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Why Subdomains are a Bad Idea for Your Website and Blog

So, you’re finally ready to add that corporate blog to your website. Your SEO consultant has been telling you for years that this is a critical part of generating indexable content, but you’ve always said that you really, really, really doubt you could sustain a blog that revolved around your only products, which happen to be drawer slides and wooden hangers.

(I’m here to tell you, from personal experience, it’s possible. Not fun. But possible.)

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But now you’ve been convinced. Fine. You accept that a blog is a necessary part of content marketing (which is a necessary ingredient of effective SEO), but now you need to find a place to put it.

You developed your website without a blog in mind, and now your SEO consultants are telling you that you need to fit it in somewhere.

And, depending on who you talk to, you may hear one of two different options.

One, you could set up your blog on a subdomain of your website, creating something that looks like: www.blog.yourdomain.com.

Two, you could set up a blog on a subfolder, like: www.yourdomain.com/blog.

(And if you’re out there thinking: I’ll just put it on a .blogger blog, you need to stop that right now.)

So, let’s look at the differences between subdomains and subfolders and see why one is so preferable to the other.

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Subdomains are Essentially a Different Website

When you use the blog.website.com subdomain solution, you are essentially setting up an entirely different website. And while it is true that Google will craw and index both of them, you are limiting the full potential of your online marketing efforts.

When you separate your website and blog, it creates two separate entities that need your attention. And now, with things like Time On Site and Bounce rate contributing to your website rankings, you can’t let users spend their time on pages that Google sees as a different domain.

What this means in practical terms is that:

  1. Any pages on your subdomain won’t add to your total indexed pages for a site. Google is looking at how much you expand and enrich your content, and splitting your blog will make it appear as though your website is totally static while the subdomain is getting more attention.
  2. All the inbound links that well written blogs naturally attract will not contribute any value to your website. So all your work won’t contribute to your rankings like it could.

When your blog and website are properly integrated, on the other hand, Google will see that the traffic to your website as a whole continues to go up. This, to Google, translates as a website that has some obvious authority and deserves higher rankings.

As long as you keep your blog on a subdirectory or subfolder, it will keep the Google bots coming to your main website to recrawl and index your site over and over.

So Why Do Companies Use Subdomains?

While blogs on subdomains provide very little SEO value, some companies still choose to divide up their website this way.

For some, it all comes down to infrastructure concerns. Their website may be very old, and that may make it extremely difficult to add new content in any other way.

Other instances when subdomains are valid options include large but temporary promotions. Sometimes you may want to create a sort of microsite and host it on “contest.website.com” so that it can be easily removed when the contest is over.

In this case, a subdomain may be a good option because it probably doesn’t matter if those pages are getting much value from link building efforts. Those pages are, by nature, temporary and you probably don’t need them to rank for anything major.

Of course, sometimes you may want to segment your audience. Craigslist and Wikipedia are good examples here. Craigslist offers localized content on newyork.cragslist.com or utah.craigslist.com because there’s no reason for people outside those areas to see anything else. Wikipedia wants to make sure you’re getting information in your native language, so they will separate the English (en.wikipedia.com) from the Japanese (jp.wikipedia.com).

So, the question becomes whether or not you need to deal with that kind of geo-targeting on your website. If you deal mainly with one specific audience, then no. You don’t. However, if you are going international, and you are providing different products or services at different price points, then you may want to use a subdomain structure to keep everything organized.

Having said that, though, be sure to talk to your SEO consultant about it. Subdirectories may still be the better option for you.

Our Recommendation

While there may be some valid reasons to use subdomains, if at all possible, we recommend avoiding them.

Blog integration is an important part of content marketing, and more and more of your SEO is going to rely on that high-quality, regularly produced content.

You don’t want to separate all that good stuff from your main domain.

From a strictly online marketing and company growth perspective, you need to be focused on directing as much traffic as possible to the main domain. When your website and blog are integrated, all of your efforts will be focused on one thing, rather than split between two different sites.


Want to learn more about how your blog and your content marketing work with other online marketing strategies to improve your overall success? Take a look at our free eBook to learn more.

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Andy Eliason

Written by Andy Eliason

Andy Eliason has been writing in the SEO industry longer than is technically healthy. He once considered counting all the words he has written over the years, but decided that such an endeavor could only end in tears.

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