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Do you want a blog with that?

Blogs are great for companies that want to take a thought leading approach as authoritative thoughts and opinions can be published in this channel.

A blog has a lot of similarities to a news section of a website. It is used to publish articles and images to reflect what's happening in your company and/or industry. The tone of a blog is usually, but not always, more informal than a news section and tends reflect your company's beliefs and opinions on a subject.

Many companies find it hard to update both a news section and a blog as there is often a content overlap "Should I put this in News or in the Blog?". Generating enough content for two sections of a site can be a lot of work, especially for a smaller company. This often leads to "dead blogs" where the company simply has run out of time to update it or focussed effort elsewhere. Old, out of date information gives new visitors to your website a poor impression of your company and in some cases it may just be better to turn off a blog that will never be updated.

Blogs can have some technical advantages over traditional website news sections:

Multiple people can contribute using different accounts and each account has a set number of permissions e.g. Jimmy can write articles, but not publish them whereas Billy has full control over the whole blog.

You can invite your audience (vistors to your website) to contribute comments to a blog. Be warned, 9 out of 10 comments to many blogs are generated by spam robots software looking to promote links to other websites. Good blog software will queue comments for approval which means that they are not published live without your permission.

Good quality comments generally only appear to high profile blogs with regular, though provoking articles. You need a lot of footfall to generate worthwhile feedback from your audience.

A blog will provide an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). This is a text file that contains the most recent articles from a blog and which can be read by another computer. It is common to direct blog RSS feeds to Google in the hope that the search engine will pick up the content and make it available through search results which in turn should draw more visitors to your website. Many normal website news sections can provide RSS feeds too, so this shouldn't be the over-riding reason to choose a blog rather than a news section to a website.

Most popular blog software platforms need to be updated regularly for security reasons. Hackers are quick to find ways to get in to out of date software and the consequences could be anything from using your blog as a bulk junk mailing system to removing and replacing the contents with something unpleasant. Make sure that whoever looks after your software keeps it up to date.

The bottom line. Will it get me more business and help me to grow my company? Yes, if you are prepared to carefully incorporate a blog into your marketing strategy and produce regular, unique and thought provoking content for it. If you have neither the time nor resource for a blog stick to updating your news section. The major win from both approaches is new content which should help to draw more people to your website and once there help to keep them on the site.

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