Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: What They Are and Which Is Better for SEO

November 23, 2023
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In the dynamic world of SEO, understanding and making the right choices is essential for success. One such crucial decision website owners and marketers grapple with is whether to use subdomains or subdirectories in their site structure. The choice between subdomains and subdirectories can have a tremendous impact on your website's search engine visibility, user experience, and overall performance. This article will provide an in-depth look at subdomains and subdirectories, empowering you to make informed decisions that will bolster your website's SEO strategy.

Understanding Subdomains and Subdirectories

Before diving into their differences, pros, and cons, let's define subdomains and subdirectories.

What Is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is a separate website section that exists under your primary domain but functions as an independent entity. It appears before the main domain name in the website's URL. For example, if your website is, a subdomain might look like:

What Is a Subdirectory?

A subdirectory, also known as a subfolder, is a hierarchy within your primary domain, signifying a specific section or category of your website. It appears after the main domain name in the website's URL. For example, is a subdirectory.

Pros and Cons of Subdomains and Subdirectories

The choice between subdomains and subdirectories depends on various factors, such as the website's size and content structure. Let's explore their pros and cons to help you decide.

Pros of Subdomains

1. Flexibility: Subdomains offer the independence to set up different platforms, databases, or programming languages for each website section. This facilitates ease of management and customization.

2. Scalability: Subdomains can have their hosting, enabling you to allocate dedicated resources, ensuring optimal performance and stability for each section as needed.

3. Geotargeting: For businesses operating in multiple regions, subdomains allow geotargeting – tailoring the website's content and language for specific audiences.

Cons of Subdomains

1. SEO: Subdomains are considered separate entities by search engines, which means their authority and link equity are not shared with the primary domain, potentially leading to lower search engine rankings.

2. Increased need for management: Managing subdomains can be more time-consuming and resource-intensive than managing subdirectories, as each subdomain operates as an independent website.

Pros of Subdirectories

1. SEO benefit: Subdirectories are seen as part of the primary domain by search engines, benefitting from its authority and link equity, which can result in higher rankings.

2. Ease of management: Subdirectories are more straightforward to manage than subdomains since they exist within the primary domain and share its resources.

Cons of Subdirectories

1. Limited flexibility: Subdirectories may not offer the same level of customization and separation as subdomains, which can limit your ability to implement different platforms, databases, or programming languages for each section of your website.

2. Restrictions on geotargeting: Using subdirectories for geotargeting purposes may not be as effective as utilizing subdomains due to the shared nature of the primary domain.

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory SEO Considerations

The impact on SEO is at the heart of the subdomain versus subdirectory debate. Here, we examine how each affects SEO.

Authority and Link Equity

As mentioned earlier, subdomains are treated as separate entities by search engines, meaning that they don't share the primary domain's authority and link equity. This can result in subdomains struggling to rank unless they establish their authority by accumulating backlinks.

On the other hand, subdirectories benefit from the primary domain's authority and link equity, making it generally easier for them to rank. However, it's important to note that the impact varies depending on the quality of the content and the overall website architecture.

Keyword Targeting

Both subdomains and subdirectories can effectively target specific keywords. Subdomains allow you to target keywords within your URL, which can have a minor impact on rankings. Subdirectories can also target keywords within their URLs but may benefit more by being part of a well-structured main domain with a combination of informational and transactional keywords.

Indexation and Crawling

Both subdomains and subdirectories can be crawled and indexed by search engines, but subdirectories generally tend to be crawled more quickly and consistently. Subdomains may require additional effort to ensure proper indexation and crawling, such as submitting separate sitemaps for each subdomain.

Which is Better for SEO?

The decision on whether to use subdomains or subdirectories largely depends on the specific needs and goals of your website. Generally speaking, subdirectories are considered the better choice for SEO, as they benefit from the primary domain's established authority and link equity, simplifying management and indexation.

However, there are cases where subdomains might be a suitable choice. For instance, when a specific website section requires a high level of independence for management and customization or when geotargeting is a critical component of your online strategy.

Before deciding, carefully evaluate your website's requirements and consider consulting with SEO experts, such as Ranked, who offer affordable SEO services for businesses and white label SEO solutions. They can assess your website's needs and recommend the best site structure to maximize your SEO efforts and drive results.


The choice between subdomains and subdirectories plays a key role in your website's SEO success. While subdirectories generally seem to have an edge in terms of SEO benefits, the right decision depends on your specific requirements and goals.

Ranked, a leading provider of white label SEO solutions and other affordable SEO services for businesses, offers the expertise needed to guide you through such critical decisions to ensure the best possible site structure for your unique needs. With their experience and industry-leading methodologies, Ranked can help craft an SEO strategy tailored to your website, leading to better visibility, higher rankings, and increased organic traffic.

Empower your website's success by partnering with Ranked for expert guidance on choosing between subdomains and subdirectories, as well as optimizing your site's architecture for maximum SEO results.