How do I fit a blog for two related websites?

Jane McCarthy of Lake Wylie has been interested in building a blog to unite her two businesses. As this is a question I have been asked a few times I thought I might post the answer here. Her question is:

I have an idea for the new website blog that will tie in both of my businesses. Do I add a blog to each site or do I create a new website blog and link it? Or both?”

My answer is… it depends!

The best course of action is to always build as targeted a site as possible for your specific purpose. The real question is in the numbers. Is there enough traffic out there to support both sites or does it make sense to combine them? Let’s look at an example.

 

This website, and I love feedback (email, comments, and especially links to this site!), is targeted for Charlotte Website Design and all of its components. That is because 1) I have eclectic work habits and a strong for a diversity of work and 2) the topics of Business Blogging in Lake Wylie is very close in nature to the topic of Website Design in Charlotte. In other words, people who are likely to purchase my website design services are likely to want search engine optimization too.

 

The two goals of the sites look to be broadly compatible but I do not know all of the details. Are the customer bases relatively identical? For best results I believe you would need to focus your intensity on creating a site that your core target group of customers would find appealing. If the audiences are largely similar, you have excellent cross-selling opportunities. If they are dis-similar, you can still use posts to divine the overlap.

 

In terms of search engine optimization, let’s examine a few points:

 

  1. Search engines love original content, and lots of it. Will 1 blog add content to both sites? Likely it will add content to one site and link to the other. I suppose you could have a third Blogging-only website but I think both the audience and Search Engines would discover pretty soon that it caters to two websites. That blog-only site with enough great content and publicity would likely get great traffic but each beneficiary site would only get a portion of the links that came to the blog site whereas each beneficiary site would get 100% of the links its blog attracted by definition!
  2. Search engines really like fresh content, and lots of it. The best benefit you get with a business blog is a steady stream of new content (and new traffic) for your site. If a site doesn’t have a blog, how it is it getting it’s RDA of fresh content? Are articles being added regularly? Is the home page being updated often? Are listening and aggregation services being ‘told’ each time a change is made? If there is only one blog, one site at most is receiving the benefit of fresh content.
  3. Location, location, location. This is a site design question for both potential audience and web crawlers. What happens once one arrives at the blog? Does it fit in with one site well with ancillary navigation? Does it fit in with neither? A great thing about having audiences go to two separate websites directly is that they are likely to click around at the rest of your site, too.

 

I think betting on the side of “make the audience happy first, worry about SEO second” is always the safest play. In any case, the best way to attract traffic to one site is the following recipe:

 

  1. Original, compelling content.
  2. Many, many inbound links.
  3. Good, repeatable, SEO-coded architecture.

 

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