Properly Using Subdomains or Subfolders for a Cohesive Brand and Technology Stack
In the digital world, the structure of a website plays a crucial role in its performance, especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Two common structures that are often used are subdomains and subfolders. Understanding these structures and their implications can help you make informed decisions when adding new tools or integrating separate websites for a cohesive brand and technology stack.
What's a Subdomain & How Is It Used?
A subdomain is a section of a domain that is listed before the main domain name and the extension. For instance, in the URL blog.yourwebsite.com, 'blog' is the subdomain. Subdomains are often used to separate websites into different sections, making it easy to organize your website and provide users with a simple way to find what they are looking for. The main website is always the most important, you can use a subdomain for customer support, blogs, store locations, events, or anything else you’d like to separate from your main content page. Contact us to learn how to create a subdomain.
What is a Subfolder of your Website?
On the other hand, a subfolder, also known as a subdirectory, is a folder that lives within another folder under a home directory. For example, if your website was a filing cabinet, then the folders in the cabinet are your website’s subdirectories. Single directories are located to the right of your domain like this URL: www.yourwebsite.com/products. A subfolder is used for creating content categories on your website. It's located on the same server, and it links back to the domain.
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The SEO of Subdomains and Subfolders
When it comes to SEO, both subdomains and subfolders have their pros and cons. Subdomains are recognized as distinct websites unrelated to the main domain by search engines. This means that search engine results pages may display your parent domain and your subdomain, potentially pushing your competitors further down in the SERP. However, subdomains don’t share the authority received from backlinks like the parent domain does, which means your subdomain may not benefit from the link authority you have built into your main site content.
Subfolders, on the other hand, allow you to focus on optimizing one website instead of competing with yourself. Your site has the opportunity to get crawled more often because you likely add more content to each folder, which contributes to your overall website ranking. However, if you have a single page in your directory that has bad content or just black hat SEO, this could lead to corruption of the whole site regardless of the other great content on site.
When integrating separate websites to have a cohesive brand and technology stack, here are the top 10 best practices:
- Consistent Branding: Ensure that your brand is consistent across all subdomains and subfolders. This includes logos, color schemes, typography, and tone of voice.
- User-Friendly Navigation: Make sure that users can easily navigate between your main site and any subdomains or subfolders.
- SEO Optimization: Optimize each subdomain and subfolder for SEO. This includes using relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, and building backlinks.
- Mobile Responsiveness: Ensure that all subdomains and subfolders are mobile-friendly. More and more people are accessing websites from their mobile devices, so it's crucial that your site looks and functions well on all screen sizes.
- Fast Loading Times: Slow loading times can frustrate users and negatively impact your SEO. Make sure that all elements of your site load quickly.
- Secure Browsing: Use HTTPS for all subdomains and subfolders to provide a secure browsing experience for your users.
- Analytics Tracking: Set up analytics tracking for each subdomain and subfolder. This will allow you to monitor performance and make data-driven decisions.
- Clear CTAs: Include clear calls to action (CTAs) on each page to guide users towards desired actions.
- Regular Updates: Regularly update your content to keep it fresh and relevant. This can help improve your SEO and keep users engaged.
- Test and Iterate: Regularly test different elements of your site to see what works and what doesn't. Use this information to continuously improve your site.
In conclusion, whether you choose to use subdomains or subfolders depends on the specific needs of your site. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it's important to understand these before making a decision. By following the best practices outlined above, you can ensure that your site is optimized for success, regardless of the structure you choose.