Which is better for SEO, a subdomain or a subdirectory?

The question put to Cutts :”I’m interested in how Google currently treats subdomains, i. e. whether there are any differences between a site structured in subdomains compared to a site structured in subdirectories“.

Matt’s response is that they are more or less equivalent.

The suggestion that the historical “spokesman” of Google offers us is to evaluate things like the ease of configuration, the CMS we use, etc..

For example, he says he has his blog in a folder (mattcutts. com/blog) only for reasons of simplicity, because he found it easier to put those contents in a subdirectory: no DNS side configuration, no thought in the case of moving from one domain to another.

If however you want to have a blog on a separate CNAME, and use things like WordPress VIP or Tumblr, no problem: a third level is well equal.

And it also tells of how, in the past, many people have abused third level domains: Google allowed several subdomains, belonging to the same domain, to position themselves in the same SERP. Today it is no longer possible as a time ago, because Google tries to show quite different results among them, and so it is rare to find SERP monopolized by the same domain (second or third level that it is).

Matt Cutts closes the video by reiterating, once again, that the choice is ours, and therefore it’s just a matter of what is simpler for us.

in the case of a blog it is better to have example. com/blog instead of blog. example. com but only because the word blog is not one of the kw you’re aiming for. If, on the other hand, your site sells vegetables and organic traffic to the eggplant section comes mainly from the aubergines, then it might be useful to put that section in a subdomain called aubergines. example. com.
In theory Google should understand that this is the same site if the section is well interlinked to the main domain, but it should also consider it more relevant for all that concerns aubergines. At least that’s what happened to me during some experiments.

SUBDOMAINS:

If you have a site with categories that deal with different topics, these will be better indexed if they are in different subdomains: heterogeneous topics in the same domain risk diluting the signals and congruence of the site. In this case it is therefore better to have different domains dealing with relatively different topics and to operate as if they were completely separate.

A subdomain can have implications for server management and hosting costs.
For search engines, each subdomain is a separate site. Each of them will need to be given time for optimisation and positioning. This can be difficult, especially in terms of the time available to invest resources.
Duplicate content on multiple domains. Care must be taken not to duplicate content on different domains, also because the use of rel=canonical through different domains may not bring the desired results. Therefore, in this case, be absolutely careful not to duplicate the contents through different subdomains.

 

SUBDIRECTORY:

When you have substantially different content and have different target audiences, or if you want to deal with topics other than those present on the main site or that have little or no connection with it.
When you want to optimize a website for different languages and local search, in this case using home on different domains for languages allows you to better focus targeting without relying on the language switch on page. An absolutely valid alternative, in the case of language, is to opt for a third solution, the so-called’ localized extension’.
Strong local strategy aimed at visibility in queries/keywords containing the location
When you have the time and resources to develop, manage and optimize a new site parallel to the main domain.
When you have technical limitations (like different CMS, CRM or other platforms that require different infrastructures). In this case, reverse proxies could be used but the management is not really for’ newcomers’….

Moreover – admits Cutts himself, while continuing to affirm the substantial equivalence of the solutions – in the past Google allowed several subdomains belonging to the same domain to position themselves in the same SERP. Today it’s no longer possible like in the past, because Google tries to show quite different results, so it’s rare to find SERP monopolized by the same domain. It is also true, however, that Google’s new guidelines also try to ensure that the user finds a certain variety of domains in the search results, so that more pages related to a single domain Google groups them (“indenta”) under the same, giving an indication on the authoritativeness and ranking of the pages of that domain. In fact, the ranking algorithm has been modified in such a way that pages from multiple subdomains have a greater relevance in order to make them more visible.
In addition, by paying attention to the keywords of the url with subfolders, the benefits potentially increase a lot.
Not to mention that creating a folder and not a third-level domain allows you to file a little bit of the budget by pushing on a single domain.
Disadvantages

There is a risk of creating too deep links that are difficult to identify from search engine bots, which tend to be designed to navigate from the home page to deeper pages, but which for a number of factors may not be able to do so.
As well as for subdomains, the subfolder being part of the main site will inherit the good (or bad) reputation of the main site.

When you want to expand topics already dealt with on the site, perhaps to better argue the contents.
When you are able to maintain a structure that is not too nested (directory levels not exceeding three, if possible).
When you have just created a site and need to advertise it, because it helps the content of your main site to grow continuously.
When you don’t have the time and resources to create and optimize a new site.

Which is better for SEO, a subdomain or a subdirectory?

the most appropriate solution today is to organize the site in subfolders