Skip navigation
newsletter signup

The Ole Subdomains vs. Subdirectories Debate

August 14, 2013

Hi Jill,
Image Credit: photophilde
My client and I started having a conversation about subdomains.

Google said last year that it treats subdomains basically as subdirectories. But then I've heard some SEOs say that a subdomain is like starting from scratch as a new site.

Is there ever a time when subdomains are a good idea?

A little background on how this topic came up: My client wants to launch a new section of his site dedicated to online training with free and paid video content. So there will be a login for members as well as videos you can watch for free. The video training is very topically relevant to the rest of his brand and his website, so it wouldn't be completely unrelated content.

Thanks in advance for your time. Appreciate it!


++Jill's Response++

Hi Jessica,

In my opinion, it's totally a business decision and not an SEO one. The disadvantage to a subdomain is that people may sometimes forget the URL that they want because they're so used to going to just www. But otherwise, it's just a matter of what's right for the company.

From what you said, a subdomain could certainly make good sense for this client. But a directory would also be fine. Whichever way they want to go wouldn't make a lick of difference to Google because for them, it's all in how you link to the other section from within the rest of the site.

I think the SEOs that are telling you it might be a problem are wrongly believing that any page within a domain (be it at the root or within a directory) gets passed some special magic powers. And they believe that the magic doesn't get passed to subdomains.  But, IMO, that's just wrong. It's all about links and the PageRank they pass (the real kind, not toolbar) not some magical, mystical power that can or can't traverse to a subdomain!



Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

If you learned from this article, be sure to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so you can be the first to receive similar articles in the future!
Post Comment

 Jaime said:
I think a directory might be better if trying to establish google authorship.

I write articles on several travel sites.

The one that has won't validate.

The other validates.
 Jill Whalen said:
@jaime that sounds like you're mixing up cause and effect.