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E-commerce website, web presence, blog – client requests definitions.

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

A client requested that I write a post about the very basic terminology she encountered when she started researching having her own website. Because we deal primarily with small businesses, we try to be always mindful of the fact that everyday words for us sound like Greek to people who are new to the Internet. I really do empathize with this.

I was in a car accident a couple of years ago and received treatment from a chiropractor. He was a great guy, but his manner of speaking was anything but user-friendly! To him it made perfect sense to say I’d subluxated the intervertebral foramen, but to me, this was gibberish.

Our client wanted to understand what the difference is between a web presence, an e-commerce website and a blog. She had seen all of these things referenced as options for her to consider, but didn’t know exactly what they meant.

The issue does become confusing when one considers that there really isn’t a standard glossary of web-related terms. Different developers may use different words for the same things. Additionally, a single web developer may use synonyms for the same ideas. What does Solas Web Design say when we talk to clients about the web?

Web Presence/ Internet Presence
To us, these two terms mean the exact same thing – the ‘existence’ of an individual or company on the web. It could be a website, a blog, a forum. It just means that you exist on the Internet.
We tend to use these terms when we are saying something like,

“Adding new content on a weekly basis will make your web presence a vibrant one.”

Why do we vary the way we say this? I suspect the reason is boredom. If you spend your life writing about a subject, coming up with a variety of ways to talk about it makes life more interesting. After all, we are English speakers, and one of the sterling qualities of our language is that boring, tiresome, dull, lackluster, tedious, dreary and monotonous all mean roughly the same thing. If English speakers can make it exciting to say that something is humdrum, then surely the invigorating subject of the Internet should lend itself to a host of cognate words.

E-commerce website
To us, this is a much more specific term than the above. An e-commerce website, simply put, is a place to shop on-line. Whether the shopping takes place via a shopping cart or something simpler like PayPal, it still qualifies as e-commerce in our book. Where we might differ from other web developers is that we consider a website to be truly a traditional e-commerce venue only when the shopping actually takes place on-line. So, if the web business is only offering a phone number to call to place orders, or an order form to be printed and faxed, we don’t deem this to be genuine e-commerce.

This is a blog that you are reading right now. The function of a blog is to give the author a place to write, and the public a place to read what the blog author has to say. On many blogs, visitors are allowed to leave comments. However, it is generally only the author who is allowed to start subjects, unless a visitor is given special clearance to become one of the writing contributors to the blog. This differs from a message board or chatroom where all the people are allowed to start posts and threads on the subjects of their choosing. The author, also sometimes called the ‘administrator’, can moderate the blog and delete unwanted comments if he or she so chooses.

Why do businesses have blogs? They are a wonderful way to communicate with the public about your company. They foster a feeling of interaction, community and company personality. If done properly, they can create a valuable buzz about your products and services.

Informational Website
Though our client didn’t ask about this, I thought I’d define this term just round out this article.
Purely informational websites do not contain shopping functions. Their goal is simply to introduce an individual or business to the public. Service-oriented companies such as law firms, medical groups, non-profits, and local resources for things like landscaping, housekeeping, architecture, construction and the like would be natural candidates for an informational website. Clients come to us for this type of website when they are looking to increase their visibility to gain new customers, and little by little over the past several years, most small businesses have begun to realize that having at least a small informational website is going to be either as important, or more important that having an ad in a telephone directory.

So there you have it, and I hope this makes the terminology easy to understand. I think it behooves any one working in the field of web development/SEO to be always mindful of the fact that there is a first time for everything, for everybody. By explaining things in the simplest terms to newcomers, you are offering a proper welcome to the world of the Internet. This benefits the person to whom you are speaking, and it likely to benefit you, too!