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Remote Hosted Blog vs. Blog on Your Non-Profit Website

Lori Halley 12 February 2009 7 comments

The benefits of nonprofit blogging are clear. A frequently-updated blog can bring visitors back regularly to see what’s new with your organization, and engage your supporters in an active online community around your cause. And we know that web pages with fresh content tend to be favoured in search engines’ results pages. But which is better — to integrate a blog as a part of your nonprofit’s main website, or to host it remotely on a third-party blogging platform?

For a variety of reasons, I believe it makes goood sense for a nonprofit organization to consolidate its original web content (static web pages, interactive features, and blog content) on one main website that becomes “information central” for your organization, and the hub of your online community.

Web Traffic and SEO

Hosting your blog with another site (such as Wordpress.com, Blogger, or the like), separate from your organization’s main website, could have a few benefits:

  • Remote blogs will be on a different domain from your main website, so links from that blog may add some “authority” to your website in the eyes of the search engines.
  • Remote blogs may benefit from a network effect — bringing new visitors to your blog when people browse Wordpress.com by tags for related content, or click “next blog” on the navigation bar at the top of Blogger (blogspot.com) blogs.

On the other hand, “authority” from incoming links to your website can be acquired in other ways — such as networking with related organizations, setting up social media “outposts,” and so on — without having to set up your blog on a remote site.

The chance of getting a random click-by visitor through the hosting service’s network may not balance out the disadvantages of passing search engine “juice” to the blogging platform’s domain rather than to your own.

An integrated blog  helps to keep your website content “fresh” in the eyes of search engines and readers alike, with long-term benefits for your entire website. And when people search for your organization’s name or cause-related keywords, you’re more likely to show well in search results if the “juice” is not divided between two different sites.

Content and Control

An integrated blog brings the readers right onto your website — where they have easy access to all of your online information in one place, and to interactive features that a third-party blogging platform may not offfer.

Most free and low-cost blogging services have strict Terms of Service that restrict how your organization can use its remote-hosted blog, especially in terms of the Web 2.0 widgets and multimedia content you are able to add to it.

Who would you prefer to control your nonprofit’s blog — your own organization or a third-party service?

Copyright for content you publish on a remote blog will remain with you — unless it’s a very odd service, with unusual terms of use! — but in practical terms it may be difficult or time-consuming to transfer all that content to another service, should you decide to move. And if someone takes exception to something posted on your blog (your organization’s position on a controversial issue, perhaps), their complaint to the  hosting company may get your blog suspended without notice until the complaint has been investigated and the matter resolved.

Branding and Consistency

Quite simply, there’s a risk of confusing your readers if you separate your website and your blog in different locations. It’s a matter of diluting the focus.

When a supporter wants to share your link with a friend, how will they know whether to give the link to your blog or to your main website?

Integrated blogs, on the other hand, tend to be easier to “brand” as your own, sharing the same look and feel as your main site — and, most importantly, consolidating your organization’s primary web presence under one distinctive domain name, at one web location.

By all means, branch out to Facebook and MySpace and wherever else your supporters gather, setting up the online outposts that help to draw eyes to your site. But it’s your main website that should be at the hub of those online outreach efforts — not a blog here and some web pages there, but one central easy-to-find clearing-house for information about your organization and your cause.

But that's just one opinion, so let's hear what you think — an integrated blog, or a blog that's separate from the organization's main website?  Which one does your experience say would be the better choice?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 12 February 2009 at 4:41 PM


  • DazzlinDonna said:

    Thursday, 12 February 2009 at 2:16 PM

    I'm a huge proponent of maintaining control over as many aspects of our web sites as possible.  Any time you host a blog on a remote network, you give up huge amounts of control.  I also agree that keeping your blog on your own domain provides a more consistent experience, and may encourage blog readers to continue investigating links on your site that they find interesting.  Finally, there are more search engine advantages to hosting the blog on your domain, from my experience.

    One final thought.  What if the remotely hosted blog service closes shop one day?

  • Rajeev Edmonds said:

    Thursday, 12 February 2009 at 8:19 PM

    The inherent advantages of integrating blog with main company site are quite obvious. The branding issue, SEO advantage makes it the best choice.

    Last year, I integrated a blog with company's web site, and the results were awesome. Earlier, their website has no presence in SERP's with almost nil organic traffic. After integration, everything changed and now they are more than happy with the results.

    In fact, I faced some issues while integrating it and asked some questions in ABF. I still remember 'Guioconnor' helped me out at that time.

  • Murad Hanif said:

    Friday, 13 February 2009 at 8:26 PM

    I agree with both Donna and Rajeev. Integrating blog with the company's website is much more advantageous. Out of curiosity blog readers tend to surf around the company's web page to investigate for other relevant information. Thus from a marketing perspective it is the best choice to adopt integration for any business especially new ones that want to benefit from blogs and @ the same time keeping their costs down.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Saturday, 14 February 2009 at 9:48 AM

    Sounds like we're all on the same page, so far -- that integrated blogs are best for branding, for user experience, and for SEO. Donna's last point is compelling, too:

    "What if the remotely hosted blog service closes shop one day?"

    If you've invested a lot of energy in building community of supporters around a remote-hosted blog, and that blog site disappears... how long would it take your organization, realistically, to regain the lost ground?

  • Adam Javůrek said:

    Saturday, 14 February 2009 at 9:49 AM

    I'm a proponent of blogging on your own domain as well, but sometimes remote hosted blog has its advantages. In Czech Republic, every mainstream medium allows its readers to create a blog on its website. That's really easy way how to speak to hundreds or thousands of readers. Building a readership takes a lot of time, this way is really quick. Sure, it has its disadvantages as well (trolls in comments, backlinks to MSM website, not yours, ...).

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 15 February 2009 at 6:14 AM

    Good point, Adam. If organizations have enough "bandwidth" to handle the extra work involved, it may make good sense to set up small secondary blogs on other (high-traffic, high-visibility) website, very much in the same way that orgs use social-media outposts to broaden their reach.

  • Mitchell Allen said:

    Tuesday, 17 February 2009 at 9:33 AM

    Having lost my very first blog due to the demise of the remote host, I feel very strongly about maintaining control of all of my web assets. Heck, I even have my own hosting reseller account!

    Some things can be split between your various web assets. As long as you control them, I don't think it matters much in this socially-driven web.

    From a practical point of view, given that I feel it doesn't matter where your assets are physically located, I would lean towards an integrated solution. This helps with branding, maintenance and SEO juice, I'm sure :)

    As an aside, the two things I always recommend keeping separate are the domain registrar and the web host.

    As long as your domain is registered separately from the host, if your blog disappears in a cloud of electrons, you can reinstall it on another host, with just a minimum of down-time.



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