If your small business has a website (and it should), you need to stay on top of four main needs:

  • Providing fresh content
  • Staying connected to customers
  • Being visible on search engines
  • Adding new functions to meet the changes in technology

If you want a hassle-free and inexpensive way to meet these needs, one option is to use a popular tool you're already familiar with--the blog.

A blog in its truest form is meant to be an online journal, with the writer frequently adding new posts. Today's blog platforms have turned into so much more than journals, and they're a great way to create and maintain a powerful, user-friendly website for your business. Here's how you can use them to address your site's needs.

Goal 1: Providing Fresh Content
Take a moment to look at the content that needs to change on your website. This is content you want to update regularly, like upcoming events or press clippings. By setting each of these pages up like a blog post, your newest events show up at the top of the page and older events are pushed down the page.

Goal 2: Staying Connected to Customers
One of the best ways to stay connected to customers is to give them a way to provide input, feedback and opinions. This doesn't mean you have to allow your clients to have full reign over editing your website, but why not offer them a place to comment on trends that you see in your industry or submit their own testimonials about your services? Comments are a standard on blogs, and you can choose where to allow comments on your website.

Goal 3: Being visible on search engines
Search engine optimization is always a concern for businesses, and it's not always easy to figure out. One tactic many SEO experts recommend is launching a blog because of the constant addition of content with keywords. If your entire website is based on this technology and you use a few of the SEO plug-ins, you're on your way. There are plug-ins for creating keyword friendly URLs and unique page titles.

Goal 4: Adding new functions to meet the changes in technology
Plug-ins allow you to roll out new technology quickly and efficiently. These plug-ins are made to be compatible with your blog website, and include tools for adding video, photo galleries, AdSense Manager and thousands of other functions.

How does all of this affect your budget?
If you're comfortable with web technology, you may be able to do some of these things yourself. Otherwise, you'll want to look for a designer with a strong understanding of blog platforms, but at least you won't have to invest in creating something from scratch.

Today's websites are about publishing new content and offering audiences the newest tools possible for connecting with your company. You don't need to be a blogger to be a fan of blogging principles. You just need the understanding that a business website can operate like a growing social platform.