A study on blogging and web traffic shows that businesses that regularly blog get 55% more site visitors than those that do not. And those that blog generate an average of 67% more leads per month than businesses that don’t have a regularly updated blog.
But how can you ensure that your blog gets the maximum search visibility? There are a lot of factors to keep in mind for your company blog, and one of those is whether it should be on a subdomain or a subdirectory.
This article explains the differences between subdomains and subdirectories and helps you decide whether your company blog should be on a subdomain or a subdirectory.
Should Your Blog be on a Subdomain or a Subdirectory?
If you run a small business or a niche website, it is generally best to host your blog on a subdirectory rather than a subdomain. If you run a large corporation with various branches/brands, then you should consider putting your blog on a subdomain.
Google takes no sides in the debate about subdomain vs subdirectory for blogs. Instead, they advise you to pick the most favorable option for your business and its long-term goal.
What’s the Difference Between Subdomain and Subdirectory?
A subdomain separates your website into several sections, whereas a subdirectory is an additional pathway within your website.
When checking a URL, a subdomain will always appear before the root domain, whereas a subdirectory will always appear after. You can refer to the examples below:
- Subdomain: blog.example.com
- Subdirectory: example.com/blog/
What is a Subdomain?
A subdomain is a portion of a domain preceding the primary domain name and domain extension. It is normally considered a separate website connected to the main domain, effectively allowing you to build multiple websites on a single domain.
Websites can use a subdomain to isolate and arrange content for a specific purpose from the rest of their site, such as a blog or an online store. When used properly, subdomains can also help target particular market segments and improve SEO rankings.
When is a Subdomain Used?
Subdomains are sometimes used to host:
- Online stores
- Mobile sites
- Internationalization of websites
Companies also use subdomains to stage or test:
- New website versions
Website owners may use a subdomain to divide a section of a website from the root domain. For instance, Disney has established several subdomains, each with a distinct function, such as cars.disney.com or princess.disney.com.
Note: Google views subdomains as distinct websites. As a result, neither the keywords nor the rankings of sites on one subdomain affect those on the root domain or another subdomain. Any connection between them depends on the linking structure a website owner implements.
One benefit of this is you can set it up as its own property on Google Search Console, which will allow you to see the stats of solely your blog posts in Google, aside from your website itself.
What is a Subdirectory?
A subdirectory is a folder on your website that houses distinct pages or content sections. It is also referred to as a subfolder.
A subdirectory resides under the root domain and contains topically relevant information. It functions similarly to how folders in a filing cabinet arrange different categories of paperwork.
You can identify the subdirectories by looking at a URL following the root domain. For instance, a blog that is hosted on a subdirectory would have a URL like this: example.com/blog/
When is a Subdirectory Used?
Businesses use subdirectories to arrange the content of their websites, such as by putting online stores in the store subdirectory (example.com/store/).
For subdirectories, common use cases include:
- Optimizing existing websites
- Boosting SEO traffic to your primary domain
- Arranging the content in a manageable and understandable way
- Simplifying analytics by storing data in a single standalone domain
Pros & Cons of Using a Subdomain
Here’s a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of using a subdomain:
- Easier to keep track of the content and separate it from the rest of your website
- Helpful if you have a large website with multiple brands under one domain name
- Supports the internationalization of a website
- May be confusing to some users
- Requires a unique backlink strategy
- Increases workload
- Interferes with SEO efforts
Advantages of Using a Subdomain
If a company has a content piece entirely unrelated to the main site, the company may choose to put that section on a subdomain. They can do this to keep that content separate within their website while maintaining the main site’s brand.
For instance, several news websites host their recipe content under a subdomain. It serves as an example of how to separate one section of a website with noticeably different content from the rest. This is especially helpful if a section of the website is static and largely evergreen while the rest is constantly changing.
When you search “recipes NYTimes,” Google presents it in the search engine results pages (SERPs) like a separate website, complete with a list of subsections.
A company can control what that entire section is about by separating that section from the rest of the website. They can effectively prevent the rest of the website from influencing or overwhelming that one section.
Generally, companies that manage several brands can benefit from organizing their content using subdomains. However, the majority of businesses only have one brand. Small enterprises, therefore, rarely require subdomains.
Even though you provide various services, such as residential and commercial landscaping, they all relate to your primary brand, business, and goal, which is professional landscaping. This is another reason why using a subdomain to host a blog won’t be advantageous for many businesses.
Disadvantages of Using a Subdomain
If you host your blog on a subdomain, you’ll put more work into it without gaining any additional benefits in return.
Google sees subdomains as separate from your primary website. This means you must generate backlinks to both domains since Google evaluates your subdomain and main site separately.
Subdomains also have separate backlink profiles. You must focus on building links to your domain and your subdomain rather than just attracting links to your domain.
As a small business, the subdomain strategy offers no advantages. Your SEO efforts are undermined by having your blog on a subdomain, which merely increases your workload.
Pros & Cons of Using a Subdirectory
Using a subdirectory for your site has both advantages and disadvantages.
- Easier to navigate for some users than subdomains
- The subdomain receives authority from the root domain, improving its visibility in search results.
- One link-building strategy
- Easier monitoring on Google Analytics
- May be overwhelming for businesses that have brands
Advantages of Using a Subdirectory
Subdirectories allow you to concentrate all your time, effort, and resources on a single link-building strategy. It’s not necessary to generate links for your subdomains in addition to your primary website. You concentrate your efforts instead by keeping your content on your primary domain.
You may leverage the advantages of an authoritative and reliable backlink profile by concentrating your SEO approach on subdirectories rather than subdomains. This is because you only have one backlink profile. Instead of trying to manage your website and a subdomain, you are devoting your efforts to a single site.
It is simpler to track your site’s performance in Google Analytics when your blog is hosted on your primary website. You may evaluate your online performance quickly and easily by viewing page visits, bounce rates, conversion rates, and more from a single site.
Your blog serves to promote your business and its brand. If you assess the overall effectiveness of your website, you will also assess the effectiveness of your blog. But when your blog is on a subdomain, it takes more time because you have to view and combine data from two websites.
When you post your blog on your primary website, you immediately resolve this problem. To monitor the performance of your entire site, including your blog, use Google Analytics. This simplified reporting might also make it simpler to assess the customer journey.
Disadvantages of Using a Subdirectory
Subdirectories are a disadvantage for multinational companies with numerous brands. Disney, for instance, may run into a few problems if they use subdirectories for SEO.
For example, Disney would have to waste time generating views and segments to evaluate Google Analytics data to assess the performance of each particular brand. These sub-brands would share the website’s backlink profile, weakening the profile as a whole.
This occurs because Google gathers a variety of information about the objective and focus of the website. Google has a greater understanding of each subdomain’s focus when compared to subdirectories, which might increase the overall strength of each subdirectory’s backlink profile. In essence, companies that misuse subdirectories for SEO are disadvantaged.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory: Which is Better For Your Blog?
According to Google, both subdomain and subdirectory traffic are treated equally. However, Google warns that structural changes to a site could temporarily affect search traffic until things stabilize. Therefore, you should stick to the path that you ultimately choose.
When Should Your Blog Use a Subdomain
Using a subdomain may be a good option if you have a ton of blog content that is difficult for one person to handle across a single website. It might also be helpful if you operate many distinct brands under your primary brand, each of which needs its own content.
Subdomains can also be helpful if you run brand events that necessitate their own landing pages or run ongoing campaigns that require the production of distinct content that isn’t directly related to or sits outside your main domain.
Examples of a Blog Using a Subdomain
Websites frequently host their blogs on a subdomain, many of which are very popular.
- One of the best marketing blogs from an SEO standpoint is HubSpot, which puts its blog on the blog.hubspot.com subdomain.
When Should Your Blog Use a Subdirectory
Subdirectories may be advantageous if your focus is more specific because they will increase the overall SEO traffic to your primary domain, which should likely be your goal.
If your company is like most others, you probably concentrate on a more specific niche. For instance, a content marketing company might write blogging tips, while a cryptocurrency start-up might discuss the advantages of decentralization and smart contracts.
Examples of Blogs Using a Subdirectory
- PinkCakeBox claims that by transferring their blog to a subdirectory, they experienced a 40% increase in organic traffic.
- Martin Pezet presented a traffic graph after moving parts of the Moz website to a subdirectory. The graph shows that traffic was boosted after the switch.
- In their experiment, IWantMyName switched from a subfolder to a subdomain. There was a 47% decrease in organic traffic as a result.
In the end, it all comes down to your goals for the blog. The advantages of a subdomain for a blog are better suited for a multinational business with different brands and tons of blog content, while the advantages of a subdirectory for a blog are better suited for small businesses that cater to a niche topic.
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