Should Your Business Website Have a Blog?

Monday, July 9, 2007 at 8:00pm by Site Administrator

You’re a bootstrapping entrepreneur or business owner trying to keep operating costs down. You’ve heard that everyone and their sickeningly cute lolcats are blogging and you’re thinking you should have a blog, too. Someone told you your website and business need it or you’ll be left behind. So what’s the story? Do you need a blog?

Usability and web design expert Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group says no, and that you should write articles, not blog postings. He explains why articles add authority and the majority of blog postings – even those written by “experts” in a niche – decrease authority.

Premise

Nielsen conducted a number of “Monte Carlo” simulations, a statistical method used to predict a possibility of scenarios, given the right parameters. His simulation results suggest that the majority of blog posts in a block of 10,000 posts (1,000 experts each write 10 posts) result in average quality writing for most bloggers. Under the simulations, even a top-ranked expert will have the majority of their posts span from high-quality down to below average – which Nielsen suggests is unacceptable, that customers should want to pay for the information you provide them.

Exceptions

Now that said, these are statistical simulations based on assumed parameters. An experienced/ professional writer who has an understanding of the difference between blogging and article writing can produce an effective blog that adds authority to a business website.

This might mean, however, that you, a business owner, have to hire a professional instead of being the blogger yourself. And the content plan should include indepth pieces as well as short summaries. Nielsen discounts short summary posts, but they do have value:

  1. Increased visibility in search engines.
    The way that some search engines’ algorithms currently operate, not having regular fresh content means a decrease in ranking in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Producing indepth articles every day is beyond the ability of most writers/ bloggers.

  2. Varied content density.
    You do want regular fresh content. While quality is more important than quantity, if you can present quality short summaries, they do have value. One is varied content density, which gives regular readers respite from longer, indepth articles.

    That is, posting lots of long articles is no better than posting lots of short posts. In fact, it’s probably worse because regular readers may feel intimidated by the volume of content you are suddenly producing. Even the most popular indepth writers, such as personal development blogger Steve Pavlina, do not write every day.

    We forget that prior to the Internet loads of research showed that the average adult American male – who still dominates in online presence – gave very little time to daily reading. The blogosphere changed that, but some people still read superficially. Providing only indepth pieces is not the way to grab their attention.

  3. Personal connection.
    Some people actually enjoy reading the personal commentary of those writers they’ve attributed some authority and expertise to. Longer, indepth pieces can establish authority, but short summaries with added personal commentary add the personality that blogging enjoys over regular articles. We humans are social animals and tend to a sort of clannishness.

    This is ideal if your business wants to achieve a one on one relationship with customers. If you don’t want this, then having a blog will detract from your site. You especially do not want a blogger talking about what they had for breakfast – something that happens far too often on too many blogs. Unless, of course, your business has something to do with food.


Conclusion

While you do not have to produce daily content, sometimes short posts suffice. For example, if your business resides purely online, a blog that keeps readers updated as to new features, changes in development platform, announcements, etc., is a must. Only indepth pieces are completely out of place. For a blog of this sort, you do not need a professional blogger.

What’s more, what Nielsen fails to mention (unless it was buried somewhere in the sections of his very long, indepth piece that I skipped because it was too intimidating) is that no matter whether you write short pieces or indepth pieces, quality will still fall into a spectrum. As a reader, would you rather read lots of indepth pieces that are of average quality, or would you have more tolerance for average short pieces?

In short, while not every business needs a website and not every website needs a weblog, there are benefits to having a business weblog that offers a mix of article and post styles. The real question to be answered is “Can you present information of value to your site visitors, and can you do so in an accessible manner, with quality content?” Essentially, Nielsen appears to be saying that most bloggers cannot achieve this with short posts on a consistent basis. I’m saying you can, with the right blogger.


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Filed under: Marketing, Skills

3 Comments »

  1. I totally agree, but remember a business blog needs to a little bit personal a times. It can’t just a one way thing, which traditionally web articles are.
    Jamie

    Comment by Terinea Weblog — July 10, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  2. Jamie, agreed. Which is why I don’t agree with Nielsen, despite the fact that he’s labelled a “usability and web design expert”. I think he misses the entire point of what a blog is supposed to be about. Not all sites need or should have one, but for some it is perfect, bozo ramblings and all.

    Comment by Raj Dash — July 10, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

  3. To me it is necessary to find

    Comment by offifsagick — February 24, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

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