Help! Where Should I Host My Blog?

Topics: SEO

Blogs can be such a good thing for your business. Not only do they provide more casual outlet for truly connecting with your audience, but you can address all sorts of questions on a blog that might not be as easy to integrate into your main website. They’re also great for improving keyword relevance and online visibility for SEO (unique content, anyone?).

Blogs are also fun because you get to rant on them! And today I’m going to rant about blog hosting – in particular, WHERE you should host a blog:

blog location

That’s where. Please don’t host your blog anywhere else. If you’d like to stop reading now, go for it, just take those direct orders from me and run with it.

Or, we can break it down a little bit more:

blog on subdirectory on your domain

You will want to host your blog on a subdirectory under your own domain name. You don’t have to name the subdirectory “blog” – but pleeeze make sure you host on a subdirectory. Why is this important?

1. You consolidate content and relevance under your own domain name.
2. Incoming links point to pages under your own domain name.

What are some example of blog locations that could be a bad idea? Please avoid scenarios like this:

External, 3rd party websites:
- yourblog.wordpress.com
- yourblog.typepad.com
- yourblog.someotherdomain.com
- someotherdomain.com/yourblog

A subdomain of your own website:
- yourblog.yourdomain.com

Hosting on a third party site fractures your domain authority between two different websites, while adding ZERO content to your own domain. Never ever give your content away to WordPress, Typepad, or some other 3rd party blogging site. Why throw your custom-written copy and incoming link authority out the window? Sure, you may get traffic to those sites, but it will always be traffic and incoming links going to WordPress.com or Typepad.com or Blogger.com – not so much your own company site. Any links that point to your site from WordPress or Typepad would pale dramatically in comparison to all the additional links you could get, from all over the internet, pointing to your own blog on your own site. And if you add a bunch of copy to a third party site, it won’t really help your own site improve keyword relevance.

Hosting a subdomain on your own domain is little bit better… but not much. Unless your blog has a really unique subject or needs a completely different branding initiative where it makes sense to host it your own subdomain, it’s a lot better to keep it consolidated under one domain. Google stlll views a subdomain as largely being a separate entity from your main domain (even if Webmaster Tools seems to report it as an internal link).

SO: Happy blogging and remember – work those subdirectories!

Disclaimer: There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but I do believe that the majority of websites are best served by blog hosting on a subdirectory.

ANOTHER Disclaimer: As per Mike’s comments below, there are cases when you might want to host on a subdomain. If your blog has already been up on a subdomain for years, then please leave it there. The advantages of moving just wouldn’t be worth having to lose incoming links that have been built up to your subdomain. However: if you currently host on an external domain, then yes – I would advocate moving your blog and 301ing old pages.

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7 Comments

  1. Also: In case someone comes back to you saying “Nope, we can’t use a subdirectory, tough luck”, here’s a great article from SEOMoz (via Slingshot SEO) on how to use Reverse Proxy to configure a blog on a subdirectory: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-is-a-reverse-proxy-and-how-can-it-help-my-seo

    Posted by Sarah, October 14, 2011 Reply

  2. Thanks for the post Sarah. We started blogging in mid 2010 and use Hubspot as our 3rd party blogging tool. The tool defaults to add the blog as a subdomain instead of a subdirectory. I challenged that thinking up front and the co-founder of the company (@dharmesh) sent me the following reply. Just curious on your opinion. I read the SEOmoz article earlier this week as well so it has been on my mind.

    “Google’s position on this (via Matt Cutts) has been that the sub-domain vs. sub-directory issue is basically a wash (i.e. it doesn’t make much of a difference one way or the other). Technically, from a pure SEO perspective, I think there’s a small advantage to using a sub-directory instead of a sub-domain. But, the difference is very small and far out-shadowed by other SEO factors. For a vast majority of sites, content in a sub-directory (vs. a sub-domain) will not impact rankings.

    For a company blog, I prefer a sub-domain instead of a sub-directory for one simple reason: It’s more portable — i.e. it’s easier to move things around, should that ever be necessary. If there ever comes a time to run your blog on a different server or different software from the main site, it is *much* easier to do that if you’re on a sub-domain.”

    Thoughts?

    Posted by Mike, October 14, 2011 Reply

  3. HI Mike,

    Great thoughts! Everyone has their own experience, but for me personally, I have always seen more value hosting content on a subdirectory. I have revisited that famous post from Matt Cutts many times over my SEO career, but it still does not change my opinion nor my experience with having optimizing website blogs both ways. ;) When I’m trying to increase keyword relevance as much as possible for a client’s site, it can be painful to see all of that content loaded… to a separate subdomain. It simply does not help as much.

    Sometimes, there are also other factors that could trump an SEO advantage. Convenience is absolutely one of them, and you raise some great points about portability and ease of management.

    If you want to do even more digging, here’s another great write-up from SEOmoz on this: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/understanding-root-domains-subdomains-vs-subfolders-microsites

    Posted by Sarah, October 14, 2011 Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback. Greatly appreciated. We’ve had success with many of our posts from an SEO and traffic stanpoint but i want to be sure our root domain is reaping the benefits as well. We’ll likely make the change at some point and 301 the old links to the new.

    Posted by Mike, October 14, 2011 Reply

    • Hi Mike,

      One last thing – if your blog is *already* configured somewhere else and *already* has a long history of posts and traffic, we would not advise moving it. It might not be worth the effort, or most notably, the loss of incoming links and authority that you’ve already now built up on the subdomain. In the short term at least, the advantages of this move would just cancel each other out.

      80% of my beef with blog hosting isn’t with subdomains – but with external domains.
      We would probably advocate moving a blog over from an external domain, but if it has already been hosted on your own subdomain for ages – then personally, I would keep it there.

      This is a similar rationale to stating why having a search-friendly URL structure is important – but if your old URLs have already been up for years, then you won’t want to rewrite them. In most cases, you’d just axe years of incoming link authority built-up – and to your internal pages, to boot.

      Anyway – hope that makes sense and please carry on blogging your subdomain if that’s what you’ve already been doing for a while now. :)

      Posted by Sarah, October 16, 2011

  5. In other words, you overstated the resultant difference in SEO value between subdomains and their parent TLD. If the 80% majority of your ‘beef’ is with people hosting blogs on external domains, then why lump the two in the same category?

    Posted by Abner, October 27, 2011 Reply

    • I lumped them in the same category since they’re pretty darn related!

      Many of my clients are configuring a blog for the FIRST time. And if you are doing so, it’s so much better to configure one on a subdirectory, not a subdomain. People continue configure brand-new blogs on their own subdomain, when it could be a subdirectory. In fact, I’m in the midst of a new blog setup process with two different providers right now, for two different clients, trying to address this exact issue – the need for a subdirectory. And I’m gunning to help them configure their new blogs to their *best advantage*. It’s kind of what prompted this blog post.

      Cue broken record as per my recommendations above and the other articles I’ve cited above: Subdomains DO NOT always inherit all of the positive metrics and ranking ability of the root domain. It’s just the lesser of two evils when compared to an external subdomain. It’s also the lesser of two evils if you are considering 301ing a blog on a subdomain that’s already been up for some time.

      Posted by Sarah, October 28, 2011

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