Why Have a Blog?A blog is a series of time-stamped posts that are relevant to that particular moment in time. We'll ignore here people who are using blogging software simply as a content management system (CMS), i.e. posting evergreen articles. If someone is simply posting evergreen articles like "this is how to tie your shoes" then they are simply updating the content of their website, and happen to be using blog software instead of CMS software to do it. To understand the difference, if this is confusing, hop back to read my article on What Is a Blog.
So there are in essence two groups of people out there who are considering blogs. First, those who intend NOT to have evergreen content available and intend only to do time-based blogs. Second, those who intend to both have a time-based blog and also have evergreen content available. We'll cover each of the two groups.
Certainly there are sites out there who only blog. An example would be a sports writer who, each day, writes about the sports news of the day. Their main purpose in life is to provide that news and insight. The information absolutely needs to be date-stamped. Talking about where the Red Sox are in the pennant race would be baffling if the writer never mentioned what week they're writing in. A person reading the post in December would be confused. Did "yesterday" mean December 15th? How could the heat wave have affected play then? Time-based and date-based observations need to have the publish date there as a reference point, and these work perfectly in blogs.
I would say that even a person who thrives on that of-the-moment style of posting should really consider also having a portion of their site that has static, evergreen content in it. In our example, our sports writer would greatly benefit by having a series of static pages that lay out the rules of baseball, the team's history, the team's roster for each year, and so on. That way when he makes a comment about something, he can link to the appropriate page on his site for more information. And it's important that the content reside on that same site, on the same URL, so that Google sees the entire network of static and time-based content as a single resource location. That way the entire conglomerate gets a high ranking. If the content is spread out amongst multiple sites, then each site only gets a slight boost in ranking as a standalone little player.
Absolutely I would never use a third party site like blogger.com or wordpress.com as my site URL. This is YOUR BRAND you are building. You want it to look professional, and you want it to be your own traffic and worth and ranking that you are increasing. There are so many inexpensive server options out there that there is no excuse not to have your own domain name and to ensure this blog's growth is directly benefitting you - not someone else. Just as you should never contact professional contacts from a yahoo email address, you should never work on building a website based on someone else's URL.
Blog Plus Content Sites
This is where most web writers fall, and for good reason. There is enormous value to have both a content based set of content and a time-based set of content. The key here is that both sets of content should be on the same server, with the same base URL, in order to build up the overall site coherency and traffic ranking. That is, if my main content is on www.wineintro.com, I would absolutely want to make sure my blog entries were on blogs.wineintro.com. That way Google sees my wineintro site as an orgaized provider of all things wine related, with hundreds of thousands of pages of content, and rewards it with a #1 spot in Google. If instead it saw a scattering of pages on one server, and then another scattering on another server, both of those would be regarded as small players in the internet world and barely show up on search engine results.
That is, there would be millions of competitors who all only get 100,000 pageviews a month. So if my blog got 100,000 pageviews a month and my content wing got 100,000 pageviews a month, both would be tiny fish and would be ignored. But if my "wine site" as an entity got 200,000 pageviews a month, that gives it a far higher ranking. It's a logarithmic scale, i.e. there are far, far fewer sites you're competing with as you go up that line.
Most of us know why we want to have content pages. Readers love content. They search the web for content on a variety of topics. "What is a chardonnay". "What do I pair with cedar plank salmon". Those are all straightforward answers that they can read and enjoy. To go with that, though, readers also enjoy following along with a person they are interested in. On my low carb site, I post each day about what I'm eating and ask my visitors to share. They all chime in with what they are eating. We share ideas with each other. It's a different human need that is being fulfilled there - the desire to be involved in someone's world and to share their own thoughts in a timely way.
The blog posts are press releases. They talk about what you've updated so the readers know to go and read it. They talk about what you're working on, so the readers can lend ideas and suggestions.
If you don't have any site at all, and want to start just with a blog, then certainly give it a try - but keep in mind that you probably also want to have static pages on your site. There are a wealth of reasons to have static pages that you can link to and provide timeless content in. If you do have a content site already, then the blog is the "time based" component to complement your "evergreen" static content you already are updating and maintaining. Your blog lets you interact with your visitors and put a more human face on what you are providing.
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