Stream News & Views

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Subdomain or Subdirectory, which is better for SEO?

22 Mar 2021

Sometimes it makes sense to manage two different websites from the same domain, but how does this affect SEO?

Many of our clients make use of the multi-site capability that is built into streamSWEET, allowing them to manage more than one website from their admin.

Often the main website houses most of the key functions of the business or organisation but sometimes there is a need to give more focus to a particular area that could warrant its own separate website. This could be for a shop, continuing professional development system, conference, tech support, forum, or blog.

If the decision is made to use the multi-site method, we will set up the URL as either a Subdomain or a Subdirectory.

Subdomain examples 

Considered by search engines as being a completely separate website.

  • shop.yourwebsite.com
  • conference.yourwebsite.com
  • blog.yourwebsite.com

Subdirectory (or sub folder) examples 

Considered by search engines as being a part of the main website.

  • yourwebsite.com/shop
  • yourwebsite.com/conference
  • yourwebsite.com/blog

 

How does this affect SEO?

According to Google's John Mueller (webmaster), Google Bots crawl, index, and rank subdomains and subdirectories in the same way, so either way should yield the same results when it comes to searching.

 

Choose a Subdomain

This approach generally suits organisations that want to build a clearly defined and separated market space.

If your secondary site is really different or focusses on a niche area, then a subdomain is the best option.

Pros

  • Highly focussed content and user flows
    (improves engagement)
  • Keywords can be succinct and to the point
  • Subdomain can boost branding and awareness
  • Reduces complicated site structures and hierarchies
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Backlink counts can be reduced in comparison to subfolder approach
 

Choose a Subdirectory

If the secondary site has some crossover content, branding material, or could benefit from being associated with the main website, then a Subdirectory is the way to go.

Preferred by small or medium sized entities that would benefit from every bit of SEO returning to the root domain.

Pros

  • Gain search goodwill from the main site
    (especially if it's already established)
  • Boost authority to the root domain
    (which can lead to better search rankings for all sites)
  • Backlink counts are generally better

Cons

  • Slightly more technical set-up required
  • Brand/identity can be blurred

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