Listen Up and Say Ahhh…
Okay, before any of you go into a web frenzy and begin to thrash my title and protest, let me explain…
First: Yes! We all know that a blog is a website. No argument here.
Second: The invisible yet operative word is – OFTEN. But in my personal case it's – ALWAYS!
Third: I'm not saying that people or companies don't need a static website.
On the contrary – a company should definitely have one.
And although it would be great if every company with a site had a blog – they don't.
Some just don't see the purpose of having one or don't believe that it can help generate customers (cough).
Whereas others are ill-equipped and lack the resources (time or money) to keep a blog running with regular updates.
Whatever the reasons, they're obviously there.
However, in my effort to persuade the “no blogs” otherwise, I'd like to share a few interesting things.
The Facts of Stats: Read ‘Em & Weep
Several studies have shown that companies that blog have far better marketing results.
HubSpot conducted a little experiment of their own in 2009 and results showed that the average company that blogs has:
- 55% more visitors
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
Not only that, but these companies also have more consistent sales.
I won't go into the seemingly obvious reasons and details here, but if you're interested, I strongly recommend that you download HubSpot's 2010 State of Inbound Marketing Report.
The findings alone should help put an end to a “non-believer's” take.
But in case those numbers weren't enough to persuade you, here's another little finding:
Adweek recently published an article called “Social Net Growth: No End in Sight” based on an eMarketer report.
There was obviously tons of blah blah in the report, but here's the highlight I actually care to share.
The number of people visiting social networks on a monthly basis in the U.S. will reach 127 million, or about 57 percent of all domestic Internet users, by the end of 2010, a 16 percent increase over 2009.
By 2014, two-thirds (65.8 percent) of U.S. Internet users will be regular visitors to social networks…
Now that these exciting inbound marketing resources are out of the way, let me continue…
Blog Marketing: Extend Your Reach with Your Niche
Blogs are extremely powerful internet marketing tools that tap into the ever-growing reach and influence of Social Media.
They allow you to target a specific niche and are slowly becoming a more trusted media source of information.
Before you say anything, I said ‘more' not ‘most'!
According to BlogPulse, there are about 151,570,276 (and counting) blogs on the internet today and over 49,000 of them were created in the last 24 hours.
And those numbers increase every minute!
Pretty overwhelming, huh?
Blogs are actually the fastest-growing medium of personal publishing and are the preferred method of “individual expression and opinion”.
But then again, I'm preaching to the choir here.
“Social Media and blogs are becoming marketing powerhouses. They are the fastest growing category in lead generation budgets and they continue to be ranked as the lowest cost lead-generation channel…”
The State of Inbound Marketing 2010
There are still many people who wonder whether they should set up a blog or website for their online hobby or business.
And although the two serve different purposes and produce different short-term results, I think they're both necessary in some way or another and they can often complement or reinforce each other.
But in many cases, a dynamic blog is better than a static website.
And here's why (from a simple, non-techie point of view)…
Blog vs Website: Blogs Kick Ass
1. Blogs are Much Easier to Set up and Manage
Unless you're part of the geek squad or a tech-savvy brainiac, this is a hands down, no contest, indisputable fact!
If you decide to be a self-hosted blog as I am with nittyGriddy (and I highly recommend that you be), then you can download and install WordPress, the best blogging platform available today.
And yes, that's my opinion and that of about 25 million others.
Actually, more and more people are using this powerful Content Management System to build their sites even if they don't plan to blog.
As if there's still someone out there that's breathing who doesn't blog – Hah!
Much like Facebook accounts, I think we'll be seeing 2 year-olds and chihuahuas with their own blogging sites soon – “WheeBlog” and “BarkaBlog” :).
Hmm…I may be on to something here.
Okay, let's get back on track…
The entire setup process should take you no more than 5 to 10 minutes.
Plus, there's no coding required – pheww!
You see, I'm what you call ATTAC – “All Things Techie with Abbreviations Challenged”.
All essential files come ready-made, so all you have to do is upload them and create a database.
Don't let that last word scare you, cause it literally takes 30 seconds to do.
WordPress has an endless array of free and amazing looking themes that you can download.
Heck, I think I downloaded over a hundred before choosing mine.
And if you know a little CSS, PHP and HTML – 3 things we already established I royally suck at – then you can customize and tweak the crap out of them to get your own personal look and style.
If you plan on going pro and are up to spending a few bucks, then I suggest you check out the 3 premium theme biggies: Thesis, Genesis and Headway.
These are by far the preferred choice of A-list bloggers and many – including me.
Here at Traffic Generation Cafe, Thesis is king.
Regardless of the theme you install, the user-friendly WordPress dashboard allows you to easily access and update all your information.
From your content and comments to your plugins, widgets and options.
It's super simple and very straightforward.
Plus the blog platform does all the actual technical work for you. So, it's pretty much idiot-proof.
Now if you're still confused or undecided about whether to go with a self-hosted blog or not, here's a helpful infographic by WPBeginner that'll simplify things for you.
2. Blogs Retain More Interest
Because blogs are easy to browse through and regularly updated – at least they better be, if they want to survive and prosper – readers will be more likely to return if they're interested by the content.
Hence, the horrifically overused and annoying cliché that makes you want to pierce your own eardrums – “content is king”.
I'm actually on a mission to find and coin a better catch phrase.
Depending on the way they're written, blogs have a lot more personality in the text (Duh!).
They tend to have an informal and conversational tone instead of the professional one you often see on websites.
Obviously, this style of writing is more likely to capture a reader's attention – nod if you're still here, but thought you'd be long gone by now!
In my case, I write like I talk, which let's face it, is way more entertaining to read than a monotonous monologue by a corporation.
Moreover, posts are generally featured and easily accessible to readers.
Websites, on the other hand, can have you crawling page after page of utter blandness (blah!).
Needless to say, the easier and more interesting you make it for your viewers, the longer they'll stay (hello bounce rate) and the more they'll return.
3. Blogs Encourage Author and Visitor Engagement
With a blog, anyone visiting that likes (or dislikes for that matter) your post can leave a comment or click on that fabulous little ‘like' button.
After all, commenting is one of the things that matters most, and it's what bloggers look forward to – at least I do (hint hint)!
Not only that, but visitors can also subscribe via RSS or email to receive your updates, join your Facebook fan page, follow you on Twitter, download an eBook you've written, participate in a poll or contest and more.
But we'll get to a couple of those in a bit.
You see, websites are like using a microphone. It's a one-way or one-to-many communication method.
Blogs however, are like using a phone – and not just any phone – I'm talking Blackberry or iPhone lol.
You're also speaking to many (at least I hope), but it's a two-way conversation where your readers are not only listeners or consumers, but contributors as well.
They can reply to you or to others that have left comments on your page.
It's a great way of building a healthy and engaging community as well as striking up a threaded conversation. There's just as much to learn from other people's views.
Through good, consistent and regular updates, you'll start to generate trackbacks, pingbacks and comments.
And believe me when I tell you – they matter.
Just ask Ana, the “Tzar(ina) of SEO”, here at Traffic Generation Cafe. She'll tell you all about the ‘pings' and ‘backs‘ and the important SEO stuff that I'm getting to next.
Note from Ana: I am getting very fond of this new nickname Ingrid came up with. I am taking votes down in the comment section! Ana, Tzarina of SEO – thumbs up or thumbs down. Readers choice!
4. Blogs are More Search Engine Friendly
Okay, here's the thing.
Regardless of your personal reasons for blogging, one of them should be to generate interest and viewers.
That's if you have any intention of growing.
Because blogs are updated regularly and contain a big number of deep links, they're more likely to be discovered by those cute little search engine bots that come crawling your site to identify and index your new content.
Obviously, the more you update, the more pings you send out and the more the bots will come visit (What is a ping?).
Think of it as a “Domino Effect” – where syndication is almost instantaneous and automatic.
Now repeat after me…“All Hail Queen Alexa!”
5. Blogs Generate More Traffic
Just as I mentioned that blogs retain more interest and encourage engagement, they also generate an audience – and in turn, they get more traffic.
The richer and more interesting your content, the easier it will get noticed.
You can't please everyone, but you can target the ones you're looking to get attention from.
Hence, your niche market.
Once you begin to build your readership, they'll help in promoting your blog for you.
People will start to talk about you, write about you, interview you, link to you and grow your blog for you.
Once I started getting a loyal following who enjoyed my content, they started referring to me in their own blogs. And a few even wrote awesome stuff about me :).
Evidently, this allowed their readers to discover me and cling to my many rambles of wisdom.
I can honestly say that most of the blogs I like and read today I discovered through other people's blogs.
The more people mention you, the more people will be intrigued to know you.
6. Blogs Rock More at Link Building
Once again, Ana here is your best resource and can teach you all the in's and out's of one way link building through many of her articles – one of which, “Link Building Mixology: Your “How To Do It The Right Way” Guide“.
You see what I did here?
If this post was on my site, then she would have gotten “pinged” (sounds kinky I know, but it's not) and been notified that my site had linked to hers.
Either way, she knows.
If you want to link to someone's post, make sure it will add value to your readers.
It doesn't do much for you if you simply link to their home page. Try to link to a specific article that relates to your own.
Linking to other blogs and them linking to you (as long as your content is worthy) can in turn increase your traffic.
But again, and like your mother would say, choose wisely the friends you want to be associated with.
Meaning…stay the heck away from porn and gambling sites!
One thing to remember is the more links you have, the more opportunities your readers have to leave your site and go find joy somewhere else.
7. Blogs Allow Readers to Subscribe via RSS
As I mentioned in #3, your visitors can subscribe to your blog through a couple methods, but more notably via RSS.
I don't think there's a blog out there that doesn't include this option.
And if there is – shame, shame!
Your religious followers want to be able to have your content delivered to their email inbox or feed aggregator as soon as it's published.
Not because they're stalking you, but because they're genuinely interested in what you have to share.
This is the part where I remind you about having kick-ass content again.
RSS literally allows you to take the content from another website and feed it to yours.
You're actually simplifying your readers life by providing them with a ‘door-to-door' delivery service. Think of yourself as Fed-Ex!
It's only obvious to conclude that the more subscribers you have, the more popular and valuable your blog is.
8. Blogs are Far More Popular with Social Media Sites
You know how in high school you had the cool and popular crew and the geeky or ‘not so popular' crowd?
Well, in blogging it's kinda like that – where the blogs and bloggers are the cool kids on the block; even though the static gang is still strong and kickin', they're a bit passé.
The roles have been reversed.
The time has come for “Revenge of the Nerds”.
I'm going to presume that all of you reading this are old enough to have heard of that classic.
And if you're not, I curse you out of jealousy!
Let's face it folks…us bloggers do have that little nerdy/geeky side going for us, but in a very cool way of course ;).
So why are blogs cooler and more popular with Social Media?
They talk and interact more!
After all, that's what the ‘Social' in ‘Media' is all about.
There's a continuous flow of sharing and engagement through the consistent and regular updates of interesting words (content).
In a nutshell, this is my witty version of what happens:
“After people have Stumble'dUpon your del.icio.us new content and Reddit, they Digg you, Tweet you and ‘Like' you on Facebook.
They even snag you from Flickr and try to tape you or watch you on YouTube.
But the fact is, although blogs and websites are closely LinkedIn and can easily Mixx, it's only the bloggers that get drafted to the Technorati!
And that, my friends, is what I call a Slam Dunk :D!”
Blogs are better than static websites for a hundred other reasons and I've obviously left many of them out – one of which includes Multi-User blogs.
Once again though, it all depends on what you're looking to achieve through your site.
If someone were to ask me, I'd recommend a blog 90% of the time.
But what do I know?
I'd much rather you hear it from a Pro who really knows her stuff.
And yes, I'm talking about Ana Hoffman again – not because she's my host and I'm trying to earn brownie points so she'll let me post here again, but because she truly knows what the heck she's talking about!
And better yet, she abides by the Cardinal Rule of Everything; “practice what you preach”.
For what other reasons are blogs better than websites? Do you think differently? I'd love to hear your thoughts.