Subdomains and subfolders are often mistaken from one another, and even though they do share some similarities, both use different SEO strategies. So, the question we get asked frequently is, which is better for SEO? According to this video from Google, both subdomains and subfolders are treated equally as Google crawls, indexes, and ranks subfolders or subdomains the same way.
Why Choose a Subdomain Over a Subfolder?
Disney is a great example when it comes to subdomains as they have cars.disney.com, videos.disney.com, disneyworld.disney.go.com and more, all of which serve for a different purpose. Disney markets each subdomain as a separate business, for example, links going Disneyworld.disney.go.com will focus primarily on the theme parks, hotels, and shopping, there are just a few things the website offers. With each subdomain having their market can be very successful for obtaining high rankings rather than choosing subfolder.
Why Choose a Subfolder Over a Subdomain?
Most businesses focus on one or two topics; a general contractor is a good example where the focus could be on roofing, siding, window, and doors. Although the site can be structured into individual subdomains, i.e. roofing.example.com, Google will still recognize and treat this as the same as example.com/roofing, the only difference is the site owner will have to obtain other links to each subdomain which will require a lot of time and effort. However, if you do a great job at implementing internal links between the subdomains, this can add more value to your site.
As you can see from both examples, it’s down on you as the site owner how you would want to structure your business. Keep in mind, Google will not rank them any differently, but they both do require a separate approach. If you have a business that needs different entity profiles and link value for multiple subdomains, that would be your go-to path. But if you’re already at a limit of fully optimizing one domain, then subfolders would be the best option for you.