In numerous conversations, I’ve discovered there’s some confusion about what a blog actually is, not all the subtleties and implications are appreciated. In this article, I will explain how a blog works, the difference between blog web pages and ‘normal’ web pages so you can choose which is most suitable for your needs.
If you decide that a blog would benefit your business, we can include a blog in your web design package or add a blogging facility to your existing website (only applies to website’s created by Netmonics). You may also require some training if you want to create and maintain your blog articles yourself.
The first thing to appreciate is that a blog (shortened from weblog) comprises a series of articles which are usually published in reverse chronological order. Unlike web pages, blog posts can be filtered by author, date, categories and tags but more on this later.
Why Bother Blogging?
Blogging allows you to attract an audience of individuals who are genuinely interested in your area of expertise.
The idea is to publish articles on a regular basis cover the topics that interest your followers and establish yourself as an authority in your subject area. You can further your rapport with your audience by enabling comments on your blog posts and answering the questions that your readers may have.
You can also create an emailing list to notify your readers of new material and if relevant include offers. The eventual aim can be to convert some of your followers into customers once you have built sufficient trust and they’re ready to make a buying decision.
Another benefit is that blogging also forces you to research the fine detail of your area of expertise in order to explain it clearly with examples. It can enable your audience to become ‘experts’ themselves, appreciate the work that you do and ease the sales process to some extent.
Please also see my pages on Content Marketing
Creating Blog Posts
The content for a blog post, is created using a form where blocks of content such as images, headings, paragraphs etc. can be placed to create sections of content.
Once complete, the post can be published and used to generate a blog web page.
Blog Page Structure
A blog page is generated, meaning that once you create and publish a new blog post, it’s available on your site and has quite a fixed structure as shown in the diagram below. The page comprises a number of sections such as a header (1), the content from your post (2), a sidebar (3) and a footer at the bottom of the page (not shown).
The 4 sections are generated automatically, the header (1), sidebar (2) and footer (not shown) are common to each blog page. The content of the blog post (2) is unique to any given blog page.
Now, imagine that sections (2) and (3) extend down the page and you’d like to insert a full width section half way down the page. Well, you can’t as that would break the structure of the generated page.
So the structure is configurable to an extent but is common to all blog pages and so this is the first limitation. Standard web pages can be of any structure.
How is the URL for the Blog Post Set?
The url for the blog post is determined from a setting known as a ‘slug’ as shown in the diagram. This will result in a URL with the following structure:
For example, the slug for this post is ‘ what-exactly-is-a-blog ‘ and results in the following URL:
By default, posts can be classified using categories and tags.
Categories are hierarchical, let’s say you had a food blog with the following categories:
We can display all the spaghetti recipes using the following URL:
[your-domain-name]/spaghetti or all the Bread recipes using [your-domain-name]/bread
Note that the hierarchical structure allows us to drill down in to very specifically categorised posts.
Multiple categories can be applied to a post but this isn’t usually necessary.
We can also tag each recipe with the following tags:
The url ‘[you-domain-name]/vegetarian’ for example, would display all the vegetarian recipes. Multiple tags can be applied to a single post, so in this example we’d want to apply the ‘vegetarian’ tag to all ‘vegan’ recipes.
Visitors can comment on your posts, scroll down this page a little to see how comments can be applied to a blog post. This can either be anonymous or you can request visitors register with the site before they can post any comments. It’s usually better to approve posts before they’re published.
Previous/Next buttons as seen lower down on this page, allow you to navigate to the previous and next posts by date.
As blog posts are intended to be displayed by date, author, category or tag. It’s more difficult to link related blog posts together and that really isn’t the intention.
Pages can more easily be configured into a series. See this page for an example:
See that the next and previous buttons link to the next article in the series.
Blog posts can be listed in an RSS Feed although not as popular as they once were, they are still a useful way to allow readers to discover new blog posts on your site via an RSS Feed Reader.
Main Blog Page Structure
Finally, we need a way to display a summary of all the posts on the main blog page. This can be the home page of the site or more usually a named page on the site.
Much like the post pages, the structure of the main blog page can be configured into a number of sections. For example, in the diagram, section (1) contains the header with logo, menu, etc. Section (2) contains a generated list of available blog posts displayed in reverse chronological order which link the respective posts. The list will automatically update as new blog posts are added. Section (3) is the sidebar which contains a newsletter sign up form, the available categories and tags plus links to archives for each month when at least one blog post was published. A footer can also be present but not shown.
Comparison Of Posts Versus Pages
Please see the table below for a comparison of posts and pages.
|Published by date||Posts normally displayed in reverse chronological order|
|Supports taxonomies||Provides categories and tags by default|
|Provides ownership||The author can be displayed and posts can also be displayed by author.|
|Allows comments||Commenting for pages can be enabled|
|Complete freedom of design||The post content is inserted into the content area which limits the design options|
|Navigation Between Posts||Can be enabled for po sts to allow navigation by publication date|
|Generates an RSS feed|
|Can be added to the menus|
|Can easily create a series of articles||Pages can be linked together with previous/next buttons to form a series.|
Blogs are intended to display posts by date, they have the advantage of taxonomies (categories and tags) and can also be displayed by author, date, day, month and year.
As the pages are generated, less effort is required, just enter your content into the blog post form which can be of any structure, hit the publish button to make the post live, it will automatically be added to the blog post page and relevant categories and tags and is viewable by date as well.
Both pages and blog posts need to be added to a menu if required.
Blog posts do limit the structure of each page as they are generated from the data entered into the post entry form. Pages need to be created individually but do allow full control of the design.
Navigation between blog posts can be enabled but means accessing the previous/next blog post by date/time rather than a given post. Pages are better if you want to create a series of articles which are then linked together using previous/next buttons.