If you’re new to the online world, sometimes it’s easy to get confused about terms that people throw around because they assume you know already know what they mean. So let’s talk about some basics. There are some differences between a blog and a website, and there are similarities.
Some people only have a website, and others only have a blog. Many have both. It is now possible to have a hybrid of the two, which I’ll discuss below.
Back in the day, there were only websites. You wrote your copy, much like creating a brochure, and you stuck it up on the web. But making changes was difficult. If you wanted to change something, you generally had to contact your webmaster, usually wait a ridiculous amount of time and get them to change it for you, unless you happened to know how to code in html.
Just as they do now, search engines brought traffic to websites based on keywords in the metadata, or digital information, of the site. Since the content of most websites is fairly “static,” in that it doesn’t change very often, the search engine “spiders,” or programs that crawl the Web, do not crawl websites as often. Spiders reward sites that constantly provide new content, ranking them higher than those that do not update their content.
What is a blog?
A blog is a type of website that is set up in a specific way. The word “blog” is a contraction or shortened phrase for “web” and “log.” Originally they were used for personal journaling, and only later, businesses began adapting them for their purposes. The difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is set up in a series of articles called “posts” that appear with the most recent showing first. Blogs do not require a knowledge of coding and are very easy to maintain and update with a minimum of training.
Perhaps the best feature about blogs is that, because of their ease of updating, some of the highest ranking sites by search engines are blogs. This is why many people choose to attach a blog to their website and then blog frequently. The blog will draw traffic to the website/blog combination because search engines reward fresh content.
If you want to use your blog to get traffic to your site, it is very, very important that when you set up your blog that it is hosted independently on a server rather than group hosted on a platform. By this I mean do not use an established platform such as WordPress.com, Typepad or Blogger. You do not want a blog address such as: mydomain.wordpress.com or mydomain.blogger.com. You do want: mydomain.com.
If you set up a blog on a hosted platform, you are only generating traffic for their site, not your own, and you are not helping yourself. Yes, they are easier and cheaper to set up, but in the long run, the set-up is not the biggest investment — your time is. Believe me. It’s worth doing the right way.
Now, it’s also important to understand the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a hosting platform, meaning they provide the server to store your site. WordPress.org provides the software for you to create your site on a separate server, such as godaddy.com, bluehost.com or networksolutions.com.
This is where the “hybrid” model comes in that I mentioned earlier. My site is a hybrid between a blog and a website, built on a custom WordPress theme. What that means is that WordPress creates various software templates for designers they they can use to create blogs/websites. Many very nice templates are free, while other custom templates are for sale. Mine is a blog that has several “static” or generally unchanging pages of copy that are like a website, such as my home page, testimonials page, services page, etc.
WordPress themes are very popular because they are user friendly and often less expensive to create than traditional websites. If you are a small-to-mid-sized business, a free WordPress theme may provide all you need for a website-and-blog-in-one. Many free “plugins,” or apps, have been built to work with WordPress, so that you can customize your blog function, such as automatically posting to social media sites when you publish a new blog post. Even if you are not a web designer, you may be able to create your own blog with a simple WordPress theme if you are willing to put the time into it.
If you want to get found online today — and let’s face it, if you’re in business, your customers are online — then you need to be blogging. I tell my clients that the “hub” of their online presence must be their website/blog — not social media sites, which are secondary. And since the difference between a blog and a website is the traffic that a blog can deliver, that hub really should be all about blogging. If you aren’t blogging, you don’t exist online.
Photo by SEOPlanter