Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: Which is Better for SEO?

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: Which is Better for SEO?
Your website, be it subdomain or subfolder, is your own realm. So, whether to opt for subdomains or subdirectories must be a decision stemming from your understanding, the character of your content, and your overarching business objectives.

So, let’s explore subdomain vs. subdirectory to develop a solid SEO strategy.

What is a Subdomain?

In simple terms, a subdomain is a separate unit or partition of your main website, with its own unique content. It acts as a distinct branch of your main website. 

For instance, if your website is, a subdomain could be

Moreover, you may want to start a blog relevant but different from your main business content, or launch a separate e-commerce store apart from your main marketing site. Here, a subdomain, like or, would come into play.

Subdomains allow you to segment different portions of your website according to different needs or topics. You might opt for a language-specific subdomain to target a specific geographical market or an event-specific subdomain can be beneficial for temporary marketing campaigns.

subdomain structure

When Should You Use Subdomains?

Knowing when to apply subdomains will ultimately shape their impact on your SEO.

For instance, if you run a large e-commerce site with diverse products that require dedicated content, or manage a multiregional, multilingual website, separation with subdomains might serve you better.

Similarly, a distinct entity, like a corporate blog that requires separate branding and SEO efforts, can be best served through a subdomain.

But, the independent nature of subdomains means that any SEO advantage or disadvantage remains limited to that particular subdomain. Hence, a boost in's SEO does not necessarily amplify your main website's SEO performance.

Consequently, understanding and strategically employing subdomains can lead to maximize SEO success.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Subdomains?

Since subdomains are viewed as separate websites by search engines, they require their unique SEO strategies, separate from your main domain. This distinctive nature of subdomains can create potential SEO advantages and challenges.

The perks of subdomain SEO include:

🌟 Uniqueness: Subdomains can host content that is distinct from the main website. This separation can be useful when you have multilingual sites or varied products/ services targeting different consumer groups.

🌟 Flexibility: With subdomains, you can experiment with new SEO strategies without risking the SEO health of your main website.

🌟 Personalization: Subdomains can provide a personalized user experience if you target different geographic regions or sectors.

At the same time, the road of subdomain SEO is laced with some challenges:

💥 Increased Effort: Each subdomain requires individual SEO effort, as its success doesn’t affect the main site's ranking.

💥 Diluted Authority: If your domain authority is divided among different subdomains, your main website's ranking juice can be diluted.

💥 Possible Duplication: Any content duplicated across subdomains can lead to cannibalization or search engines ranking the most relevant pages only.

Understanding these benefits and challenges can help you fine-tune your SEO efforts while using subdomains.

What is a Subdirectory?

A subdirectory, also known as a subfolder, is just a folder within your main website. It is used chiefly to organise the content of the website. 

Subdirectories are appended to the end of the main domain. For example, is a subdirectory of the main website. 

Also, your 'About Us' or 'Product' pages typically fall into subdirectories like or

Search engines consider the content within a subdirectory as content of the primary domain. This essentially means that any link juice, or SEO benefit, from or to a subdirectory flows naturally across the entire domain.

subfolder structure

When Should You Use Subdirectories?

The primary consideration should be the nature of your content.

If the content across your website possesses a strong correlation and supplements your overarching theme, then opting for subdirectories might be the path to tread. 

For example, an e-commerce page with different product categories, a blog categorized by topics, or a news site sorted by types of news– all can greatly benefit from a subdirectory layout, thereby enhancing their SEO positioning.

However, the impact of subdirectories on your SEO relies on maintaining a clean, well-structured site. Serving high-quality, value-adding content across pages is key, ensuring your subdirectory SEO efforts uplift the entire website's ranking.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Subdirectories?

If you are using subdirectories, you need to  optimize the content packed neatly within these subdirectories, aiming to boost their visibility in SERPs and thereby enhancing the overall domain’s ranking. 

The primary benefits of resorting to subdirectory SEO are:

🌟 Single Focus: Subdirectories create organized niches within your main website, allowing you to aim your SEO efforts at one consolidated entity rather than splitting work across separate platforms.

🌟 Link Juice: All link juice, or SEO value, is shared across subdirectories and the main website. This interlinking can enhance the website’s overall authority, boosting all SEO efforts.

🌟 User-friendly URLs: Subdirectories result in simpler, more intuitive URLs that users (and Google) love, making way for better navigational and SEO benefits.

Despite these advantages, subdirectory SEO isn’t devoid of challenges. It's important to consider:

💥 Increased Complexity: Creating a structured, clean subdirectory architecture can be complex, especially for vast websites with diverse content.

💥 Shared Reputation: Poorly performing content in a subdirectory can hamper the SEO ranking of the entire website.

Knowing these potential pros and cons helps to strategize how subdirectories might be utilized for successful SEO outcomes.

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: Which is Better for SEO?

Are subdomains the best choice for maximizing SEO impact? Or do subdirectories hold the key to amplified SEO success?


The choice between subdomains and subdirectories depends on numerous factors, including the size of your website, the type of content, target audience, business model, and ultimately, the primary goals of your SEO strategy. 

Subdomains enable distinct, independent differentiation of your content. They handle diverse, broad content in a more segmented way. They offer more maze-like but adaptable and geographically diverse SEO strategies.

If your brand offers distinctly different products, services, or content that could warrant its own brand, a subdomain could be a viable structure. It can provide a separated and unique user experience and cater to specific SEO strategies. 

Don’t forget, a subdomain essentially functions as a distinct entity. You will need to invest time and resources into an independent SEO strategy for each subdomain.

On the other hand, subdirectories are part of the main website and foster integrated, more tightly bound content. They flow an efficient stream of SEO juice across the whole site, keeping your strategy focused.

If your brand's offerings are closely linked and revolve around a single, cohesive service or product line, utilizing subdirectories could lead to a more streamlined user experience and a consolidated SEO strategy. 

However, that weak content within a subdirectory could potentially harm the entire domain.

The bottom line? Both subdomains and subdirectories can be effective depending on the specific circumstances of your website. It is imperative to understand their unique quirks and how they align with your overall business objectives before choosing a strategy.

Several websites successfully blend the use of subdomains and subdirectories based on the character of their content and user experience. For example, e-commerce websites having a blog section often use a subdomain for the blog and subdirectories for product categories.

How Can You Optimize Your Subdomains and Subdirectories for SEO?

Irrespective of whether you choose subdomains or subdirectories, optimizing them for SEO is critically important. Well-optimized subdomains or subdirectories can amp up your website's visibility on SERPs, attract high-quality traffic, and strengthen your brand's online presence. 

Here are some actionable ways to optimize your subdomains and subdirectories for SEO:

🎯 Consistent and High-Quality Content: Content is the undisputed king, regardless of where it resides– subdomains or subdirectories. So, ensure your content is relevant, value-adding, unique, and updated regularly.

🎯 Responsive Design: With mobile traffic outpacing desktop, a mobile-friendly, responsive design is a must for both subdomains and subdirectories. To test the mobile-friendliness of your website, simply use  SEOmator’s Free Mobile Friendly Test.

🎯 Right Keyword Usage: Keywords are integral to any SEO strategy. Use your target and related keywords smartly in your content, headers, meta descriptions, and URLs. You can easily use SEOmator’s Free Keyword Research Tool to find the perfect keyword.

🎯 Link Building: Incorporate internal linking within your website, and strive for high-quality external backlinks to boost your site's authority.

🎯 User-friendly URL Structure: Make sure your URL structure is easy to read and understand– both for users and search engines. This enhances user experience and navigation, which indirectly boosts SEO.

🎯 Monitoring and Analysis: Regularly check your SEO performance, and adapt and refine your strategies based on performance metrics.

Following these best practices for both subdomains and subdirectories can help you create a solid foundation for effective SEO.

Wrapping Up

The optimal choice for SEO is not a straightforward contest of subdomain vs. subdirectory. Instead, the decision is tightly interwoven with unique elements like your overall business goals, your website's size and complexity, the nature of your content, and the specific preferences of your target audience.

A subdomain operates like a distinct, separate website, independent from the main domain. In contrast, a subdirectory is a tightly-knit part of your primary domain, treated as an integral segment by search engines.

When it comes to SEO impact, both present their unique advantages. Subdomains offer the freedom and flexibility to host diverse, autonomous content, and specific SEO strategies. Subdirectories, on the other hand, efficiently keep your website’s content neatly organized, helping search engine spiders crawl and index your entire website comprehensively.

Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer in this debate. Instead, the decision should reflect what best aligns with the structure and needs of your site. Whichever path you tread, ensure it works harmoniously with your overall SEO goals and complements your content quality, website structure, and user experience.

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