Does any major website has a language specific content on subfolder, i.e. www.example.com/es/ for Spanish language rather than i.e. es.example.com?

What are the pros and cons of using (ccTLD) Country Code Top Level Domains, Subdomains, or Subdirectories?

  • What do you consider a major website? Shopping or social media sites? Sep 26, 2016 at 6:30
  • By a major website I meant (for example) a website with alexa rank higher than 20.000 or similarweb estimates more than 1million per month. Any category would do: reference, gaming, celebrities, humor, movies, beauty, jobs... Sep 26, 2016 at 8:50
  • The pros and cons of the two ways are answered here: How should I structure my URLs for both SEO and localization? Sep 26, 2016 at 11:17
  • @StephenOstermiller That link is great, aside that Google's help is infrequently out of date, not having much content and not updated regularly. Anyhow, they specifically say that all those things are OK, with pros/cons which might be valid as of 2016. Sep 26, 2016 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


Yes there are some sites that still do use the subdirectory name for different languages. Most have moved away from that method and are using domain names such as example.es instead of es.example.com.

To answer your question.




Pros and cons of multilingual URL approaches Now let’s take a high-level look at the implications of each URL approach for our criteria: local brand relevance, SEO, set-up & maintenance, and cost.

Impact on local brand relevance

ccTLD: Delivers high impact and builds trust

Subdomain: Delivers medium impact and instills some trust

Subdirectory: Delivers little impact or trust unless brand is well known in the market

SEO influence

ccTLD: Indicates to users and search engines that the website is targeted to a specific country

  • Easily tracked in most web analytics tools
  • Each website can be hosted in country to further improve multilingual SEO
  • No benefits from other language sites since each stands alone


  • Indicates to users that the website is targeted to a specific country; search engines require Search Console geotargeting
  • Easily tracked in most web analytics tools
  • Each website can be hosted in country to further improve SEO
  • Limited benefits passed to each website from the popularity of the root domain


  • Indicates little to users about targeting; search engines require Search Console geotargeting
  • Challenging to track in most web analytics tools
  • All sites hosted on the same server, hindering SEO improvements
  • Domain popularity benefits all language sites

Set-up & maintenance effects


  • Complicated to deploy

  • Requires that all domains are available

  • May require a different registration process in each country and individual set-up and maintenance of each site


  • Relatively easy to deploy Search Console geotargeting


  • Easiest to deploy
  • Limited additional setup or maintenance fees
  • Requires maintaining a separate directory for each language

Cost implications

ccTLD: •

  • Expensive

  • Each domain may require separate registration, set-up, and maintenance costs

  • May involve physical presence or other requirements


  • Moderate

  • Requires purchase of one top-level domain unless using existing TLD

  • Costs increase if each subdomain is hosted in a separate market


  • Inexpensive

  • Requires purchase of one top-level domain

Some unrelated but related thoughts, I have. Both subdomain names and country domain names work well for SEO purposes opposed to example.com/es and reduces errors since example.com/es is not looked at as a different site. To me es.example.com clearly shows a connection to example.com but I think from a spoken point of view. es.example.com does not sound good compared example.es example.com/es. Subdomain names remind me of free dns names and I just do not like that.

  • What could show that example.com/es would be worse for SEO? There are examples when people moved example.com/blog to blog.example.com and they have shown drop on rankings. Also, moz.com moved guides.moz.com to the current URL http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo and got improvement in rankings. Using same domain reuses its TrustRank (Yahoo published algorithm). I'm considering example.com/es not because of SEO but because of internal implementation challenges/problems. Sep 26, 2016 at 10:01
  • In could be worse if a person does not plan the name change properly (improper / lack of redirects or using webmaster tools to update search engines) on an existing site and it can get better if better web practices were implemented. There is too many unknown scenarios as to the whys. Sep 26, 2016 at 10:34
  • "All sites hosted on the same server, hindering SEO improvements" I would say that it prevents moving servers closer to users. Having servers close to users makes sites much faster and more responsive. Sep 26, 2016 at 11:19
  • That is definitely another factor worth mentioning especially since the option to select and change where your site is served fhas becoming standard with many bigger hosting companies. Sep 26, 2016 at 11:53
  • @StephenOstermiller I don't see a location proximity to be a good reason from the users point of view for most usage. I'm located in Serbia and I'm tracerouting a server based in St. Louis and I have RTT 160ms which is more than accessible for most websites. Also, I'm playing a Hearthstone on both USA and Europe server and I don't see any difference/lag when using USA based server. Sep 26, 2016 at 12:22

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