In the comments section of my recent post 5 musts of business blogging, Justin Brady asked a very interesting question. He asked:
and increase their Google ratings?
What if they don't care for loyal readers, or comments?
Is this still a good reason, and if not, what are the risks?
The answer…there are many great reasons to add a blog to your website, even if you don't really intend it to be a blog per se. It's a strategy we employ all the time for our clients. Let me show you a couple examples from the MMG client roster.
Mary Stier Connects (visit the site)
Mary Stier is the former President and Publisher of the Des Moines Register and was one of Gannett's youngest publishers. She retired from the Register in 2007 and has now launched her own business, The Brilliance Group. The vision for her new company is a lofty one — her profound passion is to bring the wisdom, strength and grace of women's leadership into the world.
Mary's offerings include individual coaching, consulting, workshops for companies/organization, public speaking,and teaching some classes at the college level.
With Mary's site, we wanted to accomplish several goals including giving prospects a sample of how Mary thinks and inspires women. We also wanted to organically impact the search engines. So twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) Mary publishes a new blog post.
Her site's home page holds her three most recent posts and then her blog in its entirety is deeper in her site. We wanted a very clean look for her site, so the only "bloggy" thing you'll see on her home page is subscribe links.
You can comment on her posts but other than that…it's kind of a non-blog blog. We'll probably add a blogroll to her full blog, but other than that…we're keeping it very simple.
Shirley Poertner (visit the site)
Shirley is one of a select group of Master Trainers for Crucial Conversations® and Crucial Confrontations™ and Influencer. All three training programs are based on New York Times bestselling books. She works with corporations, associations and individuals — training them on the principles of these books.
Her website is the primary sales tool for her courses and she drives traffic there in a variety of ways. Shirley is also on the blogging team at IowaBiz.
To get Google's attention and to keep her site's visitors engaged, we decided to re-publish one of her IowaBiz posts every month. Hardly enough to call it a blog, but it serves our purposes.
Visitors to her site can subscribe to her home page's feed and can read the old posts by clicking on the archives but it's not really set up as a blog.
So that's the long answer to Justin's question. There are many types of blogs, many reasons to blog and many ways to measure a blog's success. In both Mary and Shirley's case — their blogs become a significant aspect of their brand and sales process.
How about you…know of some others?
I blog as a way for organising and distributing fairly boring, quasi-technical content (about retailing) which then becomes a resource tool for our net-savvy trainees.
Traffic is irrelevant, google is irrelevant, comments are not too common because it is rarely about a conversation.
I have another way a blog is not a blog: when it’s a website.
Over the past couple years, I’ve advised a lot of organizations and professionals who need a good-looking, easy-to-update website. So, instead of a regular website, I’ve created their website using Typepad’s blogging software.
This has the significant advantage that they can update their content themselves, and I’ve made it easy for them to add news and events.
For http://www.awesome-women.org (for example), all the program organizer has to do to put up information about an upcoming event is to write a new post. When it’s done, she just switches the category to “Past Event” and it goes to the Past Events page.
With the webpage I’m now creating for a nonprofit horse rescue, it will be extremely simple for the organizer to post information about the horses that are available, to add “chip in” donation widgets to each horse’s page, and to eventually shift the horses over into the “Success Stories”. She’ll also be able to do updates herself, and add events/news as much as she wants. (Without paying, which is huge for a small nonprofit.)
When I showed her how much easier it would be to use the blog software instead of her current website, she almost cried.
Both of those organizations care about engaging their website visitors, but the real reason they’re using a blog is so they can easily update the website and (through the more-frequent updates) increase their Google rankings. It saves them significant money and time as well.
Our own dynamic and interactive blog-site is not a ‘blog’ per see.
Drives traffic to our static sites, gives loads of webvisitors the chance to ask their own question about anything related to wooden flooring, doesn’t care about how many ‘subscribers’ it has and is just good fun to work on.
Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)
I’ve got a chiropractor client who uses the blog functionality on his site as a newsletter. Posts an article a month, sends out an email to his patient list, and links back to it. It’s a good way to keep in touch with his patients and to slowly add content to the site over time–but it’s not a “blog” per se.
The good thing about blog software like WordPress or Movable Type is that it also can be easily used as a CMS (content management system) and with all the plugins available for either platform you can do any number of things with it. There are plugins for SEO optimization, anti-spam to keep the spammers out, adding image and video galleries either via Flickr or Youtube, or even just by uploading them in the administration panel. In many cases, using a blog platform is just what the doctor ordered for most clients.
Quite an interesting discussion you’ve got going Drew. I tend to agree with Claire, that if you want a one sided platform where you do not allow comments, it is counterproductive to the social media platform that a blog usually encourages.
The two examples you give, (Mary & Shirley), to me they look like blogs. Very nice and neat, clean and uncluttered.
I edit 5 blogs including authoring a couple of them from scratch. The others include material from other sources, including you. The Collective Wisdom site gets the most attention and I use it as a marketing and education tool. My own website is mostly a starting page where folks can go and click to get to the real meaty material on the blogs.
I advise clients to take things one step at a time depending on their business. Blogs that have a focus and are not entirely self-serving can generate traffic to a website that is a profit center.
Finally I urge all to be cautious about what they put on line via ANY type of site including blogs, social media, comments on other blogs etc. Once it is published, it can live forever.
Drew (me again), and completely off-topic, but since I don’t ‘tweet’, I have taken the ‘old-fashioned’ option of commenting on a few of my favourite blogs (and you are on the list 🙂 to engage in discussion about the question: what will change the world? The question was asked and answered by over 100 of the brightest on Edge.org (it is not a blog) so I have summarised their views on my blog. One answer is ‘social media literacy’ – and I wonder what you (and your readers) think?
I love using blogs for websites. It is one of the easiest and best ways of allowing non-technical people to publish / update their website whenever they want.
And, of course, you never know when you might just want to turn comments ON.
And…it’s incredibly easy for a non-tech person to use. When it’s set up properly — the client can pretty much maintain their own site 100%.
That saves them a lot of money, long-term.
Hmm, very interesting. So you really use the software as a content management system and nothing more.
Makes sense. It’s easy to build archives, you can use categories to sort/file data, and it does allow your trainers to leave comments re: content etc.
Smart use of inexpensive technology. I’m curious…what software are you using?
Yes….we’ve done the same. There are a ton of pluses and hardly any minuses. And if they decide they do want to add a blog to their site…it’s easy and inexpensive to do.
Do you use the same software for your blog as you do for your website?
So did you just “subscribe” all of his patients to the blog/newsletter?
The automated features on the blog software platform and the plugins that are possible make doing what you’ve described very easy and smart for many small businesses.
Our FAQ & News Site (aka blog) was an ‘after thought’. First there was the website created by a friendly business (is that the correct word? Can you have a business as friend 😉 – our business contact turned into a friend), then I took over the management of the website. Then we discovered the world of blogging and so its potential for our retails business and our typepad account was born.
First we kept the lay-outs roughly the same, now we even have separate designs for static site and blog-site – works well. Atmosphere and info are the same.
(And then my second career came along: teaching other small businesses, trades and retailers the benefits of using a blog-site as webpresence)
You list some excellent examples — blog software asks the question — why re-invent the wheel? They’ve developed so many plug-ins and tools already. Besides, you know they’ll keep updating and improving everything.
Unless a client needs something very specific that the blog software doesn’t provide, it’s our go to solution at MMG.
As you know, this is a hotly debated topic, usually with Seth Godin’s blog in the middle of the controversy.
Are there any other elements, besides posts, that you feel are non-negotiable in terms of is it a blog or isn’t it?
So would you call Seth’s “blog” a website or a blog?
We designed both Mary and Shirley’s sites so that the home page did resemble a blog…but they have no blogging aspirations. For both of them, it’s about fresh content and being a bit stickier.
If they get comments or linked to, etc. that’s just a lucky strike extra for us.
I’m curious…most people use their blogs to drive traffic to the rest of their site. It sounds like you use your static website to drive traffic to your blogs.
How do you drive traffic to your site in the first place?
I’ll swing by your blog and check it out. I’ll also tweet it for you…see what others think.
I agree…for many websites, blog software is the perfect solution. It’s hard to argue with inexpensive, user friendly and added functionality.
Drew (sorry about the delayed response)
I use WordPress but not entirely as you think.
Retailsmart is just a traditional blog format, but you are right it is quasi-CMS for me. I am mid-strategy, so you can’t see the final product yet but in the medium term I will eventually put a ‘sticky post’ on the frontpage to promote our online learning offer. Hopefully the fact that the website (blog) will have real content etc, then SEO/SEM will be easy and ‘authentic’. Long way to explain that the blog will eventually become a ‘landing page’ for online retail training site. There, I revealed it to the world
So if I understand you right…your top post will be the landing site for your online learning product. And then, what will appear as “older” posts will be your evolving content?
That makes sense to me….great SEO/SEM and most important message on top.
Let us know when you’ve got it done so we can come take a look!