Subdomains vs Subdirectories


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For blogs - best thing to do is have the blog hosted on your domain (not a subdomain like blog.domain.com). Be the authoritative voice for your industry/niche. Like Joshua said - if you're using web 2.0 properties the links should be nofollowed since you're the curator of the content.
 

djbaxter

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Re: Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

For blogs - best thing to do is have the blog hosted on your domain (not a subdomain like blog.domain.com). Be the authoritative voice for your industry/niche. Like Joshua said - if you're using web 2.0 properties the links should be nofollowed since you're the curator of the content.
Why do you conclude that? I've never hear anything over the past 20 years to suggest that using a sub domain rather than a subdirectory makes any difference whatsoever to ranking. Indeed, it is common practice in many large organizations and over the years Matt Cutts has confirmed repeatedly that it's a matter of personal preference and branding; Google doesn't care.


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Re: Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

Subdomain would be treated as a new domain, while a subdirectory would be treated as an extension of the main domain.

The Moz guide for Domains
A thread on the Moz blog discussing a similar topic

So it looks like there's a handful of different opinions out there on the subject. I think if you have a game plan in mind on how to use it one way or another, you'll be ok with whatever route you go with. My preference is to keep any content that could help the site rank on a subdirectory over a subdomain. If you're careful and know what you're doing, a subdomain can work (which is usually the case with bigger companies with more well versed tech teams). Small operations with limited focus on website strategy though... I would stick with the sub-directory.
 

djbaxter

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Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

I started with sub domains and it worked well for me. This forum started as a subdomain and ranked well quite quickly.

A subdomain is not really treated as a separate domain. It inherits authority, page rank, branding, etc., from the main domain, just like a subdirectory. Indeed, on the actual server a subdomain physically is a subdirectory off the main domain.


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Laustin1878

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Re: Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

A subdomain is not really treated as a separate domain. It inherits authority, page rank, branding, etc., from the main domain, just like a subdirectory. Indeed, on the actual server a subdomain physically is a subdirectory off the main domain.
I'll prerequisite this with the fact that I have not personally done this in quite some time. In speaking to several people in recent years who were more familiar with it then I was, I've heard the same as Eric, sub-domains are treated as separate sites, therefore, requiring separate SEO initiatives for each sub-domain. Sub-directories/folders are much easier to pass along link juice and require 1 SEO effort. I was always told that sub-domains are okay, as long as you have the resources to manage multiple SEO initiatives or if you have a separate part of the business that has little relation to the business of the main domain.

Djbaxter, have you read sometime recently that sub-domains are treated as you say or have you worked with a sub-domain recently? Perhaps this has changed and sub-domains are not treated individually anymore. I'd be interested in hearing more about your experience with this, as long as you don't mind sharing.

This is a discussion from Feb 2014 on Moz where Rand himself chimes in Moz's official stance on Subdomain vs Subfolder - does it need updating? | Moz Q&A

I only have a little to add to the quality comments already made. I always say, Google or Bing is not buying your service or product, humans are. Make your content speak to your audience. Make them easy to read. Blogs are one of the easiest ways to add fresh, unique content to a website. Earning links is a lot more difficult then it sounds. You should internally link to other pages on your site only when necessary and not only for the sake of it. It's said that linking early on, in the 1st paragraph is usually best.

Social media sites such as FB, Google+, etc. should give your content legs. Use your blog as your hub and to get your content in front of your readers, prospects, etc. Don't forget, content is not limited to articles. Images, video's and infographics are also great forms of content to attract visitors and keep them engaged on your site.
 

djbaxter

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Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

Most recently, the best example I can think of is this forum, which started as a sub domain of Linda's main Catalyst domain and shot to page 1 in a very short period of time. What that tells me is that it inherited some of its ranking and authority from the main domain since it ascended much more quickly than you would expect from a brand new domain.

The notion that subdomains are treated differently is not new. It's actually from the 90s when for a while what you say about subdomains was actually true. By the late 1990s or early 2000s, the way subdomains and sub folders were treated became basically equivalent and it became simply a matter of personal preference. As I said, none of this is new. If I had some free research time at my desktop I could dig up old evidence documenting the change as a ranking factor but at the moment I'm on a lowly iPad without my archives.


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djbaxter

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Re: Blogs, links, and Keywords - Do they matter?

The MOZ Position is at Moz's official stance on Subdomain vs Subfolder - does it need updating? | Moz Q&A - I think that's incorrect, to be blunt.

Alternate views:

Subdomains and SEO - Pros and Cons of Subdomains vs Subdirectories - Ameravant Web Design Studio - Santa Barbara

As of the summer of 2011, Google considers all linking between subdomain websites, to the main domain or other subdomains an internal link.
When to Use Subdomains vs. Subfolders - A 2013 Update - Search Marketing Standard Magazine | Covering Search Engines

in late October, 2012, Matt Cutts of Google’s Webspam team clarified the subdomain/subdirectory situation insofar as Google was concerned. He said:

“The historical reasons why you might’ve wanted to go for a subdomain don’t really apply as much, and that leaves you with, okay both are on the same domain, overall, and so it’s really a question of which one is easier for you.”

This implies strongly that any previous linking advantage you might have gained from using a subdomain is no longer a factor (see the video at the link for the technical talk).
http://www.brafton.com/news/subdoma...r-seo-no-serp-benefits-for-subdomains-anymore

In a recent Webmaster Help video, Google’s Matt Cutts reported that adjustments to Google’s search algorithms have removed many of the advantages given to sites organizing content using subdomains rather than a subdirectory...

Cutts said webmasters frequently abused this feature by creating a number of subdomains for the same types of content aimed solely at generating more links to their sites (and dominating SERPs). Adjusting algorithms to treat subdomains and subdirectories prevented webmasters from abusing the practice. As such, Cutts advises webmasters and marketers concerned with URL structure for both SEO and optimum user experience to structure links in whichever format is most convenient for them.
See also this discussion at WebMasterWorld: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4663754.htm
 
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I have a whole big post I've been meaning to write.

There is a hidden, unknown benefit to using subdomains for local. Running into a meeting with Google so no time to explain and it will really take a full post with examples to explain it.

So when I get around to it will try to remember to come back and add link to this post.
 
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Thanks for all the links and counter points David.

And so true about this forum which was on a subdomain until last month.

With the new tip I'm going to give it only relates to one specific part of local so I'll just share that bene, but I'm not in anyway saying, go use subdomains. It's mainly a potential option in certain types of cases. I'd still encourage you to weigh out the holistic benefits and all the other ramifications before making a decision.
 

Howell

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Subdomains were a great way to spam...way back when. We had "State.domainname.com for every state in the nation and absolutely ruled in the SERPS.

Today the discussion shouldn't be about what juice flows to where or anything about gaming G.

Instead think overall branding and pushing the main site for for your message, service or widget. What is going to stick in the mind of a person doing a brand search...ShoeBlog.Nike.com? or Nike.com/shoeblog?

Now don't get me started with EMD spam ugg!

Cheers
 
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Here are a couple new expert posts on the topic:

1st up Moz

<a href="http://moz.com/blog/subdomains-vs-subfolders-rel-canonical-vs-301-how-to-structure-links-optimally-for-seo-whiteboard-friday">Subdomains vs. Subfolders, Rel Canonical vs. 301, and How to Structure Links for SEO
Whiteboard Friday - Moz</a>

Next up Michael Martinez, a very technical SEO totally slams Moz and basically says what David AKA djbaxter said above. If you do it right it does not matter either way. Subdomains can rank just fine. (But he's talking about things like adding on a blog, not specifically about city landing pages on subdomains.)

<a href="http://www.seo-theory.com/2015/02/06/subdomains-vs-subfolders-what-are-the-facts-on-rankings/">Subdomains vs Subfolders: What are the Facts on Rankings? | by SEO Theory</a>
 

Laustin1878

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My thought process on the whole practice was not whether or not you could rank a a sub-domain but what effort is required to get a subdomain to rank? I always thought you had to "individually optimize" the subdomain. Meaning, on-page seo for the subdomain, link building for the subdomain, etc. Whereas the efforts for ranking a subfolder were consumed in the same efforts to rank the domain. I know people used subdomains back in the day to manipulate search engines. Since subdomains were treated as different sites, you could throw links back to your main site and easily give yourself backlinks, rankings and increase your pagerank.

The ameravant site Djbaxter linked to goes more along the lines of how I interpreted subdomains. Use them if your business had separate focus areas that didn't really fit under the umbrella of your core business and marketing efforts. Or if you had completely different products under the same business.

What I'm interested in learning about is what seo efforts carried out on the domain, pass or influence the subdomain and to what extent?

Michael Martinez provides several examples but those are for branded, specific searches. I see that he has a number one ranking for the two sites but did it require a separate effort to get the subdomain ranked? Did he have to optimize both his main domain and his subdomains?
 

djbaxter

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You should be doing onsite and offsite SEO for the sub site regardless of whether you use a subdomain or a sub folder.

Is that your question?


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Laustin1878

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Sort of. Sorry if I wasnt more clear. I'm not trying to drag this out, just open to having my mind changed :)

For a website with sub-folders, I'm doing on and off page SEO. I'll build some links to internal pages and utilize natural site structure & internal linking to pass authority throughout the site. If i build links to the homepage, the authority is being passed to the sub-folders more naturally.

From what I understood about sub-domains, if I used a sub-domain, I'd need to SEO the main domain, build links, internal links, etc. then have to do the same thing to build up authority on the sub-domain, a second "site" to SEO if you will. Any SEO authority gained on the main domain, would not naturally be passed to the sub-domain through natural linking structures.

Is this the case or am I completely off base? Djbaxter, if you don't mind me asking, what was the reason you chose a sub-domain vs a sub-folder structure?
 

djbaxter

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No. These days subdomains are treated as sub folders by search engines anyway so there's no difference in how you optimize them. See above.

It's purely a matter of personal preference. I set up my Psychlinks sites as subdomains because it put the word forum, blog, directory, etc , first on the URLS making it obvious (to my mind) which subsection of the site the visitor was in - forum.psychlinks.ca vs blog.psychlinks.ca etc.


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John Mueller who is now sort of the Matt Cutts of Google just said does not matter.

<a href="http://www.thesempost.com/better-subdomains-subdirectories-heres-google-says/">Which is Better: Subdomains or Subdirectories? Here’s What Google Says
The SEM Post</a>


Mueller tackled this question on today’s Google Webmaster Office Hours.

From our point of view they are essentially equivalent. So you could do lots of things with subdomains and you can do lots of things on subdirectories, it kind of depends on your infrastructure which way is easier for you to handle. So from our point of view this is essentially up to you. If you want to put a blog on your main website in a subdirectory that’s fine, if you want to use a subdomain that’s fine. If you want to use a different domain name, that’s possible too.

So all of these ways are essentially possible and I wouldn’t say that any one or the other is superior in any magical way.
Thanks Jen!

As David mentioned earlier my forums and blogs have always been on subdomains.

On my other site (different industry) my blog was always #1 out of 360 million competing for a highly competitive international search term. And I never did any backlinks or anything.
 

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