SEO Domain Strategy: Subdirectory Vs. Subdomain

SEO Domain Strategy: Subdirectory Vs. Subdomain

Looking to expand your current online presence by launching a new website? 

If you are seeking out new ways to fortify your online search front, chances are you are considering either of two domain strategy options: subdirectory or a subdomain.

That’s an SEO Sophie’s Choice!

Lines can get blurred when it comes to the SEO benefits and the overall functionality of subdirectories and subdomains.

We are here to clear up some of the confusion—and the commotion—that comes with weighing each domain strategy’s pros and cons. 

Let’s take a deep dive into what subdirectories and subdomain are, the subtle distinction between the two—and how they can impact your SEO endeavors. 

Related read: Simplifying SEO for MENA Market

Subdomains and subdirectories are very much alike—in so many ways.

What’s a subdirectory? 

A subdirectory—also known as a subfolder—is part of the main domain website, as any other page on your website would be. In essence, and on the outside looking in, a subdirectory is just another page on the website.  

A subdirectory, technically speaking, is a folder within the main domain serving a taxonomic hierarchical purpose to organize and structure important sections and content of the website. 

It is placed after the domain and extensions— in the URL address—and is typically preceded by a slash symbol. 

Subdirectory example:   

Subdirectories & SEO 

Considering a subdirectory over a subdomain can yield a legion of SEO benefits, depending on the website’s industry and overall business goals. 

Focusing all your efforts on setting up a single optimized site can go a long way towards establishing your domain authority under one root domain and save you from a common SEO syndrome known as ranking cannibalism. 

Let’s drill down into the subdirectory’s benefits for SEO:

  • Hosting the website’s blog on the same root domain—and living on the navigation menu—allows users to navigate and browse blog posts and other pages within site. This results in a reduced bounce rate and increased time on the page.
  • Supplementing your website’s blog with fresh content on a recurring basis will prompt GoogleBots to crawl the entirety of the site—not only the blog section—more often, hence boosting your chances of ranking and beefing up the domain’s SEO authority. 
  • Having one domain for all sites enables tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, to report data of the entire site—all consolidated in one place—rather than having to review two data points as a result of employing two domains. 

What’s a subdomain?

A subdomain is a sub-site or alias of your domain that can be leveraged to house a new content section of the website on a separate domain.  

One of the fundamental reasons for launching a subdomain website is the need for a separate site that can host content different from the scope of the primary site. 

If you are targeting an international audience, a separate domain makes for the perfect domain strategy to accommodate the content variation and the language specific to the targeted geographic region.

Subdomain example:

Subdomain SEO benefits

A subdomain can come in handy when setting up a separate division of the site, or targeting a different market segment, and leveraging the root domain authority at the same time. While creating a new subdomain may dilute your root domain’s overarching authority, a subdomain can still piggyback off the ranking score of the root domain—to a considerable extent.    

Key differences between subdomains and subdirectories 

The difference between subdomains and subdirectories are not significant enough to liken them to apples and oranges and not subtle enough to equate them to tomayto, tomahto. Put simply: subdirectories reign supreme over subdomains as far as search engine optimization is concerned. 

This is because subdirectories can cash in on the root domain’s authority and its ranking position, as it’s deemed an integral part of the primary domain by search engines, hence treated as such. You must be asking yourself, “Why should I opt for a subdomain when a subdirectory domain type can work wonders for my site’s SEO?” 

As always, the answer hinges on the business objectives and the need for branching off to a new website. 

The need for a new online shop exemplifies the use of a subdomain. For example, you run an online educational platform and would like to venture out in the e-commerce space while benefiting from your full domain authority. In this case, a subdomain “” is your best bet. 

If the lightbulb went on in your head one day and you wanted to experiment with new content ideas for topics irrelevant to your primary website’s niche, it may be a good time for a subdomain. It gives you the opportunity to segregate your content ideas and not puzzle your audience with topics unrelated to your website’s sphere.    

The verdict 

To sum up—a subdirectory is an ideal choice from an SEO standpoint. If you are introducing new content relevant to the website’s overall content theme, then a subdirectory is the way to go. 

A subdomain, on the other hand, can be the perfect fit for an e-commerce website, an international edition of your website, or an offshoot of your content—all of which constitute the need for a separate domain while still being under the overarching brand umbrella.    

Bringing it all together  

If your head is starting to spin with subdomain and subdirectory pros and cons—and rightfully so—you’re not the only one. 

Get your ducks in a row: get your priorities in order, define your business goals, and identify the need gaps. Only then will you be able to decide on the right domain strategy.  

We hope we have shed light on the differences between subdirectories and subdomains and how each can help you scale your SEO game and meet your business goals.  

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Modus Capital.

More resources: 

Keyword Research for a Winning SEO Strategy 

Scaling SEO for Middle East Startups 

Mobile SEO for MENA

Deciding on an SEO Domain Strategy: Subdirectory Vs. Subdomain
Article Name
Deciding on an SEO Domain Strategy: Subdirectory Vs. Subdomain
Subdomain or a subdirectory? Why choose one over the other? Learn about the pros and cons of each domain strategy to make the most of your domain authority.
Mohamed Taki
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Modus Capital
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