There was always been controversy regarding the usage of subdomains versus subdirectories. While some SEO experts were speculating that subdirectories are the safe bet, others warned that the “link juice” established for the main site isn’t necessarily passed onto the sub-domains.
In order to end the speculation, John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, stated in the weekly office hangout hour that subdirectories and subdomains get treated the same way in Google search. He responded to a fellow website owner that wanted to know if it was better to start using subdomains rather than subdirectories for some of the content.
So if you’re a webmaster trying to decide between using subdomains or subdirectories (e.g. using example.yoursite.com versus using yoursite.com/example), it doesn’t really matter according to Google. So if you have already grouped your content into subdomains, regrouping it with subdirectories will not make your business to rank higher.
As a recommendation, the Google analyst encouraged website owners to only use subdomains when you have a piece of content that offers something entirely different than the rest of your website.
Here’s a full transcript of John Mueller’s response:
”In general, we see these the same. I would personally try to keep things together as much as possible. So if it’s the same site then try to put them on the same site, essentially, and use subdomains where things are things are really kind of slightly different.
There are lots of really strong opinions on this so, from my point of view, this is something that could go either way. If you have really strong reasons to go one way or the other then, obviously, that might be what you’d want to watch out for. On the other hand, if you’re like “well I don’t care either way” then I would just keep it within the same site.”
If you have the time, watch the full Webmaster Central office-hours hangout video in which this issue is discussed. The response can be heard at the 11.15 mark.