Where to Put a New Blog: Domain, Sub-domain or Directory?

(Meg's last post was, Keyword Research: The (Beloved) Step Child of SEO) Some of the most common questions I hear when it’s time to set up a blog for a business are:
  • What should it look like - my site or totally different?
  • What platform should I use?
  • What do we write about?
  • Who will write the posts?
  • And …. Where will the blog live?  As in, on the company’s domain or a new domain.
This last one is a doozy.  Why?  Because “it depends”.  People really love that response. Here are the main options for where to put a blog:
  • On a new domain (newdomain.com)
  • On a subdomain (blog.domain.com); or
  • In a directory on the current domain (domain.com/blog)
What “depends”?:
  • Installation capabilities of the current website platform
  • Whether the blog will be branded and associated with the company
  • Authority of the current company domain
  • Status of SEO and rankings for the existing domain
  • Keyword strategies
don't shoot me in the butt
I’d like to see a handful of SEO and Social Media experts duke it out.  It would be an entertaining conversation to watch, but I don’t think there would be a clear winner. For example, many platforms don’t allow for (decent) blog platforms to be installed.  Leaving two options: putting it on a sub-domain or a new domain.  Or, if the company wants to build new keyword rankings outside of what’s it’s ranking for through the blog - that would likely be best suited for a sub-directory. There are benefits to all three - you just have to decide which one is best suited. Option 1:  On a new domain I would have thought this would have been the clear loser.  If you start a new domain for your blog, then you are essentially starting from scratch.  Building backlinks, rankings and domain authority. But, let’s look at a few scenarios where this could make a lot of sense. Scenario 1:  You have a domain that has a lot of authority and ranks well and you want to continue targeting and gain rankings for similar terms – thereby gaining more search inventory for targeted terms and essentially “own” the search results. Scenario 2:  You want your blog to be totally separate from the business website.  By putting it on it’s own domain you can disassociate the two.  And, if targeted well, could accomplish the same as Scenario 1 regardless. Option 2:  On a sub domain A sub-domain has the same downfalls as a new domain.  You have to build out the domain since it’s starting as new.  In this scenario, the blog can either live on the website platform or can be hosted elsewhere.  The benefit is that it allows branding to be associated with the blog through the domain.  It also allows for the domain to separate out content that is totally different from the current domain.  What you don’t get in this case are rankings that can saturate a specific result. Option 3:  In a directory on the website This option is a good one because many websites develop blogs to build additional content, target additional keywords and build upon their brand.  This is frequently the road that’s taken.  And many times, it should be (I’m a bit biased to this scenario!).  Building a blog in a directory of the existing domain allows the blog to reap the benefits of an authoritative domain.  A website can then target more words, long-tail and related words through the blog and gain rankings to the domain.  Plus, as you build content and backlinks – you are building them on and into the domain, not a sub-domain or new domain. Pretty much all 3 work, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions and getting down to the right scenario for your domain and your business goals.
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