It’s an age-old debate – should you host your blog at yourdomain.com/blog (subfolder) or blog.yourdomain.com (subdomain). While we’ve grown to believe that you should always go down the subfolder route (see Moz’s Rand Fishkin’s explanation here), in the age of content marketing perhaps it’s time to reconsider its importance.
There’s no question that there’s a benefit to putting your blog content on the same domain as your website using subfolders. You’ll be able to focus your SEO efforts on a single domain and search engines will have more juicy content to crawl, hence raising your SEO authority for your entire site – bam, more leads! You’re winning!
But wait, if that’s the case, why do so many high profile content marketing superstars publish their blogs at a subdomain?
Don’t believe me? Check out this list:
- HubSpot: http://blog.hubspot.com/
- KISSmetrics: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/
- Buffer: http://blog.bufferapp.com/
All 3 examples are of companies that know what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, lead generation and of course SEO. And there are many more examples.
So what gives?
The are a couple of possible answers to this perplexing question.
- They had no choice. Technical hurdles got in their way, their hosted blog solution could not be installed on their server, and so it had to live in a subdomain. Hosted solutions (e.g. Uberflip) offer a lot of benefits, but living at a subfolder of your www isn’t one of them.
- They did it intentionally.Their blog content has diversity in topics that are designed for their buyer persona. That content does not always relate directly to their product or service and therefore, if all those blog posts lived on their main domain, they may dilute their keyword ranking.
Think of it this way. If you’re in the business of selling appliances, you’ll want your website to rank for keywords like “fridge”, “stove”, “microwave”, etc. An effective content marketing strategy, however, may not include a lot of content on appliances themselves. Maybe you’ll focus on your average buyer and produce great articles and videos on ‘what cleaning products are most environmentally friendly’. Since you don’t sell cleaning products, any SEO benefit to those articles will fall on deaf ears since people searching for great cleaning products are not necessarily looking to buy appliances.
While I’m not familiar with these companies enough to comment on any technical challenges, it’s easy to see that the latter is relevant to all of them. Buffer, for example, has a wide variety of content on different topics that their core audience is interested in, often having nothing to do with their actual product. Here’s how Buffer describes it: “A blog about productivity, life hacks, writing, user experience, customer happiness and business.” – that’s a lot of topics!
KISSmetrics, similarly, focuses on software-as-a-service topics, and while their product is a SaaS, not everyone reading their content will be interested in their metrics platform.
At Uberflip, we host our Hub (our blog, and videos and eBooks, and more) at hub.uberflip.com – we too cover many topics that our buyer persona (a saavy marketer) will find interesting.
There’s more to SEO than subfolders
With Google’s latest Hummingbird algorithm, a lot more emphasis is being placed on simply being helpful.
“Original and engaging content is still king.” [source]
Nothing is more valuable than proving to search engines that your website is relevant and engaging to your audience. It doesn’t matter how technically sound your website architecture is, providing useful content in a killer experience is going to win in the long run.
In the end, even if in all of the example companies that split their blog from their site was due to technical hurdles, it clearly wasn’t a showstopper nor their primary concern, or it would have been overcome. Instead they’ve focused their energy on producing great content with an effective lead generating strategy that’s clearly working.
To put it simply, if your current blog or content strategy is missing elements that boost engagement (e.g. mobile friendly, integration with video, PDF and social content, etc.), and a hosted solution can solve this and more for you, then measure what it gives you vs what you must give up. If you’re improving your overall content marketing strategy then it’s likely well worth it.
If you’ve made your bet on content marketing, GO ALL IN
If you’ve embraced content marketing, you may very well want your content to rank separately from your website. And that’s where a subdomain makes a lot of sense. Use the strength of targeting your keywords specifically to your product or service for your website, and use the power of your share-worthy content to rank higher for your broader audience. Leverage your content to send interested readers to your product or service through carefully placed Call-to-Actions.
Take this post as a example – not everyone reading this article on SEO is necessarily interested in a content marketing platform dedicated to generating you more leads, but if you are, sign up for Uberflip for free. See? that was a well placed CTA! ;)
Disagree or have another take on the matter? Let me know!
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