Why a blog equals a website

I’ve tried to explain this too many times in meetings, so here it is on paper. Just because you can “Blog” on a WordPress powered site, doesn’t mean you have to.
The word “Blog” is still not understood by a lot of people, they think it has to be like a journal, a daily entry of whatever one feels like writing. Yes, it can be, there are a lot of very bad, very boring “Blogs” out there.
That doesn’t mean it has to be like that for business.
WordPress is an open-source (meaning the code that runs it is open to the developers who work on it collectively for free) software program that runs on the server (the computer that hosts a web site). It can run on any platform (Windows, Linux, Mac) but I prefer to run it on Linux- another open source solution. It requires the backend database, MySQL and PHP (both open source software solutions). It takes very little time to install and have up and running compared to trying to do a conventional HTML site in something like Dreamweaver (or GoLive or if you are desperate: Frontpage) even using templates.
Wordpress is a database driven display system for information that one, or multiple users can enter data in easily- and have it display as properly coded HTML that is searchable and works well with search engines like Google, Yahoo and the like.
This allows any company to keep their information up to date, quickly, efficiently, and with “good” code that is readable by search engines and even people using screen readers (who are visually impaired).
It does this by generating code that uses CSS (cascading style sheets), which is a lot like using a style sheet in a word processing document. This allows the owner of a WordPress site to change the look and feel of a site instantly by changing the CSS- or “Theme” by checking a check box. How easy is that? Try doing it with a hard coded site without CSS. Days, weeks. CSS is the smart persons way to build a site.
We have integrated the WordPress engine into other sites so you can barely tell it’s there: see the Rogero Buckman Architects news section, or this section of The Next Wave site. Since adding the WordPress driven news section to The Next Wave site, hits have grown almost logarithmically every month. Not all hits generate business, but it has taken our site from being someplace that people stumble across, to a place that is actively showing up on the top page of Google search consistently.
One of the ways we have added to The Next Wave’s site popularity is our list of competitors. We had this on the site before, but it was static HTML, and was edited infrequently. Because of the ease of edit in WordPress, we update it as soon as we find a new firm. Why do we list our competitors you may ask? Well, we’re not afraid of competition and comparison to start off with, and because many ad agencies and design firms don’t use code that works well (or at all) with search engines. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. The point of the web is to deliver information- quickly and easily. We offer the list as a public service, since people searching for an ad agency or graphic design shop or marketing consultant in Dayton/Columbus/Cincinnati could be looking for us. It’s a basic part of marketing- being part of the evoked set- the set of options that comes to mind when thinking about purchasing a product or service- but I digress from the advantages of a WordPress blog. Soon people won’t turn to the Google local is on the upswing, but until it is more reliable, we provide this list as a service.
Another thing we’ve learned from our WordPress section of the site is that we can’t predict what search terms or phrases people use to find our competition or us. People type in odd things, and with our large numbers of marketing related words in our news section, we seem to hit more searches than our cheeky copy on the static part of the site.
It won’t be long before almost all sites are built around active engines like WordPress. Just as video production has been demystified by Apple with iMovie, and DVD creation with iDVD, WordPress is a tool that puts the power of the web into the hands of every business.
The ease of inserting links into text in WordPress also serves as an incentive to do it often. It may seem silly to some, but the frequency of links in and out are a key factor in search engine optimization. While incoming links are better than outgoing, links begat more links- trust me.
Every article in WordPress is a separate page. This is very important to your site’s visitors. How often have you navigated deep into a site, found some information that you wanted to share- and tried to send that page to a co-worker and couldn’t do it? The site was probably either built in Flash or Frames- both bad for Search- and bad for bookmarking and sharing. You can click on the title to this article and send it as a link to as many people as you want. It will also show up in Google as a complete, single page, with a descriptive snippet of text under it. A simple way to see what Google sees of your site is by going to Google and typing in site:yoursiteurl.com (or biz or net etc.) and seeing how many pages you index and what they show to visitors- I’ve made the link to this site so you can see how The Next Wave.biz site indexes.
This is a longer article than I planned to write, but this is an important subject. There are a few other key strengths to WordPress: the content is searchable, it’s organizable (using categories) and best of all, it provides RSS feeds that allow people to subscribe to you site and be notified every time you post- saving you from having to PUSH your message out with e-mail (which more people are starting to consider SPAM if it isn’t addressed individually and customized- but that’s another story).
I found this short article, “WordPress, or “How I finally built the website I needed” on someone else’s experience with WordPress and it inspired me to write this.
After spending much time explaining this to clients- I started the blogosopher seminar- so I could share this information with as many people as possible.
Don’t get confused- a Blog is just some sophisticated software to run a website effectively- what you chose to put in it is up to you. If you want traffic on your site- this seminar will show you how WordPress along with a site stats analysis will help you build a site you need for a fraction of what you thought it would cost.

What do you think?

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  • [...] It took a while to figure out where the code was in the header.php file to fix this- and we had to install the Google Site Map plug in to even identify the problem- since the site would only index one page and stop (a total negation of the best reason to use WordPress). There are nuances to every theme and you have to choose wisely. Some people who can code a little HTML like to have their site have a set number of static pages. The theme Coffee Cup is one of these themes. However, if you use this theme and keep adding pages without coding the links to match your pages, no one will ever be able to get to them. This is not a bad thing; some people don’t understand the value and power of the Category tool in WordPress and try to make everything a page instead of using posts effectively. See http://blogosopher.com/?p=41 and http://blogosopher.com/?p=2 I will probably post another post that is specifically about this subject soon. I’ve seen themes that leave out categories- one of the most powerful features of WordPress, and link category support (the highly praised Connections theme left out link categories at one time- I haven’t checked lately). Great coders also annotate their code. These are instructions in the code telling you what the code does. While many of you will never look into the theme editor window- or muck with a theme (not available on wordpress.com hosted solutions) for those of us tasked to do so, good explanations of what the code is doing is a huge timesaver. While it’s easy to pick a theme based on looks, that’s like buying a kit car that looks just like a Ferrari but is really a VW under the fiberglass. Hopefully, this post will help you evaluate what makes a good theme- and maybe even push a few theme authors to be more careful about what they leave out and to closely document what they’ve done. [...]