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Serious SEO Mistake of Many Startups and Software Houses


Simple SEO mistake represented by domino bricks

Many software houses and startups are blogging regularly. A simple blog implementation detail can seriously hurt company’s SEO rating and in consequence business. Read on if you are interested what’s the problem and how it can be fixed.

Simple SEO issue

Subdomain vs folder. E.g.

blog.the-best-startup.com

instead of

the-best-startup.com/blog

It might seem trivial and unimportant at first but bear with me.

How it hurts your startup

Your blog could contain a lot of valuable content. It is quite probable that it has already managed to gain a lot of authority in the eyes of Google. Newsletters featuring your blog posts and social media shares are some obvious examples.

The problem is that all this authority doesn’t affect your main page SEO if you keep your blog on a subdomain. All the backlinks karma you’ve earned doesn’t help your homepage rank higher in Google search results. In turn, it is more difficult for potential clients and customers to discover your company.

What’s worse, if your competition keeps their blog in a folder instead of a subdomain they are likely to rank higher than you for the same set of keywords.

Sources supporting my claims

It’s not like I am a seasoned SEO expert. I did some digging and found many reliable sources telling the same:

When it comes to search engine optimization, subfolders (backlinko.com/example) CRUSH subdomains (example.backlinko.com) [...] I’ve seen rankings shoot up with a switch to a subfolder. So my eyes, experience and gut tells me that subfolders are ideal for SEO.

I went from somewhere out of the top 100, and I know for a fact I wasn’t even in the top 200, to being number 57 in the SERP’s simply by changing from a subdomain to a subdirectory. Everything else related to my site remained constant.

Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it's still recommended that webmasters place link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains (i.e. www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com).

I encourage you to do some googling yourself if you need more proof.

How to fix this SEO issue?

I can understand reasons behind why a blog is often located on a separate subdomain.

It could be that company blog is not treated as a first-class citizen and a well-thought marketing tool. In that case, it is much simpler to run it as a standalone application separated on a DNS level. It could be a Wordpress instance or a static pages generator like jekyll.

I don’t claim that blog on a subdomain doesn’t have its value. It is still a great way to provide valuable information to a community and redirect traffic to the homepage.

If your company’s homepage popping up in Google search results is not your priority then you are totally fine with keeping your blog on a subdomain. Otherwise, you should seriously consider a migration.

When migrating your blog you need to be careful not to lose all the precious backlinks you’ve gathered so far. All the URLs featured in newsletters and social media shares are pointing to your subdomain. If you lose them it would be equivalent to starting your blog from scratch. To avoid that you must do 301 redirects from your blog posts on a subdomain to your new folder.

Which tool could you use for your new SEO friendly blog?

I would recommend jekyll. It is a great tool that you could easily integrate into your current infrastructure.

Because it is a static pages generator you could configure it to build your blog posts into a static resources folder served by an NGINX server. In that case your blog can be integrated with your homepage, regardless of which backend technology you use.

Time for a bit of marketing. You could even use the same template as my blog. It has been optimized for SEO and has a similar aesthetics as a popular Medium blogging platform that many people are already used to.

Summary of a simple SEO mistake

Let me know if this blog post encouraged you to migrate a company blog, and if you noticed organic traffic increase afterward. According to case studies, you can expect a positive change in around 3 weeks after migration.

From my experience working in software houses, developers have time for blogging when there is no work for commercial clients. Could it be that there are no clients because they can’t find you on Google?

Pawel Urbanek Full Stack Ruby on Rails developer avatar

Contact me. I am always open to making new professional connections.

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