infopreneur. This works for authors, coaches, professional speakers etc. (a micro-site designed to sell each book, for example). I use Melindaemerson.com and Succeedasyourownboss.com.
To get up and running quickly, I advocate hiring someone to help you set up your blog. You will have an expert to help you build the most professional presentation, create a branded banner, customize your blog with a theme, and show you the ropes.
No matter what method you decide to go with, it is very important to have a static home page on website and/or blog where what you offer is clear the moment someone lands on your page. The headline, banner graphic, and the text all work together to keep that unique visitor on your site.
Next week, the final part of the blogging for business series: 10 Ways To Get Your Blog To Shine.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com.