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Would moving webpages in directories under my root domain (e.g., example.com/docs/single-doc-name/) to a third-party service that would only allow you to use a subdomain for them (e.g., docs.example.com/docs/single-doc-name/) impact the SEO and ranking for my main site (example.com)?

Would this impact the SEO for those webpages since they would no longer be part of example.com?

I would be using 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs.

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It used to be considered a bad practice to put your content on a subdomain as it was thought domain ranking factors would be split between the two domains, which is still true to some extent, however, if the two domains are interlinked ranking factors will flow through partially. It is thought that *.blogspot.com may be treated differently to sub.joebloggs.com.

There's a lot more about this here.

Google nowadays would probably tell you not to worry about it if the content stands on its own merit, and your 301's and links all work correctly, everything will update to reflect the changes.

  • Thanks @Scottie, I have seen a whiteboard video that Rand did on the whole debate subfolder vs subdomain, and in it he references a client that did exactly what we are planning on doing (moving from /subfolder -> subdomain.) and they had some bad luck with SEO rankings and are actually planning on moving back to the subfolder model. Thoughts on this bit of feedback? Rand seemed to be against it. – estern May 12 '16 at 18:23
  • There's contradicting information because opinion on it has changed over the years. Some people have a hard opinion each way and subdirectory has already seemed a safe option because it clearly maintains domain metrics. My opinion would be that Google now groups all of a brands domains and subdomains under some sort of umbrella because of the way some technology works people have to use different platforms which may mean different subdomains. See Matt Cutts' video on it here: m.youtube.com/watch?v=_MswMYk05tk – Scottie May 12 '16 at 18:29
  • Do you think that there will be SEO loss with the migration at first but should recover over time? I have seen that before as well from Matt Cutts and i know he has said it is not an issue but some others said that it is google and they done show all the cards etc. – estern May 12 '16 at 18:32
  • I would say that if you are a small site it is likely to impact you more than if you are a big site because bigger sites are more established and probably have other issues and would be better off looking at content and building their brand. – Scottie May 12 '16 at 18:33
  • If you do your 301s in theory it should be OK in the end but there's always going to be a transition and unfortunately nothing is ever going to be guaranteed in online marketing! I'd be interested to see where you end up going with it anyway! – Scottie May 12 '16 at 18:34

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