Thursday, January 7, 2010

Randall Wong, MD: Why blog?

A blog is an interactive Web site — unlike the older, more standard, Web site that remains static.

Back in the day, I started fiddling around with pages on my own using Microsoft's Front Page. I was part of a multispecialty ophthalmic practice. While I was their retina specialist, I couldn't understand why we advertised refractive eye procedures on the radio, etc., without a Web page. My partners didn't understand.

If we offered state-of-the-art eye procedures, shouldn't we have a Web page?

I spent two years creating a 65-page Web site. It included everything about the practice, including information about the hi-tech laser procedures we were offering.
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Back then, any changes to the site were made by me, for free.

Eventually, we turned the site over to some professionals. It cost about $10K to transform the site with fancy artwork and Flash. But the content was the same. It never changed. Never. Any time we had to change the site, it cost us money — a lot. So the page was never updated. It became stale. Back then, Flash was king; content didn't matter.

Google changed the game in 2006. By dominating the Internet search market, Google added relevance to the Internet. In short, that meant that Google would pay attention to Web sites with good, fresh, relevant content. Web pages that became stale would fall in rankings.

Fancy images and Flash no longer mattered. The tricks used to gain high rankings (i.e. meta tags, and now, keywords) became obsolete and worthless.

Content became king. Fresh and relevant content rules.

And now back to blogs.

With the old, static Web sites, it is difficult to add information, or content, to the Web. The traditional Web site requires separate software to design the site. This software generally resides on a specific PC, laptop, or server. It is hard to make changes. For instance, if you wanted to add an article about H1N1, you'd have to contact the Webmaster to make the changes. And it may cost. Web sites that remain static lose ground (i.e. ranking) with Google, and your Web ranking falls.

Ever try making changes to your own Web site?

Blogs became very popular initially because they were interactive. They allowed the reader to become proactive and comment about a particular topic. The blog writer offered a point and the reader could offer the counterpoint.

The Web now became more dynamic. Content was added immediately, without fluff, yet without cost. The reader simply had to leave a comment. There are over 200 million blogs.

Spam and porn artists have ruined the interactive portion of blogs. (Porn and spam artists have used the comment portion of the blogs as portals for advertising. They can leave a link to their sites as a comment. The link is then published for all to view.) But blogs still have remained popular. Why?

Blogs rule because the software is easy to use and simple to add content. All you need is an Internet connection. I use ( for my blog. It is free, and offers hundreds of templates - I don't have to design a thing. I can write an article and post in minutes. No cost. If I want to be a little creative, making it look like any other Web page is a breeze. My site costs me less than $10 per month.

Blogs rule because they are dynamic. They are constantly refreshed with new content, which, remember, Google likes. Blogs allow Web sites to be content focused — the basis of high ranking with Google and other search engines.

Randall Wong, MD, is a retinal specialist in private practice in Fairfax, Va. Wong has a strong interest in Web 2.0, the Internet, and social media, and will write regularly about how social media can help build your practice and even improve healthcare.

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