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I was talking with a blogger last week about her site structure and she revealed that her blog was on a separate domain from her main website. Thinking this is quite common, I determined to spend a few minutes talking about the best ways to link these sites together.

For starters, it’s important to realize that this is not the optimal setup for a business site. If you have the choice, it will be better to build your site and your blog on the same domain. Nevertheless; if you have two separate domains, you are not too far off from an otherwise sound structure. You’ll just have to think about it a little differently.

Think of it this way: If you have your blog and business site on a single domain, your job is much like inviting people over to your house. There’s only one place to get to, and they can browse around once they are there. There are different rooms in your house, each used for different activities, yet they are all under one roof and considered a single destination. So it’s easy to have visitors go from one room to another once they have gone to the trouble to get there in the first place.

If you have your blog on a separate domain, it’s as if you have put a billboard out on the freeway. You’ve created an advertisement that helps lead people to your ‘house’, but because it’s in a separate place, there needs to be some instruction or direction on how to get from the billboard to your house.

In the case of our business blog, the best way to do this is with a link. Of course.

So here are some rules of thumb and a few best practices you can put to work for you.

First, think of your traffic flow and make a planned determination of where you want your visitors to go when they travel from your blog to your site. This can and should be multiple destinations. For instance you may want visitors to go to a catalog page if they are looking for a variety of product colors, or you may want them to go to a comparison page if you are showing off some features. You may have a support page where people can find answers to their questions about your business, or you may want them to have easy access to contact information.

The important thing is to understand your destinations, and have a plan for when and why you should link to any given page.

Link from every post in your blog to your home site. At least once, but to no more than about three pages, and not to the same page for more than one link in a given post. This is especially necessary if your blog is on a separate domain. Some bloggers take advantage of the ease and convenience of a blogroll to take care of links, but these are quickly regarded as ‘static’, and lose their effectiveness pretty quickly with regard to the search engines (which is not to say that it might be convenient for your readers, so don’t abandon this practice all together).

Here’s an example: In a post containing between 250 to 500 words it is appropriate to have 2-5 links to your home site. Each of these links should be assigned to a different, but similar keyword or phrase in your post. It is appropriate to link different words to the same page, but in best practice you should avoid linking more than 2-3 times to the same page from any given post.

Link from keywords and specific phrases. Don’t link from phrases like ‘click here’, because those links will be ignored by the search engines when it comes to indexing your relevance in a search request (in other words; no one searches for the term ‘click here’, so don’t use it).

The most effective links on your blog will be those which are continuously embedded in your content, so link from every post to an appropriate page so that your customers, and the search engines, can get from your billboard to your house in as few steps as possible.

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