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Posted on April 30, 2017 by
You’re feeling accomplished having updated your FAQ, started a blog or written an awesome case study. But, where do you put that content? Let’s strategically consider website ranking and the best place to add new content to impact your SEO efforts and be found. You see, where you place your new material on your website could be just as important as the new information itself—especially if you want readers to find that content easily and consider your brand.
We often have discussions with clients about exactly this topic: where to place fresh resources to optimize for search. A few options exist, but the best placement of that new material depends on your goals for that new content and how—and how quickly—you want it to be seen and impact your SEO and overall website ranking.
It may be helpful to start with a review of how new content affects your SEO. Kent wrote a post on How Blogging Helps Your Site Rank last year, which will give you a foundation for understanding the basis of this discussion on website ranking.
Next, let’s pick an example of new content you may add to your website. In this example, we’ll use a blog. We see two types of blogs:
When publishing a blog as part of your website, you may consider two blog placements:
Remember that even though both of these URLs appear to have the same domain, the subdomain is actually a totally different website. Back to the question about the goals of the new content. Assuming your new content applies to your main brand and you intend for it to gain traffic and aid website ranking and domain authority as quickly as possible, then the preference is to place the new material in a subdirectory on your main domain.
New and fresh content in an existing structure yields faster growth of page and domain authority—and, ultimately, traffic—because that authority and website ranking doesn’t have to start from scratch as it would with a new website as in the case of a subdomain. As well, you want to pass as much link authority to a page as you can, and new pages on existing web structures experience a waterfall effect from the homepage and other existing pages and links. Furthermore, additional content and links within an existing structure boost link juice, or website ranking power; in order to achieve 100% of the value of the links from the blog, FAQ or other material, the pages should become a part of the main domain. If a blog is placed on a subdomain, then the link juice from blog posts pointing back into the main domain may not carry as much authority due the the newness of the site.
Our own experience and tracking at Roaring Pajamas informs this view and is validated by SEO tools such as TrustRank, MozRank and MajesticSEO. These SEO tools use different graphs and methods to show the level of trust a website will garner based on inbound links. And, all indicate that links within a main domain tend to be more valuable for website ranking purposes.
Now, in certain cases it may be advantageous to post new information on a subdomain. For example, if your new blog is branded differently than your main website or if the new content is part of a new brand or new product launch. Placing your new, and newly branded, resources on the main website may cause confusion. However, placement of that content on a subdomain helps separate the new branding and content from the established branding and content. The website ranking and SEO on this subdomain won’t grow as quickly, as it won’t be able to ride the main site’s accumulated value and traffic coattails. But, this structure achieves a desired differentiation.
Here’s an analogy we like to use to make this concept more tangible. Say you are adding on to your house. You may go about this in a few ways. Bumping out a portion of the main house to add a bathroom is fairly easy in the scheme of things: you add new elements, but tap into the existing structure’s plumbing, electrical and other items. This allows you to move relatively quickly and the concept is similar to adding new content to a main domain in a subdirectory. If, however, you want to build a guest house in the backyard, you must start from scratch. You need to create a new foundation and run all new plumbing and electrical to build your guest house. Naturally, this takes longer and will be a separate site—just like adding new content to a subdomain.
Does our house analogy help to explain our case? We understand the temptation to build out and place new content on your website as quickly as possible. However, our experience and the proof from the SEO tools we use tell us to slow down and think. Strategically considering the best placement of your fresh content based on the goals of that content and your site yields the best results. After all, new content, website ranking and traffic are completely interrelated!