Choosing a Blog Host — The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
By Janet Driscoll Miller
Feb 16, 2010
More Articles by Janet
As an SEO firm, inevitably we have clients come to us with challenging dilemmas from time to time. And this new one is NO different.
When starting a blog, many companies don’t know if they should self-host the blog on their own domain or if they should host the blog on one of the many blog hosting sites, such as WordPress.org, Typepad.com and Blogger.com. Furthermore, companies often don’t know which blog host to choose — which is best? Which offers the best features?
Hopefully I can help you sort it all out!
Absolute Best Choice for Long-Term SEO: Self-Hosted
The best choice for SEO purposes if you plan to have your blog running for a long time is a self-hosted option. Self-hosted options allow you to have more control and flexibility over your content, which plug-ins for the blog software you want to use, and more.
Most of all, however, self-hosted allows you the ability to MOVE your blog if needed to a different domain. While you might not be thinking right now that you’ll ever change your domain, you never know what the future holds — what if you changed your business name and, thus, your domain? If you self-host, you can easily move the blog to a new domain and 301 redirect the old content URLs on the old domain to the new one.
When I first launched the Search Marketing Sage blog, I hadn’t figured out WordPress enough to know how to enable URLs with the blog post title as the filename. When I did decide I wanted to use the more SEO-friendly filenaming convention in WordPress, I easily adapted my .htaccess file to redirect the old post URLs to their new, SEO-friendly filename versions.
The Best of the Rest
If you decide, even after my urging, NOT to self-host your blog, then definitely host on WordPress.org — not Typepad.com or Blogger.com. Why?
From what I’ve found and others have confirmed for me, both Typepad and Blogger DO NOT have a method to 301 redirect your blog content from Typepad.com or Blogger.com to another domain. In other words, if you start a blog on Typepad or Blogger (hosted), you cannot ever redirect that content with a 301 if you decide to move your blog.
Why is that bad? Let’s say you get really good rankings on your Typepad-hosted blog. Great! However, the links pointing in to that blog are not helping your overall links for your own company domain or helping you further brand your own domain. To move the blog to your domain from Typepad.com, however, you can move the content itself — but you cannot transfer the search engine ranking you achieved on Typepad.com to the blog’s new location on your own domain. Bummer.
Instead, Go with WordPress.org
WordPress.org, however, does provide a way for you to 301 redirect your content from WordPress.org. WordPress.org allows you to easily move the content from the WordPress.org domain and install it on your new domain AND it allows you to 301 redirect the old pages to the new location. Best of both worlds!
So, in summary, if you are deciding on a blog-hosting option, consider self-hosting first. Here’s a list of hosting providers that use WordPress: http://www.wordpress.org/hosting/ . If you decide to host on a blog-hosted platform, seriously consider using WordPress.com. You never know what your future plans might be for the blog — so don’t trap yourself from the beginning!