Blogs vs. Static Web Sites: Which is the Right Solution For You?



Note: This is the first of a series of occasional articles on ideas for blogging for businesses.

Earlier this week I talked to yet another small business owner who is extremely frustrated by the process of having a website built.

The site he has now uses a flash drive which makes it unreadable to many visitors. Not to mention the fact that flash drives are unreadable to Google and other search engines (which means this site will never get ranked on a search engine).

The problem is that most small businesses must do things on the cheap. This results in many businesses using part-time web developers who often put more emphasis on making the site "pretty" than they do in making it a functional selling tool.

It also means that these small business owners experience long delays (as was the person I spoke with this week) in getting a new site up and running.

Why not choose a blog instead of a static site?


My standard response to most of these frustrated business people is that they should consider a blog instead of a static site. A blog is merely a template, which means it can take less than an hour to create. Initially, the template may not look terribly "pretty" but at least it is live online in a short time.

To make it look more appealing, there are thousands of more sophisticated "skins," or designs, available for Blogger and Wordpress blogs that can be used after the blog has been created.

Content? No One Said I Had to Create Content!


The basic difference between a blog and a static site is the fact that a blog is meant to be easily updated and changed. New content in the form of articles, videos, pictures, audio recordings (also known as podcasts), links and slideshows, can be added with the push of a button.

With a static site, adding new content can be an ordeal, often involving the very same web developer who took so long to get the site created in the first place.

This is why creating a static site involves so much pressure to "get it right" before it goes live. Quite often the business owner will get a call from the developer who says, "Your site is all done, all I need now is content from you before we load it onto the internet."

To which the owner says, "Content? I need content?" and then begins a scramble to write product descriptions, articles, post pictures and other information.

This is why the content on many, many static sites is, to be as charitable as possible, mediocre. Poorly-written articles, random photos and bad links abound on many of these sites - all because more thought was put into the design of the site than on what the site would say to visitors.

With a blog, the owner merely has to create an initial article, video or bare bones information before going live. More content is added on an ongoing basis.

And this is the rub, a blog involves a commitment to add new content often. Nothing repels visitors more than a blog that has not been updated in months. Ideally you will want to post new content at least 2- 3 times a week (I know, I know, I haven't been keeping my own rule too well lately, but I already have lots of content on this blog).

If the thought of adding new content regularly seems daunting, think about whether you would rather choose to have to create lots of content all at once before your site can ever be seen, or whether it would be better to post new information in small pieces over time.

I liken it to a store owner who changes displays weekly. They know that they cannot keep the same displays up all the time. Customers buy when they see variety.

Reasons for Choosing a Blog:


The advantages of a blog over a static website are:
  • Build it fast and get it online in one day.
  • Blog content can be created and added on an ongoing basis, rather than upfront.
  • Because content is added piecemeal, active blogs usually have more content, and are therefore more informative to the visitor.
  • Search engines LOVE blogs. Because of the regularly posted new content, search engines will scan blogs more often and reward them with higher rankings.
  • Visitors tend to come back to blogs again and again because they find them informative and like to see what new content has been added. Blogs have the same appeal of magazines, they develop regular readers who want to learn more.
  • A blog can take the form of a newsletter or product catalogue. Just feature a new product in every post with a picture, description and product review.
  • Small businesses with blogs get 55% more traffic than their competitors' static sites.


Frankly, with all these advantages, I have a hard time understanding why most businesses don't choose a blog over a static site. With some exceptions, my own opinion is that a blog is by far the better choice for most businesses.

Look for future articles on why a blog may be the best solution for your business.

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3 comments:

September 25, 2009 at 8:28 AM Matt Nelson said...

I have to agree with you on all points here Charles. I am starting a new marketing venture with a group of former colleagues and I am heading up all the interactive work for the new agency (FirstTracks Marketing Group). My first order of business is creating the website for the agency which I am working on now, and I immediately went to WordPress as a starting point. My main goal here is to create something that not only looks great and represents our talents well but is easy enough to manage and update that it encourages everyone in the organization to participate in marketing us online. I am very excited to get us all up and running in the next week or so, should be very exciting. Great post.

September 25, 2009 at 8:31 AM Anne Holmes said...

Oh you are soo right! Thanks for bringing this to the fore, Charles. Not to mention the fact that WordPress blogs are so easy to self-maintain.

It's for all the reasons you mention that - after 15 years of web design - we have stopped promoting that our clients own traditional websites and have switched to recommending only WP-blog-based sites. You can see several of them at http://boomerco.com

September 25, 2009 at 8:33 AM Toby Elwin said...

Great thoughts and insights.

It is a battle of resources for small companies. We all have a finite amount time and our time is spent juggling so much it may be more important than money.

The return on time as a sole proprietor or small business owner means you constantly have to pick and choose where to invest your time and at this stage, may be more important than the investment of your money.

Blogs have a remarkable life and strategy of unique to themselves, but building your site or homepage off as a blog strategy allows great flexibility and continued dynamic content. I recommend this to so many and your post lays out why it is a winning strategy for many.

Thanks,

Toby Elwin