I have been mulling over this topic for some time and wanted to share my thoughts with you in this special issue on "Blogging Off-Domain" and how this impacts or does not impact your organic search placement. I think you will find this a special and interesting topic for this month and possibly a controversial one for you.
I used to feel that blogging anywhere was great, just get blogging. Now I have to say I really feel that blogging under your own domain name is the only workable SEO strategy.
First, let me explain a few things. When I say blogging off-domain I mean that your blog posts reside at Blogspot.com, WordPress.com or at a domain name you have set up separate from your website parent domain. The key is that the actual files that are your blog posts reside some where other than your real website.
Second, blogging on-domain means that you have WordPress installed in a directory that is part of your own website. The URL for your blog would be something like www.mydomain.com/blog. Here the actual files that are your blog posts are spiderable by search engine robots under your parent domain.
It is important to understand that subdirectory blog sites typically are not hosted at the parent domain, but are set up to look like they are, but the files do not typically reside at the parent domain. Blogspot allows you to do this with a bit of massaging of your domain name records. If your blog URL looks like this: blog.yourdomain.com most likely your website files do not reside at your parent location.
So, why is on-site domain blogging so important?
There are a few reasons why you should only consider blogging on-domain.
- You get search engine capital
for blogging on-domain. That
means each blog post is considered
by search engines as if they
were new pages in your parent
- Search engine spiders will
index the blog posts that
are created in on-domain
- You will build “web
authority” and create
keyword density on your topic
for your parent domain when
you blog on-domain for your
- Links to your on-domain blog will help your parent domain place better on search engines and therefore help you place organically.
Equally, if you have an off-domain blog and point to it in the navigation in your parent website, you get no search engine capital from it for your parent domain. You may get traffic, but not SEO juice.
What if you just can't blog on-domain?
If your blog cannot be built on-domain what should you do? There are some situations where you just cannot build an on-domain blog. Some situations may be where you are using a template driven website and you really do not have your own server space and so cannot install WordPress, you have an e-commerce site and just cannot include the technology to run a blog on the server, or you are hosted on a Windows server and cannot install PHP which is needed for WordPress.
If you have any of these scenarios, isn't off-domain blogging still good for you? I used to say yes, but let's look at a case study done recently for a real estate firm.
This client could not install an on-domain blog as their website was a template driven website and they did not have "real" server space. We set up a GoDaddy.com domain and hosting to house their off-domain WordPress blog. We blogged for almost six month using keyword dense phrases. At the end of the study period, we evaluated. Did the off-domain blog bump up the parent domain due to one way inbound links and keyword dense blog posts pointing to their parent domain?
What we found was that the strategy of off-site blogging was not workable. The parent domain got no "SEO juice" from our blogging efforts. Not only did organic placement not improve, but the off-domain blog itself was not showing for the keywords we were using either.
You can run some searches yourself on this website yourself to see that we started out no where and ended up no where. The parent domain is www.MarcoIslandLuxuryEstates.com and the blogsite is www.Marco-Island-Luxury-Estates.com. If you look, you will see that the blog domain is not in the top 100 results. The parent website has been slowly moving up in the SERPs but when analysis is done on links to the parent domain, Google is not recording the links from the blog as a factor.
So what is the bottom line on off-domain blogs?
The key take away from this post is that unless you heavily promote and create a link strategy for your off-domain blog to build it up in Google, the site has no "authority" on Google and the other search engines and so one way inbound links from the off-domain blog to the parent website mean nothing to Google in regards to organic placement.
If you are going to invest time and money to promote, create links and push placement for an off-domain blog in order to help the parent domain, wouldn't the investment and time be much better spent on the parent domain instead?
So where should I invest my time and money?
This is the solution if you can only blog off-site. First, based on our case study, we just don't recommend blogging off-domain at this point. If you can only blog off-domain, I strongly recommend you evaluate organic placement for your off-domain blog separately. If your blog shows for your keyword on Google.com then I would consider continuing to blog off-domain and point links to your parent website in your blog posts. You may actually be able to place organically with your off-domain blog if you have been blogging for a while and you are not in a highly competitive industry and so off-domain blogging may be workable for you.
If your off-domain blog does not place organically for your keywords then I would stop all blogging efforts there. I would instead take the money and time that I had invested in blogging and use it to start building on-site on-domain content. That content might be in the form of
- free downloadable white papers
- feature articles
- monthly press releases
- online newsletters
- additional website pages
You can do double duty with some of these types of items by disseminating them on Google Knol, American Chronicle, GoArticles, and article syndication sites in order to get even more inbound links.
I would strongly recommend that you review your current off-domain blogging approach as all blogging is not equal. Blogging is really only a good, rather, a great SEO strategy for you when you are blogging on-domain. If you just can't blog on-domain, I would use the time and dollars to build parent website content and value instead of spending that on off-domain blogging at this time.
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