It’s no doubt that the digital marketing industry is a fast-growing, dynamic world with many competing strategies about how a company should best position itself for search engine success and increased leads. As marketers, the crux of our work lies in analyzing data to spot trends, implementing strategies that go after long-term wins while weathering short-term setbacks, and acting quickly to respond effectively when the proverbial winds shift.
Yet there are some hard and fast rules that apply to every site and every market, regardless. Recently, we’ve noticed some agencies suggesting clients produce a standalone blog on a different URL, rather than maintaining a blog on the main company website, and felt the need to clarify the answer to the question: Is an embedded blog or a standalone blog better for my business?
Simply put, the answer is—emphatically—an embedded blog is better. And here’s why:
The primary branding functions of a company blog are to:
- Establish expertise in your field
- Reinforce your brand through language, imagery and messaging
- Show the personal side of your business
Most likely, the blog is the only area of your website where content is updated on a very frequent basis – which makes it the best place to weigh in on relevant news, announce a change in the business, and speak directly to your customers. If your blog is hosted elsewhere, your main site will lose an important conduit for customer information and engagement that today’s Internet-savvy consumers have come to expect.
Arguably, a site without a blog will begin to lose relevancy, credibility, and personality – three big factors that most certainly influence a buyer’s decision on a subconscious level. Your blog is a symbol of trust in your brand – nurture it, and make sure it’s easy for the customer to find
Blog content, when executed thoughtfully, has the potential to be one of the biggest traffic drivers to your website. Blog posts are typically timely, informative and short, making them easy to share on social media, easy to search, and easy to read. Not to mention — compared to strategies like pay-per-click campaigns or social media advertising — producing good quality blog content is relatively low cost.
Blogs give you an opportunity to get more traffic for less money. And why is website traffic important? More traffic equals more potential customers, of course.
Now, some may argue that even if you have a standalone blog, you will still gain traffic to your main website if the URL is listed on the blog. But be warned: adding steps between the user’s initial encounter with your brand and their ultimate conversion is never a good idea.
Think of it this way: If your blog answers a question relevant to a user’s search, they will automatically trust your expertise. After developing trust, they are more likely to consider your practice over your competition. When they decide they want to do business with you, they’ll either look for the best way to contact you, or they will seek out additional information – usually in the form of page content.
But if your blog is hosted off your website, it will not be easy for that potential customer to contact you, nor will it be easy to find more information. Offering a seamless, friction-free user experience (read: fewer clicks and redirects) is paramount to converting customers.
We observed this case in point with an actual Page 1 Solutions client who decided to build a secondary, off-site blog with a separate agency. Immediately after creating a standalone blog, their website traffic decreased 39%. Five months after, traffic remained 31% lower than before the offsite blog was created. When looking at referral traffic, the standalone blog ranked 40th on the list of traffic drivers to the main site, with only 1 click-through produced in a 5-month period.
It should also be noted that the standalone blog content used in this study was duplicate content, sold to various providers across the country, but explaining the detriment of that is another post for another day.
When it comes to search engine optimization, hosting your blog on a different domain, or even subdomain, can seriously hinder your ranking progress. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Hosting a blog offsite is essentially like having two websites. Our job as optimizers is to give search engines information about your company that is easy to crawl, easy to understand, and easy to present to users. If Internet traffic for your brand is divided, the search engines are not able to readily interpret which site they should be providing in the search results. Therefore, you will essentially be competing against yourself for a higher rank.
- Focusing your SEO efforts on one domain returns a better result. Google’s goal is to present the user with the most content-rich, authoritative information on a given subject. Experience has shown that the more pages your site has to index on that subject, the higher you will rank. As explained by John Lincoln, “With an integrated blog, Google will crawl the new posts within days, adding more value to the main site and increasing traffic by as much as 53% after 51 posts have been published. Not to mention, the blog posts will inherit the authority of the parent site, so both the blog and website will rank better.”
- With a blog off your website, you lose the SEO power of internal links. Internal linking — or linking to other content hosted on your domain — offers a powerful SEO boost. When you write a blog post that includes links to additional content on your site, it is essentially like telling Google, “Look! We are such experts on this topic we can provide multiple articles to answer any questions our readers might have.” Google likes this because 1) your site offers a volume of authoritative content on a subject, and 2) by linking the text, it makes finding additional information easy and quick for a user to find. Anything that helps your user helps your SEO. So, if your main goal is to boost the rankings of your main website, you are best served to keep the SEO juice of internal links on your main site rather than a separate blog on a different domain.
Today’s Internet user is looking for the most comprehensive, understandable and relevant information to answer their queries; why would you want to send them away from your main website in order to find what they need? Embedding a blog on your site gives users the information they seek, all while building trust in your brand, driving traffic and conversions, and boosting your rankings.
For more information on content strategy and the business of blogs, contact an Internet Marketing Consultant at Page 1 Solutions by calling (303) 233-3886.