Tag Archives: subdomains

Who owns your content and why does it matter?

This shouldn’t even be a question right? Assuming your website or app is your own, it’s all certainly your content, right?

Not so fast.

Some platforms and approaches to websites or apps can rob you of the return you deserve for creating good content. Here are two very common examples.

First, we’ll look at rental websites. I can’t tell you how many companies have come to TKG over the years needing a new website with an urgent need to abandon their old one on a hard timeline. Often the reason for this dilemma is what I call “rental websites.” In other words companies that offer you a very low cost website for a minimal monthly cost. The problem with these solutions more often than not? The fine print. The provider is usually leasing you the platform and design, many times they even have rights to your actual content. They may sound fantastic: “fully hosted solution” … “turnkey websites” … “low-cost, do-it-yourself website.” They sound simple enough, but when it comes time to upgrade or move on, companies often find their hands tied when they realize they didn’t own their own website. That makes carrying your strategy forward much more difficult and expensive, especially if you’ve already gotten some traction.

Next, let’s look at subdomains. A subdomain is often used in inexpensive sites and some “apps.” If your site does not live at your domain, that can be a real problem. Let’s pretend you have a mobile site at a domain other than your own. It might look like “yourcompanyname.nameoftheappprovider.com.” From a search engine’s perspective, all of the content there belongs with the root domain it is associated with, which in this case would be “nameoftheappprovider.com.” So while you may legally own your content, the search engines don’t see it that way – and for good reason. This means that all the while that you think you are building, promoting, advertising and linking to all the great content in your app or website, you’re really just promoting content that isn’t ultimately associated with your brand. How much sense does that make? Some of these software providers may even attempt to tell you that Google and search are no longer relevant. If anyone tells you this, or you read it in their content, do yourself a favor and excuse them from your office and return to Google to continue your search for a digital partner.

I know no one wants to think about all of the geeky stuff that makes your online presence successful for your business. But it couldn’t be more important to get it right so you aren’t throwing your money away.

Feel free to contact me – or anyone on my team – if you have any questions about how it all works. We’re happy to talk geek, and can translate it to real English pretty well, too.

Better for SEO: Subdomains or Subfolders?

When developing a blog, the following question usually comes up:

For SEO, is it better to locate your blog on a subdomain, in subfolders, or on a completely different domain?

For those who are visual, the options look like this:

Scenario 1: awesomewebsite.com/blog

Scenario 2: blog.awesomewebsite.com

Scenario 3: awesomewebsiteblog.com

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that we are answering the question with the goal of maximizing search engine optimization performance. More specifically, we want to know which scenario gives a website the best opportunity to bring in organic traffic, increase the volume of traffic, and rank higher for the content. We are not factoring ease of implementation or cross-platform hosting challenges.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in:

The Google Answer

In October 2012, the Google Webmasters YouTube channel released the following video featuring well-known Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts. He essentially states that Google is smart enough to recognize that content from blog.awesomewebsite.com is related to awesomewebsite.com so Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 are interchangeable.


In February 2015, Google Webmasters posted a Google Hangout video that contained the same topic. At the 0:50 mark, the question of subfolders versus subdomains was asked during a Q/A session. This time, Scott Mueller of Google reinforced Matt’s point that Google sees both as equally effective options.


Real World Example

In January 2015, Timo Reitnauer of IWantMyName.com posted an article detailing a dramatic drop in traffic as a result of switching his blog from a subfolder (Scenario 1) structure to a subdomain structure (Scenario 2).


His company followed the advice of Google, experienced a dramatic drop in traffic for the next six months, and then decided to revert back to the subfolder structure. The author goes on to state:

“…we decided it would be better for our long-term SEO strategy to put our blog back on our primary domain.”

The Rand Fishkin Answer

In Reitnauer’s blog post, he references a similar sub domain / subdirectory content migration experiment from Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin. Like Matt Cutts, Rand is well-respected in the SEO community. On moz.com, they tested moving an SEO guide from a sub domain to a sub directory. In a Moz Community Message Board topic discussing the content migration, Fishkin states, “The results were astounding – rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages.”

The topic received so much interest that Rand released an SEO video in February 2015 elaborating on this experience. The first four minutes of the video provide a great overview of how he came to the conclusion that using subdirectories (Scenario 1) is the ideal structure for search engine performance.

What Have We Learned?

According to Google, Scenario 1 (/blog) and Scenario 2 (blog.) are interchangeable. However, when switching from one to another, there are real-world examples of companies experiencing positive SEO impact from Scenario 1 and negative SEO impact from Scenario 2. What about Scenario 3 (awesomewebsiteblog.com)?  It fits into the same category as Scenario 2. Your content is either centrally located under one domain or it isn’t. Search engines like websites with lots of content-rich pages that frequently have new, unique pages being added. If your company blog discusses topics similar to the industry, products, or services on your primary website, we do not recommend splitting up your page count across multiple domains. Subfolders are still the best option for search engine optimization.

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