Should I structure my site using subdomains or subdirectories?


Today’s question comes from
Bob in Somerville, Massachusetts. Bob asks, “I’m interested in
finding out how Google currently views subdomains– whether there’s any difference
between a site structured as a group of subdomains and one
structured as a group of subdirectories.” We’ve answered
a bunch of questions about subdomains and
subdirectories before, but it’s been a while so it seems
fine to revisit it. They are roughly equivalent. I would basically go with
whichever one is easier for you in terms of configuration,
your CMSs, all that sort of stuff. So let’s use mattcutts.com
as an example. I have mattcutts.com/blog
because it was just easier to put stuff in a subdirectory. I don’t have to have
a DNS subdomain. I don’t have to worry about
moving it around. If I move domains, I don’t have
to worry about losing that subdomain. But it might be easier for some
people to do a subdomain. Or maybe you want to have your
blog powered by some completely different product,
Wordpress VIP or Tumblr or whatever, and so you want to
have that on a separate CNAME. And that’s totally
fine as well. The historical context is, we
used to crowd by what we would call host, where a host is
basically a subdomain, and we would only allow two results
from each host. And in that situation, it might
make sense to have more subdomains because you could get
two results from one host name, and then two results from
another subdomain, and just repeat that. And what we did is, we saw that
people would abuse that. And they would make a whole
bunch of subdomains that they could get more and more
results on the page. And so we changed our scoring
such that now we’re more likely to squnch
those together. That’s the technical term,
to squnch them together. So in order to ensure diversity,
we say, OK, well the first two, three results,
that might make more sense. But maybe it’s a little harder
for that third, or fourth, or fifth result to show up
from a given domain. Not just from a subdomain. So the historical reasons why
you might have wanted to go for a subdomain don’t really
apply as much. And that leaves you with, OK,
both are on the same domain over all, and so it’s really
a question of which one is easier for you. Whichever one makes you happier,
I’d go ahead and do it that way.

Daniel Ostrander

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