Posted on 2004-09-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-19
hi all!!

I'm trying to get a grip on *subdomains*.  I'd like to create an entire sub-set of pages about a related topic and in the past I've created a sub*directory* (folder) that contained it's own index page and subsequent linked pages.

Now I am aware of subdomains, but that's where my knowledge ends.  I don't know how this works for the search engines, don't know how it works for things such as my CSS files even, or anything else I may not be aware of.  Do all hosts have this capability? I know I can figure how how to deal with the technical end of it if I am armed with info, but if there is an online marketing or SE issue, I need to know about that for SURE!

Any and all info will be helpful!

Thanks so much!

linque !
Question by:linque
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

humeniuk earned 1000 total points
ID: 12176556
Hi linque,

From a search engine perspective, www.yourdomain.com and www.yourdomain.com/directory are in the same domain, but www.yourdomain.com and subdomain.yourdomain.com are in different domains.  The benefits of using folders is that all of your content is seen as being within one website (domain) and search engines prefer more content over less.  Consequently, the SE profile of individual sections will be raised by association with the other sections of your website.  At the same time, having a interlinked subdomains means that links from one to the other are seen as external links, which can also benefit your SE profile and ranking.

If you are going to use multiple subdomains, just make sure you keep them distinct so that you are not penalized for providing duplicate content.  In choosing which structure is best for you, be aware of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.  If you use folders, make sure you have enough incoming links.  If you use subdomains, make sure you have enough unique content.  This may be the most important consideration here: remember that each subdomain will have to survive and compete for search engine position ON ITS OWN MERITS.  I emphasize this because most of us have enough trouble achieving good SE position for one website, let alone multiple sites (ie. multiple subdomains).  Don't go the subdomain route until you're sure you're ready.

Hosting companies will generally support subdomains, but whether or not you can use www.yourdomain.com and subdomain.yourdomain.com with the same hosting account is a different matter.  Most good hosting companies will allow you to have unlimited subdomains as part of a single hosting plan - your only limitation is disk space and bandwidth (some plans with some hosts even allow multiple DOMAINS within a single hosting plan).  Others will limit you to a certain number of subdomains and others still will require you to purchase an additional hosting plan for the subdomain, which they regard (like Google) as a separate website/domain.  If this is important to you, make sure you take the time to find a hosting company that meets your needs.

I hope this helps.

Expert Comment

ID: 12176617
humeniuk gave some great information. With SEO, subdomains are not the right choice. Always use your domains as:
this is the optimum URL strategy for subdomains/categories.
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

duz earned 1000 total points
ID: 12177058
Hi linque -

>how it works for things such as my CSS files even

You can have either a global stylesheet or subdomain stylesheets or both! If the subdomain stylesheets are dynamically generated there can be a problem because some browsers cache quite aggressively and the user will not get the updated stylesheet when they move to another subdomain.

>Do all hosts have this capability?

Yes all the good ones.

>if there is an online marketing or SE issue

Good question because using subdomains (as far as SEO is concerned) can be an excellent strategy and sometimes it can be a poor strategy. It is a complex issue but as a general rule (and to keep it simple!) if you do it like Yahoo has done and for similar reasons, ca.yahoo.com, au.yahoo.com, uk.yahoo.com etc., it works really well for the SEs.  On the other hand if you construct your subdomains something like this, chicago.mydomain.com, boston.mydomain.com etc., with a high ratio of crosslinks and/or a high ratio of similar content then that's bad news.

There are some advantages to subdomains, for example massachusetts.mydomain.com/boston is better (all other factors being equal) than mydomain.com/massachusetts/boston because the same content is higher up in the directory structure.

My personal take is that if a client site has over a half-million pages I start to think about subdomains (but not necessarily use them!) unless it is a heavily branded International Corporation that does not own the global domains in which case I will nearly always use subdomains (which I think answers your question on online marketing rather than SE issues).

- duz

Author Comment

ID: 12177636
thank you both very much!!

LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 12179905
Glad to help out and good luck.

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