With the announcement that it will become the preferred provider for the most popular business blogging software, Yahoo has taken another step in trying to lock up small businesses' online operations. Business blogging, as opposed to personal blogging, requires more features, such as the ability to handle lots of categories, archives, and designs; ad serving; added pages; and interfacing with other Web applications (and a few other things I'm probably forgetting). And, of course, for all that, you're willing to pay because it benefits your business.
Yahoo says it hosts hundreds of thousands of small-business sites and one in eight U.S. online stores.
The beauty of Yahoo's small-business center is that for less than $12 per month, you can get, in one spot, almost every basic a small business needs online: a Web site, an e-commerce solution, some business e-mail, and some tools to manage and integrate it all. You also can scale up; if you start smaller and cheaper and your traffic or orders grow, you pay Yahoo more and get more bandwidth, pages, and other resources. What you can't get, I've found (I've run a couple of small-biz sites on Yahoo), is much real hand-holding or personal help. But you do get assurance and reliability.
Personally, I'm thinking of switching one site over to a local provider run by a friend. It's a little more expensive, but I think he'll answer my calls in less than 25 minutes on hold. And I won't have to be the Web expert.