One of my clients asked a great question earlier this week, “Should we implement a blog on a new domain, or on a sub-domain of our existing website?”
First, let’s look at the real objective. The client wants to increase the visibility of his eCommerce site on the major search engines, thus increasing exposure, traffic, and hopefully sales. He knows from our SEO discussions that blogging is a must-do strategy that will help in many ways.
Let’s make this question a little easier…
What is the best way to implement a blog for SEO?
So, for this example, here are the three scenarios in question:
I should make it clear that in this case the client has a perfectly fine custom coded 3rd party eCommerce site that has been operating on the same URL for a very long time. The eCommerce site, on the original URL, also has blog functionality built in and working, well, sorta.
You see, after some questions back and forth I found out that the only reason he is considering the new website blog idea (exampleblog.com) is that the custom coded blogging system that was added into his shopping cart by the 3rd party’s programmers is very far from user friendly. Pictures require FTP into a folder and then the picture URL’s are hard coded into the posts. Sounds like 1999, and as you can imagine he and his employees absolutely hate it. OK, I’m starting to see the problem now, and why he wants to implement a new blog.
Basically, the client has been on this same 3rd party custom coded shopping cart platform for over 18 years and it is far far behind in basic eCommerce features found on most of the top platforms today. While it wasn’t a bad solution back in 1996, by today’s standards it is sub par. But.. as the client points out, he has no desire to put in the time and energy and costs associated with moving his business over to a new shopping cart.
Should he be considering a new shopping cart system? You bet.
Can he afford it right now? Nope.
So what’s the answer?
Without a doubt the best solution for SEO is to keep the blog on the same URL as the eCommerce website. My advice is to have the 3rd party programmers setup a WordPress blog and have it exist in a new folder on his current website. Move the old posts over to WordPress, and begin using that as the new blogging platform. example.com/new-blog/
Why not the other choices?
Doing a blog on a new website was never an option in my mind for many reasons. All that would benefit from his blogging on a new website is that the new website would grow, it would gain inner linking, and the links it sent back to his website would be almost valueless. Horrible idea considering the SEO objectives.
The sub domain is not the best option either. I have seen first hand the negative results of somebody who has moved their blog into a sub-domain, and its not good. Again, this would negatively impact any SEO efforts. I realize that many designers or hosting company that are unaware of the reality of SEO would love to simply install the blog in a sub domain, due to the ease of installation, but that is simply not what I would recommend.
WordPress Security Issues?
Good point. Many hosting companies and custom programmers will warn you of the dangers of even using WordPress due to the abundance of hack attempts that may happen. I argue that many huge fortune 500 companies are using the platform just fine and with great success. When you use any open source content management system, you are taking on the responsibility of performing updates on a quick and continuous basis.
My clients programmers were darn right angry about the idea and practically wanted a disclaimer signed before they would implement WordPress. I reminded them that I did not care how or where the administration was installed, as long as it worked. No, it did not need to share the same database as the shopping cart. Their solution was to use an API to bring in the WordPress data from another more secure domain and I used the nofollow code in the WordPress hosting domain to keep the content original to the target URL.
The bottom line:
Always, always, always, install your blog ON the domain you are trying to promote.