Subdomains Versus Subfolders: The Great Debate

by Hannah Stuart, Copywriter - 12/26/16

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Blogging provides you with great content opportunities. But do you position your blog up as a subdomain or a subfolder on your website?

So you want to start a blog. It’s a great way to create content that educates and engages prospective patients and (ideally) skyrockets your search rankings. How to do it, though, is a hot topic.

It may seem obscure if you’ve never thought about it, but whether you should set up your blog as a subdomain or a subfolder is a subject almost as passionately debated in SEO circles as the Oxford comma is in editorial circles.

Here’s a quick refresher for those of you who aren’t sure about the difference: Subdomain URLs are formatted as “blogname.yoursite.com,” while subfolders are formatted as “yoursite.com/blogname.”

Common considerations to think about when making your decision include:

  • Do you want to feature separate branding for this blog?
  • Is one easier to set up than the other?
  • Do you have multiple blogs you’re targeting to specific locations?
  • Are you publishing your blog in multiple languages?

Subdomains and Subfolders: Pros and Cons

A popular way to test whether a subdomain or subfolder is going to work best for you is to start out on a subdomain and then—if you’re comfortable with the technical work involved—move it over to a subfolder after a few weeks and look at the change in traffic. Often, people have found their traffic increases with the move from subdomain to subfolder.

However, moving the blog in the other direction—from a subfolder to a subdomain—often results in a crash in site traffic, one that can be difficult to recover from. Keep that in mind if you decide to test what works best for your blog.

The most important thing is that you’re blogging. You’re building the amount of content that your site publishes, and every piece of content is a way people can find you. That in itself is going to increase your SEO rankings and traffic. But which option is best?

Google’s John Mueller said recently on Google+ that, in actuality, it doesn’t matter. Mueller says that Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to realize what you’re trying to do, and unless you have a truly ridiculous amount of subdomains, it’s not going to make that much of a difference. Whether this is true in practice remains to be seen, but this is at least the ideal. If you have multiple sites hosted on one domain, but you keep them in subfolders, Google tries to figure that out too.

It may not always work out perfectly for your site’s SEO rankings, but as the algorithm continues to evolve—and we all know it will—that should change.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization

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