Subdomain vs Subdirectory: Which Is Better For SEO?

Subdomain vs Subdirectory: Which Is Better For SEO?

If you’re planning to construct your own website, perform an extensive migration or redesign One of the initial questions you’ll be asked will be how best to organize your website to optimize it for search engines. With the raging debate about subdomains in comparison to. subdirectories you could be uncertain about the structure of your site you should select and how this choice can affect the SEO of your site. Let’s take a look at subdomains and. subdirectories pros and cons before we look into our recommendations.

Site Structure & SEO

Structure of your website is how you organize your site to let it be accessible to users or search engines. It doesn’t matter if it’s laid out in a planned manner or simply “happens” as you add content, the structure of your website could either enhance or hinder users. A well-thought-out structure can help users find the most important information as well as increase your SEO.

The clearer your structure and the way that pages are linked to one another the more straightforward it is for Google to rank your website and directly affect the performance of your site in the search results. In addition to being more easy to index, well-organized sites offer greater opportunities for internal linking and are significant search engine ranking factors.

What is a subdomain vs. Subdirectory?

The term “subdomain” refers to the fact that a subdomain is a part of a root domain, but it is seen as an independent entity. The subdirectory is located on its own domain. It serves to arrange the content of the domain. It is easy to recognize the subdirectory or a subdomain through the structure of its URL. Subdomains precede the root of the domain when you type it into a URL and a subdirectory comes after it.

The most frequent concern I get from those who are evaluating their site structure is whether to create subdirectories or subdomains. Before we get into the details to debate which one is best for SEO Let’s take a moment to explain the differences between them.

What is a Subdomain?

Your domain is your primary web address. The one we use is

A subdomain is a part of a domain. It’s considered to be a subset or child of the primary domain. In the above image you can see this subdomain appears ahead of the primary domain in the URL.

Website owners can utilize subdomains to differentiate an area of a site from the main domain. For instance, Disney has created multiple subdomains which each have distinct purposes:


Google treats subdomains as completely distinct websites. The connection between them depends on the interlinking mechanism that a website owner sets in place.

What is a Subdirectory?

A subdirectory is located within the main domain and contains related content that is topically relevant — much like folders are organized by categories of documents in filing cabinets. For instance is a subdirectory. Victorious web site functions as a collection of subdirectories.

A subdirectory is located within the main domain and contains related content that is topically relevant — much like folders. are also referred to as subfolders. If you look at the URL, you will see the subdirectories immediately after an initial domain. So if you wanted to visit our services page, you would go to:


The Argument About Subdomains and. Subdirectory SEO

There’s plenty of discussion regarding which structure of a website is best for SEO and I’ve got my personal experience-based views. (I’ll go into them in a second.)

First, what do Google suggest about subdomains in comparison to. subdirectories?

What Google Says about Subdirectory vs. Subdomain SEO

According to John Mueller, a Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google…

“Google Web Search is fine with using either subdomains or subdirectories…use what works best for your setup and think about your longer-term plans when picking one or the other.”

According to Mueller his findings, the matter about subdomains vs. subfolders is not relevant to Google’s search algorithm. The reason is that search engine bots handle the subdirectories in the same manner. 

This assertion sparked lots of debate in SEO circles since certain case studies seemed to be in contradiction with Google’s claim that it treats subdirectories and subdomains exactly the same.

Rigorous Inquiry or Sensationalist Clickbait?

It’s much simpler to create a flurry of conspiracy theories regarding Google intentionally making up SEOs rather than explore the subtleties these case studies reveal. I’m not pulling any punches. Without an in-depth discussion of the factors that make these specific cases valid, the broad statements they make aren’t doing anything aside from boosting the fame of those who create doubt and confusion over SEO.

Getting Closer to the Truth About Subdomains & SEO

Let’s get rid of the smoke, get rid of the mirrors, and discuss implementation, context, and resources.

1 – Why Context Matters for Subdomains

What content the owner of a website splits into subdomains can significantly influence the indexing and ranking. For instance, the separating of blog content that is directly connected to your main business to subdomains is different from the division of content that is distinct from the primary company. Let’s take a look at the Disney instance above.


This is because Disney has targeted specific groups through relevant subdomains. This is quite different from businesses that decide to move only the blog’s content. For example:


Moving blog posts into subdomains (like those in case studies mentioned in the tweet mentioned above) could have a totally different impact on search results or organic search traffic.

2 – Implementation Matters

There are a myriad of methods to set up subdirectories and subdomains as the developers who implement the changes. In the following paragraphs regardless of the structure you decide to use, planning for authority in the domain in addition to linking equity and making sure you avoid the cannibalization of keywords and employing the best techniques will all factor into your SEO performance.

3 – Resources Are Everything

In the end, Google will index a subdirectory or subdomain exactly the same way, however, whether or average company can be successful in SEO subdomains is dependent on the content is distributed where, the method it uses to implement the structure, as well as the budget available for SEO strategies along with maintenance.

Companies that achieve amazing SEO results when using subdomains are an one-off exception to the rule and often, their success comes regardless of the structure they have chosen and not due to it.

Let us take our Disney illustration — Disney has a vast amount of resources available to invest in SEO-related activities that increase the visibility of their subdomains. In addition, they have no budget for tech to manage and expand these domains. In the big scheme of competing businesses for top positions and resources, Disney’s vast resources allow it to leverage subdomains for them.

Recommendation: Subdirectory SEO for the Win

Victorious advises our customers to create subdirectories on their websites to get the most SEO-friendly results.

Why Subdirectories are Better for SEO

The structure of a website with subdirectories aids SEO in a variety of ways, with the majority of which are related to the value of links as well as domain authority. 

Link Equity

The equity of a link is an important ranking factor that is based on the idea that links can transfer credibility and value from one page to the next. If a link has equity, it can be determined by the website’s quality as well as its thematic connection to the pages the link is pointing to. Links to your site that originate from authoritative domains show your content’s high-quality to Google and increase the authority of your website in your field or subject. 

Domain Authority

Domain Authority Scores are metrics that were developed by third-party firms MOZ as well as SEMRush in order to determine the quality of websites. It’s important to understand they are described as trailing indicators and they are not ranking variables. In the context of a trailing metric domain authority is a way to gauge the potential of a website to be ranked higher than its rivals in search results.

When I speak of the authority of domains, I’m talking about authority on the web in a general sense, not in a specific way, and I’m not using one of these metrics which are not able to estimate the probability that one domain will have a higher rank than one.

How a Subdirectory Structure Relates to Link Equity & Domain Authority

Subdirectories focus your link equity and keywords on the same domain. If you concentrate these ranking factors on your main domain, you’re building indicators that Google will consider to be more beneficial to users (domain authority) and will translate into higher ranking on search engines. However, spreading links and keywords across multiple domains could weaken your authority and force you to invest more time and resources to ensure that subdomains are able to rank well.

Subdirectory SEO: A Bonus

Another reason why I suggest subfolders for SEO is having accurate website links in your search results.

If someone searches for “Victorious SEO,” they’re likely to come across this:

The six sections that are listed on our homepage are known as sitelinks. Google includes important links in its results of searches to let users navigate straight to the page of your site that they are interested in , directing users to the most effective results with the least amount of time.

The appearance of websitelinks helps your website to be more prominent (and trustworthy) in results for searches, which is a plus to branding and increase click-thru click-through rates.

How to “Get” Sitelinks

There’s not a magic button to add links to your results in a search. An organized structure which demonstrates how your website’s pages are linked to one another and helps Google crawling your website increases the chances that they’ll include the appropriate websitelinks to your search results.

According to Google:

We show links to sites in search results when we believe they’ll be beneficial for the user. If your website’s structure isn’t allowing our algorithms to identify good sites or we don’t believe that the sitelinks on your website are relevant to the user’s search We won’t display them.

It is impossible to control sitelinks. Google’s algorithms automatically take them into consideration. When you link to one subdomains on your site, and Google finds that they have more importance and relevance over the main content of your main domain. In that scenario, those subdomains may be included on your site’s links — creating confusion for users and possibly prompting users to question the legitimacy of your website. This scenario could put your primary pages (and consequently your root domain) directly in opposition to your subdomains in terms of traffic. Not something you would want to be in.

Final Word

If you do not have a compelling business need to set up subdomains to your content or other content, your SEO strategy is more effective with subdirectories. One root domain consolidates your authority on your website all in one location, focuses on the number of keywords you are gaining, gives an organized structure to Google and helps keep your expenses to a minimum. Subdirectories make it easier for you, more convenient for Google and also easier for your customers. Win. Win. Win.

Do you require a change to the structure of your site? Find out how to design an SEO-friendly site and be able to manage a successful website migration.

Want to Know More About Site Structure & SEO?

Learn from the experts at our SEO company in itself! Our award-winning team of strategists and managers of customer success (and everyone else who is awesome) are waiting to give the best advice on what will be most beneficial for you and your SEO’s expansion. So what are you sitting around for?