Nov 32009

Where to Put a New Blog: Domain, Sub-domain or Directory?

Posted by meg | 9 comments

(Meg's last post was, Keyword Research: The (Beloved) Step Child of SEO)

Some of the most common questions I hear when it’s time to set up a blog for a business are:

  • What should it look like - my site or totally different?
  • What platform should I use?
  • What do we write about?
  • Who will write the posts?
  • And …. Where will the blog live?  As in, on the company’s domain or a new domain.

This last one is a doozy.  Why?  Because “it depends”.  People really love that response.

Here are the main options for where to put a blog:

  • On a new domain (
  • On a subdomain (; or
  • In a directory on the current domain (

What “depends”?:

  • Installation capabilities of the current website platform
  • Whether the blog will be branded and associated with the company
  • Authority of the current company domain
  • Status of SEO and rankings for the existing domain
  • Keyword strategies
don't shoot me in the butt

I’d like to see a handful of SEO and Social Media experts duke it out.  It would be an entertaining
conversation to watch, but I don’t think there would be a clear winner.

For example, many platforms don’t allow for (decent) blog platforms to be installed.  Leaving two options: putting it on a sub-domain or a new domain.  Or, if the company wants to build new keyword rankings outside of what’s it’s ranking for through the blog - that would likely be best suited for a sub-directory.

There are benefits to all three - you just have to decide which one is best suited.

Option 1:  On a new domain

I would have thought this would have been the clear loser.  If you start a new domain for your blog, then you are essentially starting from scratch.  Building backlinks, rankings and domain authority.

But, let’s look at a few scenarios where this could make a lot of sense.

Scenario 1:  You have a domain that has a lot of authority and ranks well and you want to continue targeting and gain rankings for similar terms – thereby gaining more search inventory for targeted terms and essentially “own” the search results.

Scenario 2:  You want your blog to be totally separate from the business website.  By putting it on it’s own domain you can disassociate the two.  And, if targeted well, could accomplish the same as Scenario 1 regardless.

Option 2:  On a sub domain

A sub-domain has the same downfalls as a new domain.  You have to build out the domain since it’s starting as new.  In this scenario, the blog can either live on the website platform or can be hosted elsewhere.  The benefit is that it allows branding to be associated with the blog through the domain.  It also allows for the domain to separate out content that is totally different from the current domain.  What you don’t get in this case are rankings that can saturate a specific result.

Option 3:  In a directory on the website

This option is a good one because many websites develop blogs to build additional content, target additional keywords and build upon their brand.  This is frequently the road that’s taken.  And many times, it should be (I’m a bit biased to this scenario!).  Building a blog in a directory of the existing domain allows the blog to reap the benefits of an authoritative domain.  A website can then target more words, long-tail and related words through the blog and gain rankings to the domain.  Plus, as you build content and backlinks – you are building them on and into the domain, not a sub-domain or new domain.

Pretty much all 3 work, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions and getting down to the right scenario for your domain and your business goals.


9 Responses to "Where to Put a New Blog: Domain, Sub-domain or Directory?"
I agree, there is no clear cut winner (of the 3). We've certainly run into this dilemma a few times. Each setup should be evaluated for positive/negative factors before deciding where the blog should reside. Most often, we choose to put it on the same site in a folder, but secondary domains, etc. can be beneficial if targeting a niche audience or if the blog has a unique purpose.
Meg Thompson says:
Thanks for the comment, Cory!
Jason says:
Thank you for this excellent post. I come across this question all the time and most clients have no rational way to deal with it. Especially in corporate environments, working through the options and weighing the benefits of each can become 50% of the work. I'm glad to see other people are working through this in a thoughtful way too and not just rushing to the new domain because it is easy.
Meg, Assuming the Wedding Crashers photo tie in is the image tag (don't shoot me in the butt)? Hee, hee. Cheers, Lisa
There is one big advantage of a subdomain over a subdirectory structure that I don't see in your post. Google only allows two search results listings per domain. (Well, there has recently been talk that Google may be increasing that number to three). But in any case, Google treats subdomains much like larger domains in this respect. So if you use a subdirectory, your site will only have a maximum of two listings per results page. With a subdomain, your site will be allowed up to four listings. So if you want to keep your blog on the same main domain as your website for branding purposes AND dominate more of the search results page, a subdomain will let you accomplish that. A subdirectory just can't.
Adam Audette says:
@Kaitlyn classic SERP ownership strategy, I like it! You're absolutely right, a point Meg did mention in her post when talking about new domains: Scenario 1: You have a domain that has a lot of authority and ranks well and you want to continue targeting and gain rankings for similar terms – thereby gaining more search inventory for targeted terms and essentially “own” the search results. We should update the section on subdomains to reflect your point, though, because it's dead on. Subdomains can work well, when classic SERP saturation is the goal (not as well as 2002, but still pretty well).
Lucian Ioan says:
Thank you for the great post. We shall choose the "directory" solution.
I am debating whether to add a brand new domain for a new company we want to add that does tv infomercial marketing. My options are a new domain with the company name Regeneca or going with a subdirectory on my domain with pagerank on ? Any suggestions? Thanks, Alexis
Dave says:
lol to the wedding crashers, great movie! Nice blog too, an interesting read.

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