Sub-Domain versus Sub-Directory for SEO
Although this topic has been discussed at length over the years, we were recently put on the spot about this and we went ahead and explained the process, the benefits of each scenario and what we’d suggest for the specific project in question.
We believe that if you’re looking to produce content on a regular basis and are doing so with SEO in mind, that a sub-directory is the right route to go. Building content on a sub-directory builds authority to it’s sub-domain. That is to say, if you create your blog at imoddigital.com/blog/, any value created from this goes nicely into the imoddigital.com domain. Furthermore, having it as a sub-directory jump starts the indexing of the blog because it inherits value from imoddigital.com
Should you want to launch your blog on a sub-domain, such as blog.imoddigital.com, it is our opinion that it’s the same as getting a whole new domain such as imoddigitalblog.com – in both cases you’re starting from a fresh beginning. Sure, there’s brand leverage but that’s getting too technical for this post, so let’s stick with a fresh start. There are instances where you might want to use a subdomain, that may be for a piece of specific content that isn’t going to be updated often and thus might become redundant – rather have it in a fresh location than hanging around on a sub-directory.
We have tested both scenarios over the years and although Matt Cutts stated that either is fine (which is true because that’s a very open ended comment), the sub-directory approach works quicker and builds overall value quicker than the sub-domain approach for a content production process.
What’s more important than deciding whether it’s best to go for a sub-directory or a sub-domain is actually deciding to publish content. We’ve watched too many company’s getting held up by decisions like this – content that isn’t published is content that doesn’t exist. Until you click the publish button, you’ve achieved nothing in the world of SEO.
Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot, created a fantastic flow chart that takes everything we’ve discussed above and lays out the process visually. You’ll see that the end result is not about sub-directories versus sub-domains, but rather about moving into first gear and publishing. There is no point spending time debating sub-directories and sub-domains, rather start writing and start publishing. If you’re able to set things up on a sub-directory you’ll be doing the most optimal thing, but if you have a problem with sub-directories because of the content management system you use or because of the IT team, go with a sub-domain and just start publishing.
tldr; Start publishing content. If you can do so on a sub-directory.. bonus. If not, it’s not the end of the world.