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What is a blog?

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): January 7, 2007

I still hear it...probably half the time I tell people that I am a "blog consultant."

"What exactly is a blog?"

Yikes! How can anyone in the world not know by now what a blog is? Of course this is a silly question as many people don't know...perhaps most people don't know. Here's the common definition:

Technically, a blog is any website that is frequently updated where the most recent "post" or article appears at the top of the site.

That's a pretty colorless definition and in no way captures the power of blogging, especially for businesses.

Here's how I answer the question:

It's a website on steroids! Like a normal website, a blog contains text, photos, graphics, navigation, and links. You may have visited blogs before and simply recognized them as a website, nothing special...just a website.

But...unlike normal websites, you can add new posts as easy as writing an email (no "webmaster" or web designer required). This fact alone is a big selling point to businesses I speak with about blogging. The freedom to write an article and add photos and then instantly get them online is eye-opening to many business owners.

If that isn't a big enough selling point for you, consider two powerful tools that blogs offer that are not available with most traditional websites.

1) Blogs allow others to comment on the posts you write. Why would you allow other people to comment on what you add to your website? For the same reason you have a suggestion box, ask a customer to fill out a survey, or follow up with a client to find out if your product is meeting their needs. Comments allow your readers to give you feedback. Feedback allows you to address customer problems, reinforce benefits when customers say something nice, and get ideas from the people who know you best.

2) Blogs take advantage of RSS (real simple syndication) technology. This technology allows people to read your website without actually visiting your website. How does this work? RSS creates a specially formatted page that displays in a "RSS Reader" where someone can read your blog along with dozens of others quickly, without having to visit each individual blog. People who read your blog through their RSS reader may account for more than half the total people who read your blog. Most traditional websites do not use this technology.

Add to these benefits some extras like: blogs rank very well with search engines, blogs frequently receive inbound links from other websites and blogs, blogs integrate well with social networking tools (such as Flickr on this blog), and blogs use archiving tools to organize everything you ever write.

This gives you an idea why blogs rock, and why many companies are turning to blogs to supplement, or even replace, their traditional website.

Here are some related posts I've recently written:
101 Reasons for your small business to have a blog
10 myths about small business blogging
Learn what RSS is in 100 words

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Comments

A blog is like a diary that everyone everywhere can read at the same time. You can write in your diary any time you want and you can even put in pictures. When you add something to your diary, everyone can know about it right away. And if you choose to let them, everyone can scribble comments in the margins.

Nice to see you posting again, hope all is going well.

Been reading for some time, always good tips. Welcome to Wisconsin!

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