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Subdomain or Subdirectory: a strategic SEO choice

The choice between a subdomain and a directory in the context of SEO has always been a problem. Here are the ins and outs in terms of SEO.

Subdomain or Subdirectory

This is a question that always comes up in SEO. Subdomain Vs directory (subfolder) – which is better for SEO? This question often arises when a website owner wants, for example, to create a blog for his site. He will then have  3 options .

  • Insert the blog in a directory: www.mywebsite.com/blog.
  • Place on a subdomain: blog.mywebsite.com.
  • Host the blog on a new domain: www.newsite.com.

There can be several reasons for wanting to use a subdomain or a brand new domain. Installation could be technically easier. You may want to target a distinct brand. Or want to target a different location or language .

But if the goal is to improve SEOusing a directory (subfolder) is still the safest option.

Related: How to Optimize Content for SEO?

Why use a directory instead of a subdomain?

Some prefer to use a subdomain thinking it will be good for their SEO. This stems from the theory that both the original domain and the subdomain will  be able to position themselves on a similar thematic. This would allow them to simultaneously boost their search engine rankings.

But the opposite effect actually occurs!

This technique tends to divide the incoming links between the two sites. This  hurts their respective  search engine rankings.

Scenario 1

Suppose you opt for a subdomain for your blog. You already have 50 good backlinks (inbound links) pointing to your main domain . And you managed to have another 50 good backlinks  pointing to your subdomain .

  • 50 incoming links to www.mywebsite.com.
  • 50 incoming links to blog.mywebsite.com.

And suppose it allows you to position your main domain and subdomain on the 2nd page of Google for “keyword 1” . Awesome ! Page 2 will allow you to generate some traffic.

Scenario 2

Now, suppose you chose to  put your blog in a directory of the main domain. You already have  50 good backlinks  pointing to your  main domain . And you managed to get  another 50 good backlinks to your blog directory . This means you now have  100 backlinks  pointing to your main domain!

  • 100 incoming links to www.mywebsite.com.

By doubling the incoming links to your main domain, you increase its SEO considerably . This means that all the pages of your site (including the blog in the sub-directory) will benefit from this good SEO for all the targeted keywords!

So, if you were ranked on page 2 (twice) for “keyword 1” in scenario 1 . You're probably going to  rank on Page 1 (once) in Scenario 2 . The most appropriate choice therefore seems obvious.

But Google says, "Don't be afraid of subdomains"

Google assures that it can now effectively identify content from a subdomain, and associate it with your main domain. The message being that we don't have to worry about placing content on multiple domains. John Mueller of Google states here  :

“If you want to put a blog in a subdirectory of your main site that's fine, if you want to use a subdomain that's fine. If you want to use a different domain name, that's possible too. So all of these ways are possible and I wouldn't say one or the other is significantly better. »

But although Google has been able to make huge improvements over the years, there are still case studies of several websites that show that using subdomains is less effective for SEO .


Although there is conflicting information on the subject, we can remember that  the use of subdomains for SEO purposes involves certain risks. And in SEO, risk is not something we like. The directory is known to work very well , so why use a potentially risky option?!.