Search Marketing

   
   

Subdomain or Directory – Which is Better for SEO?

Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:07 pm
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Comments: 0 Views: 2825

On the web these days you usually see a few different url structures. Domains, Subdomains, or directories off domains.

Ex.

  • yourdomain.com
  • goodkeyword.yourdomain.com
  • yourdomain.com/goodkeyword/

These are all different types of urls.


  • yourdomain.com – this is the tdl (top level domain)
  • goodkeyword.yourdomain.com – here the goodkeyword represents a different domain name, or subdomain
  • yourdomain.com/goodkeyword/ – this time goodkeyword is a folder or directory (this may be for display purposes related to rewrite rules and not an actual folder on the server)

When you are thinking about SEO and your web site, it does matter which style you choose. Without getting into the DNS related issues with setting up BIND or zone files, basically these domain structures are treated differently by search engines.

First off you might notice that blogspot.com uses subdomains to create new accounts, while myspace.com, squidoo.com and hubpages.com do not for their user accounts. Depending on the size and purpose of the web site you might want to choose one over the other.

In terms of SEO relating to keywords in a url, it should make no difference between,

yourdomain.com/goodkeyword/ vs. goodkeyword.yourdomain.com

But in terms of domain value (backlinks...etc) a subdomain is very different from a domain with a directory.

A backlink towards the url: yourdomain.com/goodkeyword/ affects yourdomain.com in a positive way, assuming it is a good backlink. But a quality backlink towards the url: goodkeyword.yourdomain.com does not affect the domain yourdomain.com in a positive or negative way. These url's are treated in a completely different way, as if they were two different domains.

In many ways they are two different domains. A subdomain has the ability to be routed to a completely different IP address, and therefore a completely different computer. A domain name with a directory cannot be routed to an IP Address.

You might notice that even though myspace.com uses a directory structure for its user accounts, it does use subdomains to manage its various services. (vids.myspace.com,weather.myspace.com)

So it depends how someone might want to manage their organization. If you have a large network like myspace then having various teams deal with different subdomains might be an organizational tool.

But most publishers, bloggers and web site creators want to know if using subdomains have any sort of benefits that directories do not.

If I were creating a program that allowed user accounts, and I thought I could be as large as squidoo.com or hubpages.com I might do what they did and choose a directory structure. What can help a domain, can hurt a domain. So if you have lots of users, and a good number are helpful (meaning they create good content), then choosing a directory structure can be a simplified method to create and manage accounts.

If I were a blogger using wordpress, or something similar, and I had full editorial control, and I did not intend on allowing user accounts then I would just use a directory structure. In other words, you control outbound links, content...etc.

If I had created a large number of web sites, all for the purpose of blogging and wanted to manage this under one domain, then subdomains may be a better choice. Subdomains allow you to make any number you may need, all without paying for seperate yearly domain fees.

  • dogs.yourdomain.com
  • cats.yourdomain.com
  • cars.yourdomain.com
Each of the above subdomains are real domains, can be routed to seperate servers, or different versions of wordpress. And although each of these domains need to be valued according to the content they each may have under them, they may be easier to manage, and all can be traced back to your main company, and main company domain.


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