Subdomain vs subfolder - what works better for multiple locations?

Joined
Jul 9, 2013
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33
Hey guys - I've got a business which multiple locations, what are your opinions on using a subdomain for each address versus a subfolder. For example, using "location.business.com" vs "business.com/location".

Any ideas? Thoughts? Opinions?

Thanks in advance!
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
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419
Very popular question with varying answers. My argument is still the same. Sub-folders.

Do you have the manpower to optimize each sub-domain? Search engines treat sub-domains as individual websites. Therefore, you'll have to optimize for each location and build value for each site individually whereas if you use sub-folders, you allow your additional pages to reap the rewards and authority your website has earned. The answer isn't as simple as linking to each of your sub-domains and "cheating" the system so-to-speak. You pass value throughout your website with sub-folders by way of internal linking and good site architecture.

I would use sub-domains if there was a part of the business that is too different to fit under a sub-folder on the same site. I am sure you will get an opposing opinion but I would use sub-folders if the work falls on your shoulders only. I am certainly open to a compelling discussion to make me think differently.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2013
Messages
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Thanks for your response! My business is a law office, with different practice areas - criminal defense, divorce law, etc.

I'm having a hard time showing up in the local results for those practice areas, not sure if I should go with the generalized "attorney" tag on my G+ profile. Everytime I do that, it reverts back to a couple tags of either "divorce attorney" or "real estate attorney."

Another issue that may affect my rankings is that I have all my addresses displayed in the footer, not sure if that confuses the search engines or not.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

Blake Denman

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Nov 6, 2013
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Another issue that may affect my rankings is that I have all my addresses displayed in the footer, not sure if that confuses the search engines or not.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
You should reconsider that. The best practice is to create a location page for each and every location, then include the NAP on that location's unique page. You can read an in depth article on the LocalU blog here: Designing Business Location Website Pages, Part 2: Multiple Location Business - Local University
 
Joined
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You should reconsider that. The best practice is to create a location page for each and every location, then include the NAP on that location's unique page. You can read an in depth article on the LocalU blog here: Designing Business Location Website Pages, Part 2: Multiple Location Business - Local University

Thanks for the link! But each example says that each site has a link to that respective office's location. What's the difference between having the NAP in schema format for each office in the footer versus a link from that city's page in the footer?
 

Blake Denman

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Nov 6, 2013
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Thanks for the link! But each example says that each site has a link to that respective office's location. What's the difference between having the NAP in schema format for each office in the footer versus a link from that city's page in the footer?
Think user experience. Google tends to give less "editorial weight" to footer links that are distributed on all pages of a site. If you create a page for each location, it would seem redundant to have all locations in the footer on all pages. You would also add those location pages to your main nav and even try to highlight them on the homepage, above the fold.

Hope that helps.
 
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Jul 9, 2013
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Now if I did that, place the 3 location addresses above the fold, assuming I have my G+ profile page that links to that homepage, wouldn't it confuse Google because there are 3 locations on that page?

I was thinking about tagging the most populous city to the front page, while creating subfolders for the other 2 cities.
 

Blake Denman

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Nov 6, 2013
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Now if I did that, place the 3 location addresses above the fold, assuming I have my G+ profile page that links to that homepage, wouldn't it confuse Google because there are 3 locations on that page?

I was thinking about tagging the most populous city to the front page, while creating subfolders for the other 2 cities.
No, if you linked the location pages through schema to their given location page you will be ok. I wouldn't link directly to the location's G+ Local page on the root domain.

This is how I would create it:

mydomain.com/locations - page contains general info, map, and link to page
mydomain.com/locations/city-name-1 - page contains all relevant information for that location. Including; hours of operations, contact methods, driving directions, photos, etc

The root domain mydomain.com would have the 3 locations above the fold with schema and would link to their specific page, not the G+ Local page. You can add social links like that on the actual location page. Would also include review sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, etc. Would also be a good idea to link out to a few local businesses that you personally like. It's all about community, right?

I would also add a Locations Nav option with a sub nav that would show the other locations.
 
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Jul 9, 2013
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I think you misunderstood about the G+ linking; I was going to link from the G+ profile to that respective location's page.

For example: "attorney.com/detroit-office" is for the Detroit location. The Detroit G+ page would link to "attorney.com/detroit-office."

Btw, a side question, my practice deals with a few areas of practice, in order to rank for those for each respective location page, would I just have to put up an H2 tag with something like "criminal defense attorney" and provide content under that for each practice area I want to rank?

For example:

<H2>Criminal attorney
<CONTENT>

<H2>Divorce Attorney
<CONTENT>

and so on and so forth. Any thoughts?

I really do appreciate your help bud!

---------- Post Merged at 01:14 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 01:12 PM ----------

Oh wow, that was weird, I put the <H2 tags on there and it actually bolded them! But, the idea was:

H2"Criminal attorney
<content

H2"divorce attorney
<cnotent
 

Blake Denman

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Nov 6, 2013
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143
I think you misunderstood about the G+ linking; I was going to link from the G+ profile to that respective location's page.

For example: "attorney.com/detroit-office" is for the Detroit location. The Detroit G+ page would link to "attorney.com/detroit-office."

Btw, a side question, my practice deals with a few areas of practice, in order to rank for those for each respective location page, would I just have to put up an H2 tag with something like "criminal defense attorney" and provide content under that for each practice area I want to rank?
Ok, that makes sense. You may want to also use that URL for your other citations. This will help with the location page sticking and not getting replaced by Google automatically.

Regarding the other question: In traditional organic, not maps, content would be the way to go. You can even include video and try that. But high quality, relevant content would do best. I would use 1 H1 tag and other H tags as needed.
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
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419
To expand slightly on Blake's recent comment, internal link anchor text is an important aspect for on-site. So make sure your internal links target the terms you are going after.

You may consider reading up on Google hummingbird so you can get a better idea of how G is able to understand contextual searches. The days of targetting keywords are starting to go away.
 

johnysam

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Feb 12, 2014
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For me, I will like to have in sub-domain. Sub-domain acts as separate domain which means you can build a complete set of pages there. Yours is a law company that differs in each location which means you need to have separate set of pages for defining your services with respect to each area. Also by creating sub domain it will be easy for you to claim them on search engines and local sites.
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
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419
How do you effectively manage the optimization of the sub-domains? I can see how there are circumstances where sub-domains make more sense but that still requires optimization for each sub-domain. From a management perspective, it is easier to manage sub-folders.

I am genuinely interested in how you manage to rank and maintain sub-domains and hearing more about why sub-domains make more sense to you. Thanks for providing some insight on sub-domains.
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
Messages
419
That is a great post, thanks for sharing. I've read it before and it was one of the first times I really learned about sub-domains. It was definitely a nice refresher too.

I am still curious how one manages the SEO for sub-domains? Many people don't have the time to manage the SEO on a domain with sub-folders. Being as though sub-domains are considered separate websites, it just amplifies the workload. I still think there are valid circumstances when sub-domains make more sense. I've never really engaged in a deeper discussion about how someone has managed a sub-domain and was hoping to gain more insight from an SEO perspective from someone who advocates for it.
 

Simon Allard

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Feb 16, 2014
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I have pondering this question about subdomain vs subdirectory for the last couple of days in preparation for establishing some geo-targeted web pages for one of our clients who has multiple locations.

We are leaning towards the subdomain route because we believe that will allow us to better manage the ongoing development of geo-targeted content.

In my "ponderings" I found this article useful to clarify my thinking - Get Your Multi-Location Business Ranking in Multiple Cities With One Domain - YouMoz - Moz
 

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