Which Blog Hosting Strategy Has Higher SEO Results?

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After reading Erik’s blog postThe Number One Reason Companies Need to Blog About Their Products, I thought I’d clarify the best place to put your blog if your objective is to get the most search juice and the top search rank.

If your blog attracts lots of links, it may be better to have the blog inside your website as the links will drive your site’s page rank and SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) up. In fact, links are so critical to search engine optimization that almost always, the right answer will be put the blog inside your website’s domain. For those who have and have no idea what I’m talking about, we’re talking about this difference in your blog’s address:

mydomain.com/blog
versus
blog.mydomain.com

This is a very important consideration as search engines see blog.mydomain.com as a separate website from mydomain.com. Search engines see mydomain.com/blog as part of the same website, so links to the blog are going to help raise the page rank and search position of the entire website.

There really are only three reasons that are likely to come up for hosting your blog outside of your website’s domain for SEO purposes:

1. You already have a top rank for your keywords and wish to banish your competitors further down the first page of search results.

2. There is a technical reason you cannot have your blog inside of yourdomain.com. For example, you might use a subscription service for your website like a lot of Realtors, attorneys and financial planners do. Often times, these services will not let you install WordPress or another blogging system on their servers.

3. No one is going to link to your blog, and so the best you can hope for are a few keyword links back to your website.

Let me say it again: putting your blog inside your website is generally the best strategy unless you are already top ranked, have a technical limitation or no one is going to link to your blog.

Note: In Compendium Blogware’s case, their blogs fall under situation number 2. They have to do subdomains or external domains(somenewsite.com) and cannot do a mydomain.com/blog URL as they would have to move their software to the server hosting mydomain.com. While the “rising waters raise all ships” philosophy will help your SEO efforts, you don’t get quite the boost that you do from the mydomain.com/blog strategy.

The Number One Reason Companies Need to Blog About Their Products

We write a lot of product blogs for our clients. No matter what size, shape, color, or price of the product, we’ve written several hundred blog product posts.

But for all the hundreds of posts we’ve written, there’s only one reason we do it: to win search.

Chris Baggott of Compendium Blogware has long beat the “blogging wins search” drum. (And while I don’t agree about his “myth of the reader” — I believe you should try to get and keep regular, returning readers — he makes a great point about winning search.)

A product blog post is one of the easiest things to write. It’s just 200 – 300 words describing a particular product with a link back to the original catalog entry or product description. Each post equals a backlink back to your website, and the more backlinks you have to your website, the better you rank in a search.

Should I Keep My Blog Inside My Website, or Have a Separate Blog?

We’re fans of keeping a blog and a website together, but there’s no harm in keeping the two separate. After all, the search engines recognize it as a separate website that links back to your original one. However, you’re better off putting your blog on your static website and use internal backlinks to go from the blog to the static pages.

But if you want to boost your search engine rankings even further, create a second blog where you publish your blog posts, and keep it separate from your regular corporate blog where you’re publishing your authority posts, credibility posts, issues posts, and educational posts. This way you can improve search and find first time visitors with one blog, and gain returning readers with the other.

Who has time to do the work today?

Clock - who has time to get work doneThere has been a lot of news lately on how companies are really not hiring right now. A recent report talks about how a companies are hiring temp workers, but they are not hiring them to stay. In the past, a common practice was to test drive a worker then offer them a position. Hiring them as full-time employees is not happening right now.

So, who is getting the work done?

When I joined ATA Airlines back in 1997, George Michelsons brought in Bain and Company to basically prepare the company for sale. The process was to get rid of a lot of people and put more jobs onto fewer people. While this strategy worked around the country for Bain, it usually preceded an upgrade in office automation to ensure the work could still get done.

The office automation phase did not occur at ATA Airlines.

The result was a lot of stressed out people carrying around their imaginary trays trying to figure out how they were going to fit one more item onto an already heavy load. No longer were people interested in teamwork, they were more interested in self-preservation. It created a lot of ill-tempered people in the process.

As some of my clients reveal their corporate cultures, I am finding similarities to what I experienced at ATA Airlines. No one has time to commit to anything above and beyond what their core responsibilities are. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is not projected to get much better – CEO’s are reluctant to hire.

What are the solutions?

The easiest is what is being done by some today. Hire temp workers to get things done. They may cost a little more in the short-term, but allow you to avoid the headaches of hiring employees and their costs over the long-term. There are a lot of companies providing these services.

Sometimes, just hiring a grunt worker is not enough. Sometimes you need a professional person to do the work, you don’t have time to do. There are companies being set up that can act as your Marketing Department, your Accounting Department, or your HR Department. They can do it at a cost that is far cheaper than hiring full-time employees, but are focused solely on getting work done for you.

So, look around and ask yourself, are you and your colleagues a bunch of stressed out grumpy people not really accomplishing much because there is too much to do? There is help out there that can help your company meet its strategic goals for the year.

We actually put together a white paper on the ROI of outsourcing blogging and social media. You can download it here, if you want to take a look.

A Year in Review

Professional Blog Service started a year ago out of Indy Associates to assist companies in generating content they need for most of their Internet marketing activity.

While at Indy Associates, we always recommended blogging as a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. With the popularity of social media sites like Linkedin, Facebook and micro-blogging service Twitter, the strategy has become even more important. The challenge for most of our customers was the blog content generation. Most companies do not have trained content writers that are able to develop conversational blog content, while writing for the search engines. Most important, many of clients have great ideas with no time to share them.

So, what have we learned in 2009?

Most companies still do not have the resources, or the time to write their own content.

2009 saw the unemployment rate hit 10% in November. It was reported that many companies laid off many in their workforce leaving those left behind with more work to do and little time to get it done. The last thing on anyone’s mind is getting blog content written, even though everyone agrees that marketing is still important in a down economy.

Blogging and Social Media continue to evolve from AOL of the 90s to Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter heading into a new decade.

“Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all Internet time, according to a Nielsen report published in March of this year, “Global Faces and Networked Places.” These numbers keep rising as the year progresses. By 2012, IBM predicts that globally, a quarter of the global population will be using social media in some form.

Results still matter to most companies.

Learning how to play in social media is one thing. Getting people to interact with you is another. Your clients may or may not interact with you through social media. The challenge for all companies is finding out which ones they should engage. You may be able to sell like Dell, or respond to customer complaints like Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue Airlines have done. (Note to my former colleagues at American Airlines – take note!). Either way, Social Media and Blogging is measurable in some way depending on the strategic approach you take with it.

There are great tools like Yahoo Analytics (shameless plug as we are a Yahoo Analytics consultant). Radian6 and Scoutlabs can track who’s talking about you, and help you decide whether to act on the positive or negative media being generated.

We predict that 2010 will be the year of results with blogging and social media. In a nutshell, you are doing it to build your marketing list, or to generate interest in your products or services. To succeed, you will need:

  1. An understanding of how your market uses blogging and social media, if at all
  2. A plan to participate
  3. Execution and commitment to the plan
  4. Measurement of the results over the course of the year, not a month

If you can learn how to do it before your competition, you win. It will take them 12 months just to figure out what you have done.

Happy New Year from Professional Blog Service

Marketing Plan for 2010? Try the 70-20-10 Marketing Mix

Patrick Spenner at the Marketing Leadership Council presented a great variation on the Pareto Principle (also called the 80/20 rule) when it comes to trying new marketing tactics: (Beat the Social Media Investment Catch-22, November 9, 2009)

Spenner suggests any marketing plan should be follow the 70-20-10 spending rule: Roughly 70% of your marketing budget should be on the “tried and true” marketing channels — areas that you know absolutely have succeeded in the past.

The other 10% should be on experimental or new channels “for which there is no in-year expectation of ROI.” In other words, don’t expect to see an ROI within the fiscal year. Look for growth and results, but don’t expect things to pay for themselves.

The middle 20%, says Spenner, is for the most successful of last year’s 10%. “These touchpoints are incubating — we should manage them to develop benchmarks for success,” wrote Spenner. “These touchpoints eventually move over into the 70% as the organization accepts them.

Where could you find some new traffic? It may not always be on social media (said the social media company). It may be something new like trade shows and non-industry conferences. It may be a new website. Or email newsletters. Or a strategy of participating in discussion forums. Or telemarketing. And it just may very well be Twitter and blogging. The point is that you look at at least one new strategy and give it a year to see what happens.

Take some of the money you’ve been spending on newspaper and radio advertising, and try a new social media campaign. Pepsi Cola just did it, forgoing the multi-million Super Bowl ad buy, and putting $20 million into a social media campaign instead. Toys ‘R’ Us saw some explosive growth on their Facebook fan page. And even the Cincinnati Bengals have joined the Twitterverse and have over 15,000 followers.

Finding new marketing channels is important. Media consumption by your customers is always changing, and they’re going to places you didn’t have in your 70% bucket a few years ago, or even last year. Two years ago, I thought Twitter was the stupidest thing ever. Today, as much as one-third of my personal blog’s traffic comes from Twitter, but the largest portion comes from StumbleUpon.

So what’s your new 10%? What are some new channels you could explore for 2010?

How Can Travel Destinations Use Social Media and Blogging?

For one thing, update your website. Get a new site that makes lets you easily make your own changes, rather than relying on a code warrior to make $100/hour changes for you.

Second, add a blog and write new content at least twice a week. Talk about what’s going on at your place, announce special events, review those events after they happen, do special “Meet the Staff” profiles, talk about the history of your place, and anything else you can think of.

The reason you want to do this is because of search. Ninety percent of all web interactions begin with search, which means they’re searching for you. If they can’t find you, they won’t visit you. So blogging helps you win searches when travelers are looking for you.

Third, join Facebook. Create your own profile, but then create a page for your destination. Upload your email list of all your past visitors (you have been collecting emails, haven’t you?), and invite all of them to become fans of your page. Then you can update them about special events, new blog posts, and other news. Build a fan base of people who love your place.

Fourth, join Twitter. Upload your email list again and start following those visitors. They’ll follow you back, and you can use Twitter to broadcast new blog posts, chat with followers (like a chatroom), and keep in touch with your regulars and fan base.

By jumping in on social media and blogging, you can create a base of rabid fans who love your destination. They’ll not only come back year after year, but tell their friends about it too.

Content is STILL King

Jeff Bullas has written a post on a study he found called the “Internet Activity Index” released by  the Online Publishers Association.  The study shows how content sites are still King of the Internet for both eyeballs and time.

Here are the highlights of the study:

The 5 Categories and the the types of sites that were measured were:

  • Content (Sites like NYTimes.com, ESPN.com and Edmunds.com (Content sites)
  • Communications (websites offering email, and Instant messaging)
  • Community (Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn)
  • Commerce (such as Ebay, Amazon)
  • Search (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc)

Here is Jeff’s interpretation:

The study on online activity titled the “Internet Activity Index” released by  the Online Publishers Association shows the  trends of the types of activity that have occurred on the Internet over the past 6 years. The study’s findings has important implications for online marketers and how they should be focusing their time, resources and strategies in 2009 and beyond.

Five key findings of the study?

  1. Internet users continue to spend a majority of their “time” with Content sites, up from 34 percent of total time spent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2009.
  2. Emergence of Community (it wasn’t measured in 2003 as it wasn’t statistically significant enough and not on the radar)
  3. Content is still king; the content rich sites continue to be a place where consumers spend the majority of their online time and provide an environment for brand marketers to reach and engage with consumers despite the emergence of  community sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace.
  4. Community sites are reducing the share of online time by communications sites due to community sites ability to offer the same activities such as email and instant messaging more efficiently.
  5. Time spent with Search doubled.

Here is the report as it is reported on the Online-Publishers Site:

Share of Time Spent Online (%)
Jul08 Aug08 Sep08 Oct08 Nov08 Dec08 Jan09 Feb09 Mar09 Apr09 May09 Jun09 Jul09
Commerce 14.1 13.5 13.1 12.8 14.3 16.0 14.1 13.4 13.2 13.3 12.8 11.0 10.9
Communications 28.2 29.0 28.7 28.0 26.5 25.9 26.5 27.4 27.0 26.4 26.3 25.2 24.4
Community 9.0 8.9 8.3 8.7 9.7 9.7 11.3 12.6 12.8 13.7 14.5 18.5 20.6
Content 43.4 43.2 44.6 45.3 44.5 43.2 42.8 41.1 41.5 41.3 41.1 40.6 39.6
Search 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.0 5.3 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.3 4.7 4.5
% Change in Share of Time, Month-Over-Month
Jul08 Aug08 Sep08 Oct08 Nov08 Dec08 Jan09 Feb09 Mar09 Apr09 May09 Jun09 Jul09
Commerce 3.4 4.3 3.0 2.3 11.7 11.9 11.9 5.0 1.5 0.8 3.8 - 0.9
Communications 2.4 2.8 1.0 2.4 5.4 2.3 2.3 3.4 1.5 2.2 0.4 - 3.2
Community 2.3 1.1 6.7 4.8 11.5 0.0 16.5 11.5 1.6 7.0 5.8 - 11.4
Content 2.6 0.5 3.2 1.6 1.8 2.9 0.9 4.0 1.0 0.5 0.5 - 2.5
Search 1.9 0.0 0.0 1.9 3.8 6.0 0.0 1.9 1.9 3.6 0.0 - 4.3


*Notes: Excludes .gov and .edu Web sites, as well as pornographic domains. Percentage change indicates the percentage increase or decrease from the previous month’s value (June 2009 % change not shown due to introduction of Nielsen’s NetView RDD//Online data). Share of Time data based on Total Time values.

Source: OPA and Nielsen Online

For years now, the principals here have been preaching that content is king.  Not only for search engine optimization (SEO), but also for it being the hub of a social media campaign.  A colleague of mine, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of a large travel company has validated these findings with their strategy.  Quote:  “Blogging is the hub of a social media campaign.  Social Media alone is not a strategy for corporations wishing to participate.”

The numbers Jeff shared this morning kind of validates this approach.  From a hub, there are spokes to other platforms through sharing.  The valuable asset is the content generated.