How Subdomains Affect SEO

how subdomains affect seo

In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing and SEO, even the smallest technical details can make a significant impact on your website’s performance. Today, we’re going to delve into a topic that often confuses many: subdomains and subdirectories. We’ll break down the differences between the two and explore how Google treats them differently in terms of SEO. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Subdomains and Subdirectories

First things first, let’s clarify what subdomains and subdirectories are. A subdomain is a part of your website’s URL that appears before the main domain, like “” On the other hand, a subdirectory is a path within your main domain, like “”

In simple terms, if your website were a house, a subdomain would be a separate building on the same property, while a subdirectory would be a room within the main house. Understanding this analogy is crucial for comprehending the implications of using subdomains versus subdirectories for SEO.

How Google Treats Subdomains and Subdirectories Differently

Now that we’ve defined our terms, let’s discuss the crucial question: How does Google treat subdomains and subdirectories differently in terms of SEO?

  1. Subdomains as Separate Domains: From Google’s perspective, a subdomain is treated as a completely separate domain. This means that the SEO efforts you invest in your main domain do not directly benefit your subdomain. In essence, you’re managing two different websites. This separation can lead to duplication of efforts and resources.
  2. Subdirectories as Part of the Main Website: In contrast, a subdirectory is considered an integral part of your main website. Google recognizes it as such, and the SEO efforts applied to your main domain can positively impact the content within subdirectories. This cohesion makes it easier to manage and optimize your site for search engines.

When to Use Subdomains

While it may seem like subdirectories are the clear winner in terms of SEO, there are valid use cases for subdomains:

  1. Landing Pages: Subdomains can be beneficial when creating dedicated landing pages for advertising campaigns. These pages often have different content and purposes than your main website, making subdomains a logical choice to keep them separate.
  2. Content Unrelated to Main Theme: If you have content that doesn’t align with the primary focus of your website, using a subdomain can be a strategic move. This prevents confusion and maintains the integrity of your main site’s SEO strategy.

The Pitfalls of Excessive Subdomains

However, it’s essential to exercise caution when using subdomains. Creating too many subdomains without a clear purpose can lead to several issues:

  1. Resource Intensity: Managing multiple subdomains demands additional time and resources. Each subdomain may require separate tracking tools, Google Search Console setups, and analytics, adding complexity to your workflow.
  2. Inconsistent User Experience: Users navigating between your main domain and subdomains may encounter a disjointed user experience due to differences in design and functionality. This can erode trust and cohesion within your brand.

Internal Linking: Subdomains vs. Subdirectories

Another critical aspect to consider is internal linking. Internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website. When it comes to subdomains and subdirectories, here’s how they differ:

  1. Subdomain to Main Domain: Linking from a subdomain to the main domain is considered an external link from Google’s perspective. This means that some link value is passed between the two, but it’s not as effective as internal linking within the same domain.
  2. Subdirectory to Main Directory: Internal linking within a subdirectory is more effective for SEO since it’s all part of the same domain. Google recognizes the relevance and flow of content within subdirectories, contributing positively to your SEO efforts.


In the intricate world of SEO, the decision between subdomains and subdirectories can significantly impact your website’s performance. While subdomains have their place, especially for landing pages and unrelated content, it’s crucial to consider the added complexity, resource demands, and potential user experience issues.

For a more streamlined and effective SEO strategy, sticking to subdirectories within your main domain is often the preferred choice. Remember, SEO is challenging enough as it is; there’s no need to double your efforts by managing multiple domains. Keep your focus on providing valuable content and optimizing your website for the best user experience possible.

how subdomains affect seo

Rather Listen?

Ep #92 – How Subdomains Affect SEO

Listen to “Ep 92 – How Subdomains Affect SEO” on Spreaker.

Subdomains can be very beneficial in terms of getting your content out. However, are you aware of when to use them or even how they should be used? Are they original and different from what is already being used? Tune in this week as Jennifer and Brenna discuss the ins and outs of subdomains and the way they affect SEO.

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