I’ve seen it over and over since the rise of web 2.0, since we embraced user interaction, participation and social media; startups, small and medium businesses requesting a blog on their newly built website, which they update once, maybe twice, and then never care to visit again.
Leaving your blog to die is a bad practice. Not only because you’re voluntarily tossing aside a great way to interact with your consumers, but also because it shows lenience and a lack of commitment. I often tell my own clients that if they don’t plan to update their blog, it’s pointless to have one in the first place.
But what happens when you actually do dedicate time to your blog? Can it improve business?
The advantages of having a blog
There are numerous advantages of having a blog. On a professional website, it gives your visitors and fans a way to keep up with your business. Most blogs nowadays also integrate an RSS feed, a great way for your clients to subscribe to your news and read them from their mailbox, favourite RSS application or even from their iPhone, iPad or Android.
Besides providing a constant source of news and information for your followers, a blog with a comments section will also encourage interaction between your clients and your business. Allowing users to login with Facebook or Twitter to leave comments has also shown to multiply participation (we have experienced it ourselves since we integrated Disqus). Clients that engage with your company are a goldmine of data; they can provide feedback about your new products or new services. They can also help you solve problems; even a complaint can be positive, especially if it sheds light on an issue you didn’t know you had.
Finally, a blog will help your website get a higher spot in Google Search. How so? Well, imagine for a second that you are comparing two websites; the first has only 5 static pages for a total of 2000 to 3000 words, the second 5 static pages with a similar word count and over fifty distinct blog articles, each containing many keywords related to your industry. Which one do you think is more likely to appear at the top of Google? That’s right, the second. The more you update, the more often Google spiders will visit your website to grab the new content.
The case of blog suicide
Having a blog and updating it at least once a week pays off. But what if you don’t have time to update it? What happens when a blog is updated once and then forgotten?
If the answer was “nothing”, I would not be writing this article. Having a stale website will slow down your indexation by Google. The less new content there is, the less often the search engine will come and visit your website. Competitors that have a news page they update regularly probably will get ahead of you while your website slides lower in the Google search results.
But that’s not the worst thing that can happen. After all, I’ve seen some companies make it even though they were not in the top results. I would be more worried about how your lack of commitment will be interpreted by your prospects. A website that hasn’t been updated for several months or years can leave your visitors wondering if your company is still operating or if it’s a real company. I personally refrained from featuring certain designers and artists in the past because they hadn’t updated their blog or gallery for over a year. Why should I interact with and promote freelancers that show no sign of life?
Besides creating doubt, you are sending a clear signal to your visitors; it’s pointless to visit my website again because there’s never anything new on it. Visit it once and then go away. That’s what you are telling them.
The choice is yours
Having a blog with open comments on your website will bring an array of advantages… if you update it. If you don’t plan on updating it ever, don’t pay for the development of a blog. It will simply look ridiculous. Your readers will not buy it that you cannot find one single hour in your week to sit down and write a short news or announcement, or pay someone to do it. And they are right not to believe you.
If your only issue is finding inspiration, look at what your competitors are doing. Different industries have different approaches. Big corporations, for example, will have a communication person writing about the projects the firm is working on and the events it organizes/finances. A smaller company made of web developers and/or designers (like ourselves) might want to keep their followers up to date their new projects, but they might also want to share their knowledge of the industry with other web enthusiasts and curious readers. Your blog can have more than one focus; the essential is to remain consistent and always consider your readers.
If you are still uncertain about adding a blog component to your website or if you have experiences you would like to share, I invite you to leave a comment.