Deciding if you should use a subdomain or a subdirectory for your website’s layout is a big deal. Even though it might seem easy, it’s important to understand that this choice can change how well your website does in search results.
In this article, we’ll look at both options. You’ll learn subdomain and subdirectories pros and cons and how they impact search rankings. By the end, you’ll know which one fits your needs.
- Subdomains, such as “blog.yoursite.com,” act as independent websites under your main domain, sharing its name but having its own unique space
- Subdirectories, like “yoursite.com/blog,” are parts of your main website, providing a sense of cohesion with the rest of your content
- Issues within a subdomain do not impact the main website, keeping the main site secure even if the subdomain faces problems
- Your choice between subdomains or subdirectories can influence how visitors find and interact with your content online, affecting the site’s visibility and user experience
Subdomain vs Subdirectory: What’s the Difference?
Here’s a chart to help you see the differences between subdomains and subdirectories:
|Like a separate website
|Part of your main site
|Why use it
|Different things like a blog
|Sections of your main site
|Setting it up
|Involves multiple steps
|Just a new part of your site
|Depend on the set up
|As fast as your main site
|Might need its own checks
|Uses your site’s checks
Breaking Down the Differences
- Subdomain: This is like creating a separate website. For instance, “blog.yoursite.com” is separate from “yoursite.com”.
- Subdirectory: This is like adding a room inside your home. “yoursite.com/blog” indicates the blog is part of the primary site.
- Subdomain: Search engine crawlers might see this as a separate website. The effect can be either good or bad, depending on the content.
- Subdirectory: This is seen as part of your primary site, enhancing your site’s presence in search results.
- Subdomain: Suitable for diverse sections, like a blog or eCommerce store.
- Subdirectory: This is ideal for organizing sections or topics on your root domain.
Ease of Set Up
- Subdomain: When setting this up, you’re giving a section of your website a special name, making it easy to find and use.
- Subdirectory: This is simpler. It’s like adding a new folder on your website. You use it to group related pages together.
Speed & Performance
- Subdomain: The speed might change because it’s like its own separate section.
- Subdirectory: This is often as fast as the rest of your website.
- Subdomain: You might need special tools to monitor and secure it because it’s a separate section from your main website.
- Subdirectory: Regular checks with your website’s main security tools are enough.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory Security
Subdomains are distinct parts of a root domain. Subdirectories are specific areas within that website.
Here’s why this matters for security:
- Subdomains: If one subdomain has a security issue, it doesn’t often spread to other subdomains or the main website. But there’s a downside: you must set up protection (like a security system) for each subdomain.
- Subdirectories: These are part of the main website. The whole website might be at risk if there’s a security issue in one subdirectory. But the upside? You just need one security system for the whole website.
Turns out, both choices have their own good and bad points. You have to pick what feels right for you.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory Examples
Let’s look at some clear examples to help you understand:
- Subdomain: Imagine you have a website about toys. You might have a special part just for dolls. So, your website for dolls might look like this: dolls.toyshop.com.
- Subdirectory: Using the same toyshop website, if you decide to put the doll section as a part of your primary website, it would look like this: toyshop.com/dolls.
Here’s another example:
- Subdomain: Maybe you have a website about cooking and want a section just for desserts. It would look like desserts.cookingworld.com.
- Subdirectory: If desserts are just a part of your main cooking website, it’s like this: cookingworld.com/desserts.
Simply put, when you see words before the primary site name (like dolls.toyshop.com), that’s a subdomain. When you see words after the website name (like toyshop.com/dolls), that’s a subdirectory.
What Is a Subdomain of a Main Domain?
A subdomain is a special part of your root domain. If your website is “example.com”, a subdomain is like “blog.example.com”. Simply put, it’s a way to separate different areas of your site. On the other hand, the main website is the bigger picture that holds everything together.
Subdomain Pros and Cons
- Flexibility: Each subdomain can have a distinct look and serve a specific purpose.
- Organization: For a massive site structure, using subdomains can assist in maintaining order. For example, you could have a blog or eCommerce store on one and tutorials on another.
- SEO strategy: Search engines often view each subdomain as its own unique website, which is great if you want to target different groups or cover various subjects across the different subdomains.
- Isolation: Issues in one section of your site won’t necessarily spill over to others.
- Setup: Making a subdomain can be trickier than adding pages to your parent domain.
- Maintenance: Since a subdomain is its own space, you might need extra tools or focus to ensure it’s up to scratch.
- SEO results: If you don’t manage them well, having many subdomains can weaken your website’s SEO performance, making it harder to rank high in search engine results.
- Domain authority: Every subdomain needs dedicated work to build its authority. Actively maintain and enhance each one to boost visibility and performance.
What Is a Subdirectory of a Root Domain?
A subdirectory is like a folder on your website. So, if your website is “example.com”, sections like “example.com/news” or “example.com/products” are subdirectories. They help keep your site neat and make it easier for visitors to find what they want.
Subdirectory Pros and Cons
- Organizing content becomes easier, which centralizes user behavior data and simplifies analytics
- Good for SEO results. Many believe that content in subdirectories gets a boost because it’s part of the main website.
- Simpler analytics tools usage. All the data is in one place, making it easier to track visitors.
- Storing too much content in one place might slow down a website’s performance
- Complications on the primary site can affect everything within the subdirectories
- The main website’s settings limit the ability to make unique adjustments in the subdirectories
Subdomain vs Subdirectory SEO Implications
Whether you pick a subdomain or a subdirectory for your website can impact your SEO.
How Search Engines Treat Subdomains and Subdirectories
Search engines, like Google, view subdomains as separate from the main website. So, each subdomain needs its own SEO efforts. However, subdirectories are seen as part of the main site. When the main site ranks well, subdirectories do too.
In short, subdirectories can help with search engine optimization since they’re linked to the main site’s reputation.
When Should You Use a Subdomain?
Companies often choose a subdomain setup for special reasons. Now, let’s talk about why they do that.
- Website Support—Think of a subdomain as a dedicated help desk. It’s where customers can find solutions, ask questions, and get assistance separate from the main content.
- Different Regions—If a company serves multiple countries, using subdomains can cater to each region. For instance, “us.example.com” for the USA and “uk.example.com” for the UK.
- Blog—A company’s main website is sometimes crowded with products or services. A subdomain like “blog.example.com” provides a clear space for articles, updates, and news.
- Events—Special events or promotions can have their own spotlight on a subdomain, ensuring visitors aren’t distracted by other site elements.
- eCommerce Store—If the primary domain is informational, an eCommerce store on a subdomain can separate shopping from learning.
When Should You NOT Use a Subdomain?
Search engines such as Google give a lot of importance to links that come to your site. If you use subdirectories, all these links make your main website stronger. However, with subdomains, it’s a bit different; each one is like its own website.
So, when it comes to getting a better position on search results, having more links to your main website helps more than spreading them across various subdomains.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory for Different Languages
Choosing between subdomains and subdirectories for different languages can be tricky. Here’s a simple breakdown:
- Subdomain—With subdomains, each language is treated as separate. For example, “fr.example.com” for French and “es.example.com” for Spanish. It’s like having different shops for each language.
- Subdirectory —This places each language in its own folder on your main site. So, “example.com/fr/” is where you’d find everything in French. And the good thing? All these folders help your website do better in search results.
Which is better? From an SEO view, subdirectories are often the best. They keep all the content under one main domain, combining link strength and simplifying site structure.
Subdomain vs Subdirectory: Related Concepts
Domain vs Subdomain vs Subdirectory
A domain is your main website name, like “example.com.” You use it when you start a new online project or business. See the domain vs. subdomain article for more details.
A subdomain, “blog.example.com” for example, is a specific part of your main website. It has its own unique purpose and name.
Meanwhile, a subdirectory, shown as “example.com/blog,” is just a section of your website “example.com/blog.”
Subdomain vs Subdirectory vs Subfolder
The term subfolder is another name for a subdirectory. Imagine it as a specific section in your site’s structure. You’d use a subfolder to organize content, like different categories of blog posts.
How Google Web Search Engine Treats Domains and Subfolders
The main domain and its subfolders, or subdirectories, form a united entity in the eyes of search engines like Google. This means that content in both the main site and its subdirectories works together to improve how well your site does in search results.
On the other hand, subdomains are a different story. Google’s system sees them as distinct from the main domain. This means that you might need a specific SEO plan to make sure these subdomains show up well in search results.
Keep this in mind when choosing how to set up your site, as it can impact how people find you online.
Final Word: What Is Better – Subdomain or Subdirectory?
Whether you choose a subdomain or a subdirectory depends on your specific needs and SEO goals. Subdirectories are better for improving your website’s overall search engine ranking because they consolidate your site’s authority.
On the other hand, subdomains might be useful if you have content that is distinct and separate from your main site. Think about what fits your situation best, and take the time to make a choice that will help your website succeed in the long run.
Next Steps: What Now?
Now that you’ve learned how subdomains and subdirectories differ and what each is good for, you can use these insights to help your website perform better.
- Learn how subdomains and subdirectories affect your website’s SEO, and check out reviews of various hosting providers to find the best fit for your needs.
- Discover website builders that can help you create a polished and professional website without knowing how to code, along with guidance on optimizing your site’s structure.
- Make your website easy to find on search engines – Use simple SEO tricks like picking the right keywords, making great content, and making sure your website works well on phones.
- Consider using a content management system to streamline the process of managing your website, and compare different platforms to find the one that suits you best.