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    To Sub Domain or Not To Sub Domain? What Are the Best Practices?


    First and foremost, I would like to say that I am by no means a tech savvy internet marketer. Now that I've got that out of the way. I have an inquiry that’s part SEO and part marketing.

    Background: I am in the process of creating a main site that’s solely intended for consumers. On the back end, I intend on creating a 2nd site (“mini site” or “landing page”) intended on soliciting the product providers that will service these potential consumers.

    Two Important Points:

    1. The main site will depend on organic search engine traffic. The 2nd site will NOT require organic search engine traffic. In fact, I would prefer if the potential consumers remain largely unaware of the content within the 2nd site.
    2. And I do not intend on ever linking the sites together. I may however link the 2nd site to the “about us” and other “housekeeping” pages on the main site.

    From an SEO Standpoint;

    • Would you create the 2nd site as a “sub domain” of the 1st site? (i.e. subdomain.mainsite.com).
    • Or would you simply keep it on the main site and not use a sub domain?


    If so..

    • Whether a sub domain is used or not, would using the norobots tag or some form (or several forms together) of a no-index tag ensure that the pages intended for the businesses never be seen by potential consumers performing keyword searches?
    • Would the presumable lack of links between the “root domain” and “sub domain” negatively affect the main site?

    And From a Marketing Standpoint:

    • How important would you say it is to use a “look and feel” that resembles or is identical to the main site when designing the “sub domain”?
    • Should it be identical if possible?
    • Or… Would you say it probably doesn't matter because the 2nd site is not intended for the overwhelming majority of site visitors?
    Last edited by IbrahimSaeed; Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:58 PM.
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  3. rod@missionop.com
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    There are no direct impacts for SEOing anymore with respect to subdomains.
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    Thank you for the reply Fathom,

    I am somewhat aware of the fact that sub-domains have little to no effect on a root-domain's SEO. In fact I intend on creating the sub-domain for 2 purposes that have nothing to do with either the root-domain's or sub-domain's SEO;

    1. brand recognition and not wanting to confuse the providers/businesses as to who we are and what we are offering.
    2. keeping the content within the sub-domain away (or a secret) from the ideal site visitor of the root-domain.

    The root-domain will be for consumers, and the sub-domain will be for providers/businesses.

    My original concern with respect to SEO was whether or not the sub-domain would actually hurt the root-domain because I do not intend on linking between them (again I wish to keep the consumers away from this content). The sub-domain (for providers/businesses) will link to the root-domain in some instances, but the root-domain would never link to the sub-domain.
    Last edited by IbrahimSaeed; Feb 20th, 2013 at 07:08 AM.
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  7. rod@missionop.com
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    Originally Posted by IbrahimSaeed
    Thank you for the reply Fathom,

    I am somewhat aware of the fact that sub-domains have little to no effect on a root-domain's SEO. In fact I intend on creating the sub-domain for 2 purposes that have nothing to do with either the root-domain's or sub-domain's SEO;

    1. brand recognition and not wanting to confuse the providers/businesses as to who we are and what we are offering.
    2. keeping the content within the sub-domain away (or a secret) from the ideal site visitor of the root-domain.

    The root-domain will be for consumers, and the sub-domain will be for providers/businesses.

    My original concern with respect to SEO was whether or not the sub-domain would actually hurt the root-domain because I do not intend on linking between them (again I wish to keep the consumers away from this content). The sub-domain (for providers/businesses) will link to the root-domain in some instances, but the root-domain would never link to the sub-domain.
    Try and view this from a value added vantagepoint. If you buy a home with a gravel driveway and pave it... you increased the value of the house itself without ever touching the house. Added a BBQ patio... you increased the value of the house itself without ever touching the house. Added an inground swimming pool... you increased the value of the house itself without ever touching the house.

    Course if borrow stone from the houses foundation to use in the cement to pave the driveway that would harm the value of the home, or borrowed the lumber from inside the house to build the patio that would harm the value of the home, or syphoned water from the bathtub or toilet tank that would harm the value of the home...

    Be that as it may, in some ways subdomains will significantly help and in others significantly harm.
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    My original concern with respect to SEO was whether or not the sub-domain would actually hurt the root-domain because I do not intend on linking between them
    This is recent and relevant:
    Google Recommends Not To Host Bad Sites On Your Domain Name
    THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO UNNATURAL LINKS RECOVERY by Dr. Marie Haynes.
    Click here to sign up for my Google Penalty Newsletter.
    Traffic Drop Audits. and Unnatural links penalty recovery help.
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    I agree with Dr. on her link and still step on Rod's toes... I still feel/believe that you're better off hosting in a directory rather than sub domain assuming it's relevant and related to your overall site theme.
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  13. rod@missionop.com
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    Originally Posted by joshz
    I agree with Dr. on her link and still step on Rod's toes... I still feel/believe that you're better off hosting in a directory rather than sub domain assuming it's relevant and related to your overall site theme.
    That really depends on what you are doing.

    I would put a blog - in a subdomain
    I would put a forum - in a subdomain
    I would put a directory - in a subdomain
    I would put a wiki - in a subdomain
    I would put a photo gallery - in a subdomain
    I would put a public tools - in a subdomain

    Actually I would place your root site is a subdomain as well not just www either.

    Reference: Google Groups
    Originally Posted by Johnmu
    In general, if you remove the page that is being linked to (such as a spammy forum thread) and make sure that it returns a 404/410 HTTP response code, we'll ignore the links to those pages. If these links are primarily pointing at threads that you've removed, then there's no need to move the whole forum to a new URL. If you find that there's a significant number of problematic links that you can't remove which are linking to general parts of your forum (eg the forum homepage), moving the forum to a different URL might be a possibility (but I'd only recommend doing that if you're absolutely sure that these links are causing problems -- we're pretty good at ignoring spammy links). If you choose to move the forum, then StevieD has some good suggestions on how that could be done (make sure that your 404 page is useful to users too).
    If you're doing DIY SEO and you are strictly speaking an "amateur" this saves you from PENGUIN headaches especially if your don't truly understand what organic links are.
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    Originally Posted by fathom
    That really depends on what you are doing.

    I would put a blog - in a subdomain
    I would put a forum - in a subdomain
    I would put a directory - in a subdomain
    I would put a wiki - in a subdomain
    I would put a photo gallery - in a subdomain
    I would put a public tools - in a subdomain

    Actually I would place your root site is a subdomain as well not just www either.

    Reference: Google Groups


    If you're doing DIY SEO and you are strictly speaking an "amateur" this saves you from PENGUIN headaches especially if your don't truly understand what organic links are.
    True, if you're want security for any headaches, but per Maries post - even that cannot promise to save or protect a site.

    I respect your opinion, but I just disagree, esp.on the photo gallery. We had a client that had media.domain.com for all of their videos/pictures - they were getting little to no traffic via Google images. After moving the photo gallery to domain.com/photo-gallery.html we saw a great uptick in traffic from google images. Not enough for a case study, but it gave me confidence in the particular site in question.

    Blog - I'm 50/50 on. Could go either way.

    Everything else makes sense to me, I guess we clash again ;-)

    Wait, explain what you meant about putting the root site in a subdomain? Like http://web.domain.com? I'm confused on this...
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  17. rod@missionop.com
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    Originally Posted by joshz
    Wait, explain what you meant about putting the root site in a subdomain? Like http://web.domain.com? I'm confused on this...
    PENGUIN recovery is problematic for most site owners because their inorganic links tend to go to "http://domain.com" right along with their organic links.
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    Originally Posted by fathom
    PENGUIN recovery is problematic for most site owners because their inorganic links tend to go to "http://domain.com" right along with their organic links.
    Good point; however, wouldn't John's latest quote contradict that method (in theory):

    With regards to other websites hosted within your website, Googlebot doesn't differentiate between accidentally hosting that kind of content within your site and doing it on purpose. If those are really sites that you do not want to be associated with, then I'd recommend making sure that they are not hosted within your domain. If those are sites that you want to fold into your main site, then I'd recommend setting up 301 redirects to the new URLs on your main site.
    So, even if you were hit and dropped the subdomain, etc. based off of this, it still would not solve or eliminate any problems, eg, Penguin.
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    Originally Posted by fathom
    PENGUIN recovery is problematic for most site owners because their inorganic links tend to go to "http://domain.com" right along with their organic links.
    Just so we are clear here... people tend to develop inorganic links because they:

    1. don't know the difference between organic & inorganic and/or
    2. can't or won't afford the investment into organic links

    That being said, the only recovery method (given #1 or #2 or both) is a new domain so you can continue developing inorganic links (for a time)... but you also lose any organic links this way.
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    So, even if you were hit and dropped the subdomain, etc. based off of this, it still would not solve or eliminate any problems, eg, Penguin.
    I think the idea is that if you put your main site on a subdomain and then the sudomain got hit by Penguin, you could easily just axe the subdomain and start fresh with a brand new subdomain rather than ditching the whole domain.
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    Originally Posted by joshz
    Good point; however, wouldn't John's latest quote contradict that method (in theory):

    So, even if you were hit and dropped the subdomain, etc. based off of this, it still would not solve or eliminate any problems, eg, Penguin.
    If you ask Google the same question but worded differently you get a different answer.

    Google is really good at sorting our webspam links created by 3rd parties ill will (they say this alot) BUT harms you for you doing the exact same thing throughout your complete domain.

    1. Why doesn't this happen for 3rd parties ill will?

    2. What does Google use to define "who built the link(s)?"

    The only part that makes any sense "it doesn't matter you built the link(s)" they are all treated the same... so how can Google intentionally harm your complete domain in one case and not in the other?

    Non-Disclosure is a real bitch... ain't it!
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    Originally Posted by Dr.Marie
    I think the idea is that if you put your main site on a subdomain and then the sudomain got hit by Penguin, you could easily just axe the subdomain and start fresh with a brand new subdomain rather than ditching the whole domain.
    Well that's the theory... and it doesn't really say anything different than JohnMu's statement:

    With regards to other websites hosted within your website, Googlebot doesn't differentiate between accidentally hosting that kind of content within your site and doing it on purpose. If those are really sites that you do not want to be associated with, then I'd recommend making sure that they are not hosted within your domain. If those are sites that you want to fold into your main site, then I'd recommend setting up 301 redirects to the new URLs on your main site.
    If you get BANNED your complete domain is BANNED not just a piece of it.

    But PENGUIN doesn't impact all pages without a domain so to say that it would impact across subdomains to the root... that isn't what was said.

    If you are hosting a BAD site in a subdomain... I would conclude BANNED subdomain site and not a devalued page in a subdomain.
    Last edited by fathom; Feb 20th, 2013 at 10:09 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Dr.Marie
    I think the idea is that if you put your main site on a subdomain and then the sudomain got hit by Penguin, you could easily just axe the subdomain and start fresh with a brand new subdomain rather than ditching the whole domain.
    Understood - but it would appear depending on how many subdomains and in what example, your provided article to contradict that. That's what I was trying to pry out of Rod ;-)

    Originally Posted by fathom
    Non-Disclosure is a real bitch... ain't it!
    Yes sir. Keeps the fun going.
    Last edited by joshz; Feb 20th, 2013 at 10:10 AM.
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