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Subdomains vs Subfolders: Which is Better for SEO?

Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

This is something the SEO community has been debating for years. How should we handle…

  • Subdomains
  • Subfolders
  • Microsites

For optimal SEO performance? Watch me break it down for you.

Subdomains vs Subfolders?

Generally speaking, you will want to use a subfolder over a subdomain to preserve SEO equity.

SEO equity = link equity from your internal and external links.

It’s easier for Google to crawl, index and rank content in a folder as opposed to a subdomain.

subfolders for seo

Let’s say you’re an agency building out your website.

You’d want to list out your services on your site. You could do so in 2 ways:

Folders:

  • yoursite.com/services/
  • yoursite.com/services/seo/
  • yoursite.com/services/ppc/

Subdomain:

  • services.yoursite.com
  • services.yoursite.com/seo/
  • services.yoursite.com/ppc/

For this example, folders will perform better in search than a subdomain. This would help both users and search engines to better navigate through the site.

But if you are going after something a lot more robust, you should opt for a subdomain.

For example, our agency launched a training platform that was included on our agency website.

We had the option to either host the training in a subfolder on the WEBRIS website or set up a subdomain for that.

We chose to host it on a subdomain because setting it up in a subfolder on WEBRIS would have been like creating a website within a website.

Which ranks better in Google?

In terms of ranking power though, subfolders usually rank better than a subdomain.

From a user experience perspective, subfolders are a lot better than subdomains because users can get confused navigation wise when you redirect them to a subdomain.

Subfolders vs Microsite?

When deciding between setting up a microsite on a new domain you should think about the nature of the business.

If it is a completely different business then a new domain should be chosen for it.

So here are your options:

  • When setting up a new website with zero equity and ranking power you should go with subfolders if it is hyper-relevant to the main website
  • If you want your users to have a different experience then you should set up a subdomain
  • If it’s a venture that can stand on it’s own, use a new domain / microsite

Leave me some questions!

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