Search Engine Optimization | 16 Min Read
Posted on: Tuesday August 25, 2020Reading Time: 16 minutes
The question of superiority between subdomains or subfolders is a buzz for everyone focused on SEO rankings. Anyone having good knowledge about the technical aspect of search engine optimization might be completely aware of the ongoing debate of ‘subdomain v/s subfolders’ since 2019.
The competitive discussion has already been complete knowledge of tech-savvy digital marketers and resulted at the beginning of an exciting conversation about website architecture and SEO ranking.
Another important fact about this question is the requirement of a complete Q&A forum where everything straight from analytics to pros-cons would be discussed with high emotions running high, so a perfect decision can be made since a wrong choice would be highly disastrous.
Is there a fixed methodology to decide the website’s correct link?
Here’s an illustration for a better understanding of a subdomain or subfolder and how they are useful for SEO.
We begin the learning process with simple definitions to understand precisely the prominence of these subdomains and sub-folders in the cyber world.
What’s the difference between subdomains v/s subfolders?
Having a lot of similarity between them – Subdomains and subfolders are the locations of the file inside a ‘Home’ directory structure in the server, and this Home directory is nothing but a URL.
A ‘child directory’ (folder in another folder) placed beneath a parental (Home) directory, known as Subdomain.
Just like content repositories, subdomains are easily usable URLs similar to a website address. But never consider them only as paths inside a domain like subfolders are.
This is a considerable difference affecting the ability of your website in vertical keywords ranking and gathering.
Moving ahead to look into the detailed information about the difference between Subdomain and subfolders to find out how crucial these terms are in affecting the SEO process and content indexing.
What does a subdomain appear on any server?
A subdomain is an independent operating entity of a website that’s distinct from the remaining portions, and its address is towards the left of the root URL.
Some examples of subdomains include https://blog.trello.com/ and https://blog.hubspot.com/.
The necessity of Subdomain is generally felt when a portion of the website needs an individual server. During the initial times of the world wide web, costs of server space and memory were more than the cost of cryptocurrencies today.
The server admins used to create subdomains for every resource allocated in highly capacitate machinery.
Let’s consider an example for better understanding:
Assume that a department in any company X is needed its internal website for reporting. After a little brainstorming, department.yourdomain.com was born, giving every bean counter their segment underneath the corporate URL.
With the evolution of web technology, subdomains are being used for hosting the mobile versions of websites.
m.yourwebsite.com is still relevant as Subdomain, but it’s getting changed with mobile-first indexing and new-age cms already having mobile responsive codes. Global companies also adopt the practice of using subdomains to host foreign language versions of any website, blogs, and downloadable resources.
What are the marketing benefits of subdomains?
Well, this sounds interesting for any business, but how does it prove useful for marketers?
Search Engine Ranking
To begin with, a subdomain will have its own set of keywords apart from the root URL. This indicates that keywords of department.yourdomain.com have nothing to do with keywords of yourdomain.com.
Just say that any keyword “Xyz” for a page hosted on your Subdomain might not rank for your subdomain and vice versa, a keyword department.yourdomain.com ranking for parent domain might not rank for your Subdomain. Remember that it may or may not look useful in some situations.
Just consider that a business is having another branch opened in Europe.
The European office requires a separate domain to gain authority in that region and maintain its global brand in the same URL.
Here something like “Europe.yourdomain.com” is an excellent solution for keeping your offices under a typical roof, allowing your keywords to fall together in Google’s European database for that Subdomain. These cases easily demonstrate why Subdomain vs. subfolder strategy session is required to be kept on high priority.
The target of audience segmentation can also be achieved with subdomains.
Let’s take the example of an e-commerce website, mainly dealing with apparels, and they host regular podcasts to educate about the complete process of running an online business. Every business has its separate audience base, despite relating to the same theme.
The podcast’s listeners would prefer learning to learn online t-shirt business while the shoppers might look for their superhero merchandise. Maintaining the ‘podcast’ website under the Subdomain of the similar name will segregate keywords from online store keywords you tried to rank for.
If planned properly, a subdomain remains clear and focused on the user experience while keeping a user notified after the link gets clicked.
A country.yourdomain.com URL will indicate the users about whatever location they’re accessing and might appear different in other locations. Also, this Subdomain is useful for the franchise due to its content, address, and phone number. Also, the visitors get utterly aware of the content they see remains entirely relevant.
Let’s understand ‘subfolders’ now!!
Setting up the sub-folders is the quiet, secure site, and so is understanding it because it’s similar to creating another folder on a website. Highly resembling a subdomain in terms of the category set up for content by users, but they are set up differently on servers.
Interestingly no server partition like subdomains is present here. A subfolder is based on the same server; that’s why link juice isn’t passed anywhere.
Here’s an of subfolder web address: https://www.prowebtechnos.com/blog, which demonstrates every page associated with Pro Web’s blog feed.
What are the advantages of marketing by subfolders?
One of the primitive advancement of the marketing benefits by subfolders is keyword density.
Just like mentioned above, subfolder keywords are collected under the parent domain, hereby making it an ideal choice for those pages attached to your parent URL. The majority of technical SEO tools suggest keywords through this.
Consider the example of SEMRush where you type in a domain name, and these tools pick-up all the ranking keywords to provide an approx. Value of monthly traffic.
Almost everyone in the cyber world is seeking this; all highly profitable keyword suggestions in one place. But why?
These key phrases are like magnets continuously sending web page signals to search engines telling what the website is all about.
Technically it’s referred to as ‘Latent Semantic Indexing,’ which is nothing but “related keywords’ to the central theme for any website rank in search pages.
Let’s gear up for some hooky poky coming now…
Subdomain v/s Subfolders: Which one is appropriate for SEO?
The primitive reason for the debate between Subdomain vs. subfolders lies in the comments done by Google in forums of SEO fraternity.
A leading official in Google stated that search engines are getting smarter in performing the identification of subdomains of the main website and providing keywords according to their root URL.
This statement might lead you to believe that argument is finished, and SEO fraternity can continue slaying 404, right? Surprisingly that’s wrong.
In overwhelm driven SEO trenches, assumptions look like Gremlins; cuddly and cute at first, but they will bite in analytics. Moz referred it as audible since the fetched data remain unmatched with Google’s saying. However, this conquered the issue and proved that subdomain keywords are allocated to the root domain, even in analytics.
Another observation is that website structuring with subdomains is a potential risk. It confuses the search engine by delivering undesirable results like segregation of keywords below the Subdomain, or diluted backlink strengths.
Backlink strength was continuously funneling the Subdomain, diluted keyword density of the parent domain.
This little experiment provided us the data to stand against Google’s claim.
Transforming from Subdomain to subfolder isn’t tricky, however, external backlinks pointing towards a subdomain divert without the addition of redirects.
Who’s the winner in the Subdomain v/s subfolder debate?
Well, it’s undoubtedly a tough call to decide the winner in this debate as many opinions are there, but we can rely on experts’ voices at MOZ.
Studies performed by them signify that subfolders are apt for SEO on every possible parameter of various search engines. The only winning point for Subdomain is foreign language variants of the main website.
Subdomains are also useful for thematically different content of your website.
Those moving ahead without using any marketing software equipped with analytics, subdomains are fruitful for the accumulation of landing pages or calls-to-action during the requirement of metrics tracking via Google Analytics or UTM tags.
The conclusion? Website architecture will remain prolonged necessity and taste, however many times, you’ll require a subfolder structure in-front of Subdomain.
The evolution of search engines, the debate of subfolder v/s Subdomain, will reach its end.
Till then, subfolders are the best option for getting SEO rankings.