Deciding Between Subdomains and Subdirectories? Here's What You Need to Know

SEO tips

Deciding whether to use a subdomain or a subdirectory for your website can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, and it's hard to know which decision is best for your business. 

To help you make the best decision for your website, we've put together a quick guide explaining the difference between subdomains and subdirectories and the pros and cons of each.

Subdomains and Subdirectories: What's the Difference

A subdomain is a child domain that is part of a parent domain. For example, if a company's primary or parent domain is domain.com, they may have a subdomain for their blog at blog.domain.com. Often, these subdomains are used to segregate content or functionality within a website.

A subdirectory is a folder on your server that contains your website's files and assets. For example, if your website is www.example.com, you could create a subdirectory for blog posts at www.example.com/blog/.

The Pros and Cons of Using Subdomains

Subdomains can be helpful for organisational purposes because they allow you to keep different content separate from the rest of your website. This can be especially helpful if you have a lot of content or if you want to target specific keyword phrases with your content. 

However, there are some downsides to using subdomains as well. Because they are treated as separate websites by search engines, it can be harder to rank high in search results if you're not using keyword-rich phrases in your subdomain names. In addition, setting up and managing multiple websites can be time-consuming and expensive.

The Pros and Cons of Using Subdirectories

Subdirectories offer many of the same benefits as subdomains but without some of the drawbacks. Search engines treat subdirectories as part of your main website, which means they're often easier to rank in search results than separate websites (subdomains). In addition, setting up and managing multiple websites can be time-consuming and expensive—two things you'll avoid by using subdirectories instead of subdomains.

What is Google’s Point of View

In 2007, Google stated that they evaluated subdomains separately for one part of ranking. Later on, they discovered, however, that this led to so many people manipulating the way Google handles domain diversity in search results.

John Mueller then made a video in 2017 in which he stated that Google is fine with using either subdomains or subdirectories. He further explained that after each subdomain has been verified in Google Search Console, it will be crawled as if it were a single website.

SEOs’ Point of View

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are no clear winners between subdomains and subdirectories. Both can work well for SEO, both can work well for usability and site architecture. The only difference is that one option is more scalable than the other when it comes to server management and maintenance.

In short: if you have a small site with only a few pages of content, it’s better to use subdirectories because they’re easier to manage on the back end (you don’t have as many files). If you have a large website with thousands of pages or more, then subdomains will be easier for your development team since all of the content will be accessible via domain names instead of just paths on your servers (for example, www vs https://domain/sub_folder).

Other factors for choosing between subdomains and subdirectories

Other factors to consider when deciding between subdomains or subdirectories include the number of pages, users, and resources that you have. Googlebot crawls your website differently depending on how many pages it has. If you have a smaller site with fewer than 100 pages, you may want to use subdomains. But if your site is large with thousands of pages, then using directories is probably better because they allow Googlebot to crawl pages more efficiently by using internal links between related content rather than external ones from one domain to another.

Another thing to think about is whether or not your website has a lot of resources (images/videos/audio files), which can slow down Google's ability to crawl each page when using subdirectories versus subdomains. 

Take, for example, https://www.example-website-dot-com/image1. If this image file doesn't exist in its own directory but is instead embedded within another page's HTML markup, then it would increase loading time for every single page containing that image!

When deciding whether to use a subdomain or a subdirectory for your website, there are many factors to consider. To help you make the best decision for your business, we've put together this quick guide explaining the difference between subdomains and subdirectories, as well as the pros and cons of each. 

We hope this guide has been helpful! If you have any further questions, our team of SEO experts would be happy to assist you further.

If you're ready to take your business to the next level, we can help.

We'll work with you, day in and day out, until we get your company up to the front of the pack.

We're here to help you make your website the best it can be—and we'll do it quickly, efficiently and affordably! If you're ready to start your project, give us a call today at 0141 404 7515 or request a free quote online.

Author: Jason Ferry
Jason Ferry is an SEO specialist based in the United Kingdom. Taking pride in his many years of experience in the search engine optimisation industry, he has honed his skills in various digital marketing processes. From keyword marketing, website auditing, and link building campaigns, to social media monitoring, he is well-versed in all of them. Jason Ferry’s excellent skills in SEO, combined with his vast experience, makes him one of the best professionals to work with in the industry today. Not only does he guarantee outstanding output for everyone he works with, but also values a deep relationship with them as well.

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