I have a bone to pick with you. Yes, you with the wordpress.com blog (or blogger.com or squarespace, take your pick). You see I have no problem with your personal blog being on one of those subdomains. In fact I have no problem with any those services or your personal blogs on them. The problem I have is when you put your professional, corporate blogs up like: companyname.wordpress.com. You see that makes me think a few things about you:
- you’re too cheap or broke to pay for a real domain name
- you’ve got no clue when it comes to the internet
- is this a legitimate blog? (Its free, anyone can claim any name)
But beyond the first impression problems there are some other issues you should consider. The first issue at hand is how search engines see you and your ability to impact them. The second problem comes with the blogging software that you’re using. A third issue is the control that you have to give up over your brand. These are certainly not the only problems that stem from using a service and not having your own domain name but these are at the forefront. Let us know what you think other issues are in the comments
A couple of different things happen when you blog under a sub-domain. First your blog gets less weight and becomes more lumped in with the other blogs residing under the same domain name. Because anyone can start a free blog and the massive amounts of spam blogs on most popular free blogging services, search engines are going to devalue your content to start out with. You’re starting out with a handicap. Not a big deal when it’s a personal blog and your intent is to reach friends and family—a much bigger deal when you wish to appear professional. Beyond the initial impression that search engines have of your site, you have very little control over moving or redirecting search engines, should you change the structure of your blog or move a blog post etc. Using a free blogging service often limits the level of access you have to optimize on page elements that impact your search engine ranking too.
By going with a free blogging platform (and not purchasing a domain name upgrade) you place yourself in the hands of the company running that service. If you’re running your own version of that software, you have much more control over it and nothing will happen to your site if the company putting out the software goes out of business or is acquired by another company etc. Blogger was originally it’s own company and while it’s still doing well, it was bought by Google. If you were too tied to that platform and they made changes you didn’t like, you wouldn’t have any options (like running an older version of the software). With blogging software like WordPress there are a great deal of powerful plugins and customizations that you can make but only if you’re running your own version of the software. If you’re running a professional business these limitations are a big problem.
Putting your website on a sub-domain gives up control of your brand. Operating your website there places you under terms of service that you probably didn’t read and that could change at any time. Often blogging platforms like these have terms that are restrictive about the way that you can promote products and services. You could be placing yourself in a difficult situation if you haven’t carefully reviewed these terms. By using a sub-domain you’re also giving away control over your brand name. People visiting your blog will always see the main domain name and your name instead of just your name.
Hopefully these thoughts make you pause before you go off and signup for a free blogging service somewhere. If that’s what you do, at least make sure that you choose one that offers a data export so that you can move your posts somewhere else without too much difficulty. Please note that I have no problem with using services like wordpress.com to handle your company blog if that’s what you feel best meets your needs. Just make sure at the very least that you purchase a real domain name and the service upgrade that lets you use it with wordpress.com. That will mitigate all of the issues here except for being able to install plugins and add-ons other than the ones that they offer.
What are your thoughts? Do you trust company blogs that are run from wordpress.com or some other sub-domain?