The debate about which is better for SEO between Subdomains and Subdirectories has existed for quite some time.
If you are new to blogging, this should be a topic to consider as your choice between subdirectories and subdomains will affect your website’s traffic and impact your business growth.
If you’re caught between the perfect choice for your blog, subdomain, and subdirectories, read on.
In this piece, we’ll help you break down what a subdomain and subdirectory are and their use cases and help you navigate the best choice for your blog.
Also, we’ll show you how to set up the best choice with the help of Feather.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory: which is better for SEO?
A subdomain is an additional part of your primary domain name. Essentially, a subdomain is a child of the parent domain, and they are sometimes used for hosting:
Separate mobile sites
Subdirectories are files found under your primary domain. You can think of it as a file cabinet with different file folders. All of the folders are stored in the same cabinet, but they all have different information. (That’s why you can refer to subdirectories as “subfolders.”)
A subdomain sits outside the main domain, while a subdirectory (a subfolder) sits within the main domain.
When looking at a URL, a subdomain comes before the root domain, whereas a subdirectory will come after.
What is the whole fuss about Subdomains, Subdirectories, and SEO?
Understanding the importance of your website's structure on your organic search performance is crucial. The decision to use a subdomain or a subdirectory for certain site areas can greatly affect your ability to drive growth. Making the right choice is key to maximizing your results.
Subdomains are separate entities from your main domain; some websites have different content on subdomains that aren’t associated with the main site, and sometimes the subdomains are controlled by other people.
Subdirectory: yourdomain.com/blog/ is treated as part of yourdomain.com by Google's algorithm.
Subdomain: blog.yourdomain.com is treated as a separate domain from yourdomain.com - subdomain.
Google’s algorithm doesn’t take into account the content; or valuable assets, such as backlinks on a subdomain, when ranking the main domain.
Sometimes it makes perfect sense for a subdomain to be seen as separate from the main domain, primarily when representing different businesses or divisions.
What are the advantages of using Subdomains or Subdirectories?
The argument is not that subdirectories are superior to subdomains for SEO or vice versa. In fact, Google treats both subdomains and subdirectories equally, as stated by Google itself.
Google's John Mueller gave a better view into the subdomain vs subfolder debate in a 2017 video. Check it out here.
“Google web search is fine with using either subdomains or subdirectories.”
— John Mueller, Google.
The critical point here is to know when to use one or the other.
Let's say your company has a lot of online content that can't all fit on one website. Creating multiple subdomains would distribute the content and help people find what they're looking for more quickly.
Let’s take a look at Disney. The Disney corporation is so massive that putting all its content on one domain would make it cumbersome. For that reason, Disney has broken up their content into subdomains to make it easier for its millions of customers, clients, subscribers, and searchers to find what they need.
Thus, Disney has subdomains for its videos, parks, different properties (Marvel, Pixar, Fox, etc.), and several more.
But unless you're a massive corporation like Disney, sub-domaining your site is not the best approach for you.
Subdirectories - A Better SEO Option
Subdirectories can help organize content by topic, thus negating any confusion for crawlers or users.
Structuring a site with subfolders supports search engine optimization in several ways — let’s look at link equity and domain authority.
Link equity refers to the ability of links to transfer value and authority from one page to another, making it an essential factor for search engine ranking. The equity passed by a link depends on the quality of the referring site and its thematic relevance to the content on the linked page. When authoritative domains link to your site, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.
Domain authority scores are metrics developed by third-party companies, Moz and SEMRush, to quantify the authority of websites. These are trailing metrics, not ranking factors. As a trailing metric, domain authority can only gauge a site’s potential to rank higher than its competitors in search engine results.
If you prioritize the ranking factors for your main website domain, you're telling Google that your website is valuable and relevant to searchers. This can lead to better search rankings for your website.
Better put, your subfolder is part of your main domain, so whatever your subfolder (subdirectory) ranks for also impacts your main domain.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory for blogging
Bringing this conversation to blogging, the best choice will be the subdirectory.
If you have a website, your main domain has likely gained authority over time. If you create a blog within a subdirectory of your main domain, you can leverage the existing domain authority to help your blog rank better in search engines. Essentially, it's like building on top of a strong foundation to create a more robust website overall.
For example, if your root domain's domain authority (DA) is 85, your blog is also starting at a DA of 85. If you were to add a subdomain to a root domain of 85, it’s counted as a new domain, so it starts with DA 0.
This is why starting your new blog on your root domain is the best approach, you won’t have to rebuild all the authority you’ve built up over the years.
Add a blog as Subdirectory with Feather
While it's generally not possible to install a new content management system (CMS) directly into a subfolder on popular platforms such as WordPress and Shopify, you can typically install a CMS on a subdomain. However, this may require additional technical knowledge and setup.
Even when it's possible to install a WordPress blog on a subfolder of a Shopify website, it may require technical expertise or the use of third-party tools to make it work seamlessly.
What is the best way to add a subfolder to a website?
A website builder like Feather is the best way to add a subdirectory to a website.
Creating a blog in a subdirectory (subfolder) with Feather is easy, and you don’t have to worry about technicalities.
All you need is to contact the support via the chatbot, and in a few minutes, you’ll have it all set up.
Use Feather to add a Subdirectory to your website
As a startup or small business looking to optimize SEO, subdirectories over subdomains should be your best bet.
Boosting the authority of your root domain should be a priority as a company. Subfolder helps you concentrate your authority onto a single domain, while the subdomain strategy spreads your authority across multiple domains.
Breaking this down, the subdirectory strategy results in better root domain authority - higher domain authority leads to better search rankings, translating to more website traffic. Voila!
Relating this to blogging, you want to ensure your blog content helps your website's domain authority. The best way to do this is by using a subdirectory over a subdomain.
Create an account on Feather in two minutes to set up your blog as a subdirectory (subfolder).