Blog setup and SEO – Domain, subdomain or subfolder?

Blog setup and SEO - Domain, subdomain or subfolder?

The original blog setup question in detail

In my social media blogging workshop at the DEPAK Social Media Conference, I had a mix of editorial and technical aspects. The topic of increasing reach was also not neglected, and of course, in addition to seeding and advertising, it was also about SEO. Because Google is and will remain one of the main gatekeepers of web traffic.

I have an opinion on the subject, others see it differently. This tweet by Christian Henne was the starting point for the discussion, which then led me to explain my assessment of the optimal solution in terms of blog setup and SEO here.

What are the options for starting a blog?

First of all, a very general decision must be taken: to host you or to access a solution hosted by a third party? With the externally hosted solution, I don’t have to or even can’t think of many more questions. Because here our supplier clearly tells us what the structure should look like. With blogger, wordpress.com or tumblr, individual blogs are created on subdomains such as merkelraute.tumblr.com.

Advantages and disadvantages of blogging on external platforms

What are the benefits of blogging set up this way? Well, on the one hand, well-known platforms have their own range and you can fall back on stable technology. So there is little danger of ending up in maintenance hell and then having to do it yourself if the server hiccups. Virtually plug-and-play in its purest form.

However, these hosted platforms often only offer a limited range of functions. For example, only a limited number of themes and plugins can be used on wordpress.com. From my point of view, this solution offers too limited functionality to really be an option.

Possibilities of setting up a self-hosted blog solution

If we decide to install it ourselves (whatever system we use), we are of course free to choose how (and if) we integrate the blog into our domain. In general, there are the following options:

And that was the starting point of the discussion in Berlin. Because from my point of view, only the third option is really effective from an SEO point of view. Nevertheless, there are enough examples of business blogs set up as subdomains and, in my opinion, this is the worst of the three solutions. After a brief preliminary reflection on the topic of SEO, let’s take a look at the three possibilities.

Preliminary consideration: what is relevant for SEO projects such as blogs

This was of course also the subject of the workshop. Because if we’re running a blog, then from my point of view it’s still an SEO project. And they basically have two playing fields that we need to take care of: on-page and off-page factors.

The on-page factors relate to the design and of course the content of the page. Thus, for each article, it is necessary to determine for which keyword it should be classified. I deliberately leave out the technical aspects and the design of themes and templates, which are of course also important, but would be beyond the scope. In short: all self-hosted solutions have an advantage here, because as an administrator I have more design options.

And then second, we have the off-page factors. Despite all the talk about the relevance of shares on Facebook, Twitter and G+ for ranking, the links are still the A&Os here. For the sake of understanding, I always explain this with the well-known recommendation. Each link is such a recommendation and the site from which the link originates is the sender. And this is also the main argument for me regarding the question “where is the blog hosted”.

The company blog as an installation on your own domain

As can be seen in the examples, Frosta opted for its own domain instead of an integration on the company’s website. From my point of view sub-optimal, as all inbound links and resulting rankings have no direct benefit unless links are set from the blog content to the actual domain. Definitely a source of links, but not a big driver of domain popularity. Do you mean: each external link strengthens the blog, but it only counts once for the link evaluation of the actual main domain.

From my point of view, this only makes sense if there is no substantial proximity between the blog and the actual sender. So really only for freelance projects, less for corporate blogs.

The corporate blog solution as a subdomain

So we have the second solution the possibility of integration in the subdomain. In the case of Daimler’s corporate blog, the links point to the blog.daimler.de subdomain. For Google, each subdomain should be considered a separate domain, which means that very few of the recommendations received are reflected on the main page. So main page and subdomain have completely different backlink profiles with different domain and IP popularity.

From my point of view, this solution is therefore not optimal. Apparently many people responsible for communication want to make a clear separation here. Just like in the case of Daimler, they also run the careers section separately from the rest of the domain on career.daimler.de.

My favorite: the blog integrated into the main domain

And last but not least, my favorite: the integration on the main domain as a subfolder like with Ritter Sport. Because here all the links pay in the main domain, and using the Rittersport example, as can be seen here in the Seolytics screenshot, almost 50% of those link to the page main.

 

Conclusion on the integration of business blogs

Since there is a green and technically possible field, I would always choose the option to embed as a subfolder. From an on-site perspective, I can optimize the template and content design for any type of solution. When it comes to links (and also social signal evaluation) regarding off-page factors, in my opinion the biggest advantage is that links pay in the core area. Google will continue to assess the relevance of the domain in addition to the linked URL.

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