We’ve talked before on the blog about how developing a blog for your business can be hugely beneficial to your online presence.
There are lots of free resources out there, such as WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and more, which will let you set up a blog. Apart from being free, these sites are also attractive because the setup time is almost non-existent: you can set up an account and begin blogging within minutes.
However, using a freebie site rather than incorporating a blog into your main company domain can do your online marketing more harm than good in the long term. Here’s why.
It can screw up the SEO benefits of blogging
Search engines love a content rich website, with lots of reasonably text-heavy pages. They also give preference to sites which are frequently, and recently, updated. So by putting all of your quality, fresh content onto a freebie blog, you’re depriving your main website of that search engine “oxygen” and all the benefits which come from it.
You risk competing with yourself in search
A free blog is always a subdomain of the providing platform. So, instead of www.rosemcgrory.com/blog, you get something like www.rosemcgrory.wordpress.com.
Although creating links between your main domain and your freebie site can transfer some of the “link juice” (increased authority for search engines), Google will always treat the sites as separate – just the same as if you owned one of them, and a competitor owned the other.
So, when someone searches for your company or products, there are two possible results which could be damaging: your freebie blog becomes more successful in the Google rankings than your main site, and prospective customers don’t make it to your key domain; or, both sites come up in the listings, resulting in confusion for users.
Marketing strategy fail
Being able to set up a blog in five minutes on a whim can be dangerous. A blog will take time, care and attention to become an asset to your business, and it’s well worth giving it some proper thought before jumping in. The process of setting up a blog within your site tends to encourage more thinking time, and a proper strategy in terms of the objectives and content plan. If your blogging efforts aren’t properly integrated with the rest of your online (and offline) marketing strategy, you might end up undermining good work that’s been done elsewhere.
Spoiling your brand
Most businesses invest in the look of their main site, and have it customised to present the best possible appearance. You’re much more restricted in the level of customisation you can achieve with a free blog site, so it’s almost impossible to maintain your “look and feel” to that of your main domain. Additionally, most people are aware that “X.tumblr (or Blogspot or WordPress).com” is a free domain, and may perceive that as being “cheap” – a bit like having a Hotmail account for your business email. Creating a significant web presence on a platform you can’t control properly risks undermining your brand.
Zombie site risk
Developing a second key online presence means twice the work – twice the number of logins that can be lost, twice the amount of content needed to keep both sites updated and fresh. There’s a much bigger chance that one will fall by the wayside, giving customers the impression that your business is no longer active.
Free sites can be a great way of starting to understand how the blogging format works, and we’d definitely recommend having a play with one for that reason. There are even a (very) few businesses whose only online presence is based on one, although they are sometimes the exception that proves the rule. But in general, proper integration with your home domain is the way to go.