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When planning a business blog, the first question is often the most difficult: What is the best domain hosting strategy?
You have three options, each with benefits and drawbacks:
Standalone domain (e.g., businessname-blog.com): A standalone domain, also known as a top level domain, is separate from your business's website domain. That can often be a good thing because:
- The blog extends your brand through a separate domain.
- Once indexed, the blog provides a unique search result for your business.
- Quality back links from your blog to your business website may raise the website's search engine ranking.
- Including a city or state in the domain name, such as www.your-town-gardening.com, might help generate local search results.
Avoid Keyword Overkill
When choosing a domain name for your blog, you may be tempted to pack it with keywords to improve your search ranking (for example, chicago-illinois-landscaping- gardening .businessname.com). Avoid the temptation. Stuffing keywords into your domain name can result in penalties for keyword spamming. In addition, none of your customers will be able to remember such a long domain name. If you do include a keyword or two, be sure to separate all words with hyphens, so that search engines can identify them as separate words.
Hosting your blog on a separate domain may seem ideal, but it does have drawbacks: Maintaining separate sites requires more time and effort, and any inconsistencies between the two sites could cause brand confusion. Also, the new blog must build its own search engine authority starting from scratch.
Subdomain (e.g., blog.businessname.com): Like a standalone domain, a subdomain is considered a separate entity by search engines. It carries many of the same potential benefits and drawbacks as a standalone domain but offers one additional benefit. You can, with most hosting services, set up several subdomains on a single account, so you can present unique content for different products and services on different domains; for example, ceoblog.businessname.com and companyblog.businessname.com.
Subdirectory (e.g., businessname.com/blog): Many businesses host their blogs in a directory (folder) on the website domain for three good reasons:
- Accessing the website and blog through a single hosting account saves time and money.
- The blog immediately benefits from the main domain's existing search engine ranking and contributes to improving it.
- Subdirectories let you organize blog content into highly descriptive URLs that search engines love to index and rank.
Of course, hosting your company's blog and website on the same domain can work against you, too. If your website lacks authority and trust, it can negatively affect your blog's popularity and search ranking--and vice versa.
Examine your business goals and resources and carefully consider your options when deciding on a URL strategy. Moving a blog later, though possible, is often difficult and carries the risk of losing the search engine authority you invested so heavily in building.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. When he is not working or ghosting blog entries for clients, Belicove can be found musing about the world on belicove.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .