Do subdomains damage your SEO?
Posted by Sam Thomas on 19 October 2016 01:51 PM


Do subdomains damage your SEO?

When it comes to launching a new website, registering the perfect domain name is a great place to begin. All too often, however, a single top-level domain name (TLD) is not enough to serve the needs of your organisation. Whether you want to add more keywords into your domain name or segregate your content into separate sub-websites, subdomains are a great place to begin.

But when it comes to your search engine optimisation (SEO), many leading figures have warned that subdomains can negatively impact your page rankings – but how much of this is true?

Why are subdomains good?

Subdomains work because they add an additional layer of flexibility into your domain name and page structures. If you want to run multiple websites, for example, each of your subdomain names can be separate entities – each can have a homepage, a /blog canonical URL and even its own email address, so it makes sense to consider subdomains if your organisation falls into this category.

Subdomains also serve as a promotional tool to your main domain name. As each of your subdomains will have the main domain name in its URL, every page and piece of content ties back into your domain, increasing brand awareness and allowing you more flexibility in your marketing.

What’s changed with subdomains?

In the past, search engines recognised subdomains as individual domain names, which effectively meant you could rank several times on the same page result. This also, however, had negatives, as the traffic and links to your subdomains would have no influence on the page ranking or domain authority of your main domain name.

Now, however, Google treats its subdomains as part of your main domain name. Changes to its ranking algorithms were confirmed by Google’s head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, were designed to reduce the amount of spam-filled subdomains which competed for page rankings. A new ‘two-page limit’ means that subdomains from any domain name must pass a higher quality threshold than before to be considered for ranking.

Are subfolders better than subdomains?

Across the SEO community, an argument over "subdomain vs. subfolder" continues to reign. To explain the difference between the two in simple terms, a subdomain on your website would be, whereas a subfolder is reached by typing into your browser.

When it comes to deciding which is right for your website, there are various things to take into account. Aesthetically, a subdomain can look more appealing, but the chances are that a subfolder is more likely to rank and improve your website’s overall SEO.

Rand Fishkin, of Moz, says that subdomains only sometimes inherit the pass link trust and quality rankings between each other, whereas subfolders always inherit the ranking metrics across the same domain name. Therefore, hosting all of your content on a single domain is more effective than it would be to host several subdomains each linking to one another.

The bottom line is that you should host your content in which way suits your business. If you are looking to boost your website’s SEO rankings, then a subfolder blog or content section is the way forward. If you are more concerned with organisation and aesthetics, then a subdomain content route is the solution, even if it does take more time to get the search engine rankings you require.


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