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Subdomains and subfolders

Subdomains and subfolders are important elements of web structure that help organize and present content on your website in a structured way. 

Jens Kjær Riis
- SEO-specialist
Last updated: Dec 29, 2023

What are subdomains?

Let's cut to the chase. Imagine a domain name is like an address. Let's use Webamp as an example, which is located at Vesterbrogade 6D. Think of our domain as the actual building at this address.

Subdomains then act as different entrances to different parts of the building - for example, the front door, back door and patio door. These subdomains lead to separate areas on your website, just as the different entrances lead to different places in the building.

This is what a subdomain looks like in the browser: karriere.webamp.dk.

What are subfolders?

Continuing with the same example, instead of thinking of subdomains as entrances, think of subfolders as different floors of the building.

For example, you could have a subfolder called "products", which corresponds to the first floor. Another subfolder could be "about us", which corresponds to the second floor. Each subfolder represents a specific part of your website.

When visitors use these subfolders, they are taken directly to the relevant areas of your website. So when a visitor clicks on the "about us" subfolder, it's like taking the elevator to the first floor to read who Webamp is. If they click on the "products" subfolder, they take the elevator to the second floor to explore your products.

Subfolders help organize your website, just like different floors organize a building. They provide a clear structure and make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for, just like finding a specific area of a building by going to the relevant floor.

This is what a subfolder looks like in the browser: webamp.dk/om-os

Subdomains and subfolders from the SEO perspective

We often hear the question, "how can we best structure our website to achieve the best SEO results?". In most cases, subdirectories will have the greatest SEO effect, but it's not always the case that subdirectories are the best solution.

The choice of structure depends on many factors, of which SEO is just one of them. Ease of use, how information is organized and market positioning desires also play a big role. It's wise to carefully consider what works best for you and your business.

The benefits of using subdomains:

More rankings in search results

  • Subdomains allow for more potential rankings on the first page of the search engine, as Google limits the number of search results from the same domain. Each subdomain is interpreted as a separate domain by the search engine.

Relevant keywords in the domain name

  • Subdomains enable the inclusion of relevant keywords in the domain name itself, which have a higher value than keyword names on subdirectories. Furthermore, your subdomain tells Google and your visitors what your website is about, increasing its credibility and authority.

Strengthen global visibility

  • To display the relevant parts of your website in different countries, you can create a subdomain for each language (e.g. dk.webamp.dk and en.webamp.dk) or use International targeting in Google Search Console. Subdirectories can also be used for language versioning. However, subdomains can be redirected to another web server to improve load time and give search engines an extra signal about your target audience.

More clarity

  • Subdomains can be used to separate different business areas or categorize digital content on your website. This makes your website more manageable and SEO optimization easier, as each subdomain focuses on a single area.

Position in new business areas can be strengthened

  • To expand your business with new products that are different from your current ones, subdomains can build credibility around your new products and capitalize on the momentum associated with your brand.

Avoid software and speed issues

  • If you have a large website with many visitors, splitting into multiple subdomains can reduce the amount of software and the risk of conflicts. Plus, any resource-intensive programs and plugins on your subdomains won't affect the speed of your main domain.

The benefits of using subfolders:

Strengthen your SEO with the help of the domain

  • When using subdirectories, you benefit from SEO value and E-A-A-T signals from your main domain. This increases the chances of subfolder content appearing high in search results. You don't need to invest as much extra work in SEO as the subdirectories already benefit from the strength of the main domain. However, keep in mind that it's still important to customize SEO for each content in the subdirectories, as Google also evaluates them individually.

Adds SEO value to the domain

  • Subdirectories increase the amount of content and therefore visitors, which boosts your website's authority and rankings in search results. They also have a reinforcing SEO effect on each other.

Meaningful organization of your content

  • Subfolders organize content into meaningful and descriptive URLs. You can create a subfolder for each section content to show which section the content belongs to.

High user-friendliness

  • Users often prefer subdirectory URLs over subdomains, as subdomains can lead to invalid URLs if users type www before the subdomain.

Easy to set up and manage:

  • Subfolders are easier to create and manage than subdomains. They can be created in the same way as folders on your computer and if you use a CMS system like WordPress, they are usually created automatically. Subdomains require more technical knowledge, work and higher costs, especially if they are hosted on different web servers.

Get even smarter and increase your online presence

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