Subdomain vs Subfolder
Are you planning to create a new website, redesign an existing one, or make a large migration? The first issue you can have is focusing on your website’s structure for effective search engine optimization.
There are two common sorts of site structures for websites, and the debate over which is preferable has raged for years.
We’re discussing subdomains vs. subfolders. What effect do they have on your SEO? How do they make your website more search engine friendly? Which is the superior option? Let’s take a closer look at the subdomain vs. subfolder dispute and see which one wins out.
Difference Between a Subdomain & Subfolder
While there are many parallels between subdomains and subfolders, they are also very different.
A subfolder is a “child directory” that works under the supervision of a parent directory. Simply described, it is a folder within a home directory that is beneath another one. They work in the same way as a path within a parent domain.
Subdomains are similar to subdomains in that they are likewise a content repository, but the primary distinction is that subdomains have their own URLs, allowing them to be accessed directly, just like a normal website.
What is Subdomain?
When websites don’t want some aspects of their root domains to be visible, they create subdomains. These domains each have a distinct purpose, and Google treats them as distinct webpages. Netflix, for example, has a long list of subdomains, each of which serves a particular purpose, such as:
Now that you know what the difference between a domain and a subdomain is, let’s look at how subdomains work and why they’re useful.
How do subdomains look on a server?
As previously stated, Netflix has a number of subdomains, each of which functions as a separate organisation with its own set of servers. The expense of running separate servers and the memory space required for subdomains were too expensive in the early 2000s. However, with mobile-first indexing, the subdomain landscape has shifted. Subdomains are primarily utilised to host mobile versions of your websites these days. If your website’s primary domain is www.abcd.com, the subdomain will be something like “m.abcd.com.”
Assume you want a subdomain where clients can fill out contact forms. m.contactabcd.com would be your contact subdomain.
Subdomains are used by businesses all over the world to host multilingual versions of their websites or to store large amounts of data such as large downloadable contents or blogs.
Why Use Subdomains?
A password-protected subdomain is frequently used by web developers to host staging versions of websites for testing new templates, experimenting with designs, and more.
Developers can easily establish a subdomain that mirrors the main website. This is accomplished by creating a new database and reinstalling the main website. Furthermore, search engine crawlers are unable to locate this subdomain because it is not linked anywhere on the internet. Even if they did, the crawlers would be unable to access these subdomains because they are password-protected.
However, using subdirectories to do the same might be tough, as there is a significant risk of serious problems in the link structure, which can be difficult to manoeuvre around.
Subdomains are more popular among developers since they allow them to experiment with different layout templates, designs, plugins, and other technologies without affecting the main website.
On a website, it is always better for a brand to divide its distinct areas. Using Netflix as an example, they offer a dedicated support domain where users can quickly access resources such as FAQs, manuals, and other help materials.
There are a variety of reasons why hosting a subdomain could be beneficial to your website’s SEO. For example, if you want to publish a topic that has nothing to do with your main site, a subdomain is a great place to start. This will separate this new topic into its own URL, separate from your main website but still tied to it.
News and media publishing websites that contain a subdomain for recipe content are a good illustration of this. It allows them to isolate wholly unrelated content from their specialisation while keeping it static and consistent with the brand.
Because Google treats subdomains as separate websites, putting SEO-optimized content on them can raise their ranks and expand your brand’s reach. The subdomain can rank independently and bring in new demographics to your website, resulting in significant organic traffic growth.
SEO Benefits of Using Subdomains
Subdomains integrate their own SEO rankings with the parent website effortlessly. This is especially useful for companies who want to segment their content into different specializations and domains.
Because Google considers subdomains to be separate websites, they are ranked separately. Internal linking on these subdomains, on the other hand, can help Google connect the dots and expand the reach of your parent website. Furthermore, organic traffic from users who visit these subdomains and engage with the content can be directed to your main website. This will aid in the improvement of your website’s rankings.
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Google’s algorithms have improved over time and are now quite capable of distinguishing between domains and subdomains. As a result, your subdomains generating strong engagement and sending users to your main website is always a favourable sign to the algorithms.
Because most subdomains are utilised for specific reasons, they aid in the separation of users’ diverse use cases. Netflix accomplishes this by redirecting visitors to subdomains dedicated to specific functions, as previously described.
Enhances user experience
Businesses can better serve their customers by having various subdomains. For example, if someone is seeking for payment assistance, Netflix’s support subdomain contains all of the information they require rather than requiring them to navigate through multiple pages to find the information they require. They also offer a subdomain for job vacancies that is exclusive to this market.
Smart use of subdomains can improve the user experience and assist users in navigating through everything relevant to your business.
What is Subfolder or Subdirectory?
There are different sections for categories and web pages on a website. Developers frequently place these in subfolders or subdirectories, which are called subfolders or subdirectories. Consider it similar to your computer’s file storage. On your desktop, you create multiple folders to categorise various types of information. In the same way, a subdirectory functions.
Subfolders have names that are identical to those on your desktop, such as “/resume-templates.” All HTML pages for resume templates would be saved in this folder.
On PHP-based websites and WordPress, subfolders are frequently virtual. Because they don’t exist on the servers, they can’t be accessed with an FTP application. They are, nevertheless, still a crucial part of the file structure of your website.
To summarise, a subfolder is an important aspect of the website’s structure and is linked to the domain name.
SEO benefits of using Subfolder
For search engines, link equity is a significant ranking element. Links on a website should traditionally convey authority and value from one page to the next. When search engines talk about thematic relevance, content quality, and relevancy of the content referenced, they’re referring to this. Search engines do this by thoroughly crawling a website’s subfolders.
Increases domain authority
If your website has links from authoritative domains, it tells search engines that your content is of high quality and comes from trustworthy sources. This aids in the growth of your website’s domain authority. Improved domain authority helps you get ahead of your competition on SERP rankings because it is a trailing measure rather than a ranking element.
Google on Subdomains vs Subfolders
Google’s algorithms handle both subdomains and subfolders in the same way, according to ohn Mueller, a Senior Analyst and Google’s Head of Search Trends at Google. He stated
This does not appear to be totally accurate, as there have been many questions regarding whether Google’s algorithms treat subdomains and subfolders in the same way. So, which one do you think you should go with for your website? Let’s wait and see what the outcome is.
Subdomain or Subfolder? What to Choose
While John Mueller claims that Google has improved its ability to distinguish subdomains from main websites and assign keywords to root URLs, a number of firms have found the opposite to be true.
Many research were undertaken to look at analytic proof, and the data revealed that the outcomes do not match what Google claims. The keywords employed by subdomains were also assigned to the parent domain in these investigations.
As a result, it was determined that employing subdomains since a website structure can be risky, as it may cause search engines to misidentify your subdomain and parent domain.
This can have unintended consequences, such as lowering your website’s backlink strength, dividing terms among subdomains, and so on. For example, one study discovered that the backlink strength of websites began to flow to their subdomains on a regular basis. As a result, the keyword density on the primary websites has been diluted.
Subfolders certainly emerge as a winner for SEO purposes based on these data. Subdomains, on the other hand, are useful for websites that have conceptually distinct content and want to keep it separate from their main domain.
Search engines are more capable of providing metrics from subfolders. Subfolders are recommended if you employ analytics software on your website, such as HubSpot. Subdomains, on the other hand, are a wonderful way to store CTA pages or landing pages for tracking data with tools like Google Analytics. The structure of your website will always be a question of personal preference. The primary message here is that subfolders should be considered before a subdomain. If their implementation is justified in your use case, the latter should be preferred.
Your website should be your company’s most profitable employee, and it’s always best to enlist the services of an SEO firm. We can assist you in making full use of both subfolders and subdomains, thereby considerably improving your website’s SEO. We have professionals who know the ins and outs of both subfolders and subdomains. For further information, please contact us.