I've read at moz, that changing from a subdomain to a subdirectory might increase the ranking of the page. However, their example uses blog.example.com vs. example.com/blog, and "blog" isn't a very special keyword.

Is there some (fact-based) information about a scenario where the keyword is more special?

Let's say, I'm selling shoes at example.com. A sub-section of the page could restrict the visible shoes to the brand Adidas.
This section could be available at adidas.example.com or example.com/adidas.
What would be the case?

  1. The argument by moz still holds true: having an additional subdomain weakens the ranking of both adidas.example.com and the main page example.com
  2. As Adidas is a special keyword, adidas.example.com will rank higher than example.com/adidas when searching "buy shoes Adidas". The main page example.com may or may not be affected by this.
  • This answer explains things extremely well: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/74633/… – closetnoc Mar 16 '16 at 20:32
  • BTW- It is not about keywords and never really has been. It is about semantics (linguistics) and the value of the content segment, Adidas for example, offers little value. What about Adidas? This question can be answered better semantically with a directory /adidas-tennis-shoes-on-sale/ versus a sub-domain. Of course you do not have to have such a complex directory name when the totality of the URI (directory path) can suffice. Read the linked answer. It covers your topics very well. I still discuss keywords, but it really is about semantics - subject, predicate, and object just like in class. – closetnoc Mar 16 '16 at 20:49

I'm afraid it's less about the keywords used and more about how sub domains are perceived compared to sub directories. Sub directories share metrics whereas sub domains don't. If you had Nike and Adidas as sub domains, they would each have their own associated metrics in the eyes of a search engine; for instance 5 links each. If instead they were sub directories, the value of metrics such as links would have influence on each other as they exist on the same domain; each sub directory would have 5 links but the domain would have 10.

  • Thank you! Is there any data on the influence of the location of a keyword in the url (subdomain vs first subfolder)? If there is one and it's large, a subdomain might be better of if there aren't many links either way (so the split wouldn't do much harm). – Christopher Mar 16 '16 at 20:29
  • moz.com/search-ranking-factors/correlations#4 Moz ranking factors is the best data probably. Keywords do effect rankings so if you have a new domain, using keywords in a sub domain would likely be more beneficial to the site than just having a domain with no related keywords. The user experience of people having to type it in would be worse though and also over the longer term you have a dilemma if you want to expand into a new niche. Del.icio.us was the original name domain of delicious.com...could be worth seeing if there is any info out there on the reasons they changed over? – Jaryd Buggins Mar 16 '16 at 20:48

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