Let’s backtrack a little and discuss a few of the points for setting up your company blog.
The first question often asked with a company blog is how to set the blog URL. There are basically three options most companies have for their new company blog.
- Sub-Directory – http://www.yoursite.com/blog
- Sub-Domain – http://www.blog.yoursite.com
- New Domain – http://www.yourblog.com
Now, there really is no bad way to start a blog. You just need to think about what the goals are for the blog and choose the best format for your situation. Think long-term. Understand the vision of both your business and the blog. This should help determine the choice that is best for your company.
Most companies choose between the sub-directory setup and an entirely new domain. A sub-domain situation seems to be preferred in some cases by the IT folks. Making their lives easier is something that can be taken into consideration. These folks are your friends and they can be great allies so be sure to include them in this discussion.
A sub-directory is usually the best choice. Search engines have an easy time understanding sub-directories and historically search engines have preferred this method. The general rule of thumb is to do what’s best for your readers first and worry about everything else second.
Remembering a sub-directory is typically easy for your readers. They can simply add the /blog after your company domain and be confident they will land on your blog. Make things easiest for your customer. That’s usually your best guide for anything related to your website and your blog.
The main debate between sub-directory and new domain is the way your blog will associate with your brand. In the case of a new domain, you might want to have some separation from your brand and the blog. Some business owners like for their to be separation from the blog content they are creating and the more sales-focused content on their main company website. This is a legitimate concern. If you are worried about the perception of the blog and don’t want to pressure your readers with sales content then a new domain will work fine for your blog.
With a sub-directory you can achieve cohesive branding between the main site and the blog. You can keep any sales language and brand affiliation limited with the design of the blog on a sub-directory if you would like. It’s really up to you how much you want to show readers that your company is sponsoring the blog.
The secondary reason sub-directory is preferred in most cases (primary being ease of use for readers) is that there is some search engine benefit. In the past, search engines have put emphasis on the number of incoming links to any domain. Most quality blogs generate some incoming links from other blogs and social media websites. These links will point to your blog posts showing the search engines that your blog is valuable to a certain group of people.
The search engines use these incoming links as a sign of authority and they will in turn reward the entire domain for their incoming links. With a sub-directory setup, your blog will be benefiting your entire site instead of just the blog in the case of a new domain.
Another area of question for a new blog is blogging platform.
There are basically two types of platforms:
WordPress seems to be the most well-known of the two content management systems. Blogger is owned by Google so there is also strong recognition for this management system as well.
There are pros and cons to each service. Blogger has the backing of Google, which is always a positive for any company that depends on Google for a significant amount of sales and profit. Google has historically preferred if companies that use some of their services use their other services. The latest example of this is the Google +1 button and the social media channel Google+.
Leaders at Google have stated that using these two services will impact paid and natural search results. It is probably safe to assume that Google at least gives some thought to companies that are using their blogging services.
However, there seem to be some limitations to how you can use the Blogger service as far as the URL you can use and how you can use the service with your current company domain.
WordPress seems to be the better choice for most companies. There is a large community of programmers and developers behind WordPress. More independent and large development firms also create plugins or add-ons to the management system that make it easier for new bloggers to use the service. There are tons of free themes for blogs. There is a good support community that can help with issues you might have on the blog.
WordPress is common with most developers. Most are comfortable installing the application onto your server in any of the configurations mentioned above.
Most design firms and freelance designers are comfortable developing for the WordPress platforms. Entire websites can be configured to use WordPress as a management system as well.
WordPress is easy to use after some experience and the service seems to be growing in popularity making it viable for the future.
A few thoughts on design. The design of your blog is important. In most cases you want to keep things simple on your company blog. Don’t overload the page with too much content other than what is in each blog post. Remember, a blog post is often the first item your customers will see. They’ll visit the post via a search engine query or shared link on a social channel.
You want to make a good first impression. Make sure the title it clearly visible on the page so new visitors are sure they are on the correct page. Make sure the content format is easy to read and understand.
Secondary items like the sidebar and any branding should not take away focus from the main title and article. The content is the primary item visitors are looking for and other items should remain secondary.
You can hire a designer to develop a custom blog theme. This is probably the best option for most companies although there are free themes available for WordPress. It is possible to use a free theme and modify it to match your general company brand.
Most designers are familiar with WordPress as are the developers that can implement the design to the platform.
Continue to Chapter 5: Selling a Blog to Your Boss