A few weeks back we asked for feedback on our writing style, and specifically how we can help our readers, albeit SEO professionals or click-and-brick small business owners, improve their SEO efforts. The result: SDS How-to SEO Section.
In conjunction with the daily advanced SEO written works, we will be answering your questions… so go ahead, and ask away.
Here is the first question of the How-to SEO Series: Is there any benefit to using subdomains versus subfolders? Second, how do I create a subdomain? (–Tim from Chicago)
For the same reason that keyword rich domains sell for upwards of millions of dollars, using subdomains is an attractive solution to increase your relevance score in the SERPs (short for search engine result pages). Google, and the other search engines give preference to all-in-domain versus all-in-url relevance.
In other words, using a subdomain like chicago.example.com versus www.example.com/chicago will, out of the box, have a better chance for ranking for a query containing “Chicago” and “example”.
Before anyone jumps on that claim, I will make the obvious caveat: SERP positioning is holistic; all-in-domain is just one metric that search engines use to determine relevance. Other examples can be found here with allintitle, allintext and allinanchor (which respectively reflect the degree a website has based on the aggregate amount of relevant content in the title, body area (text) and anchor text (both within the site and from other sites) for specific keywords.
As for subdomains in application, our team recommends using this tactic to distinguish nodes of relevance within your site. Take yahoo.com as an example. The auto sections of their site is located on the subdomain: autos.yahoo.com. Reason: a separate node of relevance.
Another benefit of using subdomains is bypassing custom development, or issues of incompatibility. For some of our clients, who operate a coding platform that dates back to the dawn of php, we recommend pointing a subdomain to a separate server. Reason: less headaches. In a same vein of thought, when building websites it is easier to send clients to a subdomain for live demos than a subfolders. Reason: easier to remember; as well as the ability to rank next to your main domain in the SERPs.
So the big question, how do I create a subdomain?
The easiest way is to call your domain registrar and have them walk you through the process. In most instances, they will point you to the cPanel and hold your hand every step of the way.
But, the process in detail: Navigate to domains>subdomains. Within will be a blank text box as well as a box with your main domain name –cPanels vary in layout. Enter your subdomain in the box and direct the subfolder to either a document root (public_html/subdomain), or a separate IP address (in the case that we are pointing the subdomain to a separate server). Depending on the host, you may need to add a username and password.
Feel free to post additional questions and the new “Ask an SEO” Help section of SEO Design Solutions blog and we will randomly select a question to address in our next entry.