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Subdomains vs Subfolders – Which Is Better For SEO?

By Cole Storley
Updated April 6, 2020
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Cole Storley
Cole Storley

I'm most excited when I'm able to be creative, connect with someone, analyze problems, or learn something completely new. I'm certified in Google Analytics for SEO & PPC Marketing.

Have this post read to you in a natural voice, so you can do other things:

If you’re like me there’s been one question eating away at you. You jolt awake in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. You get caught staring off into the distance for minutes at a time during family dinner. You keep canceling your remote happy hours. Gram Gram is wondering why you haven’t called. Everyone is growing increasingly worried about you. Until you find this resource and you can finally answer the question of…. are subdomains or subfolders better for SEO?

Mention & Moz’s Experiments with a clear winner

The great Rand Fishkin says subdomains are ALWAYS better for SEO than subdomains:

Moz.com tried both and he presents the clearcut evidence from that experiment here.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen and we’ve actually tested ourselves by first putting content on a subdomain and then moving it back over to the main domain with Moz. We’ve done that three times over that past two years. Each time we’ve seen a considerable boost in rankings and in search traffic, both long tail and head of the demand curve to these, and we’re not alone. Many others have seen it, particularly in the startup world, where it’s very popular to put blog.yourwebsite.com, and then eventually people move it over to a subfolder, and they see ranking benefits.”

 

Mention’s Medium article.

“Make your blog a subdirectory (not a subdomain) Moz’s Rand Fishkin recently addressed this on Whiteboard Fridays. It’s well worth watching. Originally, our blog address was blog.mention.com (a subdomain). We changed to mention.com/blog (a subdirectory), and saw an immediate improvement in search engine performance. Google sees a subdomain as a different website, while a subdirectory is just a part of your main site. This is important, because your site may have a load of link juice and authority. More of that will carry over to a subdirectory than a subdomain.”

Google & Hubspot say it’s not true:

Google themselves says that Google can crawl either fine, but from what I’ve seen Google is not transparent or pragmatic when expressing ranking factors. 

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You can see Hubspot arguing against someone who has done their research here.

Often the reality is because of the systems we use:

“Many systems in use are not optimized for subdomains. Subdomains are complex, require more time and attention, special content management systems (CMS) and oftentimes they are not well interlinked, some of them are even not in the navigational menu of the main site. Try it yourself by figuring out how to get to the subdomain teachers.theguardian.com, from using the following navigational menu?”

https://www.sistrix.com/blog/subdomains-vs-subdirectories/

My takeaway – always use a sub-folder even if Google and Hubspot try to convince you otherwise because they have ulterior motives:

  1. Google wants you to think their smart and can figure out everything even if it’s pragmatically difficult. 
  2. Hubspot wants to make integration as easy as possible and for as much of your systems to be built on them (they want to be wrapped up in every part of your marketing that they possibly can be.)

But you already knew I was going to go with the pragmatic approach eh? One domain, one set of tools, one sitemap, and ease of use. 

Integrate your forms with Hubspot, get the leads in there – worry first and foremost about TRAFFIC and LEADS. 


 

Watch this quick video to see how savvy businesses save time and hook better leads:
 

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Cole Storley
Cole Storley

I'm most excited when I'm able to be creative, connect with someone, analyze problems, or learn something completely new. I'm certified in Google Analytics for SEO & PPC Marketing.

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