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Folders or Sub-Domains?
which should I use?
petertdavis

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 6:28 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm putting together a good sized website that will offer several distinct areas to users. I'm debating whether to use folders or sub-domains. I prefer the way sub-domains look, but have heard that there might be other issues to consider.

for me, it's easier to type something like this:

forum.*****.com
news.*****.com
blogs.*****.com
etc.*****.com

than it is to type

www.*****.com/forum
www.*****.com/news
www.*****.com/blogs
www.*****.com/etc

I'd appreciate any comments anyone had about the benefits and drawbacks of either folders or sub-domains. Thanks very much!

 

MichaelBluejay

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 8:57 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you get rid of the gratuitious WWW then they'll both be just as easy to type. I have my sites physically remove the WWW from the address bar if anyone types it in, to reinforce that it's completely unnecessary.

As for which is better, <domain.com/topic> or <topic.domain.com>, I don't think it matters too much. I've tried both and have had good success. I tend to be partial to how <domain.com/topic> looks -- seems less confusing and easier to remember.

The biggest difference is that my server visitor reports are segregated when I use subdomains. You'll have one report for each subdomain. The downside is that you now have to check X reports to get a feel for your traffic, but an upside is that you can now easily see the traffic for each topic in isolation to the others. Depends on what's most important to you.

petertdavis

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 4:39 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the comment about the stats. That's something I hadn't considered.

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 4:51 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

The stats are separate because the subs are seen as separate domains.

That works for SEs, too - so each 'site' needs it's own marketing, and its own SEO. Incoming links will be divided between the sites (few will give links to more than one), plus most Quality Directories will not list subdomains.

You could fiddle with the WWW, using a 301; but it's an undeniable fact of life that people 'expect' a proper domain to have www, ands a subdomain not to. (technically, www is a subdomain, but that makes no difference in practice!)

Finally, splitting the site up caould make keeping track of navigation more complex for you - and very confusing for your visitors.

In most cases, keeping the stuff on one domain is wise: don't forget Quadrille's Oft-Quoted Seventh Law - "Divide your site and be conquered."

rkrause

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 12:27 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dear petertdavis:

I personally use both subdomains and directories, but that choice is sometimes dictated by how I intend to market the site and how much growth I expect for the site.

One advantage of subdomains is for load-balancing -- each site can be located on a physically separate server, even its own IP address. Subdomains also provide the effect of "partioning" individual sites, which makes the implementation of security policies easier. Everything from client-side cookies to server-side permissions can be provided a stricter layer of security than is often achievable with directories alone. Further, a subdomain has the ability to service SSL connections, while a single directory does not.

Also be cautious about automatically stripping out the "www." from the URL, as Google might differentiate the two (depending on your site preferences under Google's Webmaster Tools). The importance is consistency. If your own promotional links do not include the "www." while other users do include the "www.", then you may want to consider the potential side-effects on your inbound link count.

--Randall

MichaelBluejay

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 12:43 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Also be cautious about automatically stripping out the "www." from the URL, as Google might differentiate the two (depending on your site preferences under Google's Webmaster Tools). The importance is consistency. If your own promotional links do not include the "www." while other users do include the "www.", then you may want to consider the potential side-effects on your inbound link count.

I'm not sure this is correct. I think as long as you strip out the WWW properly (with R=301 or R=permanent), you get credit for all your links. My rankings (which are good) seem to support that. Also, if I search Google for backlinks, typing in either site:www.mydomain.com or site:domain.com returns the same set of links.

rkrause

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 3:41 am on Dec 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dear MichaelBluejay:

Thank you for sharing your results. I was going based solely on my own experiences since I have frequently observed Google distingushing between FQDNs. However, it does appear that a 301 redirect achieves favorable results in this scenario.

Personally I am an advocate of maintaining the seemingly redundant "www." despite its anchronistic qualities, since its usage is already established in Internet culture, increasing its favourability amongst novice end-users. Also, rewriting of the URI is sometimes beyond the technical scope of Webmasters (as is evidenced by the remarkably common use of Javascript and META tags to achieve client-side redirects). But, ultimately, it comes down to consistency.

--Randall

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 11:23 am on Dec 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Mainly, but not entirely consistency.

Those who strip out the www for a full domain will still (almost certainly) get incoming links to www.domain.com, from well meaning linkers who put it back - however consistently the webmaster leaves it out.

If Google can follow those links and find the site, then Google may well conclude that the URLs exist; so the link will be credited to a nonexistent www.domain.com, rather than to domain.com

Conventions are defied at your own risk :)

[edited by: Quadrille at 11:25 am (utc) on Dec. 26, 2006]

bill

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 1:17 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

If Google can follow those links and find the site, then Google may well conclude that the URLs exist; so the link will be credited to a nonexistent www.domain.com, rather than to domain.com

I removed all of those unnecessary www's from my URLs years ago and have never had any trouble in the SEs whatsoever. A properly implemented 301 redirect is all that you need to let the SEs know your preferred URL.

If you're worried about Google, then simply head to their Webmaster Tools and set your preferred URL. There's no longer a need to be burdened with this outdated subdomain in your URL. As long as you are consistent in applying this www-less URL then I've found that the small number of webmasters who correct your URL can easily be prodded to amend their ways.

Whichever format you chose is fine. Just be absolutely consistent in presenting your URL both online and off. The benefits/hardships of choosing one format over another are really trivial if you're consistent.

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 9:17 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not disagreeing - but having a perfect 301 does not guarantee you will get the 'link benefit' from a mis-directed link.

I don't think this means 'never defy convention' - but it does mean that it needs a risk assessment first. Most will be fine; some may need to think twice.

But no, there will not be a 'problem' with SEs, but not necessarily the appropriate benefit, either.

bill

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 2:17 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why this convention of which you speak should be an issue is puzzling. If we're talking about sub-domains here...and I decide to use pizza.example.com on my site, the people linking to something that doesn't conform to my naming convention won't be doing their visitors any good either. They'll be seeing my 404 page. Those are links I could do without.

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188345 posted 3:35 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

That's folk for you.

But as I said above, the problem, when there is one, is when a 'wrong' URL DOES work. And as many people use 301s between WWW and non-www, that's no rarity.

I'm not voting for convention, simply discussing the fact there is one, and what it may mean. Anyway, a warm and welcoming user friendly 404 is rarely a problem.

But to be clear, the convention is:

www.domain.com (ie 'full' domain add www)
subdomain.domain.com (ie subdomain do not add www)

I know that you know, I'm spelling it out for those who may not. :)

[edited by: Quadrille at 3:37 pm (utc) on Dec. 27, 2006]

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