Since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of SEO, many have tried but failed miserably and some have even lost their lives . . . Okay maybe not their lives but their search engine rankings for sure.
All in the name of figuring out which is better, the use of subdomains to host blogs, help sections, faq, etc or subdirectories (Sub folders)?
If you’re short on time, simply watch this video to get a basic overview:
Or for details, continue reading below:
I have my own data but let’s look at what SEO god Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz shared about it first:
As you may have gathered, subfolders always outperform subdomains.
I would like to take this to the next level and share with you exactly why this happens.
Google considers sub-domains completely separate from the main domain.
Especially from a technical SEO point of view.
They might call it “Sub” domain but there is nothing “sub” about it.
If you have a link coming in from one of your sub-domains (blog.yoursite.com) pointing to yoursite.com, it’s equivalent of having a link from a third party.
The worst part is at least from a third party, you can still get the link juice but not from your own domain.
There is a historical reason for this which I discuss later.
The proper way is to have everything under one domain.
Two things happen when you put everything under one domain:
- Link juice is spread throughout the site.
- It makes it really easy and therefore efficient for Google to crawl your site.
Many years ago, subdomains actually did pass off decent amount of link juice.
When webmasters found out about it, they naturally started abusing this technique to manipulate the search engines.
Soon thousands of webmasters were creating thousands of subdomains and pointing them to their main site. It worked like gangbusters and actually became a very successful way of manipulating the search engines and get top 10 rankings.
Eventually, when Google users started seeing crappy results showing up for their search terms and started complaining, the Google team eventually figured it all out and put a stop to it.
They soon adjusted their algorithm and this was the end of what became known as “subdomain spamming”.
One of the first things that I always recommend is moving everything to a subfolder (At least as much as possible).
In fact, we won’t be working together if you don’t because frankly, you won’t get any real results.
Why waste each other’s time right?
So whether it’s your blog (blog.yoursite.com), your shopping cart (shop.yoursite.com), your help section (faq.yoursite.com) or anything that plays a role in helping the user ‘convert’, it must be hosted on a subdirectory (Subfolder).
It’s just the right way of doing things.
Also think about it for a second . . . doesn’t having everything under one umbrella makes more sense?
Wouldn’t it create a more aligned and therefore overall better user experience?
When everything is under one roof, the user will naturally feel more confident and most importantly, less “confused” as they hang out on your site, clicking away from one page to another.
Imagine someone lands on yoursite.com. They select a product that you are selling and then click the ‘add to cart’ button. Next thing you know, they are on an entirely different domain like shop.yoursite.com.
Wouldn’t that be a confusing experience?
For the less technically inclined, they could easily take this as a possible redflag and most likely, immediately abandon your shopping cart.
It’s probably happening to you right now and that’s why your sales aren’t what they could be.
Don’t Expect To Rank High With Subdomains
Unless you are Microsoft, Apple or a massive household worldwide brand (You won’t need SEO at this point anyways), don’t expect to dominate or let alone rank for high volume or niche leading keywords in your market.
When you separate your own sites, your link juice doesn’t get distributed properly either. A link from Forbes or Huffington post to your shopping cart at shop.mysite.com isn’t going to benefit your main site at all.
It’s just a sad waste of a high quality link. I’ve seen this specific scenario way too many times.
No link juice = no results.
Get Real Results
When I started working with Pinshape (World’s leading 3D printing marketplace), their traffic was pretty much plateaued. After running it through my various checks and analyzing the site, one of the first initial moves I made was getting rid of their blog.pinshape.com subdomain and redirecting it to pinshape.com/blog (We used 301 redirects on all previous links).
As soon as Google re-indexed this entire move, all our traffic went up (Currently ranking on the first page for the keyword 3D Scanner on Google.com and .ca). Best part is you see the results fairly quickly too.
All in a matter of just a few weeks.
I did the same thing for another client right after that and in less that 90 days, they started ranking for the following:
In fact check out the entire case study here.
Of course other factors were at play here as well and it truly depends on your site’s current situation but getting rid of the subdomains played a key role.
No doubt about it.
So at the end of the day, if your are getting traffic but your sales are less than satisfactory, your site architecture might be holding your progress back.
Even if you have incredible content, tons of regular PR and quality backlinks, you site must be easy to navigate for Googlebot (Google’s algorithm) as well.
Or you are literally wasting all your time and effort.
As I always say, “If Google can’t crawl you, it just won’t rank you”.
Removing subdomains and consolidating your link juice is a great way of setting up your site for long term organic success.
Once such moves are completed, than you can fully concentrate on the growth of the site with content, link building and by utilizing any other opportunities that may pop up.
It is truly as simple as that.