Many companies strive to expand their geography not only internationally, but also locally, and establish their offices in several regions. According to the requirements of search engines, to link a site to another region, you need to specify a unique address where the organization is located, information about the schedule and working hours, and even the range of goods and services. In this case, there is no need to create different sites for each region. Web development offers two options: subdomains and subdirectories. What are their features? What is the best option for regional promotion? Let’s figure out.
Subdomain VS Subfolder
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Before one can evaluate the effect of these structures on SEO, it is worth answering the question of what is a subdomain.
The subdomain is a separate page from the main site, which has different content from your root domain (the differences will be explained below). Subdomains appear before the domain name in a URL (for example, blog.hubspot.com). A subdomain can be used if parts of your site are large enough and need a separate hierarchy.
Advantages of Subdomains:
- It is easy to create new subdomains for new regions;
- There is no limit for each subdomain on the number of search queries for promotion;
- Subdomains appear in search results by region;
- Many complex requirements for site functions are easier to implement.
- Additional costs are required to create subdomains;
- Independent sites are managed from different CMS;
- Indexing takes longer due to large volumes;
- They require a large amount of unique content.
On the contrary, subdirectories belong to the same hierarchy as the main domain and are divided from it by a slash. So, if your site address is rnd.site.uk — this is a subdomain. If the address looks like this — site.uk/rnd/ — this is a subfolder. In the first case, site.uk and rnd.site.uk are two codependent sites that are managed from different admin panels and each has its own content. In the second case, there is only one site, where the site.uk/rnd/ is one of the branches of the site directory, but the management is carried out from one CMS, and the content for many pages can be common.
Advantages of Subfolders:
- One site is managed by one CMS;
- Lower expenditures for the site;
- Less content required;
- Fast indexing due to less information.
- Complex site structure;
- Many site functions are more difficult to implement;
- For some key queries, the site will be listed in the only region.
As you can see, each option has its strengths and weaknesses. So, what should you choose?
What Is Better for Your Business?
To decide what will be more convenient for your business to work with, you need to answer several questions:
- Is the information different for regional sites? (If there are a lot of differences, and they are significant, it is better to choose subdomains. If most of the information is the same, then you can use subdirectories).
- Do prices and product availability change by the region?
- What should happen on the site when you change the city (go to the main page or just change the region)?
- How do you plan to promote the site?
- What analytics will you use?
- How many specialists will be involved in promoting your site?
- Is it possible to create a large amount of unique content?
- Are there resources to promote several sites in different regions?
Give answers to these questions, and the developers will offer the best solution based on your wishes.
Few Words About the Root Domain
There are two different approaches to explaining what the Root domain is. In fact, the meaning varies depending on if you are talking about the World Wide Web as a whole or your website in particular.
In the first case, that is the correct definition of the term, the root domain is the highest structural level of the Internet that overtops the top-level domains. However, when people mention root domains they more usually mean the highest level of hierarchy for their websites. Why is it important for our topic?
When you register a website name on the Internet, you pay for the root domain. In the future, it allows you to create subdomains or subfolders that belong to the same root domain. From the SEO point of view, the domain name is of great importance, since no traffic is complete without it. For example, domain names could be of the following types:
1. Simple, short, popular names
A simple, short domain name can generate direct traffic to your site, which improves behavioral factors and then impacts SEO. For instance: auto.uk, love.ru, onlinedates.com.
2. Domain names of brands
The domain name that coincides with the brand name is determined by search engines as one of the brand factors, which allows the site to get the first places in the search for key brand queries: wikipedia.org, nike.com, mcdonalds.com.
A hostname that exactly matches the key request allows you to get the first positions on SERP. So, you can choose a domain that will exactly match the popular keyword, and get a better chance of reaching the top for this query. For example howtostudykorean.com, whatoplay.com.
As you may conclude, the selection of the root domain is an individual task, and it should reflect the objectives of the website. If your root domain has been chosen correctly, further expanding and promotion of your business will be successful.
Unfortunately, there is no reliable information about what search engines prefer most — subdomains or subdirectories. Both of these types have their pros and cons. Subdirectories are cheaper and require less labor and financial resources. However, there are always risks of not getting into the results in all regions.
Subdomains are more expensive, but they provide more opportunities for codependent sites and higher chances of getting into regional results. Therefore, when choosing what structure better suits your business, start from your objectives and opportunities. Good luck!