Whenever possible, use a single domain & subdomain

Whenever possible, use a single domain & subdomain

17.Nov.2021

Google's algorithms are constantly evolving to handle new situations. From Google's perspective, the web is an ever-changing organism.

Google said it best in their announcement of Panda 4 .0 : "We will continue to refine this change over time, and we welcome feedback about its effects."

This quote applies equally well to other algorithms that have been updated recently, such as the page layout algorithm . And it also means that SEO best practices should evolve too. What used to be true may not always be true any more, or might only be true some of the time now.

One of those issues that has changed quite a bit since the early days of search engine optimizations is subdomain vs subdirectory URLs. Historically speaking, SEOs were often told that subdomains were considered separate websites by search engines, and therefore should be treated as such (i.e., each subdomain would inherit the authority of its root domain).

However that is not always the case anymore…

If a site has a few more pages on a subdomain then it does on the root domain, then Google will likely trust those pages just as much as it trusts the root URL. In other words, instead of treating each unique subdomain as unique, Google interprets more than one as being part of a larger whole. Put another way: If two pages have similar or identical content but are on different domains or subdomains , Google's algorithms may look at both pages as being essentially the same thing .

This is especially true if they both have links to each other.

In short, Google considers a root domain as the highest logical unit on the web. It's essentially a site within a site that can encompass multiple subdomains or directories under its control. So if you're using different subdomains or directories from your root domain then those pages are treated as a separate sites.

So what should you do? Well it all depends on your website and its content…

If you have only a handful of pages on a subdomain or directory , then there isn't much need to make any changes because those pages aren't going to be trusted as much by Google anyway. In fact, relocating older, trustable seed content from the root domain to a subdomain or directory could result in an overall decline in rankings.

But if you have quite a bit of content on the subdomain or directory , there are some things you should consider. Don't focus too much on your current traffic; search engines don't currently use that information when they rank pages (more details here ). If it makes sense, consolidate all your content into one place . That way search engines will treat each page as part of one larger site instead of several smaller ones…

As always, this is just advice based on what Google's algorithms seem to be doing now. It's always possible for them to change how they work at any time, so make sure you keep up with the latest SEO best practices and algorithm changes.

Good luck!

And for more information, see also Google's advice on the matter .

SEO best practices have changed - in some cases drastically - since the early days of search engine optimization.

Google has recently updated their algorithms, most notably their page layout algorithm several years ago and more recently with Panda 4 .0 , to take into account new, modern heuristics. Because of this, some SEO best practices no longer apply as they used to or are only true some of the time now.

One such area where SEO best practices have changed is with subdomains and subdirectories. Historically speaking, it was often found that SEOs were told to treat subdomains as separate websites and that each one would inherit the authority of the root domain. However, this is no longer always true, as different subdomains or directories may be treated as part of a larger whole if they have multiple pages with similar content and links to each other. Google now treats a root domain as the highest logical unit on the web, essentially a site within a site that can encompass multiple subdomains. If two pages have similar or identical content but are on different domains or subdomains, then the search engines may look at both as being essentially the same thing . This is especially true if they both have links to each other.

So what should you do? Well it all depends on your website and its content…

If you have only a handful of pages on a subdomain or directory, then there isn't much need to make any changes because those pages aren't going to be trusted as much by Google anyway. In fact, relocating older, trustable seed content from the root domain to a subdomain or directory could result in an overall decline in rankings.

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