Choosing Between the Two WordPress Platforms

I’m often asked “What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?”

When you go to WordPress.com, you can register for a free WordPress blog. When you go to WordPress.org you can download the WordPress software.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

I once explained that it’s like the difference between having a web-based account, like Hotmail or Gmail to work with your email, or working with email downloaded to your computer using a program like Outlook. Both help you manage your email in similar ways, but one is web-based and the other is a program that you run on your own “server” or hard drive.

When you use WordPress.com to build your blog, the web address for your blog will be yourname.WordPress.com. You will develop your blog on the WordPress.com servers, similar to the way you store and manage your mail through services like Yahoo or other web-based email providers.

On the other hand, when you build your blog or website using a self-hosted WordPress installation, you are using the WordPress.org version of the program. As you may have seen on the WordPress.org website, you have an option to “download” the WordPress program. You may have even downloaded it and then wondered what to do with it.

The actual WordPress program (the kind you download at WordPress.org) is something you can install, run and operate. It’s very much like purchasing software at the computer store, installing it onto your computer, launching it and using it. However, with this downloadable “self-hosted” version of the WordPress program, you wouldn’t normally install it onto your own computer.

The program is usually installed on a Linux server that hosts websites. Many web hosts, have an easy install process for WordPress so that you never have to worry about downloading the actual program.

When you decide you want a self-hosted WordPress website, usually you just need to sign up for a hosting account, register your domain name (and point it to your hosting account by setting your nameservers ), click a few buttons and start using the program.

Although WordPress.com is a free and easy way to get started with your blog, getting a self-hosted WordPress website gives you an amazing amount of benefits.

First, you can install and use premium themes, which gives your WordPress powered website a professional image. You can use plugins to make your website/blog/blogsite do tricks (such as creating contact forms, polls, photo galleries, membership sites and controlling spam).

If you are thinking about starting a blog or have started a blog on free webspace, the benefits of building on or moving your blog to a self-hosted WordPress installation are many.

You can combine both your website and blog on one site, which can be great for search engine indexing and better rankings. We’ve found that Google loves WordPress websites/blogs/blogsites and building yours on a self-hosted WordPress platform gives you a great opportunity to tailor fit your website content to those who are looking for you.

By having an active blog or blog element on your site, you are giving your site visitors (including the Googlebot ) a reason to stay. I won’t go any further into making the case for blogging but I will tell you that if you are a small business, entrepreneur or professional who is serious about your presence on the web, getting yourself up and running with a self-hosted WordPress website may be one of the best things you could do for your online brand.

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