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I have an ecommerce site with an online community on a different subdomain. The community ranks for different keywords. If I would move the community to a different domain would that impact the SEO of the ecommerce site in any meaningful way?

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It may impact your rankings as the sub-domain is part of your main domain. It's content could be helping your rankings. Is the communities overall purpose focused around the products you are selling? If so you may want to create sub-forums if you're running a forum and moderate threads to be kept on topic.

I know of a few websites which have forums on sub-domains and i'm sure it's helping with sales. I'd try and use the forum to generate more sales. Send targeted emails to members, put up relevant ads within different forums and threads etc. But I would not remove it from my site if the initial reason was to have a forum related to my products.

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thanks. No, the community is mostly for sharing entertainment and jokes. The keywords that send the most organic traffic to the community site differ greatly from the ecommerce site. Couldn't that even hurt the ecommerce site? –  MotoTribe Mar 8 '12 at 5:32
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Google ranks pages individually not an entire domain. So while your ecommerce site has relevance for a few topics and categories, your forum is relevant for other topics. If it's not inteferaing with your ecommerce site I would leave it and begin placing ads to test their conversions. Run searches in the forum for anything that can bring up threads which might show someone's interest in what you sell. Or add amazon affiliate products through out which are better suited to the forum. If they are telling jokes, put up a few ads for books on jokes –  Anagio Mar 8 '12 at 5:35
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For the keywords rating/calculations - every subdomain can be separate item as with the main domain. Most of search engines allow separate sitemap file for every subdomain you wish to submit to them (Goggle Webmaster Tools, Bing/Yahoo Webmaster Tolls, etc.).

The website traffic ranking (Alexa etc) is different - there website item/record covers the main domain and all added subdomains.

In other words the best solution is to stay on subdomain - as it will keep separate the keywords rating (in Search Engines), and will combine/increase the whole website traffic ratings.

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@JohnConde - I not state that the subdomain is separte site. –  webdivane Mar 8 '12 at 13:23
    
@JohnConde - To clear this we must define for who is that statement. For traffic rating the site is one, but for the keywords it's not. There in reality the page alone is rated. I have blog on one of our websites, which is posted on Blogger - hosting, management, everything is done via Blogger and on our server we have only DNS for redirecting. You can decide do the blog subdomain is separate site or not - but definitely its not physically linked with our server. –  webdivane Mar 8 '12 at 13:31
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