I gave a How-To Start Blogging session yesterday (deck & handouts in my next post) and received this question afterward:
Do you recommend hosting your blog on your firm website or linking from your site to [external] blog sites such as blogger/wordpress?
A:It really is fine to do either. There are some strongly polarized opinions on separate versus apart, though, and I try to keep an open mind to both sides of the argument.
A WordPress site (or MovableType) that is self-hosted can usually be hosted on the same server with your standard website. As long as the host can accommodate MySQL databases (GoDaddy, for instance, can).
When you self-host, you have the option of hosting the blog on its own domain (www.yourblog.com) or as a subset of your firm's url (www.yourfirm.com/blog or www.blog.yourfirm.com). Even if you choose the subset, you can buy a domain (www.yourblog.com) and point it to your firm.com blog url.
The key difference will be the URL for your individual blog posts. As an aside, blog post URLs, just like your website URLs, are better for you when they contain the words in the title of the posts (versus a numeric string)--this can usually be designated in the blog set-up screens.
Some considerations in making your choice are:
Is your firm's URL already long?
If so, you might benefit from picking a short blog domain and hosting at that domain so that you don't lengthen an already long URL by naming your blog in it (e.g. www.blogname.reallylongfirmurl.com/blog-post-url-that-is-the-same-as-the-title-of-the-post) <--you could cut out the "reallylongfirmurl" part.
Associating your firm's URL with the content of your blog.
If the blog post URLs are "housed" on your firm's regular website URL (either via actual hosting, or via "domain mapping" through a hosted solution's set-up preferences) then you have the obvious advantage of all the SEO (search engine optimization) juice of every blog post word ON your own web domain. This is a clear benefit.
Creating lots of external links to your regular website.
Alternately, a benefit of your blog being hosted on a domain EXTERNAL to your site is that every single post made to your blog creates a unique "web page" and, in doing so, if your firm name is a link that appears at least once on every page, this creates a TON of inbound links to your firm's website that also benefit your firm's standing in the rankings. Neither approach is "bad" and both have advantages.
If you host it externally and "pipe in" feeds of recent or most relevant blog posts to your regular site, you can benefit from both.
Comments from others about pros and cons are welcome!