Many small business owners don’t understand the difference between a ‘Website’ and a ‘Blog’. You are probably aware of the importance of having an online presence. What you may not understand is why the two are both separate and important to the success of your business.
Complicating the already crowded Cyber-Space are the many choices. There are hosted sites (which includes blog publishing services) and self-hosted sites.
Blogs began as ‘weblogs’ in the early 1990’s; a place to give voice to online personal diaries. They were updated on common websites and required the user to have a moderate amount of technical skill. As this idea gained popularity, browser-based software was developed for the user with less technical skill. Blogs are mostly hosted by a service on a ‘sub-domain’ or individual blog software, hosted by the developer. There are many services from which you can choose. They are designed for ever-changing content, but are limited in the additional features they offer.
Websites contain a set of pages served from a single domain name, which are stored on a web server – known as ‘hosting’. Web pages are documents which hold different formats of information: text, images, .doc, .pdf, audio, video and more. A website can have many different types of functions in one place – e-commerce (selling products), photo gallery, portfolio, educational, forms, etc.
Most of your prospects will do online research before they decide to buy. This makes it imperative that you have an up-to-date online presence. It’s possible you may not ever meet these prospects or customers face-to-face. Your opportunity to build a relationship hinges, at least in large part, on the quality of your online presence and content.
This new marketing challenge forces business owners to learn a new way to market their product or service. The best, most effective way to do this is to combine your blog and website together. By doing this, you will:
- Build relationships with your audience by writing a blog on a regular schedule
- Show expertise and authority in your field
- Educate your prospects and customers about your product or service
- Rank far higher in search engines (such as Google, or Bing) because you are offering valuable original content on a regular basis
- Show that your business is current and alive
- Keep your customer or prospect on your website and show them what to do next – how you can solve their challenge or problem. People may read your blog, and if it’s on your website, they will stay awhile and look around.
Now that you understand why it’s important to combine your blog and website, (and just call it your website) how do you decide whether to use a hosted service such as ‘Blogger’, ‘Square Space’ ‘WordPress.com’ or a self-hosted system like ‘WordPress.org’ ‘Drupal’, or ‘Joomla’?
Here’s the difference:
- Complete control and flexibility. Whether you are a skilled ‘do-it-your-selfer’ or you hire a Website Designer/Developer, you can customize it to your liking
- You have optimal functionality with a huge array of available ‘plugins’ (additional software designed for specific purposes)
- You own it. You own the site with your own domain name
- You’ll need to maintain your site with weekly procedures – either accomplished by you or a website professional
- It does cost more, but it is by far the better chose for professionals
- Convenient and often (but not always) quick to set up
- Uses templates from which you choose options of design and functions
- You must work within their guidelines, and because they actually own your site, they can advertise on it. Often, you may have a ‘sub-domain’ instead of your own, which can make it more difficult for search engines to locate you.
- You have less flexibility to change content
- These sites are less expensive in the short term. Although they leave a lot to be desired in terms of an optimal web presence, at least you’ll have a web presence while you save for a more effective website.
It’s time to get on board! Have an online presence of which you can be proud. Because you’ll spend a great deal of your limited time and resources on this, it’s important for you to understand the options. Technology is changing so fast, it is not uncommon for businesses to change the look or functionality of a website every 3 – 5 years. As your business – and your knowledge – grows, you can make changes in your online presence.
If you need some guidance in making the right decision for your business, help building your website, or writing that ever-so-important blog, the Wild Women are here to help.