To subdomain or not to subdomain? When it comes to blogs, that is the question. There are very few cases in which hosting a blog on a subdomain is good SEO strategy—but most of the time, it isn’t.
So why should you make sure your blog URL looks like this:
which uses a subfolder to house blog pages
rather than this:
which uses a whole new domain to create what is essentially a mini-site for your blog?
Let’s talk about why people house blogs on subdomains and why it’s not usually a great idea.
Why You Might Be Tempted to Use a Subdomain
Some points valid, some not so much, here are the main arguments for subdomains over subfolders.
Subdomains work great for pop-up sites and campaign microsites. (Valid!)
If you’re building a pop-up shop (whether it’s online or brick-and-mortar) or launching a new campaign, a subdomain can give you the clean slate and creative freedom you need to create a whole new microsite or cluster of lead pages that’ll be able to stand alone.
Subdomains are a layer of protection with content you don’t have complete control over. (Valid!)
This isn’t a common situation, but if your blog will include opinions not your own (or ones you won’t be able to edit and filter) then you might want to consider using a subdomain so you won’t be held liable for posts made by non-employees of your company. For example, something.blogspot.com.
Google says it doesn’t matter. (Not so valid.)
Google engineer Matt Cutts vaguely addresses it in his video on subfolders vs. subdomains, but doesn’t offer a clear answer. The video itself is 5 years old, and since then Google hasn’t gotten any nearer to giving us a straight answer about blogs on subdomains.
Cutts simply says they’re “roughly the same” and that you should go with “which one is easier for you”—hardly technical terms backed by cold hard proof.
But for most people, and for most websites, we’d argue that it does matter. Some people report SEO gains after switching to subdomains, but it seems an unignorable many have seen losses after the switch.
Why (Most of the Time) You Shouldn’t
You’ll basically have 2 separate websites.
They’ll both be working twice as hard to get ranked on SERPs when their combined SEO efforts could amount to so much more when left together under subfolders.
The more quality pages your site has, the higher you’ll rank, and pages housed on your subdomain are pages that aren’t helping lift your main domain’s page count.
With 2 separate websites comes more time and cost, but with no more added benefit: social shares to your subdomain won’t benefit your main site, you’ll lose the power of highly-focused keywords combined with strong domain authority, and you could risk the quality of your backlinks by having them come from a new and low authority subdomain.
It’s not worth the risk.
Moz’s Rand Fishkin’s opinion boils down to this: subdomains sometimes benefit from good SEO strategy on another subdomain, but subfolders always benefit from good SEO strategy across the same domain. Why take the risk?
Blogs On Subdomains = Bad SEO Strategy
Are you still not sure of your stance in the big subfolders vs. subdomains debate? Do one of the few exceptions to good subdomain + SEO strategy apply to you? Your best bet is to reach out to an expert like Zero Gravity Marketing who can help you figure out the best structure for your site, all while maximizing SEO.