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Subdomain or Subdirectory? Google’s John Mueller Clarifies

June 9, 2018 0 comments

Subdomain or subdirectory? Which one is better for search engine rankings? More importantly, how does Google treat subdomains and subdirectories when it comes to ranking sites in the search engine results pages?

This topic has been a matter of debate for quite a long time.

There are strong believers — with strong opinions — on both sides of the group. Some believe that creating a different subdomain is a better option, e.g.,

On the other hand, some SEO experts believe that having a different subdomain is actually bad for your site’s SEO as it doesn’t completely translate the SEO juice that you get from backlinks to your overall domain. Therefore, instead of a subdomain, a subdirectory is a better option, e.g.,

During a Hangouts session, Google’s John Mueller shed some light on the topic, which should clarify a lot of confusion that surrounds the subdomain-vs-subdirectory debate.

John Mueller said that Google treats subdomain and subdirectories in the same way.

However, at the same time, he also said that he strongly believes that related content should be grouped together on the same website as much as possible.

Here is what he said:

“In general, we see these the same. I would personally try to keep things together as much as possible. So if it’s the same site then try to put them on the same site, essentially, and use subdomains where things are things are really kind of slightly different.

There are lots of really strong opinions on this so, from my point of view, this is something that could go either way. If you have really strong reasons to go one way or the other then, obviously, that might be what you’d want to watch out for. On the other hand, if you’re like “well I don’t care either way” then I would just keep it within the same site.”

In short:

  • Google treats subdomain and subdirectories in the same way.
  • Related content, however, should be grouped together on the same website, not a separate subdomain.
  • To keep things simple, if you have very strong reasons for creating a separate subdomain, you should do so. However, if you are on the fence and if you don’t have slightly different content than your main website URL, it’s actually better to stay within the same domain. In that case, a subdirectory would be better.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you prefer a separate subdomain or a subdirectory? Let us know your thoughts on this.