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Treatment of a Subdomain Compared to a Domain
cangoou




msg:3509808
 3:17 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, what happens if I create a subdomain to a well-ranked domain? Will it be treated by Google like a folder of that domain or more like a new domain (concerning ranking, internal links, pr and so on)?

 

tedster




msg:3510132
 9:07 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's no black and white answer, since a subdomain is a kind of hybrid critter. It's treated much more like an independent domain in many respects - for example, if urls from both the root domain and a subdomain show up on the same page of search results, they do not cluster together.

And yet, in some ways, it's still treated like the "child" of the domain is belongs to. For example, a subdomain can show up as a sitelink under the #1 ranking for the root domain if there's a home page link to it.

And then there's also some middle ground. A penalty or loss of trust for the subdomain does not necessarily affect the root domain. But this "penalty firewall" doesn't flow in the other direction. A penalty on the root domain will almost always affect any subdomains as well.

If you create a new subdomain for a trusted and well-ranked domain, it will still start out life a lot like other sites. It's PR must be calculated from the ground up - although links from the parent domain are certainly expected and will transfer PR to the urls that they link to. Time in the "honeymoon phase" and the "sandbox phenomenon" can often be shorter.

But a subdomain still needs to stand on it's own, in many ways - not the least of which is establishing a solid backlink profile. There's no "free ride" for it.

[edited by: tedster at 9:39 pm (utc) on Nov. 20, 2007]

trakkerguy




msg:3510133
 9:18 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Excellent and concise explanation Tedster!

cangoou




msg:3510362
 7:47 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Greate, thank you.

kidder




msg:3513257
 12:50 am on Nov 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've been doing some testing on subs and I'm getting some great results with them. One site I manage does not have a very SEO friendly script, I don't want to change it, it's old and established so I hung a subdomain off it for my content and presto we started ranking the subdomain within a couple weeks. It was clearly dragging trust off the main site, plus you can get a primary keyword at the front of the domain which "appears" to be helping my cause. What I don't think you should do with subs is start getting spammy with them, your just aksing for trouble.

jtara




msg:3515820
 2:29 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Pet peave: calling hosts subdomains!

In most cases, what people call a "subdomain" here ain't. It's a host. It's only a subdomain if it contains hosts or further subdomains itself.

Example:

example.com is a domain
www.example.com is a host in the example.com domain
widgets.example.com is a host in the example.com domain

(There is also a special exception: there is a default host for every zone. In the above example, "example.com". There MIGHT be a host there, which MIGHT or MIGHT NOT include a web server. On the other hand, it's perfectly valid to set the address of this host to 0.0.0.0, meaning there isn't one.)

widgetdivision.example.com
www.widgetdivision.example.com
blog.widgetdivision.example.com

widgetdivision.example.com is a subdomain (or, more properly, zone) of example.com. www and blog are hosts in that subdomain (or zone).

Technically, there really isn't such a thing as a "subdomain" anyway. It's just "domain".

-----
I think the confusion has to do with the fact that most of us run single-host domains, and, at most, domains with a small number of hosts. Very few of us actually have subdomains.

With the web being the 900-pound gorrila of the Internet, it's easy to forget that the domain naming system and the web are entirely separate. The DNS system has other uses besides naming websites!

-----
Anyway, as far as most search engines go, they only care about hosts. One host doesn't get karma from another host.

Further, the parent zone may or may not even have a web site!

Note that there are plenty of atypical zone setups out there, that would make it difficult to handle it any other way. Take, for example, the original structure of the .us domain:

ca.us -> California
sandiego.ca.us -> San Diego, California
example.sandiego.ca.us -> Some example domain

Now, is example a company, organization, or a neighborhood of San Diego? Should:

www.example.pointloma.sandiego.ca.us have it's ranking affected by the ranking of pointloma.sandiego.ca.us?

Without knowing the kind of entity controlling each zone above the host, there is no way of knowing whether you ought to attribute karma from the parent zone to the site.

Now the ancient structure of the .us TLD is indeed an oddball case. But there are plenty of other strange ones. Certainly, it is common for some ccTLDs to have second-level domains (co.uk, etc.), and the search engines would have to keep track of this.

indias next no1




msg:3515825
 2:47 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

i am seeing sub domian domination in my field.
a website in our country which is user generated content( a totally scrap site, but venture capitals invested nearly US $ 2 million in that company ). you won't beleive for most of the competitive terms in our industry their members pages ( Example : users1.domain.com , users2.domain.com ) etc., is totally occupying all the first 1 - 30 SERPS results.

i think google treat them as different domain names.

jtara




msg:3515866
 4:35 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Example : users1.domain.com , users2.domain.com ) etc., is totally occupying all the first 1 - 30 SERPS results.

i think google treat them as different domain names.

Yes.

Maybe it would help de-confuse things to say "different sites" rather than "different domains".

I can't think of any other way of doing it.

You see, these are websites belonging to individual users. They are totally separate websites.

How do you investigate each host, to determine whether they are under common control or not? Or do you make the arbitrary call that sites under a domain are deemed under common control, even though in many cases they are not? You simply can't - it's impractical.

Bottom line is that the domain name system simply can't be used to determine common control over sites.

indias next no1




msg:3515921
 6:44 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

jtara :

the website is providing username as sub domain to the members.

all the layout and other details of the users pages are similiar and "ditto". you can't able to change the layout design even "Font". you can just type and tell us your views.

say for example

Review about "hotel ------ " in new york
user1.domain.com will say "Yes good, hotel"
user2.domain.com will say "Good"

that's all for the page. most of the pages will contain the same repeated duplicate pages, which they call as users content generated pages. bull$hit.

if you type "hotel ------ review" in Google it will show the same duplicate pages in different sub domains of the main domain from 1 - 30 results. after that 31 you can see else other websites review about "hotel ----- " again in 40 or something they will catch up and dominate the SERPS.

google has to work on this sub domain spam.

jtara




msg:3515943
 7:20 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

google has to work on this sub domain spam.

Sounds to me like Google needs to work on this spam - period.

It doesn't sound like useful content. If Google is pushing this to the top of the listings, they have bigger problems than domain-related issues.

I wouldn't disagree that they have bigger problems. ;)

pleeker




msg:3515951
 7:40 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

What about "link juice"?

If I have news.domain.com and it has 10,000 incoming links, is domain.com getting any/all/none of the link juice?

Vice versa, if domain.com has 10,000 incoming links, does news.domain.com get any benefit from that?

Sounds from the above like the answer is NO in both cases, but I'd love to make sure I'm reading things correctly.

longen




msg:3516144
 1:30 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Has anyone 301'ed content to a sub-domain - how did it work out?

Chris_Boggs




msg:3516222
 3:25 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

to me the ultimate power of subdomains is evident in a simple search at Google for "google."

oddsod




msg:3516251
 3:59 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the long post, jtara. I thought I knew what sub-domains were but now I'm completely confused!

In most cases, what people call a "subdomain" here ain't. It's a host.

I thought a host was a company that hosted your website.

Fiver




msg:3516254
 4:02 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tedster hit the important nail on the head here:

A penalty or loss of trust for the subdomain does not necessarily affect the root domain. But this "penalty firewall" doesn't flow in the other direction. A penalty on the root domain will almost always affect any subdomains as well.

It's a one-way street - IF - the main domain does not link to the subdomain. Google can expect stanford.edu may be hacked into and a thousand spammy subdomains placed live - any ensuing penalties will not affect the stanford.edu domain unless stanford.edu happened to link to one of the spammy subdomains.

But if stanford.edu went spammy and the domain itself received a penalty, the subdomains may be affected even if stanford.edu never linked out to them.

as for link juice being passed - well it has to be passed through links. subdirectory or subdomain or external domain, there ain't no other way. link juice will flow where link paths are laid.

joelgreen




msg:3516255
 4:03 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Has anyone 301'ed content to a sub-domain - how did it work out?

del.icio.us has no redirect from icio.us to del.icio.us Maybe there is a reason for it.

pleeker




msg:3516385
 6:00 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

as for link juice being passed - well it has to be passed through links. subdirectory or subdomain or external domain, there ain't no other way. link juice will flow where link paths are laid.

So, if I have news.domain.com and 10,000 links point to this subdomain (host!), those 10,000 links:

A) benefit news.domain.com ONLY
B) benefit news.domain.com and domain.com BOTH
C) benefit domain.com ONLY

If the answer is B, is the benefit equal? Or is it just a trickle effect in line with what Tedster was referring to?

jimbeetle




msg:3516401
 6:20 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

A) benefit news.domain.com ONLY
B) benefit news.domain.com and domain.com BOTH
C) benefit domain.com ONLY

Links to any page, whether on www, news, or non-dub, only directly benefit that page. After that it's up to whatever linking structure you have in place to pass the link juice around.

Robert Charlton




msg:3516450
 7:21 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

After that it's up to whatever linking structure you have in place to pass the link juice around.

Agreed. Now, is cross-linking among pages in this "subdomain" structure...

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

...treated any differently than cross-linking among pages in this sub-directory structure?...

domain.com/
domain.com/news/
domain.com/news2/

I.e., is linking among the "hosts"-"subdomains" treated as

a) linking within a closed network of different sites that share a common IP?
b) as nav links within one site?

And, are these treatments different or are they the same?

I've seen examples that make me think it depends on how competitive the search query is (and thus whether algo factors like Local Rank enter into it), but I'd be concerned that the "subdomain" arrangement might be more liable to being viewed as a mini-network by Google.

This is speculation, though... I'm not certain of how Google might look at these.

hugo_guzman




msg:3516481
 7:52 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I recently eliminated 32 subdomains for one of my managed sites, converting them all to urls of the main domain.

We handled the url-redirects properly and have experience no real fluctuation in rankings.

This leads me to believe two things:
a) Google treats subdomains more or less the same as they would an url of the main domain.
b) The main determining factor in terms of SEO is (you guessed it) inbound links.

kidder




msg:3516687
 11:30 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would just like to retract my earlier post about my good results when using subdomains. It's worked well for a few months now but the last 2 days all of my subs have been removed from competitive searches. (I had 5 subs running wordpress with unique relevant content) I gave the subs one link from the index page of the main URL and did not cross link them. It looks very much like they have been hand job'd - Considering the sites that have replaced me are also running subs I will just wait and see for now. I'm so used to getting slapped by Google that I'm numb from it now.

kwasher




msg:3516900
 6:38 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)


Now, is cross-linking among pages in this "subdomain" structure...

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

...treated any differently than cross-linking among pages in this sub-directory structure?...

domain.com/
domain.com/news/
domain.com/news2/

My understanding is that these ....

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

...are treated as entirely different domains. If you do not link them to each other, there is no direct connection; aside from that their subfolders on the main domain is where their files actually reside.

These...

domain.com/
domain.com/news/
domain.com/news2/

... are all connected and part of the same domain.


Google can expect stanford.edu may be hacked into and a thousand spammy subdomains placed live - any ensuing penalties will not affect the stanford.edu domain unless stanford.edu happened to link to one of the spammy subdomains.

But if stanford.edu went spammy and the domain itself received a penalty, the subdomains may be affected even if stanford.edu never linked out to them.

Again, this is my understanding, but the above is not necessarily true.

It would be true if when the host domains (yada.standford.edu, yada2.standford.edu, etc) were created, they were created as sub folders of the main domain (their files actually reside in subfolder on the main domain).

[if you ftp to the main domain, you can see the sub folders of your host ('sub') domains.]

BUT! Host domains do NOT have to be created in sub folders of the main domain. They can be created as fully qualified and seperate domains.

For instance, if you use cpanel WHM (a reseller account where you are allowed to create domains), try this experiment:

- Log into your WHM (www.yourdomain.com/whm) and click 'create account'.

- Now type in test1.yourdomain.com

- Continue on and create the account.

- When done, ftp into your MAIN domain (yourdomain.com) and look for the sub folder for 'test1'.

There is none.

So the domain test1.yourdomain.com has absolutely no connection to your main domain.

Even if the main domain gets banned, the host 'sub' domains should not.

Now if your IP gets banned, thats a different story.

Robert Charlton




msg:3516915
 7:43 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

kwasher - I think we're getting at the same point, but I'm not quite sure I follow your example.

To clarify a point... each of these could be set up on a different IP....

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

I assumed, though, when asking my question, for the purposes of this discussion, that they would be on the same IP. That doesn't have to be the case.

You say...
These...

domain.com/
domain.com/news/
domain.com/news2/

... are all connected and part of the same domain.

I'm not sure what is technically meant by "connected" here. By my use of the word "connected," pages within the site aren't "connected" unless they're linked to each other.

The "connection" you're talking about, I believe, is sharing hosting space. This sharing of hosting space was in fact behind one aspect of my question, where I bring Local Rank into it, perhaps not explicitly enough. "Local Rank" involves, among other things, a separation of hosting.

My question is really whether, assuming shared hosting, or at least hosting "affiliation" as defined by the Local Rank patent [patft.uspto.gov]... does Google treat linking among subdomains and linking among subdirectories (as described above), the same as...

a) linking within a closed network of different sites that share a common IP?
b) as nav links within one site?

I'm also wondering whether Google's treatments of (a) and (b) in this case are different, or whether they're the same? Again, the concern is that linking among subdomains might be seen as a mini-network.

For more on Local Rank, also see...

Google's 2 rankings & you
New patent means new way of ranking
[webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:04 am (utc) on Nov. 30, 2007]

jtara




msg:3516920
 8:02 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

My understanding is that these ....

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

...are treated as entirely different domains...

...aside from that their subfolders on the main domain is where their files actually reside

It ain't necessarily so.

They could be completely different servers, in different cities, or different continents.

They could be virtual hosts on a single dedicated server or VPS. In that scenario, it's actually pretty rare for the files to reside in subfolders of a "main domain". More typically, each domain gets it's own directory, which does *not* appear under the "main" domain.

kwasher




msg:3516943
 8:24 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the poster was talking about 'on the same server on the same domain'. I covered the rest in the second half. But maybe not well enough.

I'm not sure what is technically meant by "connected" here. By my use of the word "connected," pages within the site aren't "connected" unless they're linked to each other.

Connected in that when they are on the same domain, in subfolders.... the file path is

sub.domain.com ->domain.com->subfolder

Again, in the first case I assumed it was meant they were on the same host domain.

kwasher




msg:3516958
 9:01 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)


a) linking within a closed network of different sites that share a common IP?

...wouldnt it be necessary to seperate the dns from the IP and not lump them in together?

Where in shared hosting, you and I can have different domains, different accounts, on the same set of IPs?

(Am I off the mark? I do need some sleep... 'information overload' is setting in.)

jtara




msg:3517197
 3:57 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Connected in that when they are on the same domain, in subfolders.... the file path is

sub.domain.com ->domain.com->subfolder

Again, as per my last post, this really is atypical.

This is an implementation detail, typical of some low-end multi-domain hosting plans. I think because one or more of the popular control-panel packages lays things out this way.

There's no good reason to do it this way, and plenty of good reasons not to. I wish they wouldn't because it confuses the heck out of a lot of new webmasters. Somehow, somebody must have thought that this goofy file structure is somehow easier for webmasters to deal with. Quite the contrary. It's confusing.

There's no good reason for domain B's files to be in a subdirectory of domain A's file structure! I guess it just seemed convenient for the author(s) of one or more of the control panel packages!

Anyway, even so, if done properly, there's no way for search engines to discover that the files for a secondary domain are physically in a subdirectory of the main domain's files structure. That's because the main domain should be set-up to return a 404 error for those directories. (Otherwise, you face the potential for a duplication penalty.)

shrimp




msg:3520661
 4:06 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here is a problem that can occur. I had a successful niche hobby website, when I started a personal project I made a folder and put a photo-journal of the project on that site for family and friends only....or so I thought. The sub-domain eventually drew more taffic than the main site and is considered a separate site in search rank.

Now the problem, along comes Adsense...it is obvious that some Adsense advertisers have targeted my hobby site specifically by domain cause I get good traffic, so instead of content targeted ads on the unrelated sub-site I frequently get these seemingly silly ads totally non-related to the page.

I attempted to contact a couple of the advertisers to request that they not target my site for the whole domain but got nowhere.

I learned a lesson.

Marcia




msg:3520668
 4:29 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

The link to the reranking patent in the other thread isn't working, here's where it is now:

Ranking search results by reranking the results based on local inter-connectivity [patft.uspto.gov]

Chris_D




msg:3520848
 12:39 pm on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

domain.com
news.domain.com
news2.domain.com

...treated any differently than cross-linking among pages in this sub-directory structure?...

domain.com/
domain.com/news/
domain.com/news2/

Biggest difference is news.domain.com can get 2 results in the serps, so can news2.domain.com etc

The folders can't.

As jtara has very elequently pointed out, really big sites that use host name structures (Google, MSN etc) often do this for a number of reasons - forget the serps - its a technical decision which allows different hosts, in different data centres, greater redundancy etc etc. The other advantage of this approach is that being on teh same domain - its a one cookie deal. Which you can't do if all the sites are on different domains.

If I have news.domain.com and it has 10,000 incoming links, is domain.com getting any/all/none of the link juice?

A page (forget domains for a minute) - i.e. a unique URL - only gets link juice if it is linked to. So the URL [domain.com...] will only get link juice if it has a link to it from the url [news.domain.com...]

Link juice doesn't flow at the domain level - it flows at the unique URL level by links....

This 52 message thread spans 2 pages: 52 ( [1] 2 > >
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