Subfolder vs Subdomain for SEO

One of the most over looked elements of website architecture is whether you should use a subdomain or a subfolder. Unfortunately, many webmasters do not understand the differences between the two and stick with whichever one they learned first. Before creating a new website whether on wordpress or another CMS platform you need to start with a few questions.
  • When building out your website architecture should you use a subdomain or a subfolder?
  • Is one of the site structures considered better for SEO?

What is a subdomain URL structure?

When building a website there different types of website architecture to consider – one being a subdomain. Subdomains can be used to segment a website into different sections, or to create separate websites entirely.

Here is an example of a subdomain:

  The most common use of subdomains is company blogs, geo locations or help desks or support questions such, or Subdomains are often used by organizations as a way to segment their online presence into different areas. This can be a helpful way for visitors to find the information they’re looking for, and for the organization to keep track of its different online properties. In addition to being helpful for tracking, many websites will use subdomains to host external projects such as a support desk. Subdomains can be set up for free with most domain registrars and web hosting providers. All you need to do is create a new account with the provider and add the subdomain to your domain. Once it’s set up, you can start building your website or online store.

What is a subfolder URL structure? 

A website subfolder is a folder within a website that contains additional pages or files. This allows webmasters to keep their website organized and well structured while still providing visitors with a great user experience (UX). Website subfolders are typically used to organize website content in a logical and easy-to-navigate manner. 

Example of a subfolder structure: 

 If you had a website dedicated to multiple types of fitness services and you’d like to make each one rank well in the search engines you ideally would have a subfolder structure.

 Then if you have different types of cardio classes you’d create child pages for that cardio subfolder.


If there are different types of running classes you could continue adding on additional subfolders


Should you use a subdomain or subfolder for SEO?

Unfortunately, like a lot of things in the world of SEO there is not a definitive answer to this question, as there are benefits and drawbacks to both subfolders and subdomains. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what makes the most sense for your particular website and business. There are some potential benefits to using a subfolder for SEO purposes. First, it can be easier to manage your website’s structure when everything is in one place. Second, if you have an existing website with good SEO, adding new content in a subfolder can help you piggyback off of that existing SEO. There are also some potential benefits to using a subdomain for SEO purposes. First, it can be helpful to segment your website’s content if you have a lot of different topics covered. This can make it easier for users to find the content they’re looking for, and it can also help you target specific keywords more effectively. Second, using a subdomain can give you a boost in the search engine rankings if you’re starting from scratch with your SEO. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to using a subfolder or subdomain for SEO. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option and decide what will work best for your particular website and business.

Is a subdomain or subfolder better for SEO for franchise or multi-location websites?

Franchise SEO can be tricky to scale and the subdomain vs subfolder question is one of the most common and fundamental challenges your website will need answers too. If you have a website with multiple locations or franchise locations a subfolders structure is better for SEO. The reason being is subfolders can help build your domain authority as a whole while subdomains do not.

Interested in discussing subdomains vs subfolders on a consultation?

Take a look at how not having a correct subfolder structure could potentially hold you back from unleashing the maximum impact of your content strategy in the article I wrote about LinkedIn’s quick ascension with the use of AI content. Could technical SEO elements such as building a proper subfolder startegy have helped them improve their organic keyword rankings? I believe so.

About the Author

Shane Hampson

Shane Hampson

Ethical SEO Consultant

Data Driven Marketer. Fantasy Football Champion. Dog Lover. Foodie.

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