Deciding whether or not to integrate a company blog on your root website (a directory such as example.com/blog) or host on subdomain (such as blog.example.com) is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For years, we’ve heard the “subdomain versus integrated blog” debate (seriously, we have talked about it a lot), and although Google says it really doesn’t matter because both will be indexed, it does matter in terms of SEO.
In this post, I am going to help you answer the question: do subdomains effect SEO?
What You’ll Learn:
- How Google interprets a subdomain
- Is your content going to contribute as a rank factor?
- Will your subdomain help the authority of your main domain?
- Is your subdomain separate from your main domain?
- How does internal linking work for SEO on a subdomain?
- What’s the best SEO option for a domain?
- When should you use a subdomain?
Are Subdomains Bad for SEO? Do subdomains hurt SEO?
A company blog can generate 55 percent more website visitors (or more!), but if you host on a subdomain, you lose a huge chunk of traffic and ranking opportunities for your main site. Although some argue the benefits of a subdomain, it won’t rank as high or as quickly as an integrated something published on the main domain. Plus, the root site will be the one to suffer the consequences of having two sites. It will never get that full, on-site benefit. Don’t worry, I will flesh this out more.
A subdomain basically works as the middle man for any of your SEO efforts for your main site. Any SEO power your subdomain generates may slowly trickle back to your main site, but the results won’t be as powerful as if you were to just skip the middle man.
Subdomains are Viewed as Separate Sites
Just as Google says, both your subdomain and root site will be crawled and indexed, but that’s just the problem. Your company site and your subdomain will be two separate sites. If Google is working to index both your subdomain and your website, you’re limiting the SEO power of both instead of allowing them to work together. By keeping your content separate from your website, you decrease the SEO value of your main website and lose many visitor benefits and ranking factors.
However, with an integrated website, Google will see both your main site and your subdomain as one, strengthening the power of both as they work together in terms of ranking factors.
If your main goal is to build a strong customer-focused website that ranks well, a subdomain is pointless and doesn’t help your main domain nearly as much.
Subdomains Don’t Add to Your Total Pages or SEO
With a subdomain, the posts are featured on a separate website, so the content won’t contribute as a major ranking factor for your main site. We all know that the more pages your site has to index (if they are quality pages that people read, share and link to), the higher it will rank because Google loves content-rich sites to boost authority.
With an integration, Google will crawl the new posts within days, adding more value to the main site and increasing traffic by as much as 53 percent after 51 posts have been published. Not to mention, the subdomain posts will inherit the authority of the parent site, so both the content and website will rank better.
Subdomain Shares Won’t Benefit the Main Domain’s Authority
With 8 out of 10 internet users spending their time online reading blogs and using social media, you have the perfect opportunity to market your posts. However, while an increase in social media shares and external links will benefit your subdomain, they won’t help your main site’s authority.
Any subdomain links shared won’t contribute to your main site’s link authority or ranking in search results because they are (basically) considered two sites, they just have a lot of links between them. But, with an integrated site, backlinks and social media shares generated from the content will help the other pages on the main site rank higher and build the root site’s link profile.
As companies with blogs receive 97 percent more inbound links (see look I just linked to another blog post right here 🙂 than those without, any site linking to your blog posts with a subdomain will dilute any value of the external links. But, with integrated content, the full power of the link juice will pass on to your main site.
Having a Blog on a Subdomain = You Basically have Two Websites
Hosting your blog on a subdomain not only creates more work for yourself and increases your costs, but you’ll essentially be competing with yourself because you‘ll basically have two separate websites. With two separate sites, you’ll actually be hurting your keyword focus.
What many people forget is the fact that the ranking value of links combined with the keyword benefits will actually produce substantial ranking factors for your main site. Yes, the exact match and partial match keywords will add some value to both when using a subdomain, but combining the keyword focus with a strong link profile on one site offers unmatched ranking power. If your ultimate goal is to increase your company visibility as a whole, you want your blog and main site to work together, not against each other.
Subdomains Don’t Help Internal Linking
Since subdomains are considered to be a separate entity from a root domain, links to and from the two sites are considered to be external. Any links from the subdomain to the root won’t be considered internal linking and may actually do more harm than good because they will be viewed as external links from a low-quality extension of your domain. Although Google may come to see that the two sites are interrelated, that doesn’t guarantee the search engine will carry the links’ influence from the subdomain to the primary in anyway that benefits your SEO.
What Other Impacts Does a Subdomain Have?
SEO isn’t the only area that may suffer from a subdomain. Your brand may suffer because a well-written blog allows visitors to get to know your company by showcasing your human side and build you up as a subject matter expert. The lack of a blog on your website creates a disconnect.
Without proper integration, having a blog on a subdomain can also hurt your conversion rate optimization. Users often get confused if there is not a clear funnel between the two that targets the website’s micro and macro conversions. In addition, analytics tracking gets much more complex, as you need to set up a filter in Universal Analytics.
The Best SEO Option for a Domain
It’s a lot easier and cost-effective to establish and promote a single brand and website than it is to juggle two with a subdomain. If your main goal is to boost your root site’s authority and SEO power, you need your blogs in a subfolder, which would make it an integrated blog. The best thing you can do for your blog subdomain SEO, would be to get it out of its subdomain.
When You Should Use a Subdomain
Let me give you a couple quick pointers on when you want to use a subdomain, so this is not an entirely one-sided blog post.
- When you don’t have full control over the content: If something could go totally wrong, and it is all user-generated, you would consider a subdomain.
- When you think it could be penalized: Generally, penalties are on the subdomain level. If you are worried about a Google penalty for some reason, you can use a subdomain.
- When you don’t want it to be connected to your main site: Do you want it to look like a different website? Then maybe use a subdomain. Just don’t expect an SEO boost.
- When the content is on a completely different theme: If your site is about bikes and you are launching a blog on golf, put it on a subdomain (why you would start that blog I don’t know, but you don’t want to be connected to it.
- When it is thin content: If it is just a bunch of cruddy content you need live, but don’t need or want it to rank, put it on a subdomain.
- When you are not trying to get ranking potential for your main site: It it is not for inbound marketing and SEO, then dump it on a subdomain…
How do subdomains affect SEO?
Subdomains affect SEO in three different ways.
The first, they allow you to insert keywords in the URL.
In cases where it is better to opt not to include a keyword in the main URL this is a great opportunity to fit in more challenging to rank for keywords.
It can be a great way to get an easy win in those scenarios.
The second way subdomains effect SEO is that they can improve user experience.
If you have a complicated and large site where user experience is negatively effected this is something which needs to be resolved.
A negative user experience means lower rankings and that is something to avoid.
The third way SEO is effected is that subdomains can appeal to a more niche market if you’re struggling to grow an expansive domain authority.
Does Google index subdomains?
Google does index subdomains.
For the most part Google treats subdomains and sub-folders alike.
However, there are exceptions to this rule when Google detects subdomains which are being operated by separate individuals under the same host.
Can subdomains rank on Google?
Subdomains do rank on Google.
This is a common questions pertaining to subdomains and SEO.
The issue is not whether subdomains will rank on Google, rather, it is how.
There are large implications for SEO considering that subdomains rank separately from the main site.