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Blog Placement for SEO: Subdomain vs. Subdirectory (and Other Options)

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Blog Placement for SEO: Subdomain vs. Subdirectory and Other Options

In my last article, you learned about the benefits of having a business blog if you’re a large corporate brand.

Making the commitment to have a blog is simply the first and maybe toughest step. This is a step that over 50% of corporations still haven’t taken.

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt a business blog for your brand, there are a lot of things that have to be done pre-launch in order to make it successful. I’ll discuss in an upcoming post why there are many more things to take into consideration as a corporate brand in order to launch and run a good business blog.

However, the first question is typically fairly simple, but can have a number of SEO ramifications. That question is:

“Where should the blog live in order to get the maximum SEO benefit?”

This is a question I’ve gotten many times, and it can relate to a blog or to regular websites (with franchises or many offices).

I’m sure there are many differing opinions on this topic, and if we were talking about regular sites and not just blogs I may have varying opinions on a case-by-case basis. However, I’ll list the scenarios in order of most to least impactful based on what I know and my opinions about SEO and blogging.

1. Blog Placed in Subdirectory (Ex: yoursite.com/blog)

This situation for me is the most ideal from an SEO standpoint. I prefer to use a subdirectory (or “subfolder”) over a subdomain or external site any day.

Matt Cutts agrees with me:

“My personal preference on subdomains vs. subdirectories is that I usually prefer the convenience of subdirectories for most of my content. A subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different. Google uses subdomains for distinct products such news.google.com or maps.google.com, for example. If you’re a newer webmaster or SEO, I’d recommend using subdirectories until you start to feel pretty confident with the architecture of your site. At that point, you’ll be better equipped to make the right decision for your own site.”

Rand Fishkin agrees with me too, but does go on to detail compelling usage examples for subdomains:

“Starting a blog? I almost always recommend yoursite.com/blog over blog.yoursite.com.”

Advantages:

  • Subdirectories tend to inherent some of the ranking benefits of the root domain.
  • Inbound links coming into the blog subdirectory and/or its blog posts can build more ranking value, page authority, and link juice for the root domain.
  • Utilizing the blog as a subdirectory, you can use blog posts to better enhance the root domain’s authority (and ranking ability) for a given topic by building hubs of content around that topic and cross-linking to key pages on the root.
  • Any social sharing equity is passed back to root domain.
  • Easier to organize content within the blog
  • Easier to create and manage from a server perspective.

Disadvantages:

  • Typically longer URL than below
  • Authority and link equity may diminish as your get deeper into a subdirectory structure – farther away from the root (ex: yoursite.com/blog/seo/google)
  • Won’t have the ability to achieve as high a level of SERP saturation as you would with subdomains.

2. Blog Placed in Subdomain (Ex: blog.yoursite.com)

This is the second best option in my opinion for SEO. A subdomain is basically a separate or third-tier website that just so happens to be residing off of the root domain. Search engines typically view them as wholly separate entities. I would only use this if the blog was completely separate to your services (or if your site infrastructure does not allow you to add blogging software to the root domain).

Advantages:

  • Typically shorter URL than above
  • Can pass some link value back to the root domain through cross-linking within template and articles.
  • Can achieve a higher level of SERP saturation as search engines can rank more than the traditional 2 listings per site – multiple pages from your root domain as well as your subdomain.

Disadvantages:

  • Subdomains DO NOT always inherit any or all of the positive metrics and ranking ability of their root domain (i.e. link equity, ranking equity, age benefits, etc).
  • Some subdomains get zero benefit from the root domain they are on (ex: sites like WordPress.com where anyone can create their own subdomain and begin blogging).
  • If you get inbound links to the subdirectory of the blog, it will build equity for the subdirectory. However, since it is technically a different site, it will not inherently pass that juice back to the root domain.
  • More difficult to create and manage from a server perspective.

3. Blog On External URL (Ex: someothersite.com)

Having a separate site as your blog – while better than nothing at all – is the least ideal solution of the 3 solutions discussed. Again, I would only use this option if the blog was completely separate to your services (or if your site infrastructure does not allow you to add blogging software to the root domain). A great example of this would be if your company had an unrelated sponsorship that had enough interest to warrent its own blog.

Advantages:

  • Can pass some link value back to the root domain through cross-linking within template and articles.
  • Can achieve a higher level of SERP saturation as search engines can rank both your corporate site and your external blog.
  • May allow you to have multiple blogs covering distinct topics, each on their own domains – as opposed to just one to one.
  • Can provide coverage for services/topics that are unrelated to your business – i.e. sponsorships.

Disadvantages:

  • Could create brand confusion if not design and branded appropriately, and consumers could be unaware that it is your property at all.
  • External blogs WILL NOT benefit from any ranking equity that is garnered from your root domain.
  • Links to your external blog and its articles will not pass along equity for your root business domain, but will instead only build equity to the external site itself.
  • Will not have the advantage of using this blog content to build authority around a subject for your root domain.
  • Again, it’s another site you’ll have to manage from a server perspective.

4. No Blog

Okay, so you’re one of the over 50% of corporations that still aren’t utilizing blogging for your business. If you read my last article and still aren’t convinced of the benefits of blogging, where is your head at?

If you review the advantages I’ve detailed and still feel as if there isn’t a direct business impact that can be made to correlate to being worth your time, then maybe you’ll never understand. If that is the case, here is the advantage to not having a blog…

Advantages:

  • You can sit back, relax, and count your money because you don’t have to worry about the complex issues that come along with having a blog like good branding, creative content, increased social sharing, enhanced customer engagement, more site traffic, better SEO results, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • I can’t say that you’d have worse SEO results by not having a blog, but I can’t say that they would be any better either.
  • Less opportunity for social engagement.
  • Less opportunity for interaction with your customers.
  • Less opportunity for traffic and exposure for your website.

Just get a blog folks – it will make everyone happier!


Original image credit: Deviant Art

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Jacob Stoops

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is an SEO professional living in Columbus, Ohio and working for Rosetta Marketing. He's been working in the SEO industry since 2006, and has been blogging since 2009. Learn more about , a Columbus, Ohio SEO Expert.

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