As the parking lot of opportunity begins to fill, and more and more Realtors are grabbing their surfboard in an attempt to ride this wave of change called Web 2.0, one question rings most frequent: “What is the difference between a website and a blog.” Sounds innocent enough.. but most still don’t grasp the distinction.
Wikipedia insufficiently defines the blog (or weblog) as “a type of website where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary), [and] displayed in a reverse chronological order.” Although, in essence, that’s what happens on a blog, there is much more defining to do. If Realtors are going to recognize the value of blogging, they first need to recognize it’s distinction from their personal website.
An analogy to help understand the difference: Think of your personal website as a brochure fastnewsisland.com. Think of a blog as the editorial section of a newspaper.
The content within the website generally sits unchanged; static. The content on a business blog is (intended to be) ever changing and based on core categories or topics.
The website uses tools like MLS searching and listing databases to entice visitors to return. The blog gains readers with compelling content, and frequent articles. The two can work together, such that the attraction of the blog allows it to be a ‘landing page’ for access to the lead generating tools of the website. By offering links to the website’s features from the blog, you can entice visitors to access those tools (MLS search for example). And vice-versa, the website can improve its traffic frequency and value by offering a link to the blog, in turn exposing visitors to the compelling and frequently updated content on the blog.
The brochure comparison reiterates that the website is seen as the fixed message and brand. Unchanging elements of the business are showcased in the website, whereas the blog is the platform for business’s voice, news, opinions, announcements and knowledge in the form of posts (or articles).
Because of this distinction, search engines actually treat them differently as well. The website, which sits static, depends on SEO for its search engine success. The blog, also enhanced with proper SEO, really catches tread in the search engines simply through its frequently added content. You will find that your blog starts to come up in the search engines, not strictly because of your keywords and metatags, but also because of the content you create in your articles.
The ability to ‘ping’ the search engines with notification of newly published content also ensures its exposure. This is unlike the website, where the site depends on being ‘spidered’ by search engine webcrawlers. The frequency of spidering, and the pages that will be spidered are not something that you can control, as much as influence.
Another dramatic difference between the blog and the website is the element of audience participation. Website content because it is static, locks out visitors from making participatory comment, positive or negative. Blogs on the other hand offer the element of participation by encouraging readers to post their comments, in turn enhancing the content and creating a multi-partied conversation.
The experience of the visitor (apart from the participation element above) is also completely different. The website anticipates that the visitor reads the fixed content, in order to make a decision about giving in to becoming a (potential) client (read: lead). For example, if the website is offering the ‘carrot’ of accessing the MLS, or determining the value of one’s home, the visitor will make the decision then and there to pass through the soft-barrier (email and name required) or leave the site for other avenues.