Business Blog Dilemma

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Recently we were having a business blog dilemma and we asked for help and advice from our followers!

Our blog had been hosted on WordPress.com since the start but I felt that the time had come to refresh and update the blog.  Once I started considering the options I realised that there were a few different choices open to us and lots of conflicting advice out there.  I thought that other corporate bloggers may also be puzzling over the direction to take with their blog (particularly UK business bloggers) and so I decided to create a post about it in the hope that people may be willing to share their expertise and advice and this would help both me and others that were unsure!  I had so many questions about this I found it cathartic to create a post and I included a poll and the opportunity for people to comment at the end of the post (huge thank you to everyone who took the time to vote and give their expertise).  This post sets the scene and (future posts will share more information about our final decision making process and our journey)….

The Original Blog

Our original blog was hosted on wordpress.com and independent to our Events Northern Ltd company website, albeit linked via the blog tab from our website to the blog.  I love blogging and through blogging I hope to raise my profile and increase SEO and business for my company, Events Northern Ltd.  However it is a passion for me and blogging is something I really enjoy so I anticipate this will continue regardless of any business opportunities that may or may not arise from it.  By this I mean that I would never want to blog with the single aim of increasing SEO, losing the quality and soul of what I want to write about just to increase rankings.  Generally I do not use my blog too often to promote our own projects and events (rightly or wrongly), I see it more as a way to share my thoughts and expertise on event and conference management and other topics that interest me.

eventsnortherncogsnew1.jpgI wanted to have a shiny new look for the blog and there were several magazine style themes that I was interested in using.  I had also bought two exciting domain names: eventandconference.co.uk and eventandconference.management.

Business Blog Dilemmas!

The main dilemmas were:

  • Should I go self hosted?
  • Should I change the look and theme of my blog?
  • Should my blog move within my company website or use one of my new domain names (and if so which one?!)
  • Or realistically did I need to consider having 2 blogs – one within my website for more company specific posts and another for my usual posts – event management top tips/comment/etc.  Note: I preferred to avoid having two blogs unless it was absolutely essential as my time for blogging is limited!

Secondary questions:

  • Will it be harmful if people arrive on my blog and it looks completely different to the blog they have visited in the past?
  • Can a magazine theme be incorporated within the blog section of my company website if I wanted to go down that route (I actually like the appeal of my blog looking different to our other website pages if I move the blog within the site although the website may be built on WordPress too?)
  • Is there any SEO merit of the other domain(s) pointing to my website or the blog if not used to host the blog?
  • If I go self hosted what would happen if people typed in my previous blog address – would they automatically be redirected to the new blog site or would there just be broken links?  Is this easy to rectify?
  • What is the best way to make the change to self-hosted and what will be the ongoing charges and other things to think about?
  • Is there a way to back up and edit the blog to ensure I am happy with everything before deleting the old blog/making the change and publishing my new look self hosted blog?
  • Would there be a way to keep the blog separate to the website but link every post/perhaps post the introduction to the full post and then link through if people want to continue reading so the website gets some SEO benefit (so long as the website and blog are not penalized for this as there may be a small amount of duplicated content?)

I understand that the downsides of moving to self hosted are potentially losing some SEO benefit in terms of having a wordpress.com blog (which I understand Google loves!) but the SEO plug ins I will be able to access via wordpress.org may counteract this?

Arguments for Keeping Our Blog Separate to Our Company Website?

Becki Cross, MD, Events Northern Ltd

New Events Northern website

You may think that I was crazy/stupid for even considering keeping my blog separate to the company website, due to the SEO benefits we will not take advantage of.  Some of my reasons for considering keeping the blog separate to the website are outlined below.  Thank you to Andrew Percey Founder at Prometheus Internet Marketing for this excellent post verbalising the advantages of keeping a separate blog much better than I could have done!  The reasons which particularly resonated with me are:

  • If you want to promote your blog as its own brand.
  • If you want to promote yourself as a more objective industry expert.
  • If you might want to someday sell the blog but keep the company website.
  • If you might want to someday leave or sell the company but keep the blog.

I am unsure whether either of the last two scenarios will ever materialize as my company and my blog are both my “babies” however “never say never!” I would also add that I would hope to have more guest posting opportunities in the future too which I feel would perhaps be better suited to an independent blog to give an independent voice. Whether someone comes to a blog post and clicks onto a separate page within the website to find out more about Events Northern/the author or from a blog hosted independently to the company website surely that doesn’t make much different to the visitor?

I would also add to this:

  • I wanted to have a beautiful new look and magazine theme and I was unsure if that would be possible if housed within the company website
  • I saw benefits of using one of the domain names we have purchased which will also allow links back to our company website
  • I hoped that that there may be some benefits of hopefully having a website and a blog listed highly in terms of page ranking?
  • Perhaps in the future I may want to monetise the blog and again I feel that this would be more suited to keeping it separate to the company website

I appreciate however that the best thing in terms of SEO would be for the blog to be fully integrated within my website (e.g. www.eventsnorthern.co.uk/blog) which was obviously an appealing prospect, however I am also interested in the weight my new domain names could provide in hosting the blog.

I appealed for the advice of others knowledgeable in these areas as I didn’t know where to turn and seemed to read conflicting advice. I didn’t want to delay too long on the decision but I was happy to take on board all advice and completely revise my way of thinking if necessary based on expert opinion!

The results of the poll is shown below, as well as the comments received!  Thank you to everyone that contributed!  

UPDATE!
As you may have noticed I now have a self-hosted blog, with a magazine theme on the eventandconference.co.uk domain.  I am still working on the finishing touches and learning the ropes at WordPress.org but I hope you like our new look?  More information about our rationale and this process of moving from wordpress.com to self hosted will follow in future blog posts.

 

 

11 comments

  1. Hey i thought I would answer your questions. Good luck with everything as well Becki!
     Will it be harmful if people arrive on my blog and it looks completely different to the blog they have visited in the past? (may be slightly harmful in the short term but could be very beneficial in the long run, especially if you focus on what had worked previously and make the user journey easier)
     Can a magazine theme be incorporated within the blog section of my company website if I wanted to go down that route (I actually like the appeal of my blog looking different to our other website pages if I move the blog within the site although the website may be built on WordPress too?) (yes it can be I believe)
     Is there any SEO merit of the other domain(s) pointing to my website or the blog if not used to host the blog?(there is a slight seo benefit, however there probably is a greater benefit in having the blog attached to your website. Only because you will generate more visitors to the website , keep the website fresh with content and more importantly, potentially generate new work due to an increase in visitors. One of my ex clients generated 1000 new visitors in one month due to a blog post!)
     If I go self hosted what will happen if people type in my current blog address – will they automatically be redirected or will there just be broken links? Is this easy to rectify? (I’m not sure about this but if you host both url’s you can get a 301 redirect to your new website. Make sure it is a 301 rather than a 302 because 301’s transfer any SEO benefit the previous domain had!
     What is the best way to make the change to self-hosted and what will be the ongoing charges and other things to think about? (sorry no clue, seo nerding is my thing)
     Is there a way to back up and edit the blog to ensure I am happy with everything before deleting the old blog/making the change and publishing my new look self hosted blog?(unfortunately I think to do this, you will have to just copy and paste all the data on your website to word or something similar
     Would there be a way to keep the blog separate to the website but link every post/perhaps post the introduction to the full post and then link through if people want to continue reading so the website gets some SEO benefit (so long as the website and blog are not penalized for this as there may be a small amount of duplicated content?) (It is possible yes, however if you give a user to many hurdles / clicks to do it is very easy to lose visitors. As you stated, duplicated content would be a problem)

    My final thoughts are, keep the blog inside your company page, however give it a slightly different feel and potentially use your social media efforts to direct people to the blog. You could get significant brand recognition from this and increase your visitors to your website substantially. Especially as i’m guessing the company website already has some authority to it!

    Good luck!

  2. Hi Becki,
    I thought I’d share some thoughts on the matter –
    Will it be harmful if people arrive on my blog and it looks completely different to the blog they have visited in the past?
    Short time maybe, but long term no it shouldn’t, especially if the theme is a lot more user friendly!
    Can a magazine theme be incorporated within the blog section of my company website if I wanted to go down that route (I actually like the appeal of my blog looking different to our other website pages if I move the blog within the site although the website may be built on WordPress too?)
    Yes you can.
    Is there any SEO merit of the other domain(s) pointing to my website or the blog if not used to host the blog?
    The SEO guy above covered this.
    If I go self hosted what will happen if people type in my current blog address – will they automatically be redirected or will there just be broken links? Is this easy to rectify?
    You will need to set up a 301 redirect, I believe WordPress.com charge something like $12 for this (off the top of my head!)
    What is the best way to make the change to self-hosted and what will be the ongoing charges and other things to think about?
    Set up a copy of WordPress and import your content! (or get someone to do it for you!) Then make sure you’re completely happy with your new blog, then you can make a seem less transfer.
    The charges may encounter are getting someone to move your blog over for you (if you don’t do it yourself) and web hosting (which is the only ongoing charge.) I would say it is quite simple to transfer a blog to self hosting. Bloggers World has an article at – http://bloggersworld.co.uk/how-tos/move-wordpress-com-blog-wordpress-org/ – which you may find helpful.
    Is there a way to back up and edit the blog to ensure I am happy with everything before deleting the old blog/making the change and publishing my new look self hosted blog?
    Yes, you don’t need delete your old blog, you can merely make it private until such time you feel comfortable to delete, if at all.
    Would there be a way to keep the blog separate to the website but link every post/perhaps post the introduction to the full post and then link through if people want to continue reading so the website gets some SEO benefit (so long as the website and blog are not penalized for this as there may be a small amount of duplicated content?)
    All I will add is you need to be very careful with duplicated content…an SEO expert will be better guided to answer though!
    I understand that the downsides of moving to self hosted are potentially losing some SEO benefit in terms of having a wordpress.com blog but the SEO plug ins I will be able to access via wordpress.org may counteract this?
    There are tons of great SEO plugins that can help you optimise your content, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it!
    I hope this helps in some form!
    Luke

    • Hi Luke
      I really appreciate taking the time to feedback and that blog post looks like a really useful step by step guide which is what I need!
      Thanks for putting my mind at rest about the changeover of content too. So much to think about!
      Thank you!
      Becki

  3. Hey, so I think this is a great idea.

    Yes to self hosted – much easier to manage & I think change of design and look of blog is a nice thing every once in a while. If you are thinking about change then I would say change is needed!

    I think the choice of moving from the company site or staying is a tough one, there are benefits too both, but as you tend to blog more about event industry issues rather than your company I think the new domain would work. However ideally you would still have a link to your blog via your website. As a recent ex-event student it is always nice to read posts about a company and see behind the scenes, but I would not suggest having two separate blogs!

    Nothing wrong with having the blog design changed and being totally different from before, if you are worried then let people know why you have decided to go for a different design and explain some of the new features!

    I have hardly any experience with SEO & WordPress so shall leave these answers for someone who is in the know, but I would say it is possible to get the current URL to direct people to the new site.

    I hope these answers help Becki & good luck 🙂

    • Hi Caitlin

      I agree, now is definitely a good time to change. I am still torn as to where the new look blog should live though, so I am reading everyones thoughts and advice and checking the poll with interest!

      I understand you are going to be moving across to WordPress too so keep me posted!

      Happy blogging Caitlin!

      Becki x

  4. Hi Becki (it is Becki, right? We’ve spoken a bit on Twitter but I have never been sure!),
    Great post 🙂
    With regards to keeping the blog separate from your main web presence, I get the rationale behind that – in some instances it would make sense, particularly if you ever hope to sell the blog at a future date (mind you, it’s VERY challenging to monetise a blog – it would depend on what you do with it, I guess).
    However, even in that instance the blog would absolutely have to be on it’s own domain name. From an SEO perspective, the most important thing you have to understand is that Google (and other engines i.e. Bing, Blekko, Yandex etc.), interpret links pointing into your website from external websites as votes in favour of your website. The more QUALITY links you acquire the higher you rank in search.
    With your existing situation, the link value being built is arguably, benefiting WordPress.com, rather than your own domain name. You should look at links like assets; from an SEO perspective, they really are that valuable.
    If, at the moment, you decided to move to a ‘self-hosted’ solution (shared hosting), then ideally you’d want to redirect the old domain you were using to your new domain, in doing this all of the ‘link value’ you’ve built up to the old domain would transfer across to the new domain.
    However, as you’re hosted on WordPress.com (and not your own domain, you can’t redirect – also, there’s nothing to say that WordPress.com won’t, at some point in the future, decide to limit the range of services they offer (and your website could be affected as a result).
    For this reason, opting for a self-hosted solution is absolutely necessary (I struggle to think up even one advantage to opting for free hosting).
    Shared hosting costs pittance – Bluehost charge £43 for one year of hosting. A domain name will cost anywhere between £3 and £9 (Heart Internet, Namecheap and maybe GoDaddy could be worth looking at for a domain name – mind you, it may be easier to purchase a domain name from your hosting provider; that way you won’t have to modify nameservers).
    p.s. I’ve run multiple blogs before, the workload usually catches-up with me eventually!
    Good luck with everything, let me know how you get on! 🙂
    Cheers,
    Gareth

    • Hi Gareth
      Thank you – it means a lot to benefit from your advice on this! As always you speak a lot of sense. Really grateful for your expertise.
      And yes it is Becki of @eventsnorthern and half of @ukblogawards.
      I hope #100Blogs is going well too. I am enjoying reading your posts and updates and eager to learn of the longer term results of your efforts too.
      Warm wishes and thanks again
      Becki

    • Hi James
      Thanks so much for the advice and I have enjoyed reading this and a few other articles from your blog! This is a really great example you cite from Moz.
      I am looking forward to the results from your #100blogsin100dayschallenge!
      Basically I know moving the blog within my company website makes complete sense in terms of fresh content and SEO but I am just in two minds about it. Primarily I blog because I enjoy it and for some reason I feel I have more freedom if it is a separate entity?! Completely torn about what is the best route to take though if I am honest. Perhaps I have no choice but to have a company blog within the site and a standalone blog too? Decisions decisions!
      I really appreciate you taking the time to give your expert opinion and will keep you posted whatever the final decision is!
      Looking forward to continuing reading your posts.
      Warm wishes
      Becki

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