What is Google's Approach Toward Subdomains?

Dec 15, 2008 • 9:18 am | comments (2) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Last year, we wrote about how Google is to perceive subdomains. Matt Cutts wrote back then that in some circumstances, subdomains will be treated like subfolders. He goes into more detail on his blog. In the post, he explains that sometimes people have performed long tail searches and gotten too many results from a single domain and its subdomains and Google has made it more difficult for that to occur.

The issue was relatively silent for a year, but now people are starting to ask questions. On a WebmasterWorld thread, tedster says that "A legitimate subdomain today often gets treated as something of a hybrid between a totally different domain and a part of the main domain."

On the other hand, there's a DigitalPoint Forums thread that disputes the weak relationship:

I've actually learned first hand that Google started treating subdomains as directories (happened months ago). I had some websites on subdomains where the main domain had 0 links. The websites were doing well until one day when they fell drastically. I then started to build links to the main domain and within 2 months the subdomains were also stronger than ever. The stronger the domain is - the stronger the subdomain is.

That said, there's confusion yet again.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint Forums.

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Comments:

Dave Snyder

12/15/2008 04:12 pm

I think the DigitalPoint Forum user might be playing the result a bit. If he built more links to his main domain and he has cross sub-domain linking their will be an effect from that linking as well as the new traffic from the increased rankings on the main domain. I think the issue here is that the way that SEs handle subdomains will never be concrete and will adjust with the environment.

Michael Martinez

12/15/2008 05:26 pm

I think Google made it pretty clear that they were only concerned with subdomains that appeared to be substantially part of or similar to the main site. Subdomains that stand on their own content and links are still being treated well in the search results. They also appear to be passing value. SEOs and Web marketers in general need to make an adjustment in their expectations for subdomains. It's no longer as easy to spam Google with subdomains as it once was, but you can still use them for effective targeted marketing. Overall, I think Google did pretty well with their adjustments. I can always nitpick them on something but this is a topic where I've seen both sides of the fence and I think they had to find a reasonable compromise. So far, it seems reasonable to me.

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