Following up on my post earlier this week which tried to weigh up the relative benefits of having a blog as a separate entity or as part of your website, I thought that I would put a short addendum here to just give an overview of the three main ways (as I see them) of combining a blog and a website.
There is no “one right way” to do this and the best method will vary according to the situation of the individual oragnisations.
Directory or folder
Probably the most common method, where a directory is created which contains the blog and all of the files and information, in the same way that you might do it for any other major section of your website to help with its structure. This would have the format of www.yourdomain.com/blog/ and will probably appear as part of your overall navigation on the site.
The ‘look and feel’ should ideally be exactly the same as the rest of your website to fully support the branding and because your visitors need not know that they are looking at anything other than another part of the website. The Search Engines treat this as part of your website as well and so the links between these and other pages are treated as internal links.
This takes the format of blog.yourdomain.com and then the structure of the blog develops from what is essentially a new homepage. This allows the blog to retain the branding benefits that the main domain affords, but means that it can be treated as a special area and therefore vary slightly in terms of the ‘look and feel’ from the rest of the website. It should, of course, maintain the themes and colours to support the brand.
From a Search Engine point of view, however, it is treated as a separate site and so will need to build up its links and “online points”, as it were. Nevertheless, because it is on a subdomain, it is easier to incorporate into the main marketing and promotional push than a blog on a different domain would be.
Website as part of your Blog
Not exactly an accurate description, but I will explain. This is where the blog software is used as a Content Management System and the website is built as static pages within the blog, which of course is also used to create the interactive blog based section that you would expect. This all works as a single domain and gives the owner the ability to change the website content at will, as well as provide it with all the interactivity that blogs offer and the “sex appeal” that they have from a Search Engine’s perspective.
From a marketing perspective, the branding and the domain all works together to give a single unified image and there is a totally integrated look and feel. For small businesses, in particular, looking at a website or a blog for the first time, this is likely to become the solution of choice because it offers all of the benefits of a website and a blog in one package.
All of the 3 ways mentioned above are valid and have their benefits. I do, however, believe that as we move forward, the third option where the website and blog become integrated in a single site with all of the blog’s interactive ability will become more and more the norm. Even now, I believe that it is certainly the best choice for any small business which wants to benefit from blogs, keep costs down and have control over the online website presence.