Sub-domain or Sub-directory, which is better ?

BillEssley

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As title mentioned, I would like to know which is better for SEO, traffic and visitors when comparing between sub-domain and sub-directory?

i.e
my-sub-domain.example.com

or

example.com/my-sub-directory

please share your suggestions.
 

elcidofaguy

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Best answer
Well it depends... If the sub directory has nothing to do with the main web site in terms of subject/niche then I would use a sub domain... However with sub domain you will not inherit link juice unless you create a link from primary to sub domain where applicable... In terms of SEO the sub directory would be the best option when comparing effectiveness of link juice inherited.
 

RDO Servers

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Majority of the time, your better off using a directory then a sub domain. Like elcidofaguy said, you will not get the SEO benefits if you split your site up into subdomains.
 

ElixantTechnology

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I'm not a SEO wizard or anything, however I would think that having things under a subdomain would not have any advantage if the content is part of the main site itself, as you would have to run seo for the subdomain as if it were a different site as a whole anyways.
 

HostHonor

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For SEO, it doesn't matter if it is a sub domain or sub directories.
 

PTTed

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PTTed
Yes it does.

It matters in a couple different ways.

For starters, if a subdomain gets an unnatural links penalty from Google or if it gets hit by Google Panda, then the penalty applies just to that subdomain.

If you had the same content in a subdirectory and it gets hit, then the whole site gets hit with the penalty.

I believe it is at Google's discretion whether they treat a subdomain and domain as one website or if they treat them as separate ones. I don't have a good example of one where they treat them as the same website. (Maybe Hp.com is a good example. They have several subdomains.) But all of the various free blog web 2.0 sites out there are examples of situations where Google treats each subdomain as a separate entity.

Years ago you used to be able to get pages on sites like Hubpages.com to rank really high really easily because your pages inherited authority from the domain. When Hubpages got hit by Google Panda they complained to Google about it and asked them how Google could penalize the entire domain for a smaller percentage of low quality content. Google reps told Hubpages to reconfigure their website so that each user was on a separate subdomain. Then if a site was identified as low quality by Google Panda, the ranking demotion would happen to just that subdomain instead of the entire Hubpages domain.

Other sites followed in their footsteps.

So from an SEO standpoint it absolutely does (can) matter. The subdomain will not necessarily inherit any of the authority from any links that the primary domain has accumulated. You can pass some of that link juice from the primary domain to the subdomain by linking from the primary to the sub. But you still won't pass the "domain wide or site-wide" authority that Google normally assigns to a domain. You will only be passing PageRank and whatever other page level metrics Google uses.

The way @elcidofaguy explained it in the first response is correct.
 

ypson

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Simple, a subdomain is treated as a more separate site by the search engines while the subdirectory is part of the main site.

The answer to which is better depends on your intended goal.
 

acquisto

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So here is quote from Matt Cutts of Google I think answers your question:

“My personal preference on subdomains vs. subdirectories is that I usually prefer the convenience of subdirectories for most of my content. A subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different. Google uses subdomains for distinct products such news.google.com or maps.google.com, for example. If you were a newer Webmaster or SEO, I’d recommend using subdirectories until you start to feel pretty confident with the architecture of your site. At that point, you’ll be better equipped to make the right decision for your own site.”
 

root

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I think sub domains has individual traffic and site ranks. So all your credits are splitting if you use sub domains but sub directory centralize all your credits into the domain name or root.
 

Shutout

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I use sub-domains to build "individual" sites in a network. An example, would be having a web design forum, and having sample sites for certain clients. sample1.webdesign.com and sample2.webdesign.com and so on. That way they can browse their "individual" sample site without being tied into the main site at all.
 

LowEndXeon

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Depends what it is, to be honest. If its a different to the site i'd use a sub-domain. But if its contained within the site, you could use a directory. It's a huge personal preference to be honest. Sub-Domains look more professional to me.
 

Allchat

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In my case as far as SEO goes I use Sub-directories because as a few members have posted, it depends really on your goals.

Mine was to spread the SEO benefits throughout the site as a whole instead of trying to do individual "site" type of SEO which is basically what you would more than likely have to do with Sub-domains.

It boils down to your preference and other factors:
SEO factor:
Penalty factor:
PR as a whole site or separate site titles and so on..
 

Hawker

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I see this question get asked a lot. The majority of the times the answer given is usually to go with sub-directory rather than sub-domain because its easier to manage and less chance of running into problems with your main site from it later on. The best thing to do is often create a sub-directory which can be easily managed/maintained and easily wiped if you get problems later on where as with a sub.domain you have to do a bit more setting up and more cleaning up after. Go with the sub-directory first and if it works and it aint broke don't fix it! ;)
 
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