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Our client has 2 websites, each on their own domain, let's call them A.example and B.example, both interesting to the same demographic.

A.example is a small but very successful single purpose site with plenty of inbound links from the entire industry, including competitors to B.example. It has virtually no competition itself and is the go-to source of its kind in the region.

B.example is a newcomer, both its scope as well as its actual size are much bigger. It has strong pre-existing competition. The owner of the two sites is thinking about merging them both under the B.example domain, as either A.B.example or B.example/A (while leaving a redirect on A.example), basically to bring SEO benefits to B.example (branding and everything else will also merge).

What would be more appropriate, A.B.example or B.example/A? Are there any SEO dangers to this, would simply linking from A.example to B.example be better? Or should we suggest the other way around, B.A.example (though this could prove to be a hard sell to marketing, but as long as we're talking technically)?

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    This is a minefield. b.example/a is likely to be a lot easier to rank then a.b.example.
    – davidgo
    Sep 14 at 11:18
  • What are A and B? Are they like stackexchange sites? The semantics make a difference in how I'd handle it. Sep 16 at 0:57
  • A is a lookup site where you can look up various things about Thingies. Very detailed, very useful if you're into Thingies. B sells Thingies :) Sep 17 at 13:21
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This looks to me like the classic question of subdomains versus subfolders for SEO.

When you use subdomains, Google's algorithm has to make a judgement call of whether to treat each subdomain as a separate website for ranking purposes, or coalesce the ranking juice into one logical website, or somewhere in between. When you use subfolders, that's pretty much the strongest signal you can send to Google that these resources are all part of the same website and should accrue E-A-T together.

In practice, people often see that when they switch from a subdomain setup to a subfolder setup, they get a ranking boost.

I've used the subfolder strategy for my own website (posting a bunch of somewhat-related resources as subfolders on the same domain) and I can attest that it works well for SEO.

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  • Thank you, that is very useful feedback. Any info/guess on how existing SEO juice would hold up if we were to move the existing website (with a 301 redirect) to become a subfolder of another domain? I mean we'd get new links to the subfoldered version for sure, but the old SEO is not something we'd want to lose.. Sep 17 at 13:25
  • My guess is that you would be fine in that case, after a short adjustment period. If the new domain already has some authority, you might even get a noticeable boost. Sep 17 at 15:36

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