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I am making a website that is a collection of game guides I have made. The current idea is to have 40+ subdomains.

Each game guide would be its own subdomain as each has its own vastly different structure and unique search. For example /weapons/guns/ for a shooting game and /items/power-ups/ for a Mario game. There’s also the issue that the Navigation bar has completely different requirements of what’s on it, depending on the game guide. As each game has its own unique things. Levels vs Dungeons, etc.

But this also means my website would have 40+ subdomain, each with 500-1000 pages per subdomains at launch and more with each game guide. This means potentially 200 subdomains in a few years. Is this the best option, or should they be subdirectories with different navigation bar layouts.

Then lastly, should the brand icon return you to the main domain that has links to all the other game guides (subdomains) or should it return you to then / root of each subdomain guide.

  • Better for what? Ease of development, SEO, user experience, or something else? For SEO you can find answers here: Do subdomains help/hurt SEO? – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 11 at 22:23
  • For user friendliness, ease of development and seo. All topics honestly, I want to know what’s best for such a large amount of content. Hence not knowing if sucdirectory idea is better, with a variable header for each. – Sebter Feb 11 at 22:44
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In short, I would recommend going with subfolders, not subdomains.

Most developers would probably agree that administering 200 subfolders is less work than 200 subdomains. Just thinking of the DNS (you either need a wildcard record or to update the DNS constantly) and the server config (you would be serving subdomains out of subdirectories anyways) to make it work, it would make more sense to go subdirectories.

As far as user friendliness, users on the web are used to subdomains hosting different mediums of communication (www. vs blog.) or different products (news.google.com vs maps.google.com), or being owned by different owners (as in the case of *.wordpress.com, *.tumblr.com or *.blogspot.com). All of your subdomains would contain game guides, so again it makes more sense to me to use a subdirectory structure instead.

Stephen mentioned the SEO aspect, and for SEO it shouldn't really matter which you choose.

  • Two more subdomains hassles: 1. SSL certificates. Wildcard certificates are more expensive and LetsEncrypt has a limit 100 host names per certificate. You can get SSL working on that many subdomains but it is either more expensive or more of a hassle. 2. Static resources. JS/CSS/images may be common between your subdomains. You would need to link to those in a central location using absolute linking. If I recall, that can introduce some browser caching and same-origin JavaScript challenges. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 12 at 3:45
  • @StephenOstermiller LetsEncrypt does free wildcard certs now fwiw. Valid point with the static resources. – Maximillian Laumeister Feb 12 at 3:47
  • The LetsEncrypt wildcard certificates are only available if you validate through DNS. It uses a newer version of the challenge protocol. You (or your host) may have to update how you use certbot to take advantage of that. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 12 at 9:45

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