Sometimes, one of my clients wants or needs a blog. And the question always arises, should they use one of the free hosted blogging platforms, such as Typepad or Blogger or a hosted blog at WordPress.com, or should they download the WordPress software from WordPress.org and host it on their own site?
I generally recommend that they use WordPress and host it on their own site — usually in a subdirectory on their site’s domain, e.g., example.com/blog, or perhaps on a subdomain, e.g., blog.example.com.
There are several reasons I lean toward hosting your own blog on your own site:
- Reliability and Safety: I dislike, in general, the idea of having your material dependent on a third-party service where the security and reliability of your blog is at the mercy of that third party. A few years ago one of the major hosted blogging services closed up shop — unexpectedly and unnanounced — and stole away in the night. All of the bloggers who had been using that service found their blogs gone with no backups available and no way to re-create their work elsewhere. With your own copy of WordPress running on your own site, your blog is totally portable — you can host it anywhere you wish, and you can easily set it up elsewhere if your hosting disapppear That’s provided you have a backup, of course — when my clients host with me, there’s always a backup available, because I run a cron job that backs up all the databases nightly, and my hosting provider runs daily backups, as well. So none of my clients will ever find their site, or their blog, gone with no backup. All of the remotely hosted blogging platforms have a terms of service (TOS) that disclaims any responsibility for your material.
- Link Juice: Assuming you do a good job writing your blog, and it attracts inbound links from other sites or blogs, links to your blog at example.com/blog are likely to help the site as whole rank well in the search engines, whereas a link to yourblog.blogspot.com isn’t going to have the same effect.
- Branding: When your blog is hosted on your own domain, people who visit and read your blog can’t help but be aware of the rest of your site. But when your blog is at yourblog.blogspot.com, visitors might have no idea that you even have a site of your own, even if you add links to your site in the blog sidebar.
- Flexibility: WordPress has a lot of functionality “out of the box,” and much more available through a variety of free plug-ins. With the remotely hosted services, you can only do what they allow.
With that said, I’ve recently been exploring Blogger, the blogging platform now owned by Google, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. There’s more flexibility and functionality available than I was aware of, and the set-up is even faster and easier than WordPress, which is famous for its 5-minute installation. The WYSIWYG editor in Blogger for writing posts seems to be a little easier to use than WordPress’s. And Google loves it own blog service — A blog that I set up there had its first post found and crawled by GoogleBot the very same day I posted it.
Nevertheless, I shall continue recommending to clients that they host their own blog on their site. I think the advantages of self-hosting far outweigh the advantages of hosting on Blogger or any other blogging service.