The old and ongoing discussion ‘Subdomain vs. Subdirectory’ reaches a new step.
Google has changed the policy against showing multiple subdomains on one SERP.
Nice input for all the Subdomain vs. Subdirectory discussions.
This definition made my day:
Just as a reminder, in a URL such as subdomain.example.com/subdirectory/ , the subdomain is “subdomain” and the subdirectory is “subdirectory” (also sometimes called a folder).
Thanks, Matt for this bullet proof definition. Even the Mac guys can understand it 🙂
Head over to the article Subdomains and subdirectories and see how the big SEO guys are positioning their diplomatic questions in the comments.
Should you choose a Subdomain or a Subdirectory? Some aspects:
- Subdomains are great for building different sites for totally different content.
- Subdomains allow testing new sites without affecting other content SEO wise.
- Subdomains allow to separate successful content to a new site with a specialized structure.
- Handling subdomains always means more administrative effort if you are using a platform which can’t handle subdomains.
- Handling subdomains can become a hassle if you don’t have full access to your web server. I.e. automatic creation of subdomains will be difficult.
- Switching from a subdomain to a real domain means in most hosting environments just some mouse clicks.
I love subdomains but it always takes some time, motivation and effort until I realize a new subdomain.
- Testing in subdirectories can have very creepy side effects on the rest of the website.
- Subdirectories are easy to administrate. From the .htaccess, robot.txt to file organization point of view subdirectory bring great website overview on file level.
- Subdirectories offer no misunderstanding where root is. A little edit action at the address line always brings the reader back to home.
- Subdirectories will pop up nicely in your address line history.
Subdirectories are the easy way to go with related content for one website!
Painful Example: My News Kiosk
Using the RSS aggregator Gregarius I realized my personal local web news stand: News.Sankt-Georg.Info. My experience was pretty spectacular traffic wise:
- Having the aggregator in a sub-directory made my whole traffic drop 80%. Oops. I didn’t dig too much into the possible reasons. I watched the lower traffic for a week with some pain and then decided to use a subdomain.
- Having the aggregator in a subdomain brought back the old traffic level over night. I knew that lesson before but was too lazy to realize the test in a subdomain. Lesson learned!
- Having the aggregator in a subdomain now means that the aggregator is creating its own incoming SE traffic. The news kiosk is running by itself and gives me a nice opportunity to link to collected feeds from my homepage i.e. the collected d.i.u bookmarks.
It was no good idea to test the news aggregator in a subdirectory!
- Always use a subdomain for website testing
- If a website flies well in a subdomain you should consider a unique domain for it.
- Only use subdirectories to structure pretty related content.
Some Software Solutions
- LifeType is able to automatically create subdomains if your server configuration allows it. If not, LifeType uses subdirectories to create a multi-blog environment. Bad idea (see above)!
- My preferred Blog-CMS is Textpattern. TXP is not capable of handling subdomains. But compared to WordPress it is capable of a very good subdirectory handling through sections. Textpattern is absolutely my choice if I need a fast and smart Blog-CMS solution on shared hosting.
- If your hosting offers enough performance it is always a good idea to throw a deeper look at the Drupal feature set. In our context: Multi-lingual Content, Multi-Site Deployment, Sub-sites / Roots
How do you handle the ‘Subdomain vs. Subdirectory’ issue?