When to use a Subdomain and a Subdirectory

A year ago I wrote a post about subdomain vs subdirectory as there was a lot of discussion on which URL format to use.

People are still confused as to which format to use, mainly because Google keeps changing the game plan. Therefore I have written a post about the two different choices explaining both clearly.

Reasons to use subdirectories:

1) The content in the subdirectory benefits from the link authority from your domain.

2) If you have all your content in a subdirectory, the code is in the same file storage space making it easier to edit, find, change and move the code.

3) Simpler

Sometimes it is easier to use a subdirectory – Matt Cutts loves subdirectories – he set up mattcutts.com/blog to keep things simple.

Reasons to use subdomains:

1) Different content.

A subdomain works if your site has different content for its products. For example Google has subdomains for its distinct products such as maps, news – maps.google.com, news.google.com.

2) Localised content

Companies that have content for specific langauges or local areas use subdomains. Gumtree has a subdomain for it’s cities in Australia. For example http://sydney.gumtree.com.au/  while in London, the URL would be gumtree.com/london.

3) Restrictions from hosting company

If you already have a site and want to add blogging software to your site but your hosting company will not allow you to do so.  Therefore you will use a third-party blogging platform such as wordpress, blogger or typepad.  Your blog will therefore look like blog.wordpress.com instead of yoursite.com/blog.

Matt Cutts recommends using subdirectories if you are a new webmaster until you are confident with the architecture of your site. If you have a small site just stick with subdirectories.  If your site sells different key products and you want your site to be known for those, then set up subdomains.


2 thoughts on “When to use a Subdomain and a Subdirectory

  1. Sudbury Internet Marketing

    I studied networking which included in depth studies in domains and subdomains.

    Every domain of knowledge also have self-contained sub-domains of knowledge. These subdomains do not share information with other subdomains but have a direct link to the primary domain.

    I believe that a properly structured site can use either subdomains or subdirectories (see silo structuring) as long as they keep the linking structure properly isolated.


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