SubDomain vs SubDirectory: site architecture and SEO
It is universally accepted that SEO considerations should be part of any site’s architecture. We have several architectural options, such as multiple domains, sub domains and sub directories. As an example, we could look at seomatters.eu and seomatters.ro, ro.seomatters.eu and seomatters.eu/ro. The most suitable option should be chosen depending on budget, scope, type of enterprise and volume of traffic.
Before starting my journey through the options and suitability, I feel I should point out that structure should be agreed on from the very beginning and changes should be ideally reduced to a minimum to avoid losing link equity and ending up with SEO-unfriendly sites. Unless absolutely necessary, major changes should be avoided in order to minimise losses to link equity and site authority. Once a site structure has been agreed, you need to map targeted keywords to relevant/chosen pages. It is important to remember all these measures are part of the same picture rather than separate projects.
The above becomes even more relevant when we deal with large organisations, where agency loss and lack of communication where needed can erode both SEO and marketing efforts generally. More on this later, for now let’s get back to site structure and SEO. First, for smaller sites the SubDirectory option is a much more viable solution since it’s easier to manage and preserve link juice across pages. Seomatters.eu/example1/example2 and so on is a very practical solution for site architecture that is based on smaller traffic numbers and resources. This site structure in turn serves as a footprint for link building strategies and off site SEO.
Then, separate domains are a good idea for geographical targeting, but sites have to be managed as separate SEO entities and before committing to such a project ensure you’ve got enough resources – link inventory, original content, funds etc. Going back to our examples, seomatters.eu, seomatters.ro or seomatters.fr are all examples of separate domains with geographical targeting.
And last – sub domains – ro.seomatters.eu and fr.seomatters.eu are somewhere in the middle, because if the main domain – seomatters.eu – is strong enough, some link juice will be distributed to sub domains as well, as long as there are not too many of them. I have to mention all the above are presented as examples for illustration purposes only and I just write on seomatters.eu :))
While all three options have both advantages and criticisms, an SEO-friendly choice of site architecture can be made based on the size, traffic and purpose of the web entity. Create well!