Websites & Blogs: To combine or not to combine?

So it’s been a bit since I last posted and I do believe the cardinal sin of blogging is to not blog regularly and then apologize to readers for not blogging regularly…. so, sue me.

Besides being the Publisher & Editor of Occasions Magazine, I’m absolutely over the moon for anything that has to do with marketing.  I call it a way of life and small business marketing truly is just that.  My advertising clients have caught on and I often get email asking for advice on nearly everything.  A few weeks ago a fabulous client of mine sent me an email inquiring about whether she should have a website and a blog or one big site that includes both.  Because I get this question often and just spoke yesterday on the topic at StudioWed in Atlanta, I wanted to answer her via this blog in case anyone else is wondering the same thing.

Q: I recently purchased a flash template website and I have a separate blog.  I’m thinking about changing my website again so it can be one complete site on a wordpress platform.  My only concern is that I cannot find a really creative template to use.  Do you think I should customized the blog site I have and just keep this as the entire site?  Any thoughts or recommendations?
A:  I 100% am NOT an advocate of separate blogs and websites. Why, when technology enables you to have your website (with your about/services/gallery pages) AND your blog all on one platform, one login, one domain… would you want to have it separate?

Problem #1:  Your blog will render your website useless
In the past small businesses had a website that they paid a web developer for.  Then blogging became popular and sites like blogger.com make it extremely easy for just us regular folk to create blogs without having to pay the pros.  Suddenly you had a website that you never updated and a blog that you updated all the time.  Therein lies one of the problems.  One of the ways Google decides whether or not your content deserves to show up on the first pages of search results is the frequency of your content.  They want to deliver new, fresh content so your blog that gets updated more often, will beat your website to the punch. Also, WordPress contains a lot of “behind the scenes” features and optimizations specifically dedicated to improving your search engine ranking. It’s more than likely your website doesn’t.

Problem #2:  Blogs are personal, websites sell.
Your blog doesn’t have all the fabulous sales-y content that your website has about your business.  You have to link to your website which just puts one more step in front of getting a potential client to call you.  While you may think that potential clients will hire you based on your friendly disposition and relate to your recently redecorated bonus room (which is something you’ll likely blog about because blogs are personal) chances are, potential clients who are shopping you want to see your work first…. and then feel good about hiring you because they relate to your blog posts.  Combine the best of both worlds… all under one roof.

Problem #3:  Link Confusion.
While Google does decide how legit your website is based on the inbound links to your site, your measily old 1 link from your blog to your website is not going to change the world.  What will change the world is every time you are published on sites like StyleMePretty.com, OnceWed.com and OccasionsOnline.com… but if you have two sites…. which sites are they supposed to link to?  And… when you DO decide to finally combine the two… all the links to your separate site that got the boot when you finally decided to combine them… will mean nothing now.  Bummer.  Don’t confuse Editors or even fellow vendors with multiple sites.  Garner all the attention your website deserves and have one website on one domain.

Problem #4:  Flash is the devil, wordpress rocks.
Chances are you have one of those fancy flash sites you got from a flash template website company and while it’s pretty, it’s pretty much useless when it comes to clients finding you on the internet.  Yes, someone can type in your business name and find your flash site… but can someone type in your business type like “atlanta photographer” and find you…. probably not.  Your competitor, however, that is using a VERY search engine friendly platform like WordPress is probably having much better results attracting that “Atlanta photographer” attention, no problem.

I have two suggestions….

First, make the commitment to invest in your business image and hire a graphic designer/developer to create a “blogsite” that combines your blog and website on a wordpress platform.  The cost for this will start around $2500 depending on the company you go with….. trust me, you will recoup this cost.

Second…. if $2500 is entirely out of your budget, I suggest WordPress templates from  ProPhotoBlog.com. They are user friendly and less expensive then a custom site.  The downside:  they may have limitations on the customization or “branding” you can do… but they are certainly a start.

Good luck and if you do make the switch.. send me a link!  😉

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