Subdomains and SEO: The short answer to a long debate on the impact on keyword rankings when using alternative URLs for blogs and landing pages.

Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

As long as there has been SaaS marketing automation software companies which have been offering to ease the creation and execution of your inbound, digital and/or content-driven b-to-b marketing campaigns, there has been a debate over whether the use of a subdomain by your SaaS partner company (presumably with your permission) hurts your search engine optimization results. This is particularly important to understand when the rankings of the most critical keywords and phrases you want your business to be known for are involved.

The simple answer is YES, it hurts. This comes from our own professional experience over the last decade of providing web development and SEO services to dozens of high tech and industrial manufacturers, and is in direct correlation with everything SEO Guru Rand Fishkin suggests you learn from his March 2018 tweet on the subject.

Subdomains and main domains (the main URL of your company) are treated by Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as unique websites. So, if you’re trying to build link juice for your main site, any juice created for your subdomain (say at blog.acme.com) is separate. This is an important fact to remember, especially if you have now, or plan to create, a well-established blog on a subdomain which is full of key SEO-related topics.

In addition to not receiving “credit” for this awesome content in correlation with your main domain, should you decide to switch SaaS providers, you’ll effectively have to republish all that content and start indexing it all over again. Providers such as HubSpot, will not even establish redirects that would provide anyone who bookmarked the page, or found it in a remnant search, the easy path to the new page. Instead, users will be provided a 404 error that the page no longer exists.

Strand’s advice: Control as much content as possible from your main URL, particularly pages you hope to have long-term SEO value due to the presence of timeless industry-specific content. While this may not be the case of a landing page, whose basic function is to allow a download and collect contact information, in the case of an informative blog or infographic, you’ll want to have control over and benefit from this page of content forever, and never be beholden to the trappings of any marketing automation software provider and their necessary, if not calculated, use of subdomains.

To resolve this, and the additional pitfalls of using WordPress as a foundation for developing a site, Strand has developed a custom, PHP-based content management system and CRM integration platform that takes these and other issues into consideration. This includes another topic of concern for many manufacturers, which is the costly “storage and management” of critical product data by other external SaaS providers/outsources that house often-used mySQL databases full of various catalog information that gets presented on a company’s website.

To learn more, visit our Intent ICMS™ page.


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