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I'm making my old website multi-language. I'm designing it from scratch I was wondering which one is better seo wise. using different subdomains for each language or using subfolders:

http://www.example.com/en-us

or

http://en-us.example.com

Programming for subdomains is much easier than sub folders in my case but that's not much of an importance for me.

My Research:

I have read many many articles about it and some say there is absolutely no difference SEO wise, some say subdomains are much better because linking subdomains together generates more pagerank and you have separate indexing for each language and some say that subfolders are better. I have just got confused.

I would like to use some advice from webmasters that have experienced and tested both. I think real-time results are more valuable than reasoning, as there are good reasons for each of them but deciding without knowing which factor is important won't help much.

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As for whether to use a sub-domain or directory, the answer is deceptively simple as I write in this answer (ignore title): Any evidence that subdomain can help with domain authority and vice-versa?

As for the suggestion that linking between sub-domains is particularly good for search performance, that is just plain foolish. I will explain briefly.

Google, in particular, looks for links between sites. I used the term realm previously to indicate a relationship between sites. It is a conceptual cloud. Google does something of the same thing through semantic links which is applied through clues as to a sites ownership or relationship with other sites. This can be as simple as a sub-domain and parent domain, to as complex as linguistics analysis to identify authors between sites and as mundane as registration information or company/site contact information. Once a site is linked, links between them begin to count less and less depending upon the nature of the relationship to where there is either no link penalty between company sites or a link penalty between sites designed to game the system.

In short, even if no link penalty were to be applied, the link values would be near null or null and hence a waste of your time and effort.

There is a lot of bogus and uninformed SEO advice out there. Please understand that there are far too many trying to carve out a niche for themselves in the SEO game with little or nothing to actually offer. Most are just parroting or surmising without really knowing. Seek the counsel of the wise and not of fools. And you should go far.

  • If I separate languages by subdomains there will be sitelinks for each subdomains but will be sitelinks (on google results) for each language when using sub folders? – Ashkan Mobayen Khiabani May 5 '15 at 4:49
  • Language is another matter. There, sub-domains can really help! But site links are for only the parent domain and not for sub-domains. If you are trying to reach a wider audience, then the widest reach would be a .com site in English with your various languages in sub-domains. If English is not your primary audience language, that is okay too. Just chose the gTLD/ccTLD and language that fits best. I was only giving an example. – closetnoc May 5 '15 at 5:03
  • In the case of links between you sub-domains, it is always wise to create links for users and not for machines. The same goes for content too of course. – closetnoc May 5 '15 at 5:06
  • Only reason I suggest subdomains: Putting it in a subdomain vs. a folder has the added benefit that you can then give that a different IP address and so use a different server in a better location for that target. Not really anything to do with SEO. – TZHX May 5 '15 at 14:09

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