One of the primary aims of an affiliate site is to attract visitors and build traffic. It goes without saying then that if you're more likely to be found by a search engine, then your site will be more successful. In fact, it's most likely the biggest issue facing site owners and quite possibly what keeps them up at night (hopefully in a good way!).
So the question has been asked – what achieves a higher ranking; a blog or a website? Before we discuss this question in more detail, let's just clarify a couple of things as some of you will no doubt be wagging your finger at the screen going 'tut tut Simon, they're one and the same thing'. And you would be right. A blog is basically a website, and a website can have a blog, so they're not mutually exclusive but for the purpose of this discussion we will use the following definitions (I'll try to add them to Wikipedia later :):
- Blog – A site specifically setup as a blog for the purpose of blogging and build on a a well-known framework such as Wordpress or Blogger.
- Website – A site designed and developed independently by a webmaster (amateur or professional).
Now right off the bat, if you want my opinion in a nutshell (sorry but you'll get it anyway) I believe that for the average person starting their own affiliate site and with a limited knowledge of HTML, that they are much better off with a Blog. Maybe you could illustrate it this way.
Imagine you've been entered in a race and the goal is a ten out of ten page ranking on Google. Now you have two options – build a car from scratch or buy one off the shelf. Now if your mechanical skills are anything like mine (and you ignore those banging sounds under the hood too) then your chances of winning the race are much higher if you buy a ready-made car.
In a similar way, blogs have many ready-made features that give you a leg-up in winning the page ranking race. They often have built-in features that optimise them for search engines, such as accurate page titles and full search indexing. They are designed to be super nice whenever the Google bots drop in for a visit, showing them around your site and pointing out all the cool features so the bots can go off and tell all their friends.
In addition, blogs let you focus on one of the most important aspects and that is having quality content. That is what the average web user is searching for and that's what search engine bots are trained to sniff out. They will walk straight past all the flashing bells and whistles and blah blah of most corporate sites to track down that precious 100 year old ginger beer recipe you got from your grandmother and just posted on your site.
Now of course if you have a website, you could be getting a little twitchy and feel like I'm ignoring all the benefits of having your own website. And you're right there are many – the freedom of building something from the ground up, not being constrained by blog templates or a host that doesn't let you install that latest version of PHP or AJAX.
But my reasons for leaning towards the blog movement is simple - I know that those who can build those powerful super cars out of lawnmower parts are the minority, and that most of us entering the affiliate business just don't have the time or budget to build one. For the most part we're better off setting out in our trusty Toyota Corollas than wrestling with an F1 Ferrari, instead spending our precious time focusing on the most important part – good quality content!