The Content Optimization System (COS), now part of the newly launched CMS Hub, is a key component of the HubSpot Growth Suite and any HubSpot-powered marketing activities. With HubSpot’s COS you can create and host your marketing assets such as your blogs, landing pages, and emails on HubSpot making them an integral part of your marketing cycle so you can manage them and optimize them to achieve your goals.
By extension, HubSpot CMS allows you to build and host your entire website on HubSpot. Recently, HubSpot has transitioned and rebranded the COS and CMS products into the new CMS Hub, which is in line with all the other hubs in the suite.
If you are only using HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, especially the Professional or Enterprise edition, you have access to the part of CMS Hub that allows you to build and host your blogs, landing pages, and emails in HubSpot. You would naturally be using a different software as a CMS for your website, and so part of the onboarding process by either HubSpot or the partner agency implementing the solution would be to integrate HubSpot with your website and to design and build your marketing assets on HubSpot.
Since HubSpot is a hosted solution working off HubSpot’s servers you would need to map your domain name to it, and because your domain name is actually pointing to your own server and CMS, the only workaround would be to create a subdomain and point it to HubSpot (e.g. blog.yourdomain.com or resources.yourdomain.com). This way all the blogs, landing pages, and web versions of emails sent will be hosted on a subdomain of your main website. This sparks a whole SEO controversy on whether this is a good practice or not, which is not in the scope of this piece.
To ensure consistency and a seamless user experience, the onboarding process would typically include designing blog and landing page templates that match the design of the main website. This way the user can arrive at a landing page hosted on HubSpot, get redirected to a thank you page on the main website, go back to read a blog post hosted on HubSpot, without noticing any difference. The onboarding process would also include migrating all the previously published blogs and landing pages into their new home on HubSpot.
On paper this sounds alright, especially when taking into consideration all the benefits you stand to gain with the new HubSpot-powered setup.
But do not rush into it just yet, and before you have evaluated all the downsides and their relevance to your case. As we onboarded more and more clients with this kind of setup, we have come to realize the shortcomings, especially with regards to hosting blogs on HubSpot:
- To display the latest blog posts on your main website you will need to fetch them from HubSpot. The best way to do this is using RSS feeds. In the case of WordPress as a CMS we had challenges using ready-made RSS plugins, both free and paid, as they never seemed to work properly. Instead, we resorted to writing our own codes to get the job done. However, RSS feeds do have their own problems and caching may interfere sometimes in a way that the feeds do not get refreshed.
- If you have a search bar on your website, say in the header, it is likely there in both the main website and on the blogs hosted in HubSpot. If you use it to search while on the website you will only get results from the website, and if you use it while on the blogs you will only get results from the blogs. We have yet to find a solution to make the WordPress search engine retrieve federated search results from both the website and the HubSpot blogs, and at the same time have HubSpot search retrieve results from the website. This means that search results are always incomplete.
- Since the HubSpot COS is running on a subdomain you would need to create and manage a new property for it on Google Search Console. If Google Analytics is your primary tool for analytics you would also need to create and manage a new property on Google Analytics, or if you wish to use the same GA property as the main domain you would need to have an advanced GA setup by creating reporting views, custom filters, and referral exclusions. This is an added headache for management and reporting.
- Because the design of the HubSpot COS templates is usually a copy of the main website’s design, especially in elements like the header and footer, to ensure consistency you would need to keep mirroring any design changes between the two properties, which is yet an additional headache.
- With blog posts hosted on HubSpot you will need to maintain a paid HubSpot subscription (Professional or Enterprise) in order to keep your posts. Should you decide to stop the subscription at any point you will need to migrate all the content back to your main website’s blog. You will likely need to add redirects for all the old URLs into the new ones for SEO purposes.
I ran this dilemma by fellow agencies on the HubSpot Solutions Partners private Facebook group to gain some insights and here are some of the valuable responses I received:
- I’ve spoken to my HubSpot team about this. They agreed that the value of HubSpot isn’t really the blog function unless you need the templates and guidance for SEO. We’re a WordPress agency. We use landing pages but not the blog. We use the SEO strategy tool but link the WordPress blog and it works fine.
- The search console issue is no longer relevant BTW, as you can now request a console for the whole domain…. As for using COS we find the Optimized platform, AMP native integration, and SEO optimizations to be very comfortable , not to mention using CTAs
- On WP, I always prefer to keep the blog on directly WP instead of HubSpot. Maintaining CSS, nav menu changes etc becomes a headache & I just don’t see enough benefits to outweigh it.
- All of these frustrations are valid, it’s tough to decide and definitely has to be measured case by case.
- We use both in different ways. WordPress is great for news oriented blog posts while the Hubspot blog is better for bigger SEO strategies. We can use the topic cluster tool and get a big boost from building our blog that way.
- For me the main benefit is closed loop reporting and the page/post level analytics when you host within Hubspot. That being that I’d not recommend having your website on the HubSpot COS
From our end at Cactix we have recently decided to evaluate this approach on a case by case basis, while we remain more inclined to use HubSpot for landing pages only and maintain blog posts on the main website.
We appreciate your thoughts and experiences on this so please feel free to drop in your comments to discuss.