Why Your Site Structure Matters for SEO - Here's Why #121 | Perficient Digital

Why Your Site Structure Matters for SEO – Here’s Why #121

Subdomains, subfolders, or microsites: which is best for organizing the content of your website?

In this episode of our Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Mark Traphagen asks Eric Enge to cover the pros and cons of each, especially from an SEO perspective.

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Transcript

Mark: Eric, when webmasters are thinking about where to put the content of their sites, what are their basic choices?

Eric: Comes down to three basic buckets: in a root domain, as a subdomain, or in subfolders.

Mark: Explain each of those briefly, if you would.

Eric: Sure. Your root domain, or more properly, the second level domain, is your main domain, what people tend to think of as your web address. For example, for our site, our root domain is PerficientDigital.com.

A subdomain, or third level domain, is added to the beginning or your main domain. So for example, a site might put its blog under the subdomain “blog.sitename.com”. In fact, that’s where many sites put their blogs. But, I’ll share later why that may not be the best choice for SEO.

Finally, subfolders are the file folders on your site that hold your webpages, and they can exist either under your root domain or in subdomains. These are typically seen by users as the navigational sections of your site. For example, you might have the About Us pages of your site under the subfolder “www.ourdomain.com/about”.

Mark: What are the advantages and disadvantages of subdomains versus subfolders for where you place your site content?

Pros and Cons: Subfolders

Eric: Let’s start with subfolders. In my opinion, they’re typically the best choice for organizing your pages. Subfolders usually reveal the basic organizational structure of the information on your site. For example, on our site, all of the About Us pages are in the “/about” subfolders. Subfolders on your root domain normally reflect your site hierarchy and therefore the main crawl path for search engines and help understand and rank your site for the right things. And if well designed, they also help create a better user experience.

Pros and Cons: Subdomains

Mark: Why would you ever use a subdomain?

Eric: Well, there are cases where the use of a subdomain might make a lot of sense. For example, let’s say your company has a division that does training, but training isn’t a part of your core business. It might be useful to market that division using training.yourcompany.com.

Site owners should keep in mind, however, that subdomains may not fully benefit from the link equity or positive metrics of the ranking authority for the overall domain. For example, Google doesn’t give every individual blog on blogspot.com the authority of blogspot.com for obvious reasons.

Pros and Cons: Microsites

Mark: What about microsites?

Eric: A microsite is actually a separate root domain, and I almost always advise clients to never put important content on a separate domain or microsite, though there are some limited scenarios where businesses might choose to do this.

If a business does host some of its content on a separate domain, it typically takes the form of a microsite, which is hyperfocused on one particular topic or marketing initiative. For example, if your company has a podcast, there may be a marketing advantage to hosting it on a domain with the name of the podcast. Just realize that you’re going to have to invest separate SEO and marketing initiatives for every microsite that you create.

Mark: Thanks, Eric. You provided a lot more information about the pros and cons, as well as the use cases for each of these site structure options in your complete guide to subfolders, subdomains, and microsites for SEO.

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9 responses to “Why Your Site Structure Matters for SEO – Here’s Why #121”

  1. Gabka says:

    Thank you for this video, guys 🙂
    Sometimes I had big problem to explain clients why site structure matters in SEO. But your example from real life helped me a lot.
    Gabka

  2. Ken says:

    Thank you.
    As Gabka mentioned this is a topic that I have had great difficulty in the past explaining in a way that clients can easily grasp.
    Your example will really help in explaining this.
    Keep up the great work.

  3. Matt LaClear says:

    Great video, as usual! Do you see any advantage to adding a keyword to subfolder names? It’s an old tactic for sure but wanted to know what your thoughts are on it. Thanks!

  4. Very Cool Video Guys,
    I’ve got a group of “Buding SEO’rs” & a couple of members just out of college, who would do well to watch this video tutorial.
    Plain, simple, concise & straight to the point.
    And the reasone I’ve got a couple of “Buding SEO’rs” & a couple of members just out of college is because, I recently went to join my Local SEO MeetUp in Glasgow to help Local Glasgow Businesses with their SEO… But there wasn’t one, well not one that had an ORGANIZER.
    MeetUp had created a “Listing” for Glasgow SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Meetup, which, they say, had over 50 Members interested in the MeetUp.
    So Hell… I decided to become the ORGANIZER.
    I am now the proud “Daddy” of the Glasgow SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Meetup here in the UK.
    And although I was looking to help as many “Local Glasgow Businesses” as possible, it looks like the members who have “Joined” are all complete beginners at the start of their SEO journey. – Poor souls!
    So if they are thinking of STARTING doing any kind of SEO or web design business… One of the first things I’m going to do is Point them to THIS VIDEO POST.
    It’s fantastic, and it will stick in their minds, hopefully forever and should set them off on the RIGHT footing.
    Well done guys!!
    Maximum respect,
    Robert G. Johnston.
    Glasgow SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Meetup

  5. Mark Traphagen says:

    Robert, we’re so glad to be able to provide a resource you found so useful, especially for educating new SEOs! We hope you’ll check our other Here”s Why videos as well as our research studies. Many of them might be useful for your students as well.

  6. Hi Mark,
    I sure am.
    I think if memory serves me I think that one was Episode #122
    So I have a lot of catching up to do.
    And once the Members head on over, I’m sure they’ll be hooked too
    Max respect,
    Robert

  7. Thanks for the post guys, I agree there could be some instances where sub-domains make sense but generally sub-folders are the way to go.

  8. Ujwal Pandit says:

    Thanks for this amazing article. The insights helped me sort out a lot. Made notes and shall be using the tips right away!

  9. harshal says:

    I think the only thing which matters in these days is quality content and on-page optimization plus few good off-page optimization. But on-page is the must do job in these days.

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