By Aaron Rothbard
Publishing substitute content in the same language for a different location has its pros and cons and undoubtedly effects SEO. SEO is the exercise that advances search engine standings of a website. A rule of thumb: the higher classified a website on a search engine the more regularly it appears in the search results list and consequently the more customers visit the page. So how is SEO affected by having subdomains or subdirectories?
What is a Subdomain? And how does it affect SEO?
The prefix “sub” tells us that it is a domain besides our main domain. For example, www.facebook.com, the subdomain is “www”, the section just before the root domain. In the world of the internet you can replace the ordinary “www” subdomain with an alternative. An example, plus.google.com, “plus” is the subdomain. Some websites will use different subdomains to point a customer to a more refined result. For every location a website would have a subdomain to highlight products or services available in that specific area. For example, if you had a lemonade business and you sought to open locations in 7 different cities, you could generate subdomain websites for each region.
Pros: First, each subdomain would be considered a separate website. That means that each page respectively would be ranked independently by Google. Second, you would have authority as your website would have the ability to show up numerous times in a search engine results page. Third, you would have homegrown governance and optimization of each page. Finally, you would be able to do some noteworthy internal and external linking which helps a website rank well on Google (cross-linking).
Cons: When you own many websites and subdomains you suffer dues to keep them. By having multiple subdomains these supplementary charges add up quickly. Additionally, you would have to commit a substantial amount of time to controlling your subdomains to make sure content doesn’t contradict itself and that your company image and brand was consistent.
What is a Subdirectory? And how does it affect SEO?
Subdirectories are any extension of the main domain. In layman’s terms it’s simply a folder that you create for your website. You might have a folder for your images called “images” and this word would be the subdirectory. Let’s look at this for a different example, https://www.facebook.com/overdriveinteractive/. The word “overdriveinteractive” is a subdirectory of the main domain. In the same context as we looked at for subdomains lets imagine once again that you had a lemonade business and you wanted to open locations in 7 different cities. You could choose to create subdirectories for each region.
Pros: Firstly, you would only have to pay one monthly hosting fee rather than 7 separate ones like with subdomain. Secondly, you would only need one content management system for all of your business locations. This would save you a significant amount of time as you would only need to monitor and update one website.
Cons: First, someone would essentially be accountable for amassing and upholding content for every area even in regions they were not acquainted with. Second, people in control of stores from outside districts of the national branch would not be able to modify the website. Finally, going off the assumption that your product or service is targeting multiple regions, there wouldn’t be enough content on the site for any one specific region. It would all be muddled together and search engines would not be able to give more rank to one region over another.
Choosing an option that has the best balance between customer friendliness, cost, and positive SEO will help minimize damages to your business. However, using subdomains and subdirectories to publish identical content isn’t truly going to benefit you. For example, if you have 10 stores in Massachusetts and you publish a page for each of them (either on a subdomain or a subdirectory) and the only alteration between them is the address and phone number you are probably going to find that Google treats them as duplicate content and disregards them. For Google to pay any serious attention to all to those pages, they would have to be truly unique pages.
If you wanted to publish essentially the same content for different locations, it would have to be explicitly for different audiences, meaning different countries. Many websites serve users from around the world with content translated to users in a certain region. Google uses the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” attributes to serve the correct region.
Google recommends you use this if you “keep the main content in a single language and translate only the template, your content has small regional variations with similar content in a single language, or when your site is fully translated. For example, you have both German and English versions of each page.”
This powerful tool was introduced by Google in 2011. The tag allows you to show search engines what the relationship is between web pages in alternate languages or in the same language, but for an audience in a different country… Its specifically useful when you have created content that’s specific to a local audience. It tells search engines that the user is looking for the page in a specific language and/or for a specific country and will not confuse your various pages.