Should I host my blog on site or off site?

Where should I locate my blog in the site structure?

Location! Location! Location! is a guideline most associated with the real estate industry. However, it seems to apply to the SEO/Social Marketing space with a slightly different context when it comes to hosting a blog.

The most common ways to implement a company blog are as follows:
1. Subdomains –  http://blog.company.com
2. Directory – blog/
3.  Separate domain – www.blog.com

Before selecting the location of the blog, there is the blog itself to consider.  The first question you should answer is, “What is the Goal of the blog?”  The Answer to this question will guide whether the blog should reside on your company’s website or exist as a separate entity.

Core Considerations for an onsite blog:

1. Visitors never leave the website
2. Branding

Core Considerations for an offsite blog:

1. Different Topic
2. Different Technologies

The only reason I can see for hosting a blog on a separate domain would be that the subject matter of the blog is off topic from the main website.  For example, say you have an e-commerce website that sells sporting goods, but the theme of the blog is primarily focused on mountain biking due to an employee’s passion for the particular sport.  Sure this blog could be located on the main website, however, by being located on a separate URL, the blog could build a community around one aspect of the business, while not having to focus on the other products.

After the decision has been made on whether the website should reside offsite, optimizing the blog will be specific to the platform you are using.  Should the decision be made to host the blog within the company website, there is one more remaining consideration: Subdomain or Directory and the SEO benefits of each.

Subdomain

Currently, subdomains are treated as a mini-site within the main website, even though in December 2007 Google’s Matt Cutts stated in an interview with Web Pro News that Google will start treating subdomains as part of the main website. This may allow for the possibility of new rankings on the first page of the Google SERP’s.  Another reason to place your blog on a subdomain is that it creates the perception that the blog is a separate section of the website.

Directory

Placing the blog within a directory on the website has its benefits as well.  Should Google begin to attribute subdomains as part of the main site, then you are prepared.  Link authority gained by the blog via linking will flow up to the root domain. If the goal of your blog is well thought out, and visitors find it useful, people will invest the time to interact (which is the goal of your blog right?), and the SEO benefits will build.

SEO considerations should never trump the exact nature and goal of the blog.  You may end up with a highly ranked blog that is entirely useless.

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