How to Integrate a Blog into your Website

In Small Business Website Design

What options do you have if you want to add a blog to your website? There are a few different ways to do this and we’ll walk through a couple of examples here using blogger and wordpress.

Why would you want to add a blog anyway? Maybe you’ve built your small business website already and you want to start connecting with customers a little more. You might even have started a separate blog and you now want to bring it under your main site so you get the same address, same style, same brand, etc. Or, perhaps you are building a website from scratch and building in a blog right from the beginning.

So here goes with a couple of the most popular options…

1. Integrate your blogger blog

Google’s blogger is nice because it’s really easy to set up and use. You can get started blogging literally within minutes. Google hosts it for you so there are no development headaches and they keep making the platform more exciting with lots of widgets that you can add to your pages.

Your Blogger blog normally lives at an address like yourblog.blogspot.com but Google gives you the option for this to sit under a subdomain of your own website. Hence if your main site is called www.example.com then your blog would appear at an address like yourblog.example.com

Making the change is pretty easy to do and here is a tutorial that takes you through it.

You used to be able to ‘republish’ your blogger blog via FTP but Google stopped the service back in May 2010

The FTP technique worked by transferring your blog files over to your own server, but this ended up causing a number of headaches for the folks over at Google. One advantage that some people liked was that they could put the new blog in a seperate directory in the website, such as /blog, rather than using a subdomain.

You’ll probably want to adjust the style of your newly-moved blog so it looks like your main site. This helps readers to recognize your branding and to feel that they are still part of your site. Google prefers that you do this using the blogger template editor, since (a) you don’t have to mess with any code and (b) it’s then easy to make use of all the current and future widgets that Google provides.

If you want to start tweaking code and really personalizing your layout then you can override the CSS with your own version and start hacking away.

…on to number 2…

2. Integrate Your Blog using WordPress

WordPress is a pretty powerful content management system that you can use to build anything from a simple blog to a full small business website. Here we’re talking about the self-hosted, self-installed version from wordpress.org. WordPress is free and has a huge community of developers and supporting websites there to help you out.

If you have a website already set up that uses PHP then you can extend it to include posts and pages from your wordpress blog. This basically involves adding some code into the page headers and calling the wordpress ‘loop’ to display the information that you want.

The nice thing about this is that you can build the structure that you want and put the blog into it’s own /blog directory on the website. This is a very common place to put a blog and helps to identify to your readers that they are reading blog posts rather than regular pages.

You can go a little bit further than this though and build your entire website using wordpress. You can create static pages such as the home page, contact forms etc and also add a blog section, all using the wordpress CMS. The system is very flexible and you can pretty much build any practical structure that you want.

The great thing about this technique is that you only need one system for your entire site, with a single design & theme (and therefore only one stylesheet). This makes designing the whole site straightforward, and future updates are easy too. WordPress has thousands of themes that you can try out and so it’s easy to find one that’s close to what you want. If you’re into coding with HTML, PHP and CSS, you can tweak a theme to make it unique to your website and business.

There are a couple of things to think about if you’re building your entire site using wordpress.

All this flexibility means it’s a little too easy to create a site that’s difficult to navigate and hard to understand. This is a problem for your readers and for search engines. It’s good to put your blog in a seperate directory (e.g. /blog). If you have a lot of static pages then you should always group these into sensible categories with a nice, clean hierarchy.

WordPress lets you build posts and pages so watch out for mixing these up. Pages are static so they tend to keep the same name and location in your site, although you might update them occasionally. Posts have a fairly short ‘life’ and fit into the diary-style nature of a blog. Posts also allow comments and are published via your site’s RSS feed.

Your blog home page might not be the same as your website home page. It’s conventional for a blog to have a link back to its home page in the page header so you’ll need to decide where this takes your readers. What makes sense for your website?

Finally, there are of course lots of other solutions out there for integrating a blog into your website, such as wordpress.com, typepad and moveable type. Hopefully I’ve chosen two of the most popular here in this article…