Matt Cutts on subdomains and subdirectories

Matt is the closest thing to an SEO spokesperson for Google. In this post he outlines Google’s policies on the use of subdomains vs. subdirectories in URLs. If you’re not clear on the difference here’s his explanation:

“Historically, it’s been kind of a wash about when to use subdomains vs. subdirectories. Just as a reminder, in a URL such as , the subdomain is “subdomain” and the subdirectory is “subdirectory” (also sometimes called a folder). If you’re still unclear, you may want to read my tutorial on the parts of a URL.”

As usual he is intentionally vague in how Google ranks these. It interests me because I’ve been experimenting with acquiring some domains that can be extended with subdirectories. An example is (there is no site yet so don’t bother checking). Theoretically I would only need the domain and then could build out an entire range of cities using subdirectories. This would provide the advantages of geo-focused domains without having to buy hundreds of individual domains. It would also mean that that the domain would become a very valuable property, assuming we can get search results for that keyword string (i.e. searcher enters query: best restaurant in Rochester and the site ranks). That’s the $10,000 dollar question, actually more like the $100,00 question!

Read the comments on Matt’s post – a lot of people are wondering about this.

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