Marketing for IT Companies > SEO for IT Companies > Blog on Subdomain vs Subdirectory

Blog on Subdomain vs Subdirectory

If you are an IT company with the blog on a subdomain I recommend you move the blog from the subdomain to the main domain. Especially when you get leads from the organic search marketing channel. The goal of switching from the subdomain is to grow the number of leads. 

After the migration you may face the following negative consequences:

  1. The drop in the number of leads due to the organic search traffic decreasing;
  2. The amount of leads stays the same as well as organic search traffic, despite the efforts you put in. 

 In order to neutralize these potential negative effects, you need to know the following:

  1. Use a 301 Redirect for all pages on the subdomain to make sure that anyone that goes to any page with your subdomain is smoothly redirected to the same page on your main domain (1:1 301 redirects, e.x., the old URL “blog.domain.com/article” to new URL “domain.com/article”). I don’t recommend you to use “blog” in your URL structure.
  2. Try to contact the sites linking to the content on your subdomain, asking them to update their links to your main domain (by the way, it’s an official recommendation from Google). Fix your internal links, too.
  3. Sometimes it requires a few months for Google just to restore organic traffic to previous periods. It needs some time to index and rank pages with new URLs. 
  4. Make sure that after the migration of the subdomain to the root domain only the URLs have changed and nothing else. Significant changes to the HTML/JS code of the website templates as well as the speed of pages loading may have either positive or negative influence on the restoring organic traffic.

Don’t just sit and wait that switching from a subdomain to a subfolder of the root domain will increase the overall rankings of your website. Along the way, create new content and improve the quality of the existing one using SEO techniques including optimizing website navigation.

According to SEO Expert Michael Martinez, “Many people attribute the growth in traffic to moving their content from a subdomain to a subfolder because they don’t take into consideration the changes in the navigation. PageRank Sculpting was often involved. Even when my friend Todd Friesen claimed that Salesforce saw an improvement (something like doubling the traffic) I was able to confirm through archive.org that they were using the better internal linking structure for the subfolder“.

If these conditions are met, you have the right to expect an increase in the number of leads.

Which Software Companies Have Succeeded by Moving their Blog from Subdomain to the Main Domain

Salesforce is a SaaS provider of cloud-based CRM software.

Mention is a social media and web monitoring software company. They migrated from a subdomain to a subdirectory in January 2016.

HotPads is a real estate marketplace.

Google SEO Subdomain vs Subdirectory

Rand Fishkin is a tech entrepreneur, blogger, and leader in the field of Search Engine Optimisation. 

Here is his opinion:

It’s really dangerous to put content on a subdomain. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen and we’ve actually tested ourselves by first putting content on a subdomain and then moving it back over to the main domain with Moz. We’ve done that three times over thу past two years. Each time we’ve seen a considerable boost in rankings and in search traffic, both long tail and head of the demand curve to these, and we’re not alone. Many others have seen it, particularly in the startup world, where it’s very popular to put blog.yourwebsite.com, and then eventually people move it over to a subfolder, and they see ranking benefits. I’d really urge everyone to keep your content on one single sub and root domain, preferably in subfolders. That’s how you’re going to maximize your potential SEO benefit. This is one of those technical SEO things that just hasn’t changed for many years now.

Rand Fishkin

Semrush’s author James Brockbank clearly states that “if content and links are split between a subdomain and the main domain, those two entities’ overall ‘authority’ is lower than if everything sat on the main domain (using subdirectories). Essentially, great content that’s earning great backlinks will almost always contribute to better SEO results when hosted on a subdirectory rather than a subdomain. For the most part, the SEO community agrees that if there are no technical restrictions, legal restrictions in different countries, etc., you should host content in a subdirectory rather than on a subdomain. If it’s a blog, then the preference should always be that this content is hosted in a subdirectory”.

That’s why it’s common to see an uplift in overall organic visibility and traffic (compared to the two viewed separately) when migrating relevant subdomains into subfolders on the main domain.

James Brockbank

When Can You Consider Using a Subdomain

HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform.

They choose to have their blog as a subdomain because they “have a content campaign in mind that’s large enough in volume to deserve its own hierarchy and growth path”. Additionally, they started to use the subdomain for a blog because they wanted to create a niche authority.

Subfolders can be great for SEO as they keep any earned backlinks, domain authority, and page authority closely tied to the root domain. If your site doesn’t have any extensive verticals on your navigation, then you might not need to use a subdomain because you want as many links going back to your main site as possible. Subdirectories can be helpful for smaller websites that don’t have a large variety of content.

Rebecca Riserbato, Hubspot’s author

Search Engine Journal columnist Roger Montti rightly notes that “if a publisher has a content topic that is completely different from the main site” this can be the SEO reason for hosting it on a subdomain. “By separating this content section from the rest of the site, a publisher can control what that entire section is about and not allow the rest of the site to influence or overwhelm that one section. It’s about allowing a subdomain to rank on its own without influence from the main site and vice-versa”.

The SERP display for The New York Times’ recipe subdomain section. When you search for “recipes NYTimes” Google displays it in the SERPs like a standalone website, complete with a six-pack listing of subsections.
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