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I have a client who has 3 websites running. There is the main website, and then 2 subsidiaries who run on the same domain. So main website is example.com and the other two are somewebsite.example.com and anotherwebsite.example.com respectively.

He did this because he believed it would be easier to optimize for a separate site. I am not an SEO expert by any means but I know that Google optimizes pages not sites, and I would have simply run with one website. These other 2 websites are for specific services that the company offers, but it's all within the same field.

My question: is there ANY reason that having separate websites to market specific services is more beneficial then dedicated pages to those services on the main website?

  • If I were to take a holistic holiday via holisticholidays.toqueholistico.com would I be going to the same place as toqueholistico.com?? The holisticholidays.toqueholistico.com site appears to have only 27 pages. The question would be, how is this sub-domain performing? If it is good, then the old adage applies, If it ain't broke don't fix it. Otherwise, being only 27 pages may be limiting performance. As well, there is SEO work to do on these sites. Not bad; it just could be better. – closetnoc May 11 '16 at 16:07
  • Ya I came in to build the main site (in progress), and I just started looking at the SEO. There is a lot to be done there for both sites indeed. The Holistic Holidays site in no way redirects the user to the main site. If they were to sign up on the site they would enter in a contact form that is forwarded to holisticholidays@toqueholistco.com. I just can't see a reason for this site at all. Whether it is performing well...I think everything could be performing a lot better, so I sort of have the mindset that everything needs to be looked at. – CZorio May 11 '16 at 16:19
  • I agree. I personally would be deleting the sub-domain if the performance is not as good as it can be. I would be also looking at link value. Too many people put too much value in links. Yes links are good, but if there are only a few or a few of value, I would simply forget them and start over. As far as the semantic values is concerned, a sub-directory can give just as much value /holistic holidays/ as the sub-domain so there is no specific value to the sub-domain name. BTW- The font used on the sites do not render well on my Chrome browser. That can effect a sites performance. – closetnoc May 11 '16 at 16:25
  • Thank you for the feedback, it has been very helpful. I have a lot of work to do still in the dev side of things, but feedback is always great...if you have the time would you mind referencing the things that stand out? – CZorio May 11 '16 at 16:29
  • Domain names and paths rank higher than title tags, but have to be semantically supported within the content and in the title tag, h1 tag. As well, for a hit on the description meta-tag, the same is true. It must be supported by the title tag and h1 tag at least. Just a simple semantic clue is enough - just a common search term between them works. Perfection is if search terms are found within the domain name, title tag, h1 tag, and description meta-tag without spamming of course. ;-) – closetnoc May 11 '16 at 16:30
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A sub-domain is a totally different site. Search engines treat them as such. If the products or services are different from each other, then sub-domains might be the way to go. If they are directly related and connected together, then sub-domains are not the way to go.

Matt Cutts says

My personal preference on subdomains vs. subdirectories is that I usually prefer the convenience of subdirectories for most of my content. A subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different. Google uses subdomains for distinct products such news.google.com or maps.google.com, for example.

  • The main site is basically offering services that the sub domain sites package together for specific customers. Main site offers the general products (in this case yoga classes and therapies) and the sub domain site offers a vacation package based on those services. Worth a separate site and brand or not? I know this might be opinion based, I just decided to look for professional opinions because I am not an expert in this. – CZorio May 12 '16 at 14:57
  • @CZorio "Based on those services". So a direct connection. No sub-domain in my view. I have a theatre company that sells t-shirts and coffee mugs. Why would they think to go to retail.theatre.com instead of theatre.com/retail/? – Rob May 12 '16 at 15:02
  • Think.... cats.brand.com vs cars.brand.com since hosting cats and cars topics on the same domain (www, or non-www) would dilute it. For the most of us, and companies... subs are not needed and should be avoided as much as possible unless it makes complete sense to do so, using location.brand.com is not advised generally. – Simon Hayter May 12 '16 at 15:09
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So I supose this comes from the idea that domain keywords are more important than the rest of the URL.

Nobody knows anything for sure but I think it wouldn't matter.

Why do they have such different looks? Are all websites meant for the same target?

Customers rarely read urls but they do notice if the style is that different.

If it's meant to be for different groups of people I would look for different domains altogether, otherwise keep at least the same icon.

  • They are meant for different groups of people (although I can't say I agree with the reasoning.) Holistic Holidays is supposed to be aimed towards tourists from other countries looking for holistic vacations in the Carribean. Toque Holistico (the main site), is supposed to be the company brand and name that runs Holistic Holidays and the main site is supposed to market the actual services to the locals/everyone else who happens to be here already. So it is a different target audience....but is it really? – CZorio May 11 '16 at 16:14
  • Google is very clear about how domain names (URLs) and paths (URIs) weigh in search. They both weigh extremely high only if the content supports what is found. It is about semantic weigh and not keywords. Given the two sites, the sub-domain does offer a bit more semantic value. It appears that this value is helping. SEO for this site can be improved. It may be that the sub-domain name is helping. For example, holistic holidays does ping on the sub-domain and domain names. However, the search auto-suggest and SERP placement gives clues to how the sites performance can be improved. – closetnoc May 11 '16 at 16:15
  • But is it enough to warrant it's own website? Would you not find a page on toqueholistico.com to be semantic enough? It is my understanding that with proper SEO done, a user will find a page title in the google search that looks something like "Holistic Holidays - "some more stuff here" | Toque Holistico". To me that is just as good as having its own website. Am I wrong? Do you see value in that other subdomain? – CZorio May 11 '16 at 16:23
  • @closetnoc I'm looking into the info you gave, do you have any reference for how "Google is very clear about how domain names (URLs) and paths (URIs) weigh in search."? I can't find it and I'm very interested. Thanks – LNubiola May 11 '16 at 16:29
  • @CZorio from a user point of view I would find it very confusinf to have such different looking websites under the same domain. If the client's strategy is to target different users then the structure should reflect that. – LNubiola May 11 '16 at 16:32

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