The great debate about the value of subdomains and subfolders in setting up websites and blogs has long baffled website owners and the differing views of “experts” are not helping much. While there is still much ambiguity where subdomain versus subfolder debates are concerned, a good way to judge between the two is to test their effects on your own site—with all these differences in opinions from SEO practitioners, it is apparent that subfolders and subdomains can have varying effects on sites, depending on how you do SEO in the first place.
One of the most important things you should know about subfolders and subdomains is that search engines treat subfolders as if they were part of a second level domain, while subdomains are treated as a different site (with less authority to boot), altogether. To understand these concepts further, you need to remember that your domain is the main folder that contains your site files, while a subdirectory or folder is a folder within this main folder. A subdomain, on the other hand, is essentially an alias—an address that can be created for any one of your subfolders/subdirectories, which an internet user can enter in a browser in order to view the subfolder or subdirectory that it is associated with.
Whether a subdomain is worth your extra effort, especially with the constantly changing nature of optimization, or not is completely dependent on what your website needs. The following are instances when a subdomain might be worth the extra work:
- Your website needs to exist in several languages, but require the same content in each.
- You belong to a large organization that has multiple goals under the same umbrella—selling a popular product and developing a multifaceted community that is still tied to your URL or creating franchises/regional operations that offer the same products but require more suited content.