Are Sub-domains Bad for SEO

Everyone has an opinion on the impact sub-domains have on search engine optimization. This topic is rife with misinformation, and many people have been misled into making catastrophic SEO mistakes in their use of sub-domains. This, however, does not mean that sub-domains are bad for SEO. It means that poor use of sub-domains can negatively affect your SEO. Ideally, the purpose of sub-domains is to improve your SEO.

 Websites are designed for people’s use and enjoyment. User engagement translates to the overall productivity of the website. As such, a seemingly benign factor such as web navigation cannot be ignored. Poor navigation leads to increased bounce rates and reduced conversion rate.

 Although most webmasters, SEO, and digital marketing strategists recommend subfolders, sub-domains can be very effective at improving navigation and consequently SEO. A sub-domain-centric navigation approach has the following benefits:-

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Mobile friendliness with adaptive design

The upsurge in mobile use in recent years has led brands to shift their marketing towards mobile. This trend is expected to continue, and Google is already planning to launch a mobile-first index that will prioritize mobile sites. This will make mobile-friendly sites rank higher. The most favorable method for achieving mobile-friendliness is a sub-domain approach. This involves building adaptive web designs on sub-domains.

The adaptive design provides a unique user experience on various devices, both mobile and desktop. Websites are designed to detect the device being used and automatically render the appropriate layout. The layout is displayed after the URL reloads to the appropriate sub-domain, for example, in mobile devices and in desktops.

Split navigation across the root domain and its sub-domains

Split navigation can be an effective marketing strategy. Split navigation is whereby you have the site search on the main domain and guided navigation within the categories on sub-domains. Sub-domains allow you to split your site content into categories. You can host your blog on or create conversion-focused landing pages for PPC associated with other sub-domains for example,

Having multiple URLs coming from the same domain can be confusing to users. They may get lost while navigating through the main site and the category landing pages hosted on sub-domains. This would lead to an increase in bounce rates and an overall reduction in conversions.


The SEO practices that you implement for your website influence customer acquisition that determines the success of your business. You should, therefore, be very careful when deciding on and implementing a sub-domain approach.

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