It’s an old chestnut of a question. Is it better to set your blog up on its own URL or integrate it into your main website?
The answer hasn’t always been the same. Until a few years ago a separate site offered a couple of big pluses in return for the extra effort and expense.
Now, though, with a handful of exceptions, opinion has turned in favour of keeping your blog as part of your main site. Let’s look at why.
The days of automatic dominance for keyword domains are over
Once upon a time you could grab a domain name like gitesinnormandy.com and almost guarantee you’d be on page one of Google when someone searched for the phrase ‘gites in Normandy’.
Run that search now and you’ll see the page swamped by the big boys. Holiday Lettings, Owners Direct, Chez Nous, Trip Advisor, HomeAway, Holiday France Direct and Cottages4You.
That’s not to say you can’t compete. You can. It just takes a lot more than a domain name.
Having an established site with plenty of well-written, keyword-rich content wins you brownie points, regardless of the domain name.
So it may in fact be easier for you to rank for a given set of keywords by posting a series of well-crafted articles on an integrated blog than by snagging a new domain and building your blog on a cold foundation.
Google gives a lot less value to backlinks than it used to
Not so long ago internet marketers who knew how to game the system built scores of separate blog sites that all linked back to a single ‘money’ site.
Back then, Google still used the number of backlinks (links from external sites to your site) as a ranking factor. Not any more.
These days, Google’s algorithm is more likely to give greater value to a single link from an external site than to several links from that same site.
So even though you may not have set out to hoodwink Google, having a blog with several links back to your main site may not work to your advantage.
Every blog post adds to the ranking value of the entire site
One other key factor in favour of the integrated blog is that it gives your main site something it would otherwise lack. A regular supply of new stuff for search engines to sniff out.
Leave your gite website untouched, aside from annual price updates, and you’re likely to see your presence among Google’s top 10-20 results slide.
First, because Google sees additional, regularly published, relevant, high quality content as a sign of your ‘authority’ among websites of a similar ilk.
Second, because a year from now there’ll be even more websites competing for the same eyeballs as your site – and more competition means you have to work harder just to stand still.
Third, because you can bet someone somewhere is doing everything possible to rank for the very keywords you rank for now.
A properly managed blog, with posts planned and written around carefully chosen keywords are just what Google wants.
Deliver them from the same domain as your flagship site and you win twice over. You boost the kudos of your main site, and your main site’s standing adds weight to your blog post.
Optimising one site is hard enough, so why take on two?
Earlier this year I raised the integrated blog issue with an SEO specialist who has a lot more hands-on experience than me. His answer was plain.
Stick to one site, he said. Why give yourself twice as much work to do?
At first I argued that by having a separate blog we had two shots at making Google’s first page for our chosen keywords.
Yes, he agreed, but by having the blog on the same domain as the main site, you have one much stronger chance. He went on to list a whole raft of optimisation tasks and strategies that can be done to add SEO muscle.
To sum up
If your goal is to boost your current rankings and broaden out the keywords you rank for, create your blog on the same domain as your main gite website.