Blogs and SEO: Host on Company Website? Community? Both?

engagement
challenges

(Jordan Dayton) #1

Here’s a conundrum that we face as community practitioners…

Host blogs in your community?
Host blogs on your marketing/company website?
Host blogs on community and website?!

Caveat: In this post I’m referencing “community” as an external space designed to nurture and convert prospects to customers - primarily as a marketing function. Naturally this type of community could also be invaluable for customers as well and increase customer stickiness and engagement. Also, much of what I’m discussing here are my observations musings not backed by hard data.


Has anyone ever encountered a treatise or something that clearly outlines answers to these questions? I would love to hear the thoughts and ideas from my fellow community leaders. Holistic community platforms like Lithium, the former JiveX, Telligent, Higher Logic, etc. all offer a “blog” content type among different functioning content tools like Q&A Forums, Discussions, Ideation tools, etc.

Our VP, Marketing sees “blogs” as most marketers see them… a place to drive SEO and traffic on the company website. Hearing about blog in another context may lead traditional marketing leaders to shun the practice of moving the blog to the community and they might also shun keeping the website blog, while adding another blog in the community. They may feel like it’s duplicating effort and you prob would be penalized for SEO if identical content exists on both blogs.

So the traditional marketer might think they want to spend their dollars driving SEO for the website, which is further down the sales funnel, than the community might be. They may feel the community blogs could be good but they are further up the sales funnel and therefore do not have as good of an ROI as a website blog could have.

After much consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s probably best to have the blog in BOTH places, but I still have a lot of questions:

  • How can I get buy-in to leverage content team (other team) resources to write similar rich thought leadership content in the community (like they do on our company website blog)?
  • Can you copy the blog from your website and paste it to your community blog?
    • What are the implications of this?
    • I’m guessing the implications are bad from a Google/webcrawler perspective.
    • Are there other creative ways to copy and/or repurpose the content from the company blog, and leverage it in the community, in a way that won’t penalize you?
    • Is there a way to syndicate the company blog posts so they show up in the community but they are referencing their original source and webcrawlers see that we are just iframing (or some other method, getting) the content to display in the community?
  • If I don’t have the commitment of time/resources of our writers, what other creative ways can we develop content. (Obviously our plan is to incentivize and encourage community members to do this, but I feel like it’s something we should be leading the way on, so they can follow our example

Hosting Blogs on your company/marketing website

An age-old traditional content marketing strategy is to create a blog and host it on your company website. The more relevant content you write, the more SEO juice you generate for your website and your brand. This blog typically would take the angle of short and/or long form thought leadership content that closely relates to the product/service you’re selling. Smart marketers understand LSI (latent semantic indexing) and are excessively deliberate about blog topics and the keywords and concepts hashed and rehashed throughout each post.

Pros:

  • This is a great strategy for a company because without the blog, there’s not a lot of new content being generated on a marketing website. This basic company website is typically rather static and cold without frequent and new content being regularly added. The blog warms things up by infusing a website with consistent, fresh, new, relevant, and hopefully timeless content.
  • Draws attention to CTA’s designed and targeted to quickly convert prospects or drive them through the marketing/sales funnel.
  • Generates great SEO juice for the company website
  • Impresses viewers with the thought leadership the company offers
  • Incentivizes users to sign up to get notified of new posts!
    • simple email submission
    • does not require setting up an acct, etc.
  • Could get users to keep coming back to website (but see the con)

Cons:

  • Content team (if you’re lucky enough to have dedicated resources for one) has to create all of this rich content.
  • People often come and read the content and leave.
  • People often don’t engage with the content by posting replies (esp with a young company with smaller amounts of visitors)
  • When users come back to the website, they may look around for more great content like the blog post, but find that the rest of this web property is just the way it was, the last time they came their. A blog on a website does have the capacity to nurture the prospect or leverage a potential customer as an advocate or product/service evangelist. Websites are not designed for this type of behavior
  • Company websites are inherently one-sided. The company shows off how great they are to the prospect. * The viewer can consumes the info. Hopefully all the product/service info is presented in an incredible way b/c you only have a short moment to capture someones attention. But even after you do, the material on a website is not designed to come back regularly. Why would a prospect come back tomorrow? The only reason would be to get something “new” which is usually just the blog posts.

Hosting Blogs on your Community

Communities are the ultimate place of prospect and customer engagement. In a well developed community there are typically handfuls of tools and programming in place to cultivate a relationship between a company and its potential/current users, and more importantly… between each other! Prospects and customers can engage with and learn from others who are “in the trenches” with the company providing the community, who will hopefully help improve their impression of the org/product/service. Best of all, as a community matures through deliberate scaling strategies, the community members are empowered to develop content, like blogs

Pros:

  • EVERGREEN!
  • Blog content helps improve SEO for the community
  • Shows prospects/customers that there’s more in the community than just answers to questions (which might be the thing that originally drew them into the community.) This type of regularly shared thought leadership gives users a reason to “keep coming back” to the community.
  • Prospects and customers can easily engage with the content by posting replies
    • This can encourage lurkers to “sign up” and join the community in order to contribute.
    • People consuming blog content are encouraged to reply and incentivized through gamification strategy to post replies and add value to the conversation.
    • Back to the LSI idea that I mentioned at the beginning of this post… these short form responses can sometimes become long form replies, which not only make your community blog content evergreen, likely dump a truckload of relevant synonyms into the thought leadership content, thus ramping up the SEO value of the content!
  • Users can bookmark, like and revisit the content more easily than on a marketing site.
  • Viewers can learn more about the author, in addition to others who commented on the thread… AND if they join, they can engage with these people as well.

Cons:

  • Content team will need to help seed the community with blog content and provide thought leadership, by example
  • Viewers may be higher in the marketing/sales funnel and less likely to take a bigger commitment (like signing up for a product demo)
  • Copying/pasting content could cannibalize SEO or even worse, ding both sites ¯_(ツ)_/¯

If there are more Pros/Cons that you can think of, which I failed to include here, or if you feel I should chance/update any of them in my post, please feel free to chime in!


(Laurenfaye512) #2

I manage an external community (primarily for support) for a tech/SaaS company.

We are going the route of having two blogs - one on the dotcom and one in the community.

Marketing is running the main blog on our company website. The focus is more on prospects and industry thought leadership to drive SEO.

The blog in the Community is a product-driven blog. The focus is more on the current customer and how to engage and share necessary information with them.

For us, the “con” of the Community blog is definitely resources – and needing help from other individiuals/departments within your org to supply and feed content in. Otherwise, it is a lot for the Community team to take on and do well, while still doing the daily business of monitoring and responding in the community.


(Cathy Liu) #3

Thank you so much for posting this question, Jordan It really comes in handy as I am facing the same dilemma. Look forward to learn from other community practitioners on the best practices.


(Cathy Liu) #4

Hi Lauren,
How do you handle new product launch type of blog? Does it go to company blog section and same content in community or?


(Laurenfaye512) #5

If it is a major release, then it goes in both places.

The company blog will have a more industry focused approach with case studies and testimonial quotes. Focusing on how does the release makes our company industry leading or part of a larger industry trend, etc.

Our product blog in the Community will focus on more of the technical implementation, the how it will help your business, steps to getting started, links to the knowledge base or video tutorials, etc. The idea here is how can a customer adopt this and implement it asap.

If it is a smaller, more iterative product update – then it is just covered in the Community.


(Jordan Dayton) #6

Thanks for chiming in @laurenfaye512!

The last SaaS company that I was working for also, like you, had their community being run on the CS side of the house… living specifically within the “support” arm. The approach you are taking makes perfect sense when your community role and function lives within company/product support.

Think of how you guys use your blog… for thought leadership goodness, right? That is also how we use our dotcom blog! (and i think is the way it should be used) But this is the real conundrum that I’m facing. Our community sits within Marketing. And our community blog should be providing that same value that your/our dotcom blog is offering… thought leadership.

The big difference I see is that the dotcom blog is not designed or intended to engage users. It’s intended to give info and hopefully convert… not to nurture or “hook” a user.

On the other hand, a marketing community is designed to do SO MUCH MORE than a static, cold blog post on the dotcom. A community blog is crafted to engage users… to get them to participate and share their ideas. It is delivered in an ecosystem that is conducive to coming back and consuming valuable content every. single. day.

I guess the most important thing is to test it out. I got buy-in from the VP, Marketing to have our content team create some content/articles to post in the community, every other week. So I’ll have that opportunity to test it and see the difference in engagement and ultimately in conversion. We’ll soon see if my assumptions are grounded in truth and reality!


(Jordan Dayton) #7

So is your community also a “marketing” community intended to attract and nurture leads/prospects?


(Cathy Liu) #8

Hi Jordan,
Currently my community is under Digital Marketing team; however, the community serves 60% on scaled support for product troubleshooting and other 40% on attracting/nurturing leads/prospects. In my opinion, we really need to have more resources for nurturing program. Congratulations on getting your Marketing VP for the buy-in of content creation for the community.


(Roland King) #9

congratulations! I am trying to get mine for a while now with, so far, no success. i’m new here to all of this… anyway, jordan and cathy, thanks a lot!


(Chris Detzel) #10

Here is what we do. I didn’t read the entire post, but I think I get the idea. Telligent is our community platform.

  1. In Germany, we use our community to post blogs.
  2. Through RSS feeds, post up to three recent blog, wiki or forum posts to the eCommerce site called hagemeyershop.com. We also use a technology called feedgrabbr, which allows us to use different rss feeds on different pages.

Look below or look go to www.hagemeyershop.com and scroll down. it’s in German, but you can translate it in English. Click on the blog article, the link will take you to the site.

How do you get buy-in? That’s a good question. Continue to show what the value is. Figure out what value your blog brings to the site and talk about it. That’s never an easy question.