The Rise of the Blog as a Business Gateway

by Patricia Skinner March 10th, 2009 

wordpress-logo

Using a blogging platform for your major business website is a fairly new concept: up until recently blogs were considered a smart supplement to a business website but that was as far as it went.

If you are thinking of making the changeover to a blogging platform instead of a static website to promote your business you're in good company. There are dozens of examples of successful online businesses using a blog as their primary gateway on the Net.

SugarRae

SEOServices: Buzz for Your Business

Webinknow

Michael Gray–Graywolf's Blog

Planet Chiropractic.com

Marketing Pilgrim

Conversation Marketing

How come?

Let's take a look at what's being said about using a blog for business:

Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim is enthusiastic about the use of WordPress:

Using a blogging platform such as WordPress allows businesses to bypass the typically slow process of asking a web development team to make changes to the web site. By using a blogging platform as the back-end, anyone in the company can quickly make changes to a web page, create new pages, or even add new functionality thanks to the many freely available blog plugins. In essence, WordPress brings efficiency and cost-savings to any size business.

First, as Andy says, blogging platforms are easy to use and the search engines like them. Second, a blog tends to be the perfect way to display your content, and the very nature of the setup encourages you to add fresh content all the time. Somehow the same incentive just isn't there on a static website.

Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing had this to say:

Blogging software is really a specialized CMS. If you adopt a versatile blog tool, like WP, you can easily run your site with it.

To sweeten the deal, there are many powerful blog directories where you can submit your site for valuable incoming links as well as the possibility of more traffic.

Technorati
MyBlogLog

And let's not forget social media: While you can submit all of the pages of a static site to StumbleUpon, for example, there just isn't the scope for getting your pages stumbled that you get with a blog where you can have pages submitted several times a week if you wish. And the number of pages that can be indexed in social media sites is limitless. Can you say backlinks?

Technorati Top 100

If you look at the Top 100 Blogs on Technorati you'll see a lot of very impressive sites . They are all main business platforms: Not one of them is a supplementary blog, although they may have started out that way.

Most of the current blogging platforms are great, but WordPress beats the others hands down in terms of ease-of-use and choice of themes. TypePad which was huge a few years ago, is still huge, but just doesn't seem to have kept up with the WordPress pace of advance. Drupal is coming up fast though, and you might want to consider that. Back to WordPress: Perhaps the main reason it's so popular is the truly wild selection of plugins, which are scripts or applications that enhance the functionality of your blog.

WordPress Plugins

There are WordPress plugins for SEO management, Social Media linking, monetizing, photo galleries, site maps, contact forms, tag clouds, security, stats and a lot more. The beauty is that you can decide you want a plugin and literally three minutes later it can be on your site, fully-functional. Compare that with a static site where you have to select and then hire a programmer for any enhancements you need.

WordPress has a huge amount going for it to please the picky user, such as a vast choice in free themes so you can get just the right look for your site at no cost, and the support is fabulous: there are forums and lists galore to help you should you ever get in a fix. And if you give a shout to your friends on Twitter for WordPress help, nine times out of ten someone will offer you friendly, free advice to sort you out quickly. But more important than all of these, you can have a professional-looking site with loads of add-ons and features without having to learn code.

WordPress is an SEO-friendly content management system and as such perfectly placed to act as a framework for often diverse business interests. This does not include regaling prospective clients with your trivial and boring private life however. While a business blog can play an important role in helping a client get to know you and feel comfortable dealing with you, there is a very fine line beyond which it all becomes 'too much information' or as they say, TMI!

Back to what I was saying: Why is WordPress SEO-friendly? Primarily because Google simply approves of it.

WordPress Dos and Don'ts

It creates a bridge so that you can convey your expertise in a conversational tone while carefully crafting content to include your primary and long-tail keywords
Allows you to create a database of goods or services offered as well as input from happy customers
Keeps your information fresh and up-to-date both from a business perspective and from an SEO perspective
Provides a platform for you to keep a finger on the pulse of your particular niche so you can stay abreast of your client's needs and wishes. This is potentially a huge boost to your business.

What you should not do:
Allow an air of negativity to creep in. Far too many bloggers use this informal mode of communication to air grievances and even attack others. This is not businesslike and be very aware that it will cost you dearly if you give in to such urges. Potential clients will always be more inclined to engage with you if they feel that you're a pleasant person: they need to feel safe with you and seeing you let off steam in an aggressive way is not going to do that.
Don't feel that just because you are using an informal business platform that you don't need to perform online business tasks such as monitoring your traffic and carefully research ing your keywords. It's all still very important.

You can read the follow-up to this post here: Why WordPress Can Help Your Business

Patricia Skinner

Patricia Skinner is Director of Sekari Content Production Studio in Amman at Sekari and spends her days doing what she loves best; cooking up winning content strategies for organic search.

http://www.wellwrittenwords.com

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10 Responses to “The Rise of the Blog as a Business Gateway”

  1. Alysson says:

    I'm thrilled to see a post that highlights the benefits of using WordPress as a business website solution, rather than just a blogging platform. I often tout the benefits of relying on WordPress, particularly as an affordable and scalable option for small businesses.

    The search engine friendliness of WordPress is unmatched – especially with the correct plugin choices – and with a bit of PHP and CSS knowledge, there isn't much that can't be accomplished within the framework of the WordPress platform.

  2. Charles Sipe says:

    Absolutely! WordPress is definitely the way to go. I like that you can find literally thousands of free WordPress templates online to customize your site and give it a professional look.

  3. I must admit that it seems strange when websites are "planned" from head to toe. Yes, the home page. Yes, the main navigation. But who wants to put up a website that just stis there? Silly me, plenty of people do…it just seems strange, that's all.

  4. Glenn Murray says:

    Hmmm. I'm not convinced. I'd be really interested to see some usability studies on this.

    I readily acknowledge that blogs are usually great for SEO and that systems like WordPress are easy to use, etc. However, by leading with a blog, you're eliminating the all-important home page blurb. This is the copy that summarises and positions your company and offering, and sets your reader on a strategic 'slippery-slide' to conversion.

    I know that blog posts can establish personality and tone, but they're not directed like home page copy is. They generally cover a much wider range of subjects than home page copy generally would, and don't usually do anything in the way of summarising your offering (because that's counter to the culture of social media).

    I know that some of these sorts of sites have a summary of sorts (e.g. in the header, or a prominent list of services), but many don't. I know when I come to one of these sites, I always feel momentarily lost.

    And my concern with this is not just the lack of the persuasion slippery-slide. It's also the perception they create. It's easy to mistake their purpose: are they just a blog that offers products and services on the side? If I'm after specialist services, I want a specialist provider, not someone who offers the service as an 'afterthought'. (Big names like Michael Gray and Rae Hoffman may be able to get away with it thanks to the personal brand, but it's not gonna be so easy for lesser known providers.)

    Furthermore, there's the straight usability issue: what do users expect? Just as they expect certain nav options (Home, About Us, Contact Us, Products, Services, etc.), do they also EXPECT standard home page copy? I know I do, but that may be just me. That's why I'd be interested to see some usability studies.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. This is something I've been pondering for a while, so if nothing else, it's good to see some discussion about it!

    Cheers, Glenn (@divinewrite on Twitter)

  5. Patricia Skinner says:

    Glenn, this is an amazing comment. A blog post in its own right! lol. I'm going to do another post to answer all your points: you pointed out to me some stuff that I missed. You'll have to wait a day-or-two though, so stay tuned. :)

  6. Angus Gordon says:

    I totally agree with Glenn, but there's nothing stopping you using WordPress as your CMS even if you want your default page to be a traditional home page. WordPress can be set up to do this; in fact some people use WordPress as a CMS without even having a blog! Whether it's the *best* CMS for a given user is another question of course.

    Having said all that, most off-the-shelf WP themes I've seen (even the much-vaunted Thesis) *do* make sites look like glorified blogs if they're used unmodified. For example, they tend to carry over the sidebar content from the blog to all the other pages. I wouldn't want a list of "recent comments" or links to umpteen different social networking profiles on my home page. (If anyone knows of a good free or cheap WP theme that has built-in support for different sidebars on different pages, I'd love to hear about it!)

  7. Angus Gordon says:

    …Having said which I forgot to subscribe to comments!

    Anyway, short version: Blog as Business Gateway. WordPress as CMS. Two different things.

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  9. Tom Bradshaw says:

    WordPress is great for all parties concerned. It gives the client power over what appears on their site, without having to contact the web developer every time. Plus it's also great for SEO!

    I like the dos and don'ts as well – I would add it's important to regularly update it as well, it makes your company look relevant and professional.

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