Managing International Websites: Subdomain vs. Subdirectory

Managing International Websites: Subdomain vs. Subdirectory

In today’s global business landscape, the creation of international websites is vital to ensure consistent customer experiences and search equity across multiple locations. This strategic approach not only maintains brand integrity but also fosters a seamless user journey irrespective of geographic boundaries. However, managing multiple websites can be challenging. Fortunately, using subdomains and subdirectories can simplify the process by organizing content and targeting different audiences.

In this article, I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both subdomains and subdirectories and the technical challenges that you want to mitigate in order to navigate the SEO landscape.


Subdomains can offer a multitude of benefits when it comes to creating separate sections or websites within your main domain. They provide the flexibility to target different keywords, effectively organize content, and establish a distinct brand identity for each subdomain.

Subdomains are most effective when the purpose, user intent, and keyword portfolio of the two distinct areas differ significantly. This is because search engines perceive subdomains as separate entities. However, a drawback is that the main domain’s authority and ranking signals may have limited impact on subdomains since they are considered separate domains. As a result, the visibility and ranking potential of your subdomains may be affected.

Moreover, this would result in the necessity to handle distinct SEO endeavors for each subdomain, which can be both arduous and resource-intensive. Maintaining consistent optimization, monitoring keyword cannibalization, and coordinating strategies across multiple subdomains necessitate meticulous planning and execution.


On the other hand, subdirectories offer a powerful way to consolidate authority and ranking signals within a single domain. By organizing content under subdirectories, you not only harness the overall authority and link equity of the main domain, but you also create a robust SEO framework.

This approach simplifies SEO efforts as the backlinks acquired for the main domain naturally contribute to the SEO strength of the subdirectories, amplifying their visibility and reach. Moreover, subdirectories provide a clear hierarchical structure, facilitating search engines in comprehending content relationships within a website and enhancing its overall discoverability.

However, it is crucial to comprehend that the SEO value attributed to subdirectories from the root domain is only applicable if there is a significant overlap in the keyword portfolio. In the absence of advantageous contributions from the root domain’s authority and keyword portfolio, the benefits to the subdirectories become inconsequential.

Key factors to consider and prioritize: Establishing Strong and Differentiating Brand Identities, Maximizing SEO Efforts, Implementing Localization Strategies

Key Factors to Consider and Prioritize:

1. Establishing Strong and Differentiating Brand Identities

When it comes to managing international websites, both subdomains and subdirectories can be useful depending on your business goals. For example, if you want to create a separate website for a specific country or language, a subdomain can help establish a distinct brand identity.

With subdomains, because they are treated as completely different entities, the opportunities to have completely different experiences and brand identities is much greater.

2. Maximizing SEO Efforts

When it comes to prioritizing SEO efforts, one effective strategy is to consolidate all international websites under a single main domain. By doing so, you can centralize and streamline your SEO initiatives, making it easier to manage and optimize your online presence across different markets.

Subdirectories, in particular, offer a great option for consolidating link equity and ensuring a cohesive SEO strategy. This approach not only helps improve your website’s overall performance but also enhances your visibility and reach in various regions, ultimately driving more organic traffic and boosting your online success.

3. Implementing Localization Strategies

Another crucial factor to consider when it comes to website optimization is website localization. To effectively target diverse regions and languages, it is imperative to translate and adapt your website content to cater to local markets. One approach that can simplify the process of website translation is the use of a subdirectory approach. By utilizing a single main domain and translating content under separate subdirectories, you can streamline the localization process.

Moreover, this approach also enables you to employ country-specific top-level domains (TLDs), which not only enhances credibility but also establishes relevance for local audiences, thereby maximizing your reach and impact.


In conclusion, when it comes to managing international websites, subdomains and subdirectories both have their benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right approach depends on your business goals and strategy.

Whether you choose to use subdomains or subdirectories, it’s important to carefully plan your technical requirements, website structure, organize content effectively, and optimize for search engines to maximize your online presence and reach new audiences.

Take a look at how we at Nomadic effectively created a US | EU website structure for Novum Structures utilizing subdirectories.

Cacy Lyon

Digital Marketing Coordinator
Cacy is a digital marketing coordinator specializing in SEO. She loves the creativity of writing blog posts for each unique client. Cacy loves house plants, yoga, and traveling. When she is not working, she is usually hiking with her dog.

Subscribe to Our Blog

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.