Does Subdomain Rank On Google

As an SEO consultant, one of the questions I am frequently asked by clients is whether subdomains are treated equally to main domains by Google’s sea… As an SEO consultant, one of the questions I am frequently asked by clients is whether subdomains are treated equally to main domains by Google’s sea…

As an SEO consultant, one of the questions I am frequently asked by clients is whether subdomains are treated equally to main domains by Google’s search algorithm.

There is some debate in the SEO community about this, with valid arguments on both sides.

On the one hand, subdomains are technically part of the same website, sharing the same IP address and hosting infrastructure.

However, subdomains also have their own URL structures and content, and in some ways act as separate entities.

Does Subdomain Rank On Google

My goal with this article is to examine both sides of the argument objectively and determine whether there is conclusive evidence that subdomains rank differently in Google search results compared to main domains.

After analyzing various Google patent documents, webmaster guideline statements, and conducting my own research studies, I will present my view on where the truth lies in this subdomain debate.

What Is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is a separate domain that is part of a larger main domain.

For example, and are subdomains of the domain.

How Subdomains Are Used

Subdomains are commonly used to organize content or services on a website:

  1. Blog - A subdomain is often used for a company blog.

  2. Support - or subdomains provide customer support information.

  3. Account - subdomains give users access to their account.

  4. Mobile - subdomains serve a mobile-optimized version of the website.

Do Subdomains Rank Independently?

Whether Google treats subdomains independently for ranking purposes is a complex question.

According to Google's guidelines, subdomains may be treated independently if they are substantially different.

Factors that determine the independence of subdomains include:

Different content

If subdomains have unique, original content not found on the main domain.

Duplicate or thin content is less likely to rank independently.

Separate IP address

Subdomains on a dedicated IP address are more likely to be considered independent.

Those sharing an IP with the main domain may rank together.

Link signals

The number and quality of inbound links to a subdomain also determine its independence.

Subdomains with few or no external links are less likely to rank on their own merit.

User experience

If subdomains have a different look and feel, with navigation and branding that is unique from the main site, Google may rank them separately.

Subdomains that resemble the main site will likely be considered together.

How Subdomains Differ From Subdirectories

As an SEO professional, it's important to understand how subdomains differ from subdirectories and how Google treats them differently.

Subdomains are separate websites with their own domain names, like or, that share the same root domain.

Subdirectories, on the other hand, are folders within the same website, like or

Ranking Signals

Google considers subdomains and subdirectories as two distinct entities.

Subdomains are seen as independent websites and evaluated based on their own content and metrics.

Subdirectories are viewed as part of the parent domain, so their rankings are influenced by the overall strength and authority of the domain.

Page Authority

Subdomains start with a clean slate and must build their own page authority over time through quality content and links.

Subdirectories inherit some authority from the parent domain, giving them a boost in the SERPs.

However, too many low-quality subdirectories can negatively impact the domain's authority.


Google crawls and indexes subdomains separately from the parent domain.

Subdirectories are crawled and indexed as part of the main site.

Having too many subdirectories can make a site difficult to crawl and index properly.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content across subdomains may be treated as a ranking signal by Google.

However, duplicate content within subdirectories of the same website is usually consolidated and filtered out.

The Benefits of Using Subdomains

As a website owner, utilizing subdomains offers several benefits for search engine optimization (SEO) and ranking on Google.

Increased Link Authority

Subdomains are treated as separate entities by Google, so they can build their own authority over time through earning high-quality backlinks.

This means that a subdomain has the potential to rank higher in search results than the primary domain if it earns a greater number of powerful backlinks.

For example, if you have a fashion blog on but also a travel blog on, the travel subdomain could outrank your main domain for searches related to travel topics.

Targeted Keywords

With a separate subdomain, you have an additional property to target specific keywords.

For instance, you may target more general terms on your main domain but go after long-tail keywords on your subdomains.

This focused content and optimization helps subdomains rank for keywords that the primary domain may struggle with.

Internal Linking

By interlinking between your main domain and subdomains, you create an internal link structure that passes authority and relevance signals between the properties.

For example, if your primary domain has a high domain authority, linking to your subdomains will pass some of this authority to help the subdomains rank better.

The subdomains can then link back to the main domain to return the favor.

This interlinking structure is viewed positively by Google and helps strengthen your overall domain.

Freshness Signals

When you publish new content on a subdomain, it sends freshness signals to Google that you are actively updating that property.

Fresh, high-quality content is an important ranking factor, so subdomains allow you to increase the volume of new content you can produce to keep all of your properties well-indexed and ranking in search results.

New content on subdomains also gives Google more pages to crawl and index from your overall domain.

Potential Drawbacks of Subdomains for SEO

There are a few potential downsides to consider with using subdomains for SEO.

Duplicate Content

If the content on your subdomains is largely duplicated from your main domain, it can be seen as duplicate content by Google and negatively impact your rankings.

To avoid this, ensure the content on each subdomain is original and not simply copied and pasted.

The content should be tailored to the specific subdomain topic.

Link Equity Distribution

The link equity you have built up for your main domain will be distributed among your subdomains.

This means each subdomain will have less link equity and authority, making them harder to rank.

You will need to build high-quality backlinks specifically targeting each subdomain to increase their authority.

Increased Workload

Managing multiple subdomains requires more work and resources.

You need to optimize each subdomain individually by creating unique content, building backlinks, and monitoring rankings and traffic.

This additional workload may strain your team and budget.

Brand Dilution

Having multiple subdomains can lead to brand dilution by dividing your authority and traffic across domains.

It may be harder for visitors and search engines to determine your core brand.

To avoid this, ensure your subdomains maintain a consistent brand identity through design, messaging, and content.

Lower Rankings

There is no guarantee subdomains will rank as well as your primary domain, especially for competitive keywords.

Subdomains have to establish their own authority and rankings, and search engines still tend to favor primary domains.

So, while subdomains have SEO benefits, they also present risks that must be considered.

Do Subdomains Rank on Google?

As an SEO consultant, a question I frequently receive from clients is whether subdomains rank separately from the main domain in Google search results.

The short answer is yes, subdomains are treated as separate entities for ranking purposes.

How Google Views Subdomains

Google sees subdomains as distinct sites with their own authority and content.

Each subdomain has its own set of pages, backlinks, and other ranking signals that Google evaluates independently.

For example, if you have a subdomain like ‘’, Google will rank pages on that subdomain based solely on factors related to that specific subdomain.

The authority and links of the main ‘’ domain typically do not pass value to subdomains.

Some key points to keep in mind regarding subdomains and search ranking:

  • Subdomains need to build their own authority and backlink profiles to rank well.

    They do not automatically inherit the authority of the main domain.

  • The content and topic of a subdomain should be focused.

    Subdomains that cover a range of unrelated topics may struggle to rank as Google prefers to show relevant, focused content in search results.

  • Internal linking between subdomains and the main domain is helpful.

    This passes authority and relevancy signals between the properties.

    However, the subdomain should still build a strong, independent backlink profile.

  • Competing subdomains may result in lower rankings for all properties.

    It is best to have a strategic approach for any subdomains to avoid competing against yourself in the search results.

  • Redirects from subdomains can help pass authority to the main domain.

    If consolidating multiple subdomains, properly redirecting each subdomain to the appropriate section of the main site can help those pages rank.

  • Consider server settings for subdomains carefully.

    Ensure the subdomain has a CNAME record properly configured to point to the main domain.

    This allows Google to discover the relationship between the subdomain and main domain.

Factors That Impact Subdomain Rankings

As the owner of a large website with multiple subdomains, ranking them effectively in Google is crucial.

Several factors determine how Google ranks subdomains and whether they are treated equally to the parent domain.

Domain Authority

The domain authority of the parent website and subdomains impacts rankings.

If the parent domain has a high authority, it may lend some of that authority to its subdomains, helping them rank higher.

However, subdomains still need to build their own authority over time through quality content and links to rank as highly as an established parent domain.

Content Quality and Optimization

The content on the subdomains plays a significant role in rankings.

Subdomains with high-quality, keyword-optimized content that provides value to users will outrank those with little or low-quality content.

The subdomain content should be focused on a specific topic that is relevant to the niche.

This focused content helps establish the subdomain as an authority on that subject.

Backlink Profile

The backlinks pointing to a subdomain also help determine its rank.

Subdomains that have a strong, diverse backlink profile from authoritative sites in their niche tend to rank higher than those with few or spammy backlinks.

It is a good idea to build backlinks to subdomains in the same way you would for any authoritative domain.

PageSpeed and Mobile-Friendliness

Other factors like page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and secure hosting can impact subdomain rankings.

Slow, non-mobile friendly sites with insecure hosting will rank lower.

Optimizing subdomains for speed and mobile, and choosing a secure web host are important for rankings.

Age of Subdomain

The age of a subdomain may also play a minor role in rankings.

An older, established subdomain will likely outrank a recently created one, all else being equal.

However, newer subdomains can still rank highly if properly optimized and promoted.

Age is not as significant a factor as domain authority, content, backlinks, and technical factors.

Best Practices for Optimizing Subdomains

Optimizing subdomains requires strategic planning and technical implementation to rank well in Google.

As the website owner, I must make search engine optimization (SEO) a priority across all subdomains.

To optimize subdomains, I should:

Choose subdomain names carefully.

Subdomain names directly impact search ranking and click-through rate.

I will select short, memorable and keyword-rich subdomain names that match the content and services offered.

For example, using ‘products’ or ‘shop’ instead of ‘ecom7429’.

Build high-quality, unique content.

Each subdomain needs a sufficient amount of original content to rank on its own merit.

I should create blog posts, product pages, service descriptions and other content tailored to the subdomain topic.

Simply duplicating content from the primary domain will not lead to good search visibility.

Technical optimization.

Implementing technical SEO best practices for each subdomain is key.

This includes using relevant page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags, internal linking, and optimizing page load speed.

I must also submit XML sitemaps for each subdomain to help Google discover all pages.

Earn high-quality backlinks.

Building a strong backlink profile composed of authoritative, trustworthy sites linking to each subdomain will signal to Google that the subdomain is an important part of my website.

I can pursue backlinks through guest blogging, business directory listings, and influencer collaborations.

Monitoring and maintenance.

Once subdomains are launched and optimized, ongoing maintenance and monitoring are required.

I should track keyword rankings, traffic, and backlinks monthly to ensure subdomains remain visible in search results.

Make adjustments as needed to content, technical elements or link building efforts.

By following recommended best practices, I can achieve greater search visibility and traffic for my website’s subdomains.

With strategic optimization and active management, subdomains have the potential to rank equally well as or even outperform the primary domain.

Success comes down to the time and resources I devote to boosting each subdomain’s authority and relevance.

Examples of Successful Subdomain Strategies

As an SEO consultant, I have helped many clients leverage subdomains to improve their search rankings and traffic.

Here are a few successful subdomain strategies I have employed:


For businesses with physical locations in multiple areas, using a subdomain for each region or city has proven effective.

For example, a national gym chain may have subdomains like and to target customers in those locations.

By optimizing each subdomain for its target area, the business can rank higher in local searches and drive more local traffic.

Language targeting

If a website offers content in multiple languages, subdomains dedicated to each language are a smart move.

For instance, a media company may have,, and to provide translated content for readers.

Optimizing each language subdomain boosts rankings and visibility for the translated versions of the content.

Product or service line

Some companies use subdomains to highlight a particular product, service, or brand under their umbrella.

For example, a software as a service (SaaS) company may have subdomains for each of their products like,, and

This makes it easy for customers to find what they need while enabling the company to optimize each subdomain.

Legacy domains

If a company has acquired other domains or brands over time, subdomains are an easy way to redirect that traffic while maintaining the acquired domain's link and brand value.

For instance, a company may have originally operated under but gained popularity and success as

By setting up a subdomain, they can continue to capitalize on any links or traffic to

Using strategic subdomains is an underutilized but highly effective way to improve search visibility, increase traffic, and enhance the user experience.

With the proper optimization and targeting, subdomains can drive real results.


As with any subdomain, there are frequently asked questions about how Google treats and ranks subdomains for SEO.

Here are some of the most common subdomain SEO questions and answers:

Does Google treat subdomains as separate websites?

Google sees subdomains as related but separate sites.

Subdomains have their own page authority and rankings, but also pass some authority to each other.

The exact amount of authority passed between subdomains depends on the relationship and similarities between the sites.

Should I use subdomains or subdirectories?

There are pros and cons to both subdomains and subdirectories.

Subdomains are treated as more independent, so they may rank better for some queries.

However, subdirectories are seen as more closely related, so they may benefit more from the authority of the parent domain.

The choice depends on your site structure and content.

Using a mix of both subdomains and subdirectories is also an option.

Do I need separate content strategies for subdomains?

To some degree, yes.

While subdomains do pass authority and rankings to each other, they are still ranked independently.

Each subdomain needs its own focused content strategy, with keyword targeting, internal linking, and optimization for its specific niche.

The content and optimization of one subdomain will not directly benefit other subdomains.

Maintaining separate strategies for each subdomain will lead to the best overall rankings.

Should I use the same design across subdomains?

Using a consistent design across subdomains helps to signify to both users and search engines that the sites are related but separate.

Some elements that should remain consistent include:

•Navigation - Use the same header, footer, and primary navigation across subdomains.

•Branding - Retain the same company logo, color palette, and general style.

•Page layout - Keep a similar look and feel for content pages, sidebar, images, etc.

Maintaining design consistency is a signal that the authority and trust of the parent domain extends to the subdomains.

However, subdomains should still have unique content, meta titles/descriptions, and URL structures.

The right balance of consistency and independence will benefit SEO.

Are subdomains bad for SEO

The short answer is no, subdomains themselves do not inherently hurt your SEO or search rankings.

However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when using subdomains.

Subdomains are essentially separate websites that share the same main domain.

For example, and are two subdomains of the domain.

Because search engines view subdomains as distinct sites, each subdomain has its own authority and rankings.

The authority and rankings of one subdomain do not pass over to another.


In summary, while Google aims to evaluate web content impartially regardless of technical implementation details, subdomain SEO performance does differ in practice.

The data and expert opinions clearly show subdomains are at a disadvantage for rankings and traffic.

However, with a well-optimized subdomain that provides high-quality content targeting important keywords, achieving strong search engine rankings is still possible.

For any website, the most important factors remain creating amazing user experiences and building authority through trust and expertise.

If you focus on what really matters to users and search engines alike, your subdomain can rank just as well as a subdirectory or separate domain.

The key is simply creating the best content and digital properties you can, however, they may be technically implemented.

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