How Google Treats Subdomains: Impact on Your SEO Strategy

Google treats subdomains differently than root domains, often as completely separate websites. If you’re looking to optimize your SEO, it’s generally recommended to use a subfolder rather than a subdomain. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Subdomains are often treated as separate entities by search engines, which means they don’t receive the same authority or link equity as the root domain. This can impact your site’s overall search ranking.
  • Subfolders are part of the main domain, so any link equity or authority that your root domain has will flow through to your subfolders.
  • Subfolders also make it easier to manage your content and track your website’s performance, as everything is located in one place. With subdomains, you’ll have to keep track of multiple domains and websites, which can be time-consuming.
  • Finally, subfolders are more user-friendly than subdomains. When your visitors see a subfolder in your URL, it makes it clear that they’re still on your main site. With a subdomain, visitors might think they’ve landed on a different website altogether, which can be confusing and lead to a higher bounce rate.
  • Overall, it’s best to avoid using subdomains as much as possible and stick to subfolders for your website’s content organization.

    1. Consider using a subdomain if the content you want to publish is distinct or has a completely different purpose from your main website. Keep in mind that Google treats subdomains as separate entities, so make sure not to duplicate content or have conflicting goals with your main site.
    2. Make sure that your subdomains are necessary and add value to your overall online presence. Don’t create subdomains just for the sake of having them, as this can confuse users and dilute your SEO efforts.
    3. Be strategic with subdomains if you’re rebranding or restructuring your site. Take advantage of the chance to reassess your site’s architecture and determine if subdomains would help you better serve your audience and achieve your goals.
    4. Optimize your subdomains as you would your main site. Make sure to include relevant, targeted keywords in your subdomain’s content and meta tags. Also, ensure that your subdomains are mobile-friendly and have fast loading speeds.
    5. Monitor your subdomains’ performance in your analytics. Track their organic traffic, bounce rates, and conversion rates. Use this information to continually optimize your subdomains and ensure that they’re contributing to your overall SEO strategy.

    Differences between subdomains and root domains in Google’s eyes

    Subdomains are prefixes to the primary domain and can be used to organize content on the web or create sub-sites within a larger domain. A subdomain has its own unique web address, such as, and is treated by Google as a distinct entity from the root domain, which is the primary domain name of a website, such as

    Subdomains are created by adding a prefix to the main domain name, separated by a dot (.), whereas subfolders are created by adding a slash (/) followed by the folder name in the URL. Google treats subdomains and subfolders differently in its algorithm, and the placement of content in either could have an impact on search engine rankings.

    How Google treats subdomains as distinct websites

    When Google crawls and indexes a website, it treats subdomains as separate entities from the root domain. This means that any content placed on a subdomain will not be associated with the main domain, and will be viewed as a separate website. This can have an impact on search engine rankings, as the authority of the root domain will not be transferred to the subdomain.

    Additionally, any links pointing to content on a subdomain will not pass authority to the main domain, as the two are treated as separate websites. Subdomains can offer benefits in terms of organization and separating content by topic or language, but should be utilized with caution as it can impact the overall SEO strategy.

    Pros and cons of using subdomains for SEO


    • Organizing content by topic or geographical location can increase relevance to specific search queries
    • Can be useful in separating content for different users, languages, or regions
    • Subdomains can be easier to manage and update than a complex folder structure


    • Splitting content across multiple subdomains can dilute the authority of the root domain and impact overall SEO
    • Subdomains require separate maintenance and optimization, which can be time-consuming and costly
    • Link equity is not passed between the root domain and subdomains, decreasing overall domain authority.

    The impact of subdomains on search engine rankings

    When it comes to search engine rankings, subdomains can have an impact on visibility and rankings. Because Google treats subdomains as separate entities, they are given their own rankings based on their own content, backlinks, and authority. However, this also means that the subdomain will not benefit from the authority of the main domain name, and therefore, the domain authority can be diluted.

    Additionally, splitting content across multiple subdomains can result in cannibalization of search engine rankings. This occurs when two or more pages on the same website are competing for the same search terms, leading to lower rankings for both pages.

    Advantages of using subfolders over subdomains

    Using subfolders over subdomains can have several advantages for SEO.


    • Subfolders keep all content on the same domain, consolidating link equity and building a single, stronger domain
    • All content contributes to the authority of the main domain, leading to stronger rankings across the board
    • Subfolders make it easier to track and analyze website performance through analytics platforms like Google Analytics.

    Best practices for organizing content within subdomains and subfolders

    When organizing content within subdomains and subfolders, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure the best SEO results.

    For subdomains:

    • Use subdomains for content that is completely separate from the main domain name, such as a different language or product line
    • Make sure that the subdomain is linked back to the main domain, and vice versa, to consolidate link authority and improve domain rank
    • Make sure that the content on the subdomain is unique and valuable, and not duplicating content on the main domain

    For subfolders:

    • Use subfolders to organize content by topic or category, but make sure that they are manageable and not overly complicated
    • Use a clear URL structure that is easy to understand and follow
    • Ensure that the content on the subfolder is unique and valuable, and not duplicating content on other subfolders or the main domain

    In conclusion, optimizing your SEO requires careful consideration of the use of subdomains and subfolders. While subdomains can provide benefits in terms of organization and separation of content, it can also lead to lower domain authority and rankings. Using subfolders can consolidate link equity and improve domain rank, leading to stronger rankings overall. Following best practices will ensure the best SEO results for your website.

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