Free vs. Paid vs. Locally vs. Externally Hosted Blogs…

Mike Moran shocked me a bit the other day with his post “Where Should I Host My Blog” over on Search Engine Guide.  Nearly every other SEO that I’ve ever spoken to has always stuck by the old standard of on your own domain.  Obviously, there are some major advantages to this, but Mr. Moran makes you wonder if it’s really beneficial.

What the post lacked, in my opinion, is a true cost benefit analysis of the differing options.  In my opinion, there are a couple different perspectives to look at.  First, from a technical standpoint:

  • External free options require little to no technical know how and are basically turnkey
  • Free external options typically lack useful customizations, like Sociable, for easily adding social bookmarking and social media tools
  • Hosted solutions (internal or external) allow for nearly limitless customizations

The more important questions to ask yourself when making this decision are outside the realm of the technical.  A short list of questions I would start with would include:

  • From a branding standpoint, is the blog in line with the company’s image?
  • Is the blog intended to represent an individual or the company?
  • Is the blog representing your whole organization or just a specific category, brand or product?
  • How do you want to distribute link juice back to the corporate site?
  • What means are you going to use to promote the blog?
  • Is the blog intended to push products/services or be strictly informational?

Speaking from experience, we run four blogs and contribute to a few others, but here’s our reasoning for each.

  • My blog and Joe’s blog exist on a subdomain (an external site for SEO purposes) because we wanted them to have a fairly standalone personality, as we wanted these blogs to be a bit more off the cuff, and not tied so tightly to the main corporate site.  With that in mind, we figured we could build up a crossover audience and then funnel that link juice back to the corporate site.
  • The corporate Netvantage blog does what most organizations intend to do with their blogs – attract links, build the brand and communicate with customers and prospects.  That blog is more focused on industry and company news and has a bit more of a buttoned up demeanor.  Ultimately, this is designed to contain the majority of our most linkable content, because this is our money maker.
  • The we have a free external paid search marketing blog on Blogspot which we tinker with on occasion, which was basically to get some experience using Blogspot and also potentially build up a presence that would eventually generate enough useful authority to pass some valuable link juice back to the corporate site.

So in the end, it really is up to you as to what your best option is, but you’ll want to ask yourself some questions from a technical standpoint, and also think about how you intend to manage the blog and what your goals are.  If you do that, then it’s just a matter of writing brilliant material!

Adam Henige

Adam Henige is Managing Partner of Netvantage Marketing. Adam heads the SEO and link building efforts for Netvantage and has been a contributing blogger for industry publications like Search Engine Journal and Moz.

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