The SEO Value of Subdomains and Subdirectories
There are people out there who believe that subdomains are bad news in the search engine optimization (SEO) front. Why is that? Subdomains are a great means of organizing your website, so why should it be detrimental to your website's SEO value? Should you go the subdirectory route instead?
Many people have different opinions on the subject, though. Some people believe that consolidation is the key in order for people with subdomains and domains to succeed in making a mark in the Information Superhighway. For others, the true SEO value of subdomains lies with site links. With that said, there's no guarantee that site links will appear alongside subdomains. Moreover, certain subdomains (like for websites that have easier-to-remember acronyms for subdomains) are better received than their domain counterpart, thus securing their value.
Subdomains and Subdirectories: Which Is Better?
Although sitemaps produce a negligible boost in traffic that barely increases your SERP ranking by a percentage point, that doesn't necessarily mean they're a waste of time. As a webmaster, you actually want search engines to crawl through every last page of your domain, even the orphaned pages with no links pointing towards their direction as well as the pages in your website that are only accessible through Flash-based menus and whatnot. The same idea could be said of subdomains. Yes, there are better SEO techniques you can deploy in order to increase the number of visitors to your site. Google also saw how subdomains can be abused in terms of SEO so they could get more and more results on the SERP.
That doesn't mean though that you should disregard directories and subdomains altogether. However, you should underestimate brand value that, for example, will compel users to bypass Google shenanigans and increase hits by directly typing a memorable subdomain on the address bar. In regards to which is better, Google views them roughly the same, so you might as well go with which is more comfortable. Some people view subdirectories are better than subdomains in the content management point of view because you're less likely to lose folders when compared to domains. However, people with hosts that encourage the subdomain route can find it easier to simply go with subdomains to categorize their pages.
Acquiring Brand Value in Search with Subdomain Sitelinks
Just as Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter Accounts can provide a website brand value even though direct links to it have no inherent SEO value (thanks to the two sites' nofollow policy that renders outgoing links into a mass of characters so that people won't depend on the social media domains for spamming purposes), so too does subdomains and site links. Certain queries can produce site links you wouldn't otherwise attain had you lacked that subdomain in the first place. Furthermore, brand value is important because it allows your customers to remember your wares (or, in this case, your site) without resorting to borderline astroturfing practices.
As long as you can recognize the brand value of a subdomain, it will reflect on your subdomain via increased hits and patronage even though your base SEO value and SERP ranking on sites like Google hasn't really improved in a major way. Instead of SEO boosting traffic to your site, your boosted traffic could influence and possibly increase your SEO thanks to people organically searching for your site. With that said, the anti-subdirectory and anti-subdomain group are quick to point out that there are other more direct options out there that will improve your Internet impact, such that depending on subdomains is seemingly a waste of time.
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