Several brands utilize sub-domains to target specific audiences. Banks can create sites built for investors and a separate site for those interested in free checking, for example. While this makes sense from a consumer perspective, it can wreak havoc on your search engine rankings as your sub-domains compete with each for rankings.
Even though all the content is technically on the same website, Google treats each sub domain separately when it comes to rankings. This makes SEO-effective sub-domains difficult to set up, which is why most optimization experts recommend against using them in most cases. If you operate a site, and you feel that the benefits it provides to your customers is worth it, here are a few simple ways you can reduce the impact it has on your site ranking.
Don’t Put Your Frequently Asked Questions In A Sub Domain
It might seem like a great idea to put your FAQ on a separate domain, allowing you to make an easy to remember URL for your customers. Answers.yoursite.com is a lot easier for clients to remember instead of yoursite.com/product/answers. Designing your site for customers is usually a pillar of smart design, but in this case it will cause your rankings to falter, preventing customers from discovering your site in the first place.
Frequently asked questions will often use many of the same keywords your content pages are targeting, defining those keywords with related terms your potential customers will be interested in. By putting this content on a separate domain, you’ll cause your content to compete with itself, instead of building off of one another.
Keep All Content About A Given Term On The Same Domain
If you own a banking site, and make a sub domain landing page for loans, make sure that all your content about loans is in that sub-domain. Have your content, questions, and any news about loans grouped together so that it’s relevance supports, rather than competes, with itself.
Splitting up the content is like a physical store offering the same product on multiple floors. If a customer sees your store map, they’ll be confused and likely choose one area over the other. By consolidating your content, you’ll make sure that your customer will always find the section you want them to.
Build New Domain’s For Specialized Products
In general, most websites will want their customers to see the whole of their offerings, which is why traditional website structures (yoursite.com/content) are preferred. Instead of competing with itself, your pages will help build relevancy for each other and Google will contribute everything to one parent domain.
If your content is better served by being segmented into separate sub domains, consider putting them on wholly separate sites instead. Not only will this reduce the intra-site competition of your pages, but will will allow you to target lucrative keywords within your domain, further boosting your rankings.
A Balancing Act
In the world of eCommerce optimization, developers must walking the line between making a site that’s easy for a search engine to read and one that your customers will love. Customers provide the income you need to keep your site up and running, and so ensuring that their experience is as pleasant as possible is typically paramount. Unfortunately, customers will only find your site delightful if they can stumble upon it.
Unless your business offers products across distinctly separate markets, it is generally a good idea to keep all of your SEO efforts to one single parent domain. If, however, you feel that sub-domains are the best way to serve your customer base, make sure that the content you create doesn’t compete against itself, making it harder for your clients to find the services you offer.