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Old 10-16-2006   #1
mikkom
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Will Subdomains Help With SEO?

Hello,

We are running a social news site and are planning to extend it into several categories. Now I'm thinking of what's the best way to organize the site in order to not hurt our pagerank.

Let's assume that our site is site.com, should the best way to categorize groups to be like:

tech.site.com
business.site.com
..etc..

or

site.com/tech
site.com/business
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Old 10-16-2006   #2
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Advantages of subdomains is that more of your site's results can be displayed when a user enters a query.

Currently, max 3 results (of which 2 indented) per subdomain are shown in Google. If you use a folder architecture you have chance of max 3 results, if you use 3 subdomains you have chance on max 9 results.

A query on let's say Microsoft can then result into articles about MS acquisitions (on business.site.com) and releases of new products (on tech.site.com).

This is particularly interesting in case your site covers a wide array of topics / themes and has a large volume. Be sure to interlink to control PR dosage.
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Old 10-16-2006   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikkom
Let's assume that our site is site.com, should the best way to categorize groups to be like:

tech.site.com
business.site.com
..etc..

or

site.com/tech
site.com/business
Hi mikkom

The major search engines currently perceive e.g, 'tech.site.com' 'business.site.com' as two different domains even though they are subdomains that relate to the same domain 'site.com'. In addison is it much better to have 500 pages from one single domain indexed in the major search engines than 250 pages from e.g. 2 domains indexed.

Thus the subfolder-approach like 'site.com/tech' and 'site.com/business' is a better way to devide content than using subdomains, because the major search engines currently considers the content to come from the same domain.

Beware, do no generate a lot of subfolders because content that resides in subfolders is given a lower priority that content that resides in the root of a website. The deeper down in subfolders e.g. 'site.com/tech/hardware/printers/brand/model/...' that content resides the lower priority it gets from the major search engines. Do not go deeper than 1 subfolder from the root folder of your website

/Grosen Friis
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Old 10-17-2006   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grosen Friis
that content resides the lower priority it gets from the major search engines. Do not go deeper than 1 subfolder from the root folder of your website
That's certainly interesting, I was not aware of this.

So two different opinions about how to divide the site, any more thoughts (I'm leaning towards folders, ie site.com/group)

thanks
Mikko
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Old 10-17-2006   #5
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Actually, my understanding is the search engines will still perceive subdomains as standalone sites and not necessarily related to a main domain. Moreover, the opposite argument is that by having two different sites, you likely increase the chances of more pages getting indexed and of having two different "home" pages that typically rank better than internal pages. Directory depth, in my view, is also not something to worry about. So many blogs bury content in directories (blog.com/year/month/day/postname.html) that the search engines seem to use that less.

Those are my views, love to hear more from those in the field on how much a difference is makes.

My main advice on subdomains is only to use them if you have substantial content. If you only have a few pages, it's probably overkill.
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Old 10-17-2006   #6
Grosen Friis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
my understanding is the search engines will still perceive subdomains as standalone sites and not necessarily related to a main domain.
Hi dannysullivan

Yes you are right and thus you should still go for the 1 domain approch using subfolders than using subdomains.



Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Moreover, the opposite argument is that by having two different sites, you likely increase the chances of more pages getting indexed and of having two different "home" pages that typically rank better than internal pages.
It is easier to work hard on getting a high page rank for one domain, than getting a high page rank for several subdomains. E.g. getting links that point to only 1 domain is more valuable than sharing the same amount of links between several subdomains.

In addition subpages that are linked to from the index page can inherit some of the pagerank from the index page. It is better for subpages to inherit a high pagerank e.g. 6 from the index page achived using the 1 domain approach, than only inheriting a pagerank 4 from the index page on a subdomain using the sumdomain approach.

As far as I know no major search engines have limits as to how many pages that can be index from a single domain (I have only been told that you should not exceed approx. 65.000 pages per folder/subfolder, then more subfolders should be used). Thus using several subdomains will not increase the number of pages indexed by the major search engines, and thus it is better to put as much quality content you can on one single domain, than sharing the same content between several subdomains.



Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Directory depth, in my view, is also not something to worry about. So many blogs bury content in directories (blog.com/year/month/day/postname.html) that the search engines seem to use that less.
Major search engines do not have problems reacing content deep down in a subfolder structure, but:

www . blog.com/year/month/day/postname.html

will not be able to inherit as much pagerank from the index page than this URL:

www . blog.com/year-month-day-postname.html



Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Those are my views, love to hear more from those in the field on how much a difference is makes.
Mee too ;-)

/Grosen Friis
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Old 10-17-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grosen Friis
It is easier to work hard on getting a high page rank for one domain, than getting a high page rank for several subdomains.
True, which is the reason why for segmented, large sites it is of added value. If a site directs to several different segments, other specialized (vertical) sites will more likely link to this site if it is devided into subdomains per vertical.



Quote:
In addition subpages that are linked to from the index page can inherit some of the pagerank from the index page. It is better for subpages to inherit a high pagerank e.g. 6 from the index page achived using the 1 domain approach, than only inheriting a pagerank 4 from the index page on a subdomain using the sumdomain approach.
I agree, this is one of the reasons you should only do it with high volume sites.



Quote:
Thus using several subdomains will not increase the number of pages indexed by the major search engines
True, not the total amount of pages indexed, but it will increase the total amount of pages displayed (share of voice), which typically translates into more traffic if the relative advantage is big enough (ie. if you have a big site).

Last edited by Jochen : 10-17-2006 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 10-17-2006   #8
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Subdomains

If you're building a social news site, then your biggest concern is how well your URLs will travel through the crowd. From a marketing and usability standpoint, I'd say that business.site.com shows better focus and is easier to pass along (verbally, virally, via diggs, etc.) than a subfolder URL.

From an SEO standpoint, if subdomains are considered separate sites then your linking efforts will get each of them associated with the correct corresponding neighborhoods. I think this factor outweighs the all-in-one, max-PageRank approach.
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Old 10-17-2006   #9
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If using subdomains, remember to also create www.business.domain.com and 301 it over to business.domain.com. No matter how many times you tell someone why www. exists and that it's not needed, some people will still add it before every URL.

With regards to whether using subdomains is a good idea, this depends on the site in question. I would usually recommend taking this approach when each micro-site's topic/purpose is different and has enough content to stand up on its own 2 feet. tech.domain.com, business.domain.com and finance.domain.com as outlined above are perfect examples of where subs can be effective.

There is of course the duplicate content scenario which you need to stay clear of though. I've found with a previous client that Google in particular seems to be less forgiving with unique domain duplication (site1.com/file.html similar to site2.com/xyz.html) compared to site specific duplication (site1.com/file.html similar to site1.com/xyz.html). Using a CSS based design template which allows you to put your content at the top of the source code (without moving its location when viewed in a browser) can sometimes help with this; along with unique Page Titles, Headlines etc and Meta Descriptions - if you use them.



Rob

Last edited by evilgreenmonkey : 10-17-2006 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 10-17-2006   #10
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Quote:
Major search engines do not have problems reacing content deep down in a subfolder structure, but:

www . blog.com/year/month/day/postname.html

will not be able to inherit as much pagerank from the index page than this URL:

www . blog.com/year-month-day-postname.html
I disagree. Directory depth has nothing to do with PR distribution.

The issue is links - usually clicks from home. If a page is on root but can only be found by clicking 4 times from home, then it's 4 clicks away and that is the drop in PR you will see. If you have a page 4 directories deep but directly linked to by the home page (ie one click away) then you will see a PR distribution based on it being one click away, rather than 4 directories deep.

In short, it's clicks, not folders. Google doesn't care how your site is physically laid out, it cares how the links and navigation is laid out.

Don't believe me? Take a root page of yours and link it only from some page buried deep in your navigation structure, then take some page, bury it under 4 levels of directories, but link it directly from the home page, and watch what happens to the PR of the pages in question.

Also for fun, take a page buried under many folders and link to it directly from a high PR website outside of yours. That page can very easily result in higher PR than the home page or any other root page.

PR is based on links, not the physical location of web pages. Period.

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Last edited by mcanerin : 10-17-2006 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 10-18-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin
I disagree. Directory depth has nothing to do with PR distribution.

The issue is links - usually clicks from home. If a page is on root but can only be found by clicking 4 times from home, then it's 4 clicks away and that is the drop in PR you will see. If you have a page 4 directories deep but directly linked to by the home page (ie one click away) then you will see a PR distribution based on it being one click away, rather than 4 directories deep.

In short, it's clicks, not folders. Google doesn't care how your site is physically laid out, it cares how the links and navigation is laid out.

Hi Ian

I am aware of the many-clicks-away-from-frontpage issue, thats why I always use sitemap(s) that makes all subpages a maximum of 2 clicks away from the frontpage.

I also agree with you that links, both from e.g. the frontpage or from a 3rd party website can help the ranking of a specific subpage compared to another similar subpage that does not get similar links.

However I still believe that

www . blog.com/year-month-day-postname.html

will rank better than

www . blog.com/year/month/day/postname.html

if they have the same amount and type of backlinks...

/Grosen Friis
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Old 11-05-2006   #12
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apologies if my comments seem "off" as i didn't read the replies in their entirety... as an example, i was having this conversation with someone that was about to create subdomains "for better seo" in this manner for a company i share space with:

-------------------------------------------
http://design.domain.com
http://development.domain.com
http://hosting.domain.com
http://marketing.domain.com
-------------------------------------------

i basically said "... WOAH, WOAH ... there's no reason to do that at all, 'it is a tactic' and should be avoided because the company is not going to become the be-all-end-all for those topics so, why create unique (sub)domains for the services of the company. coupled to it being 'spammy' imo, it's also silly because they're all basically related to eachother where as if you were building 'bic.com' you could legitamize creating both http://pens.bic.com and http://razors.bic.com as they're not related. additionally, if you were a university you'd do well to create subdomains for different curriculum, etc or to go in another direction with it you might say if you were building a site named location.com that doing the following would make more sense if using subdomains:
http://north.location.com
http://east.location.com
http://south.location.com
http://west.location.com ..."


anyhow, i would say subdomains would be more useful for intra/extranet or specific service uses such as mail, a forum, wiki or maybe an online store rather than a specific tactic for seo.

Last edited by chrisbigler : 11-05-2006 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 11-06-2006   #13
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link power of sub domain

If you do create a subdomain would not the link from the sub domain to your root directory pages have more power, if in fact the search engines view sub domains as seperate web sites?
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Old 11-06-2006   #14
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more power from a subdomain? the "more power" part suggests that your subdomain would rank better than your main domain which while more than possible, i'd still opt for no on that unless....

1 the subdomain's dns was pointing to another ip, and
2 the subdomain "domain" ranked well for itself, was "complimentary" information but not duplicate to the main domains focus

i mean... while it is a different domain and that's "good," i wouldn't suggest there's an amazing benefit for someone to use this as a tactic for getting their main domain to rank better. there are many ways to do things, some make sense, some make less sense, some easy, some tedious; but i'd still focus on the main domain and only use subdomains for a store, forum, wiki, etc

in the end it's up to you though.
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Old 11-07-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grosen Friis
Hi mikkom

The deeper down in subfolders e.g. 'site.com/tech/hardware/printers/brand/model/...' that content resides the lower priority it gets from the major search engines. Do not go deeper than 1 subfolder from the root folder of your website

/Grosen Friis
It is generally wrong navigation structure ..& let me make it simple ...whterver you are trying to do the whole game is played on the

content on your page...keyword density , ...keyyword frequency..use of keywords at diffrent places...

And your PR is always depedent on how relvant links you have & you are giving (outbond links...)
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Old 11-08-2006   #16
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Thumbs up All answers on SEO questions

SEO BOOK - it is really helpful book which has
all answers on all seo questions !!!
Seo Optimization and seo software !!!

[edit]

This book really good !!!

Mod note: Proprietary name used for book, use of the name belongs to Aaron Wall of SEOBOOK.com

Last edited by Marcia : 11-09-2006 at 12:20 AM. Reason: Replaced URL drop with proper URL.
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Old 11-26-2006   #17
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subdomains/folder

1) I totally agree that PR (which is not so relevant anyway) is not determined by folder depth but by the internal linking structure.

2) We are launching a portal related to fashion, which is a competitive area. Some designers have their own folders others have (their own) subdomains, simply because we are strapped for time to do everything right now and folders are automatically generated when people register we have not given everyone a subdomain. We use apache rewrite rules to direct folder to subdomain. A redirect therefore. Subdomains are given as a gesture.. it looks cooler on their card and they can say "hey.. I have my own little corner on www.domain.com". Fine.. whatever they want.

We use Google sitemaps.

We internally link the same way to these designer pages, and there are no external links to them. Only links from two pages. Home page is PR 4.

We have a number of very high trust inbound links that can never be bought to other pages of the site www.domain.com

Competition for different designer names is different.. sometimes a name occurs in the 1-2 million (not necessarily as "john doe" but simply by typing john doe (as any normal being would)) and sometimes only a few 1000. I know the number google produces doesn't tell too much .. but ok.. as an indication (else this posting gets way too long).

Now in the few 1000 case we're fine anyway. We score 1 for any type of page with the designer name in the page title and headlines.

In the other situations it is actually the name.domain.com that scores in the top 20, whereas the designers that still have www.domain.com/// don't score so well if at all. (pages DO occur in the index however).

So this may sound illogical if the main site is the more trusted site; bigger; on topic etc (all name.domain.com pages have NO folders, so it's a single page). we do not work with a real/REAL subdomain but with a redirect from the folder page so maybe there lies the answer (Google still connects name.domain.com with the main domain ? )

However: both pages: name.domain.com and www.domain.com///folder.html occur in the ranking in parallel .... so with one designer the top 4 pages are ours, not planned, I think it's overkill, but OK it happened.

Also we find so many parameters influence the ranking.. that we would have to narrow our testing down to varying one parameter for one designer.. and see what happens. Nevertheless there is something if a group of pages behaves in a similar uniform manner.

We will definitely continue with testing.. since my common sense would tell me that being part of a large (we will grow to 10.000-20.000 pages) site with high trust on topic inbound links should be beneficial for any page and therefore name.domain.com should always loose out in the longer term. Unless the answer lies in the redirect.. and then there lies your solution to this problem as well ?

Cheers
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