This article is about the use of Folders vs Add-on Domains, also referred to as Subdomains, and the advantages and disadvantages of SEO and PageRank for both.
Naysayers – Web SEO Guru Idiots
Many web gurus will argue that search engines will see that the IP address is the same for each website and will put the website together in search results, and not split them out. If this were true, then hundreds of websites that are on shared hosting, that have the same IP address, would be searched and indexed as one website. Another fact against what these web gurus think, is that if this were true, then why do the major websites such as Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. Practice this for their websites?? If you type in Google in a search engine you will see a long list of results for Google, such as news.google.com, maps.google.com, help.google.com, and the list goes on and on.
Folder Domain – Pros and Cons
When I say folders I am referring to folders that are one level higher on the site root. An example is http://howbits.com/examplefolder/.
- When using folders you get more content for your website. Each folder, and whatever is in the folder is consider content for the main site, so if I make howbits.com/news/, well anything that ends up in the News folder is more content for my website and everyone knows Content is king. Search Engines love websites with a lot of content, so this of course will increase my ranking in search results
- PageRank is shared with the folders of the website, so whatever my PageRank is in Howbits.com, chances are if the links are built right, then any content in the news folder will get the rank share.
- Folders are easier to maintain then Add-on Domains, because they are still part of the main website.
- If the websites are linked correctly, you can get an indented listing using the main website with good SEO, and then connecting to another page with poor ranking, but the ranking can ride on the ranking of the main website and thus get better search results by proxy.
- Since folders are part of the main website, they are indexed as supplemental results, and instead of getting multiple search results, the most you will get in a typical search engine is one listing, and then an indented listing. So you end up getting less exposure for your website. A good example is to type in your website address in a search engine, you will notice that only 1 possibly 2 pages of your website will show up at a time.
- Folders will rarely if ever have a higher PageRank then the main page that they are connected to. So as result the the PageRank sharing is limited, and each link from a page that is in a folder is not considered a Backlink, it is considered part of the internal linking.
Add-on Domains also called Subdomains
For people who do not know what a Add-on Domain is, it’s a website structure that looks like this. http://news.howbits.com, in this example News is a Add-on Domain of Howbits.com. So lets get down to the pro’s and con’s of each and then how to use Add-on domains in your favor
- An Add-on domain is considered in search engines eyes, as it’s own website a and not connected to the main website, so as a result you can get multiple search listings for your website. It’s not a coincidence that Google, Yahoo, etc all use add-on domains for their websites.
- Each Add-on Domain, if done right, will get their own PageRank, and in some cases a much higher PageRank then the main Website, so the PageRank sharing from Add-on Domain to Main Domain will result in a much greater boost of PageRank. since it is viewed as a separate entity.
- A link from an Add-on Domain to the main domain is considered a Backlink, and not part of the internal structure of the Website
- Search engine rankings, are increased because the Add-on domain is viewed as a link vote for the main website, so you get increase search engine ranking because it is another website pointing to your main website. Tip – Try to use some of the same keywords on the website, if you notice on each website I have some of the same keywords for each Add-on domain that the main website uses.
- With Add-on domains, since they are viewed as separate you can submit all your Add-on domains to one directory. So in a directory you would have news.howbits.com, forum.howbits.com, pictures.howbits.com, and howbits.com. Each one separate so I am allowed to submit them individually.
- Search engines look at websites and get a good idea of what the website is about, so as a result, one website with folders is usually categorized in terms of what the main website is about. But with Add-on domains, each domain can have it’s own search criteria that it can go for, and so you paint a better picture to search engines for what each Add-on domain is about. Example of a made up website – allaboutanimals.com can be about just animals. But supplies.allaboutanimals.com can be geared towards the selling of animals supplies, or advice.allaboutanimals.com can be all about tips to get rid of take care of animals. For each website you can cater the content of each page for better listings on the search engines, or at least end up with multiple search engine listings for About Animals.
- Add-on domains require more planning then the use of folders.
- Each Add-on domain needs to have it’s own SEO and backlinks created to get good search results.
- Since the websites are separated from each other, you will not get the boost of ranking from massive amounts of content on the main website.
- You need to treat each Add-on domain as a separate entity, so that means it will have it owns branding, web content, and links.
- Links to the main website, from a non Add-on Domains, do not increase the search engine ranking of the other Add-on Domains.
- Time consuming if each website is built from scratch, and have to be maintained separately.
Between the two website structures, neither of them is the perfect solution to go with. Take a look at what you want to be doing on your website, and how much time you want to put in, and then decide from there. If you only plan on posting to your website once in a blue moon, then the folder structure will be the way to go, easier to maintain and less SEO work. If you are like myself, where I have several different types of content I am posting, which is a result of broad interest in several categories, then I recommend going with a Add-on Domains. I plan to build PageRank and search engine ranking for each of my Add-on domains; so as a result all my other pages will get a PageRank boost, and search engine boost off of each Add-on Domain. I have always liked the idea of whatever I did over here, benefits something over there. But again it comes down to how much work you want to put into your website.
Howbits Website Split
I decided to split up my website a few days ago, so that way I could post news in it’s own area, pictures in another area, and then put a forum in another area. I did this with ease, I just copied my main website to each Add-on domain, and then changed the Keywords, Page Title, Descriptions, and then started adding content that fits the websites style. I changed the logo and the Favicons, and start from there. It took about an hour per Add-on domain from start to finish. As a result of this I now have multiple search results and ranking for each website. Screen shoot from Google -
Forum.howbits.com has dropped in ranking because I have been adding content and doing SEO on the other Add-on Domains. I will start doing SEO for the forum to increase it’s ranking in the next few days.
Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in regards to this article.