As many of my clients fall into the category of small / medium sized businesses, I find that there’s often some confusion about the differences between a blog and a web site – particularly a corporate web site.
I’m asked to explain this often enough that I’ve decided to share that explanation here so that managers of businesses I don’t yet work with have a quick reference guide.
Firstly, let me say that I’m not surprised that many are confused. It’s easy to be confused because things are evolving in a such a way and at such a rapid pace that the lines between formal and informal are blurring.
The term ‘blog’ was originally derived from ‘web log’, essentially an online, or web, journal. Most bloggers today probably weren’t active at that time, so today, the common term is ‘blog’.
Blog’s have evolved from their journal beginnings to become a dynamic multi-user communication tool. They’re really active online conversations at best. As such, they tend to be as informal and diverse as the personalities of those who use them.
The greatest advantage of a blog is that it’s super quick. Super quick to get information online. Super quick to get response. Super quick to get interaction going between the writer and the audience.
The very nature of this free interaction means that the conversation can sometimes go all over the show, expanding on and digressing from the original topic in nano seconds. It’s all part of the fun.
And the search engines love blogs. They love them because they are perceived as being popular and the more activity on them, the more popular they are perceived as being. They’re the ‘wiki’ of any and every subject imaginable.
Best of all, for businesses, they’re low key, yet powerful money magnets.
They are ideal for relationship building and education.
As you’ve probably gathered, the corporate web site is an entirely different species in the online animal kingdom. Corporate web sites are primarily concerned with two things:
- disseminating the corporate philosophy and area of expertise
- creating and maintaining the corporate image
In fact, the two online mechanisms are so far apart that other than sharing the same internet, they bear little resemblance to each other.
Earlier I mentioned that the confusion about the differences has arisen because of a blurring of the lines between the two. You may ask, “How can there be any blurring if they’re so far apart?”
The reason is that many are opting for a combination of corporate web site and blog. This is being done usually in one of two main ways.
- A corporate site with a blog add on dressed up to look like the corporate site
- A blog that comprises both corporate information and blogging
This second option is becoming more and more popular due to the speed and lack of cost associated with it. A blog allows you to publish the information you need to disseminate quickly and inexpensively. If you can find (or custom create) a theme you like, you also have the option to have a static front page and navigation bar just like a traditional web site.
In this instance, your posts become visible as independent pages under “Categories” and “Recent Posts” both of which can be made visible in a side bar for easy access.
This means that not only is your corporate information front and center, but it’s also easily accessible to search engines as are all your subsequent posts.
Blogs, by the way, allow you to have posts and / or pages. Pages would contain information that you wouldn’t change too often, while posts will feature ongoing updates.
There are pros and cons to both these approaches.
Pro’s for corporate site blog add on:
- appears to be part of the corporate site
- where image is of prime importance, the blog is ‘skinned’ with a theme the same as the corporate site theme
- is accessed at the same url as the corporate site
Cons for corporate site blog add on:
- ‘Skinning’ with a corporate theme usually results in severe loss of functionality – most of the blog functionality is impossible to incorporate in a skin
- More complex to update to the new WordPress versions as the skin has to be made compatible. Incompatibility can result in the blog simply disappearing from sight and becoming invisible
- Gives the impression that the blog is merely a vehicle for stuffy corporate speak rather than true interaction
- is also usually a lot less visible to search engines (as a result of loss of functionality)
- requires the web site designer or IT department to install and maintain. Usually these people are not bloggers so this is an area which doesn’t really fit their expertise. They are used to formal programming and the down and dirty casual blog approach is often quite incomprehensible to them
Pros for the independent Blog:
- Quick and easy to get it installed and up and running. Requires no html or programming experience – there are thousands upon thousands of free templates available allowing you to create a look that suits your requirements
- If you require a custom theme, WordPress themes can be commissioned at great rates because there are so many WordPress afficionados practicing their craft
- Quick and easy to update – no html required, though you can certainly use html if you want to
- Search engines love the blog format and find the content quite easily – simple keyword use will result in quickly increasing rankings
- Perfect for creating a ‘buzz’ and encouraging interaction with the audience. Others can make comments easily and you can choose whether comments are required to be moderated before being publicly visible.
- Allows flexibility in the length and nature of content posted. Short or long posts work equally well.
- Allows easy, on going communication with the audience
Cons for the independent Blog:
- Themes can sometimes be a little inflexible. Picture placements, fonts and font sizes are often set parameters and these can’t be altered without programming. However, for the most part, this is not a big issue.
- Can sometimes look more messy than a corporate site because of the nature of the theme and the volume of information
- Will operate best when it has it’s own unique url rather than a corporate add on url
As you can probably tell, I’m fairly partial to the combination of corporate site and blog through the use of an independent blog. It’s the ideal situation for many businesses. It puts the people who will be providing content in control rather than having them wait on an overloaded IT department.
It outranks a newspaper for immediacy and ease of access. It costs next to nothing and if you get tired of the look… no problem. Changing a theme takes seconds.
If you’d like some advice or help with your online presence, please email me. I’d love to help.