Subdomains vs Subdirectories strategy

What should you use sub-domains or sub-directories? Sometimes it’s almost like a religion when people are talking about it. But maybe it’s not a question about choosing but a question about the combination.

So what is a sub-domain and a sub-directory. Well a sub-domain could be and a sub-directory could be

So a sub-domain is in fact a separate site while a sub-directory is a group of pages. And the question is of course which one will work best.

Which one will get you more traffic and better profitability.


When to use subdirectories

  • When search engines look at sub-directories (sub folders) they think it’s a simple matter of cosmetic that can help the URL to look more structured and logical. Subdirectories are a good way to make your URL look good and meaningful.
  • If your site is small then a sub-directory can help you keep your authority and not spreading it too thin with sub domains. Remember that when you spread out your sites they can’t help each other.
  • Remember that authority takes time. If you keep your content in a sub-directory it becomes easier to rank new content for related keywords.
  • Easier to manage. Yes we have to think of that too. Its easier 🙂
  • Geo targeting. Using Google Webmaster Tools you can set a geolocation for a sub-directory. So if you have a site called You can make the for a France location and so on.


When should you use subdomains

When using subdomains you have separated sites. So you will need each subdomains to be positioned separated. Remember it’s a good idea to use subdirectories when you are organizing your content on each sub-domain. So subdirectories and subdomains still go hand in hand.

  • If your content is very different. So if you are selling cars on one site and then you want to sell bikes. Then it might be a good idea to make two sites. Remember that you are competing against people and companies who are very dedicated to bikes. So it’s not just an add on.
  • On the other hand if you are selling red cars and now want to sell blue cars you don’t really need a new site right?
  • If you want to be competitive in many related areas. So if you want to be the best in blue cars and in used cars. You might end up having to build 2 separated sites. Then each site can compete much better again and win the separated searches. It’s a different search looking for used cars than it is for blue cars. So if you are going to win both markets you will have to build 2 sites. It’s very popular to search for used cars but also blue cars get many searches.
  • Make several sites to push out your competitors’ sites away from top 10. If you have a strong position on Google building a new site and get a high ranking for the new site can push out a competitor.
  • Multiple listings. It’s possible – but not always – to get more than two listing limit for a given query using sub domains in Google. So more sites will get more listings.
  • If you are targeting different regional markets. It can be more effective to get separated site when you can assign an IP address to a separated sub-domain – and set a geolocation for each sub-domain.


Let me hear what you think 🙂



Henrik Sandberg

I am the founder of SeoCustomer and I love everything about SEO, SEM, Social Media Traffic and Link Building. Join our email club here at SeoCustomer and get blog updates and access to whitepapers about SEO.

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