1 Reply Latest reply on Oct 27, 2008 4:52 PM by PaulBiggs

    Domain vs. Subdomain for SEO

      I was recently at a Jive conference where they mentioned the correct implementation for full SEO benefits is to install Jive on the top level domain and not in a sub domain.


      So this would be right:



      And this would be wrong:



      Upon bringing this back to my co-workers, I've gotten some pushback from some who have read that installing on a sub domain makes no difference for SEO.


      I know the folks at Jive have probably been through many installations and are most likely the experts in this arena.  However it would be helpful if there was any more support of this theory.  Do you have any articles, white papers. links, etc. that discuss why this is the best practice?  We are going to have to reconfigure our installation to remove it from a sub domain so I need some support to make the business case.



        • Re: Domain vs. Subdomain for SEO

          Good question Justin -- depends on what you are after. Subdomains are treated as seperate bodies of content from top-level domains by the search engines, which has a variety of implications. Here's the high level:


          1. Why install in a subfolder of a top-level domain: search engines treat subdomains as a seperate body of content from a top-level domain. This means that a subdomain will accrue PageRank (or more generally, search engine weighting/points) seperately from the main domain. This disperses the SEO potential of the top-level domain: external links to/from the subdomain are not counted as strongly towards the top-level domain, but rather the subdomain. Since any given domain is only allotted a certain number of points, you are in essence dividing up your SEO points between two different places. If the SEO goal of adding a community to your site is to make your top-level domain's pages rank higher (say, your home page or your product pages) then adding the community to a sub-domain will to some degree limit the amount of SEO weight it adds. If you are really trying to have the most impact on your main site, you don't want to divide SEO factors across subdomains.
          2. Why install to a subdomain: in some cases, companies are not trying to rank higher, but rather trying to rank MORE. Since sub-domains are treated as seperate entities, by putting high-value content on a subdomain you can in fact have 2 rankings on the same search results page. This is often done as a form of "reputation management" to push other non-brand listings further down. But, to effectively do this, you already have to have a strong ranking -- strong enough to stand on its own. In other words, if you rank #1 for a search query, you might roll out a subdomain to try and attain both a #1 and #2 ranking for that query.


          Here is some more reading from the Search Engine Journal, which describes the situation as well:


          Overall, you have to weigh the incremental gains of these two benefits. In your case, there is the added factor that the community already exists on a subdomain. If you were starting a community from scratch, I'd say without hesitation to put it on a subfolder. To migrate a community, well, that requires a lot more work -- if you do, make sure you 301-redirect all the old URLs and reflect all the changed URLs in your XML sitemap so the engines can find them all. And, if your existing website already commands good rankings on the search engines, also less of an issue. SEO is very situational. The engines are VERY intelligent about how they treat each domain. Each domain and its inter-relation with its subdomains is treated differently.