Recently I fielded an emailed question from a reader as to which is better home for a blog: as part of the company web site (www.company.com/blog/) or as a separate domain (www.companyblog.com)? I get this question often and see it mentioned in the forums as well.
There are many factors that influence whether your blog should be part of your site or it’s own domain name including:
- Hosting platform
- Blog application (software or hosted)
- Resources for promotion
- Resources for content production
- Purpose of the blog
- Timeframe for expected results
- Target audience
For the most part, I recommend that a blog should be a subdirectory of the main company web site. The reason for this includes branding as well as the SEO benefit of having the blog and RSS feed use the main company URL. Having a blog and feed on a web site is one of the most productive things you can do to satisfy search engines’ appetite for fresh, themed content that attracts links.
If your situation allows for less emphasis on company brand and more significant resources and a longer timeline, then a dedicated domain name for your blog makes sense.
When branding is still important, but you want the blog perceived as a separate site, then a subdomain works well: blog.company.com. Search engines will see this url as differently as companyblog.com but you will have the branding benefit of using the same domain name.
The software you use for your blog makes a difference. Our favorite blog software for installation on a server are WordPress and Moveable Type. For hosted blogs like Typepad, there are domain name mapping options that allow you to point your Typepad url (www.typepad.com/myblog/) to a dedicated domain name (www.myblog.com) or subdomain (blog.company.com). That way you can use the adminstration tools hosted at Typepad, but the public side of the blog uses a domain name that you control.
Blogger offers the option of hosting the blog under a blogspot.com URL or it will FTP the blog files to any hosting account that you designate so you can use any of the domain options listed above. Blogger is very easy to use, but lacks functionality found in other applications.
Other hosted blog services allow you to have a subdomain URL such as: search-marketing.blogfuse.com, imarketing.vox.com or mimasm.wordpress.com. The thing to be careful with regarding hosted blog services is that you do not have 100% control over the domain name. If the service goes down, so do all of the blogs. If they decide to charge fees or higher fees, you have few options. The biggest issue is if you decide to move your blog to a dedicated domain name. Most hosted services do not offer any kind of 301 redirect option. Any search engine visibility or RSS feed subscribers will be interrupted until your new URL is found.
I think the best application for hosted blog services is for personal blogs more than for business. However, there are blog software and hosting programs set up specifically for business blogging such as blogs for specific vertical markets like those offered by my PR firm’s client, Blogging Systems.