33 thoughts on “Google Treats Sub-Domains Differently-Here Is How

  1. Hi that is a great post that will benefit many, additionally to add to what you have I would like to say you can create as many sitemap.xml as you require in each different domain and then create a sitemapindex.xml which will list each of the individual sitemap index's which you then upload to google webmaster tools and google will then follow the sitemapindex.xml to each of the listed domains and read each sitemap.xml individually.

    Example of a sitemap index would be:

    http://www.example.com/sitemap1.xml.gz
    2004-10-01T18:23:17+00:00

    http://www.example.com/sitemap2.xml.gz
    2005-01-01

    More info:

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=71453

  2. Nice post. I was always interested on this topic whether it is better to go with sub domains or sub folders. Most webmasters are divided on this subject. But if use it for a particular niche like weight loss, sub domains are the way to go.

  3. In most cases I much prefer the sub-domain over sub-folders. For the very same reasons you gave. Google wiil see the sub-domain as a TLD and treat it seperatly. This means I can SEO the crap out of the sub-domain. I can hit multiple micro niches all within the same niche.

    Scott

  4. Matt Cutts did a post on how Google was starting to look at subdomains as part of the whole site rather than as a "separate site" back in December of 2007 here:
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/subdomains-and-subdirectories/

    However, as some have already mentioned Google still seems to treat subdomains as separate sites in certain instances - and I've never been able to figure out how they make that determination.

  5. just a note in my post the blog has stripped the html so my example is not as it should be, but if you want to know more about sitemapindex.xml the info in the link to google webmasters will show the same example i tried to post

    1. Thanks for the update Rob. I did read the Google article.

      EDIT: Actually my sitemap generator tool DOES generate a sitemap.xml.gz file too. Funny thing is that I never knew about its utility, but I do upload this file along with the sitemap.xml file to my web server :P

      Thanks again for your comments. :)

  6. Hi and thanks for the info, it is easy to get confused by sub domains, addon domains, main domains, now I will just leave it as it comes. Thanks.

    1. @Celie

      Where is the confusion? You PAY for addon domain and main domain, whereas you can create as many subdomains you want under your main domain, for FREE! Simple? :)

  7. There are lots of benefits to sub domains especially if you get something quite generic and short, I registered a 5 character .biz domain which then enables me to easily have: niche1.*****.biz niche2.*****.biz etc without having to spend a fortune on domains that I want to use for a specific niche. and the domain i got looks great for this type of use.

    Additionally the other benefit of sub domains is if you have a lot of http requests on your site it can be slow loading as browsers will only run 2 lots of concurrent downloads per domain, so by introducing 2 sub domains, maybe 1 for images and the other for cookie less content it will enable you to stream your content to the browser @ 6 times the speed rather than 2

  8. This is a good resource article. I've always confused add-on domains and sub-domains. Now I will take your article and tape it to my wall! No more confusion. . .

  9. Mmm, Ken Evoy of SBI said to use a sub-domain. I guess that is because his system doesn't handle add on blogs very well.
    Still they enjoy 35% of their sites in the top 1% of Alexa. Maybe it counts as a tweek, rather than as an essential.

    Cheers

    JohnGG

  10. I'm not at all technically savvy, however I have read a few things in the Google forum and Webmaster tools concerning sitemaps, because I have been struck by this very situation of "URL not allowed", so now I have been looking at a big red X for my sitemap status.

    The person I had to upgrade my site did something wrong with the configration of the sitemap, so I was told, and everything that was suggested that I do has not worked. Of course I am unable to make contact with this person. I was told since it was on a WordPress site, I could fix this from the dashboard, but to no avail. Arindam, could you give a couple of recommendations?

    Thanks and God bless.

    1. @Randy

      I can tell you what I do. For the record I have tried a heck lot of sitemap plugins and almost all of them had one bug or other. So here is a simpler tool you can use (this works for both WordPress and non-WordPress sites):

      http://gsitecrawler.com/en/download/

      Just use the "New site wizard" to add your site, then use the "filters: to exclude any URLS you don't want the crawler to crawl and index (it would automatically import your site's robots.txt file, so if any URL is excluded in robots.txt then no need to exclude it again here), and you are done. The tool would generate a group of files among which you need to upload the following:

      The sitemap.xml file (For Google)
      The sitenap.xml.gz file (For Google)
      The urllist.txt file (For Yahoo)
      The urllist.txt.gz file (For Yahoo)
      And the gss.xsl file (the style sheet of the sitemap.xml file)

      I don't even submit to Yahoo, but keep the urllist files on my server anyways; if Yahoo or others want to crawl my site and are able to locate the file... ;)

      Hope my solution helps :)

      An alternative (if you don't want to install softwares) is http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. It works okay but the limitation is that the free version can index only 500 pages of a site.

      One crucial thing: make sure that the URL in your sitemap is same as the one you submit in Google webmaster tools. See answer to question no.4:
      http://arindamchakraborty.com/4-search-engine-optimization-questions-answered

  11. Hi Arindam and others,

    I submitted this question on a well-known forum and think I have my answer, but would like add'l feedback.

    I currently have a site that has been active for over 10 years. I used to offer website copywriting services, but disconintued them about 3 yrs ago. I'm currently using the site to promote various IM products.

    Now I want to completely convert the site to a new theme, BUT ... I also want to keep all the info that's there now. I considered a subdomain, but others have said I'll essentially lose any rankings I have for the existing site.

    This is the plan I've come up with -- I will leave the pages that are there now as-is, except for the index page, which I will put in a separate subfolder. Since it's mostly an 'introductory' page, a temporary ranking loss won't matter all that much. Since the 'location' of the inner pages won't change, they should keep their ranking.

    I will temporarily put a note at the top of the 'new' index page to let people know where they can find the 'old' index page.

    The reason I'm not just getting a new domain name and setting up a new site is because my current domain name is 'perfect' for my new theme.

    Whaddayathink? Will my plan work?

  12. when you say theme do you mean niche or theme as in wordpress theme/style? i will presume you mean niche.

    My personal thoughts are that if you change the content of the home page and still link to the internal pages in the same manner that you should see no issues aprart from terms that you rank well for on the home page will be lost.

    Why not create a little expanding ajax menu that is not in your face but opens when you click on it? that way all your links to your internal pages are still on your home page and not too much in your face?

  13. @Arindam: My site is not built on WordPress, although I do have a content-related WP blog in a subfolder.

    @Rob: You presumed correctly. I meant a new niche. The new site will be aimed at book writers and readers. No IM stuff at all so I'm not too fond of the ajax menu suggestion.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    1. @Nan,

      If it is not wordpress, you can 301 redirect through your hosting control panel (such as cpanel=>Redirects) or by editing your site's .htaccess file. :)

  14. @Arindam,

    Unless I'm missing something, I don't think a 'redirect' will work. I would be telling the server to send visitors from my existing home page (www.mysite.com/index.htm) to another page (www.mysite.com/subfolder/index.htm). Right?

    If so, then how would anyone find the index page with the new content since it would also be named http://www.mysite.com/index.htm?

    I realize the best solution is to simply get a new domain name, but every one I tried that 'fit' my new niche was already taken. I guess I could always come up with some oddball name and trust my page title and description to work their magic with the search engines.

    Or I could ... never mind. It all gets too complicated!

    You are welcome to email me directly if I've misunderstood your suggestion.

    BTW, sorry if my comments have drifted from your original posting.

  15. Very useful post and the first time I've heard about Google's new secure search. I guess they're trying to force everyone to use Analytics and Webmaster Tools to work out what keywords are driving traffic as no doubt all the third party tracking systems will fail to pick this data up once it's encrypted (including my own bespoke system ... darn it)

    I suppose from a business perspective this makes a lot of sense. Just makes you wonder whether at some point they'll start charging for access to the data in Webmaster Tools and Analytics!

    Just wondering about point 3 in your post, if you linked your subdomains from your main domain wouldn't link juice get passed from the main domain to the subs, thereby boosting their ranking?

    1. >>Just wondering about point 3 in your post, if you linked your sub-domains from your main domain wouldn’t link juice get passed from the main domain to the subs, thereby boosting their ranking?

      I do that and that certainly helps with rankings a bit, although I have not noticed any boost in the PR of my sub-domains just by doing this, so I am not sure about the "pr juice" thing. However, the rankings the sub-domains got as a result of this "interlinking" were not enough because most of them were based around competitive niches so I needed more traffic. If your niche has little competition then interlinking might be enough, assuming of course your main domain is old, has a good PR and a solid backlink structure. :)

      As for GA/Webmaster tools, it CAN become a paid service anytime. I never believe that "free will always be free"; that seldom happens. However, if I feel that the rate charged by GA is worth it, I would stay on, else I would quit. E.g., I am a paid subscriber of statcounter and feel the $10 I pay them every month is worth the extras they offer. :)

  16. I think that there are advantages for this.

    If Google treats sub domains differently all inbound links to our site would be valid as backlinks.

    An example is Softonic

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