Subdomain vs Subfolder, Which is Better?

2 min read
Nov 26, 2020 3:31:29 PM

3 minute summary: Subdomain vs Subfolder, which is better? How do they affect SEO?

Many marketers have heard of subdomains and subfolders at least once. Today, let’s explore the differences between these two and how they affect SEO at Google and Naver, one of the biggest Korean search engines.


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Difference Between subdomain and subfolder

Subdomain: ex)

  • Sub-domains are individual domains and are used to manage completely new topics.
  • SEO score is not applied to the root domain
  • Subdomains are useful for storing landing pages or calls-to-action when you need to track metrics via Google Analytics or UTM tags.
  • Target niche markets
  • Inconvenient to manage
  • It is more efficient for large corporations like LG and Disney to use subdomains to categorize topics & issues. 

Subfolder: ex)

  • Sub-folder is managed under the host domain
  • Subfolder belongs to one host domain, so SEO metric is applied to the root domain
  • The content of subfolders should be strongly related to the domain
  • Easy to manage compared to a subdomain
  • Subfolder is a better idea for SEO ranking
  • Google says its system can recognize subdomains as extensions of parent domains

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How do they affect Google and Naver SEO?

According to some experts, subfolders may be better when checking SEO scores because the scores are automatically absorbed and applied to the root domain, which is advantageous when people use subfolders for SEO ranking. For this reason, they suggest that the user can conveniently manage scores by using subfolders. 

So, when should we use subdomains? According to the experts, subdomains are recommended when using a completely different topic from each subdomain. It would be a better idea to add a subdomain if the user wants to target and analyze a niche market. Large corporations like Disney and CNN use subdomains to provide content and services to the interest group in a specific field.

There is no right answer to the question: ‘Subdomain vs Subfolder’. It depends on how you utilize them efficiently. Some experts believe that Google could confuse a subdomain for a completely different website from the host domain. However, other experts say Google is smart enough to recognize subdomains as extensions of host domains.

Naver does not follow these rules. Naver does not specifically differentiate between subfolder and subdomain. The user uses an advertisement program managed autonomously by Naver to track SEO metrics on his/ her blog or website. It reflects that subdomains and subfolders are not considered to be the same idea as Google.

So, which is better for your website? It is still difficult to pick one. It depends on what you need for your website. If you need SEO scores to be applied to the root domain, you should use subfolders to climb up the SEO ranking. If you don't need it, you can use subdomains to provide your website with structures for more sophisticated web hierarchy.


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