Subdomains vs Subdirectories?
Yesterday, Barry Schwarz reported on the fight between SEOs and Google over how Google treats Subdomains and Subdirectories. At SISTRIX, we subscribe to Johannes Müller statement: “Google web search is fine with using either subdomains or subdirectories”, which confirms what Matt Cutts said in October 2012. And this is true, both subdomains and subfolders have equal opportunities. The problem here is that Google and SEOs each have a different point of view.
Rand Fishkin is talking about something that almost every single SEO has seen before. When you move from Subdomain to Subdirectory, you rank much better, and you get more organic traffic from Google. This is what the real world looks like:
The same for Monster.de on Google Germany:
Let’s complete the picture with https (because http and https are 2 diferent URLs):
Next let’s look at Germany’s largest telecommunications provider, Deutsche Telekom AG (the same people behind T-Mobile), and their online news portal, t-online.de. They moved their advisory guides from the subdomain to a subfolder:
But why does this happen?
Assuming that Google web search is fine with using either subdomains or subdirectories, the reason must lie within the website itself.
First, when we move from subdomains to subdirectories, it often also implicitly means that we are doing something new and probably something better than before (new design, better usability, better URLs, better content, better internal links, etc). That could be one reason for better rankings on Google.
Second comes the systems we use. Many systems in use are not optimised for subdomains. Subdomains are complex, requires 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?
Honestly, I don’t really know how to get there when I use theguardian.com.
When Subdomains makes sense?
If you pay attention to the right site of the picture, you will find 2 links to 2 different subdomains “Jobs” and “Dating”. In these cases, it makes sense to use different subdomains, as the core business of The Guardian is news, and not either Jobs nor Soulmates.
I hope you like it.