Your company should have a blog. Forrester Research published a famous report (or two) on the ROI of Blogging, showing results like reduced cost of sales and advertising, and you can catch a summary at Empowered. Hubspot, a data collection and analysis giant, says that companies with strong blogs get up to 88% more leads than companies without blogs. I’ve done the math for you at The Value of Blogging. So, given that you can easily find the data to support this claim, let’s just agree that your company should have a blog.
Now, where should you put it? You basically have two choices:
- Put the blog at your website and use it to bring traffic to your website.
- Put the blog offsite and use it to send traffic to your website.
The blog you have on another domain is an external blog. It’s not external because it’s written outside or because you’ve hired a professional blogger — it’s external to your website.
Putting the blog on your own website brings traffic to your site repeatedly, so people become accustomed to visiting your site and are more likely to take action. A regularly updated blog on your site gives your company site the SEO benefits of plenty of fresh content and more valuable content, both excellent things for a website.
That content allows your site to rank for more keywords, which can give your site a much more substantial look on the search engine results page. It increases the authority of your company, and you can control it. As a rule, having your company blog on your own website is better.
There are cases in which you can’t (or prefer not to) have a blog on your own site:
- Your site may not have the technology to create a blog, and you might not have the budget to build a new website to accommodate the blog.
- Your site might not have been designed to house a blog, or you may feel that adding a blog would not be in keeping with the effect you want to create.
- You may not be sure you’ll keep up with blogging; an abandoned blog off site looks less lame than an abandoned blog on your website.
- You may want the separation and distinction between your company and your blog; for example, you might want a staid website and a lighthearted, fun blog.
- You might want multiple blogs from different points of view; one London design company chose to have each of their team members create a blog, and that provided all the marketing impetus they needed.
- You might want to have more than one property on the front page of the SERPs. If you have a good-sized presence for your website, your blog, your YouTube videos, and your social media platforms, you can own the page.
An external blog at WordPress.com or at Blogger can send significant traffic to a company site. We’ve done this type of blog for people, and have seen the blogs gain far more traffic than the websites, serving as major engines for referral traffic to the websites.
We always wish that all that traffic were coming directly to the company website.
Succeed with an external blog.
However, an offsite blog can be successful, both as a blog and for your company’s website. If you decide that offsite is the way to go, plan for success:
- Remember that the object of the blog is to bring people to your website, or to your business in person or by phone. That means you have to make it easy for visitors to find their way back to your website, or to call your office or find your store. Have a link to your website, of course, but also mention your company in some (not all!) of your blog posts and include links that can entice visitors to explore your site.
- Remember that blogs are social media — in many ways, they were the original social medium. Just as with your company’s other social media, your blog should encourage interaction. Give your readers ways to connect: subscription options, “Follow” and “Like” buttons, a physical address if you’re a brick and mortar operation. Since you can be sure that not all the visitors to your blog will click through to your website, do what you can to encourage other kinds of action from those who don’t.
- Have an exit strategy. If your blog is set up on a blogging platform like WordPress.com or Blogger, you are at the mercy of any changes they make. We used to build blogs on Blogger and put them into websites, until Blogger decided not to allow that any longer. We had to scramble around to fix the sites built that way. Plenty of blogging platforms flourished briefly and then were shut down or had changes in terms, including added fees. Not only will you have to be prepared for this sort of issue, but you may also find that you begin to want all the traffic from your successful blog to come to your company site. If you then add a blog to your website and move your blog posts over, you may lose your following and the SEO benefits of the blog. You can find yourself having to build up from scratch. The blog below is about to go through this process; its 4,000+ monthly visits would be nice for the owners’ main website — but now it will have to build back up to that prominence.
Our blog, the one you’re reading, started on Blogger, back in the days when Blogger blogs could be embedded into websites. When the rules changed, we built a WordPress site and imported the blog into our new website, losing our posts’ PageRank and other SEO benefits. Recently, the imported posts have developed formatting problems which we now have to correct. Do we wish we had built the original site with an internal blog? You know we do.
Bottom line: build an internal blog on your company website unless you have a really good reason not to. If you feel that you must go with an external blog, be aware of the drawbacks and have a plan for dealing with them.