Does Google really treat a subdomain as a different domain?

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  1. Does Google really treat a subdomain as a separate domain?
    • Answer: Yes, since it technically is a separate domain, Google does treat it as a separate domain.
  2. If yes, how do you explain my above experiences and the reason we use high PR web2.0 sites for our backlink sources?
    • Answer: Sites do not have PR. PageRank is assigned to individual pages, not sites. The domain has absolutely nothing to do with ranking, save the keywords that may be included in the URL.
    • The reason People use Web2.0 sites is:
      • They are free.
      • You can often include your keyword in the domain so that it is included in all your URLs.
      • You may receive traffic and/or links by participating in a community website.
  3. If no, is it advisable NOT to use a subdomain (or subfolder) for any new site (e.g. for a department of a company) which you would like to rank as risk hedge?
    • Answer: Except for the reasons stated above, the domain plays no role in ranking, each web page is ranked individually based on the content on the page, and how the page appears in the web of pages that are included (regardless of domain).

Google is smart enough to know if a subdomain is part of a website. That doesn’t change the fact that Google does not index, nor rank, websites, they index and rank individual web pages. Understanding this fundamental concept is crucial to understanding how Google’s search indexing is ranked.

The site: operator is simply a filter, it isn’t part of SERP ranking. The fact that all subdomains of a particular domain are not filtered doesn’t mean that they are part of the same website. It just means they share a common root domain that the site: operator did not filter.

For example, if you search the term “marketing strategies” you will see that the top-ranked page is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_strategy‎, that page happens to be on the en.wikipedia.org website, but Google doesn’t return that “website” in the SERP it returns the specific web “page”. The indexing is of individual pages not of websites. That is why Google is a “search engine”, and not a website directory.

To further illustrate my point, let’s use that site: operator to see what is returned when we use the following in Google’s search box:

site:.com marketing strategies

Please note that the Wikipedia page is no longer included in the search results, not because it isn’t relevant, and not because it doesn’t contain the same design, nor from lack of links, titles, or anchors. It is simply filtered from results because the site: operator is nothing but a simple filter.

For the same reason, all of those pages listed are certainly not part of the same site, even though we did use the site: operator. The site operator is just a filter for the SERP, not an indication of what Google considers to be a website. That simple observation proves this point, wouldn’t you agree?

I see subdomains in nearly every Google search. Www is a subdomain, as is en and many others. Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention? :confused:

For example, I just did a Google search for the term “blogging” and the SERP page included results for all of the following subdomains:
www
codex
Google blog
analytics

Try searching the term “punctuation” and you see first page results that include the following subdomains:
www
en
grammar.ccc
owl.english

It appears that Google doesn’t “hate” subdomains, after all, perhaps it was some other reason that you had trouble ranking with your first subdomain?

From all of the research and testing I have done over the years, I have never seen an actual case where the proper use of a subdomain would harm SERP rankings, I believe that is just a myth.

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