Subdomain Vs Subfolder – A guide on SEO architecture decision making.

SEO is a crucial aspect of growing your audience. Your web architecture determines which pages rank organically. In some cases, the concept can have tremendous effects on who your content reaches, and how frequently it is shared.

What is Search Engine Optimization architecture, exactly? The concept can be separated into two different categories: Subdomains and Subfolders. The differences are significant, so having a comprehensive understanding each is essential.

Much of the distinction lies in what Google emphasizes. In Google’s eyes, the algorithm will treat subdomains as wholly unique websites. Subfolders will provide businesses and website owners with a higher degree of freedom in regards to how they present the content on their webpage. In many cases, Subfolders can save businesses both time and money by displaying information more succinctly and efficiently.Conversely, Subdomains provide businesses with a greater reach. A conglomerate with a large assortment of different subdomains will have an easier time reaching a broader audience.

Ultimately, the choice is contingent on the type, style, goals, and long-term goals of a given business. No two companies will have the same optimal format. Before making a decision, get a grip on what your business is, how your demographic is, and how you want your content organized.

Subdomain Vs Subfolder

The following portion of the article will deal with what type of business each style of architecture is more likely to benefit. As such, we will not be discussing the specific benefits of each form of architecture just yet.

To begin, we need a clear understanding of what each type of architecture is, exactly.


A subdomain is a unique website. If a company has three different subdomains, that means they are operating three unique sites. Google gives this a classification because the same company owns each of the webpages, and deal with similar subject matters. Take Microsoft, for example. The conglomerate is massive and has their toes dipped into several different avenues of monetization. Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Xbox, and more all created and produced by Microsoft. If the company tried to house this information all under a single webpage, their audience would be overwhelmed with information. Likewise, the vast majority of the information displayed would be irrelevant. This problem is what gave rise to Subdomains, and are possibly one of the most widely utilized architectures available today.

Microsoft subdomain architectureIf a record company had to house all of their artist’s pages under a single domain, it would be chaos. To resolve this, the company gives each artist their page, but every page is under the same banner. In doing so, they retain the benefits of brand recognition while still reaping the benefits of superior organization. Recognizing the point in which your product or website has reached the size where this architecture is necessary is an essential skill for any business owner.


Subfolders are the best choice for smaller businesses or those with a limited amount of product and services. Subfolders are merely different sections of a single website. The architecture is entirely contingent on a complex web of internal links. As such, creating the infrastructure requires a more significant deal of planning, to ensure your page is bringing visitors to relevant content and organic sections of the webpage. As is the case with their counterpart, one of the more important aspects of utilizing subfolders is recognizing when it is time to expand.

Benefits of Subdomains

Below are some of the most beneficial aspects of utilizing the Subdomain architecture. Neither style of architecture is superior in every scenario, and as such effects of Search Engine Optimization will vary. Get a grasp on how large your business is, as well as how large you want it to become, before making a decision.

  • Subdomains are optimal for larger companies in virtually every scenario. The architecture can have massive effects of Search Engine Optimization for a vast assortment of reasons. By appearing in more searches, and being relevant in each, a company or personality can greatly increase their sphere of influence. There are limits, however. Separating your business into too many different pieces can cause it to lose focus, and ultimately create a lack of focus in your vision. Without a niche or target audience, even the largest conglomerate will suffer a loss in web traffic.
  • The architecture is excellent for an organization on a larger scale. Going back to the example of Microsoft, if the company had to display all of its different products on a single webpage, it would be an indecipherable mess. Housing every service you offer on a single page can also limit your options for interaction with your audience. If you hoped to create an Email list or account service, and have more than one aspect to your company, Subdomains are an absolute must. This way, you can have personal interaction with customers across multiple domains, without running the risk of obscuring your message or product.
  • Multiple subdomains can also help separate you and your service from the competition. If you are having trouble creating a niche for your business, subdomains have the potential to benefit you greatly. The architecture is not exclusive to larger corporations and can yield shockingly effective results for smaller endeavors as well. If you need to create a unique voice for yourself, try using subdomain architecture to get more of yourself and your product into Search Engine Optimization programs. Split your service or product into multiple pieces to get an idea of what aspect of your service gets the greatest reaction from your audience. In some scenarios, splitting your service into pieces can yield substantial long-term results.

Benefits of subfolders

Subfolders are the opposite of subdomains, in more way than one.

  • Subfolders are the optimal architecture for businesses that operate on a smaller scale. Subfolders, regardless of how many there are, all operate on a single domain. What this means, is that Google and its algorithm will treat them as a unique webpage. Several advantages arise from this classification. As a unique website, you will have a more targeted audience for service. Additionally, a single brand can potentially lend itself to branding in the long term.
  • When utilizing subfolders, it is important to keep information succinct and relevant. It is crucial for each piece of information contained in each respective directory to be related to one another, no matter how loosely. For example, one directory should house information about product specifications. Another, further down, can contain information about contact information. Both of these topics are loosely related and are potentially relevant to a single person visiting your website. If a directory is too seperate from the rest, take a moment to consider its relevance to business. If after doing so the topic still seems essential to your business. It may be worthy of its own subdomain. In this scenario, you may need to evaulate the size, precision, and goals of the service you provide.
  • Subfolders provide business owners with the opportunity to appeal to a specific niche. In utilizing subfolders, one can more densely pack their hyperlinks with essential keywords. This fact means you are more likely to rank higher in a small handful of searches. When nurturing a webpage, at the onset it can be extremely beneficial to rely on a specific topic or niche. Many of the world’s most profitable corporations began as a focused service, delivering on the needs of a select group of people. As brand recognition and profits grew, they expanded accordingly.
  • Lastly, subfolders can be an exceptionally useful tool for those looking to build a personal portfolio. If you consider yourself a talent, such as a musician or a comedian, a subfolder will unquestionably be the optimal route for you to take. Utilizing the architecture in this manner can greatly increase your effectiveness in Search Engine Optimization, as well as other crucial factors.

How do I gauge the effectiveness of my selected architecture?

Google provides website owners and internet aficionados with an abundance of tools to understand what is happening behind the scenes. The tools can go a long way in increasing your understanding of how exactly your SEO service is fairing in the unending war for rankings. A Search Engine Optimization company will utilize a multitude of different tools to gauge their effectiveness.

Sitemaps are one such tool. The concept allows users to see what sitemaps have been utilized in your website. Sitemaps are an essential aspect of a site and display just how useful your service has been at conveying its desired message correctly. The internal search module found in Google’s systems is the fastest way to access information and data pertaining to Sitemaps. Deciphering this data can be a crucial aspect of nurturing your business.

If you want to add a Sitemap to your website, follow these instructions. Find your statistics page, and post the sitemap to your page. Ensure the data is encrypted in the correct format. If it is not in a compatible format, the information will not be adequately displayed. Lastly, ensure your Sitemap is accessible to users through Google’s algorithms and clients. The process, if done correctly, should not require an account or any sort of login process.

The next step is to understand your Sitemap Report. The data will provide you with a wealth of information, ranging from raw data to more convoluted facts. Understanding what this information means will allow you to make actionable adjustments to your business.

Information provided by Sitemaps includes the URL where it was initially posted, as well as the original date. These factors are contingent upon the most recent point in time when Google processed the data. Once this has been completed, you will have access to a complete list of all the associated URLs compatible with your website. This information is invaluable for a multitude of reasons. It can help you better understand your niche, demographics, as well as the reasoning behind your fluctuating web traffic. Use it wisely in creating a more well-optimized website.

Next up is the Index Coverage Report. This tool can allow you to asses the organization level of your webpage. There are multiple different kinds of report, each providing you with a unique kind of information.

First, is the Top-Level Report. This information tells you exactly what part of your webpage Google has tried to access, or “crawl.” Use this information to locate what parts of your tags and keywords need to be emphasized and removed. In other cases, the report will provide you with information about issues your website may be having. These messages include Error, Warning, Excluded, and Valid. Utilize these tools to confirm you webpage is operating in top form.


Effective utilization of architecture and analytics can take your online business or web presence to new levels. By utilizing the information found above, your SEO services can help create a more recognizable and profitable brand. Any SEO company looking to find success in the modern online landscape will want to have a comprehensive understanding of each of the concepts listed above.