Subdomain keywords might help give you a boost in rankings. However, it depends on the keyword. So, is it possible to use subdomains to help with SEO? Yes! Then, how? Let’s dive in.

What is the Difference Between a Subdomain and a Subdirectory?

A subdomain is a second-level domain that is part of a larger domain. The larger domain is called the “root” or “top-level domain.” For example, blog.blueshoes.com and shop.blueshoes.com are subdomains of the root domain blueshoes.com.

A subdirectory is a directory or folder on a website that stores information about a certain topic or category. For example, if you have a blog on your website, the blog would likely be stored in a subdirectory called “blog” and the URL would be blueshoes.com/blog.

A subdomain can be identified as a prefix before the TLD and a subdirectory is after the TLD.

Why Use Subdomains?

There are many reasons you might want to use subdomains. One common reason is to separate content that would otherwise be on the same website. For example, you might want a blog on a subdomain so it’s separate from the rest of your website.

Another reason to use subdomains is for organizational purposes. If your website has different sections or categories, you can put each one on its own subdomain. That way, people can easily find what they’re looking for and your website is better organized.

Subdomains can also be used to target different audiences. For example, you might have a subdomain for Spanish speakers or for people in different countries. Or, perhaps you offer an affiliate, employee, or customer login that you want to be separated from the main site.

How Does SEO Work With Subdomains?

If you’re thinking about using subdomains for your website, make sure to choose keywords carefully and focus on improving the overall structure and user experience of your site. For example, it’s not advisable to get a subdomain named womensshoes.blueshoes.com.

Even though women’s shoes might be a great keyword for your business, tacking it onto the subdomain in this way would not be effective. Rather, it would be shop.blueshoes.com, payments.blueshoes.com, or login.blueshoes.com. Trying to add an additional keyword that is not related to site structure could result in a drop in rankings since it might be viewed as keyword spamming.

Additionally, each subdomain should have its own unique content. This is important both for users and for search engines. If you have duplicate content across multiple subdomains, it’s likely that only one of those pages will have the opportunity to rank in search results, and it might not be the one you want.

Do Subdomains Get Indexed by Google? What About Subdirectories?

Yes, subdomains do get indexed. In fact, as Google’s John Mueller explains, some servers make it easier to separate content with subfolders (also known as subdirectories), and some servers make it easier to use a subdomain. So, it doesn’t really matter which method you use from an SEO standpoint.

From an organizational standpoint, though, it might be easier to keep track of subdirectories since they’re all in the same domain. If you have a lot of subdomains, it can be easy to lose track of them.

If you choose to use subdomains, it is important to note that you will need to set up Google Search Console and Analytics for each subdomain. This is because Google, in some sense, treats each subdomain as its own separate site.

Do Subdomains Pass PageRank to the TLD?

Yes. Any PageRank that your subdomains have will be passed to the TLD. Even though a subdomain is essentially a different site, it is still part of the main domain. Subdomains offer you a great opportunity to rank for keywords that don’t quite fit with the content on the main site. But, your subdomain may end up competing with your main site in the SERPs.

So, this means that if you’re thinking about using a subdomain to promote a new product or section of your website, it’s worth considering whether that content would be better served on a subdirectory of your main domain. Therefore, in some cases, it might make more sense to keep everything under one roof.

How Many Subdomains Can I Have?

This really depends on your hosting provider. Some providers will let you have an unlimited number of subdomains, while others might put a limit on the number of subdomains you can have.

Additionally, it’s worth considering whether you really need that many subdomains. As we mentioned earlier, it can be easy to lose track of multiple subdomains, and too many subdomains can actually hurt your SEO if you try to spread all of your content out too thinly.

A good rule of thumb is to only use as many subdomains as you need to keep your website organized and easy to navigate. Anything beyond that is probably unnecessary.

Why Should You Not Use a Subdomain?

There are a few reasons why you might not want to use a subdomain:

  • It can be easy to lose track of multiple subdomains. If you have a lot of content spread out across multiple subdomains, it can be difficult to keep track of it all.
  • Using too many subdomains can complicate site structure. If you try to spread all of your content out too thinly, it’s likely that none of your pages will rank well in search results.
  • Setting up and managing multiple subdomains can be time-consuming and difficult. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to end up with duplicate content or broken links.
  • It adds to the URL length which is not good for SEO. Ideally, shorter URLs tend to perform better than long, confusing URLs.
  • Your subdomain may end up competing with your main site for high rankings. Depending on your strategy, it could actually end up ranking higher than your main site.

If you’re not sure whether to use a subdomain or a subdirectory, it is recommended you err on the side of caution and go with a subdirectory. In most cases, it will be the better option from an SEO standpoint.

Kimberly Forsythe

Kimberly Forsythe

The motto for firms in the 21st-century 🖖🏼 should be "Disrupt or Be Disrupted." My passion is helping small businesses get started on the path to digital transformation and growth.

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