Which is Best For SEO: Subdomains or Subfolders?

What’s better for SEO using a subdomain or subfolder? Is there a reason why?

This is an age-old debate when it comes to SEO. If you ask Google they’ll say they don’t really care if you use a subfolder or subdomain. You have to use what’s best for you.

Sound wishy washy? Maybe a little bit.

In the video below John Mueller explains Google’s view.

Ok now we have Google’s statement. They rank, crawl and index directories the same as they subdomains, which means you have the same chance to get either setup to rank.

But Wait, Why Don’t SEO Experts Agree?

If you talk to the SEO pros, you’ll find they don’t agree with this broad explanation. Here’s why.


It often takes a lot more effort to get a subdomain to rank.

First let’s look at how domains work:

  • First you have to register a top-level domain (yourdomain.com) with a registrar. Notice there is no “www”.
  • Then you need to set up hosting so you have access to a server that is online where you keep your website.

This is a relatively simple example.

Once you point the domain to the server you have to make a decision for how you want your website address to look:

  • Should it use a subdomain: i.e. www.yourdomain.com?
  • Or use the top-level domain: i.e. yourdomain.com

It’s very common to use www but this is technically a subdomain. As we saw in the video Google will rank either way the same. This is good. However, this also means each way will be rank individually. More on this later.

A Case For Why To Use Subdomains Instead of Subfolders:

Using subdomains is a great way to separate sections of you site that may be related but you want them to rank separately.

We can actually use Google itself as an example.

Google has many services and products.

  • There’s normal search which can be found under google.com
  • The Google Store: store.google.com
  • The app store, Google Play: play.google.com
  • Google My Business: business.google.com
  • Google Ads: ads.google.com

I could go on, but the point is these are all separate parts of the business that need to stand on their own and be found as individual entities, while still being connected to Google.

Need help optimizing your site? Talk to our SEO experts.

So here it makes sense to keep them on separate subdomains.

Why Use Subfolders Instead of Subdomains?

Let’s look at a different scenario which probably comes closer to what your company is facing.

Search engines love fresh useful informative content. And hey, so do people too. A great way to develop this content is to create a blog of a news section of you site and start posting content that is useful and relevant to your company, products and services and industry.

Subdomains divide your SEO strength

If you use the subdomain model it might look like this:

Google will look at these as three separate sites. If you were hoping to use you blog to support your main site and drive ranking for you products and services you’ll have to be very diligent in linking from your blog to the products and hope that some of the ranking authority passes from the blog to the main site.

If that seems a bit to abstract he’s a visualization that might help.

I’ll simplify the explanation using backlinks to your sites. Links are one of many factors that search engines use to rank sites, but limiting the discussion to backlinks will help clarify things.

If each one of your subdomains has the following number of backlinks.

  • Main site: www.yourdomain.com = 30
  • Blog: blog.yourdomain.com = 35
  • News: news.yourdomain.com = 10
  • Total = 75

This is what it looks like visually:

subdomains and links

You might think, “Great, we have 75 links!” But, since Google looks at each site separately they do not add up. They are links to each individual “site” or subdomain. If you are very diligent in cross-linking then some of the authority will pass to the other subdomains, but only a fraction of the full strength.

But if you use subfolders, and acquire links to the pages within the subfolders they are all part of the same site. Therefor your site www.yourdomain.com truly has 75 links pointing to the same subdomain or domain.

subdomains and links combined

Pro tip: Use the top-level domain whenever possible.

Meaning if not properly configured, your site could be ranking as two separate sits. For example:


It’s up to you to decide which option to use.  Both subfolders and subdomains have their merits and while Google will gives you the opportunity to rank subdomains and top-level domains equally this can also be a bad thing.

Our recommendation is to us subfolders or directories unless there is a good reason to separate sections of your site. This will help you save time and effort because using subdomains means you essentially have to do the same work for every subdomain individually, but with subfolders you only have one site that you need to work with.

SEO and Web Design – Plan for a Ongoing Updates

I’ve written about this before (read Building a Website & Getting it Found Online is Not a “Once & Done” Tactic), but unfortunately many people still believe if they build and optimize a website once their site will be #1 in Search. Sadly this is rarely if ever the case with SEO and Web Design.

website optimization servicesYou could look at it like buying a bike. When you buy it and take it home from the bike dealer it is shiny and new.  Everything works great. Gears shift smoothly and you can stop on a dime with the brand new breaks. You know what it’s like, it’s exciting!

To keep your wonderful new bike in top shape you need to do some small regular maintenance.  You need to oil the chain to make sure it doesn’t start to wear out and maybe eventually break.  If you ride it in the rain, wiping it down afterward is good practice to keep it from corroding, rusting or so pieces of dirt or rock don’t damage the rims when breaking. The brakes may need adjusting or the pads may need replacing. It’s the same with websites.

This is why many SEO experts charge a monthly or quarterly fee.  As you add blog posts, pages or other content, even when you remove content, you need to think about how it affects the optimization of the site.

Create a Procedure for Updating and Optimizing Your Website

One of the best things you can do is create a process for website updates and optimization. If you have a system in place for adding and removing content as well as optimization, you’ll have a concise process that leads to the best SEO results. This will ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page and your site stays uniform.

Here are a few examples:

  • New pages and posts: Each time you add a new post or page you should take into account a few aspects. What is the purpose or intent of the page/post? What keywords are you targeting? What part of your business does the post or page support? Each post or page should be designed with these factors in mind.
  • Moving content and redirects: This is critical when developing a new site as well as maintaining a website. Maybe you have a page that is no longer relevant and you want to remove it. If the page received any traffic you need to create a 301 redirects (permanent redirect) to let the search engines know where the visitors show go now.
  • File naming: With the invention of Universal Search, it is now possible to rank for multiple types of media. So you can be found in search via many different types of media. By making sure that your files are name correctly, i.e. clearly describe the content or media and include relevant keywords, you have a better chance of ranking in multiple ways. You can also add descriptions for images and other content.
  • Linking – Internal and Inbound Links: Both are very important. For inbound links you should create a standard for linking before you start acquiring links. This means the anchor text should be established as well as what type of links you want to acquire.  Internally this also means making sure links are up to date and not pointing to pages that have been removed.

Having a process in place will definitely help keep your website uniform and help maximize your SEO efforts.  So if you don’t have one, get your process plan in place today!

Need help with your process? Contact us to see how we can improve and maintain your website and digital marketing. 


3 Tips for Creating the Ultimate Landing Page Experience

Landing Page Tips with a bullseyeA key element of with internet marketing is landing pages. We follow the concept your website is the center of your online universe, so your online marketing should be driving traffic to where you do business online: Your website!

You don’t want to just send qualified traffic to a random page or just to your homepage. You may be asking yourself, “Why does it matter?” Let me give you an example.

Your company is running a sale on ski boots. So you set up an campaign to promote your boots, using paid search, social media and email marketing. A bad experience for users would be to send them to a page about skis instead of boots, or to the home page where they have to click through to find where the ski boots are that are on sale.  You really should send them to a landing page that is specifically about the promotion and creates the least amount of friction for them to buy the ski boots.

Below of 3 tips for creating the ultimate landing page experience that encourages visitors to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, download a whitepaper or whatever it is you want them to do on your website.

  1. Original and relevant content
    • The landing page should be directly relevant to the ad or social media post that brought visitors there
    • The purpose of your landing page should be clear
    • You landing page should offer something that other sites don’t
    • Add reviews that show real people that have used your product
  2. Be transparent
    • Your contact information should be easy to find
    • Be clear about what information you are collecting from visitors and how you will use it
    • Make it clear what will happen when visitors perform an action on your page
  3. Make it easy to use
    • The message on your landing page should be clear and concise
    • Keep the number of calls to action or links to a minimum (often this means just one call to action), you don’t want visitors to get confused
    • Make it easy for people to find answers if they have questions

Creating great landing pages by following these three tips will not only help win more conversions, it can help save you money with paid search campaigns too. For example: The price of your bids in Adwords can be directly affected by the quality of your landing pages.



TriStarr Staffing Launches New Website With Blackbird e-Solutions, LLC

We are excited to announce TriStarr Staffing’s new website! www.tristarrjobs.com

TriStarr Staffing new website screenshot

TriStarr is one of our oldest and best clients. We started working with them in 2006 to help them with their SEO and Website Analytics. Over the years the relationship has grown and we are now an integral part of their online marketing efforts.

TriStarr was not satisfied with their previous site because of navigation issues, updates were difficult and the old site generally needed a refresh to catch up with other modern websites.

TriStarr Staffing old site screenshot

The first step was to bring the site into a content management system, which makes updates and changes much quicker and easier. It also allows TriStarr to make updates themselves.  After that we looked at the aspects of online marketing that needed to be included in the new design.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid Search & Social Advertising
  • Website Analytics and Reporting
  • Responsive Design

The final result was a holistically designed website which combines modern design with functionality. Whether you are an employer, job seeker or current employee at TriStarr, the new site contains targeted areas for each audience as well as secure access to employee and customer accounts.  Navigation was streamlined to make it “dead simple” for visitors to find the information they need.  Plus, using responsive design the site looks great no matter what device you are using.

“We are very excited to launch this new site,” says Joan Paxton, President of TriStarr Staffing. “TriStarr Staffing has so much to offer and our goal was to provide a website that simply and quickly gets job seekers, employees and clients the information they need to make informed decisions.”

Furthermore we developed the new site with the future in mind.

“Several new web based services will be rolled out in the coming months and the improvements in this new site are integral to their success.  These tools will improve the client experience and further differentiate TriStarr as the leader in our market,” says Scott Fiore, TriStarr’s Vice President

The site officially launched September 5, 2013. We are looking forward to the reaction and feedback from TriStarr employees, job seekers and clients, as well as continuing to provide great online marketing solutions for the company.

Want more information about the new site or how we can help your company build a great online presence?
Contact Bryan Coe 717-406-3900 or via the web: Contact US

Coming Soon a New Blackbird e-Solutions Site!

Speaking of new sites…
We’re working on a site of our own!

Take a peak under the veil to see what’s coming to blackbirdesolutions.com

bbes new website header sneak peak


bbes new website new services menu 1


bbes new website new services menu 2

Blackbird e-Solutions, LLC Launches New Site for The Protocall Group

Launch Day!

We are proud to announce that we’ve launched a new site with one of our best clients! The Protocall Group. www.protocallgroup.com

In 2012 The Protocall Group started down the road of rebranding from Protocall Staffing to The Protocall Group to match their business model. The group is comprised of 6 specialty companies. The old brand and website no longer fit with this model. We were already working together in a consulting capacity for social media and online marketing, so we were ecstatic when they chose us to develop a new holistic website that will combine many aspects of online marketing:

  • Web Development
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media Consulting
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid search & Social Advertising
  • Website Analytics and Reporting

protocallgroup.com screenshot of new site

“We are excited to launch this new site,” says Kim Dobrzynski, Director of Marketing for The Protocall Group. “Our company has a lot to offer to job seekers and employers. This new site will enable them to find job opportunities and learn why taking advantage of our services will be a great decision for them.” Read the full press release on www.protocallgroup.com.

The new site launched today June 16, 2013. We are looking forward to the responses from Protocall’s clients and employees, as well as continuing the great relationship that our companies share.

Want more information about the new site or how we can help your company build a great online presence? Contact Bryan Coe 717-406-3900 or via the web: Contact US

Do Business Like a Shark – Outsource Company Weaknesses Focus on Strengths

I just read a post from one of our clients, TriStarr Staffing: Like A Shark – Focus On Your Companies Strengths – Outsource Your Weaknesses In his post Scott explains how sharks outsource their weaknesses so they can focus on what they are good at, hunting.

outsource like a shark

A shark “outsources” its weaknesses: keeping itself clean, and protecting itself from disease, to other fish.  Remoras clean parasites from the shark’s teeth and perhaps skin. Remoras eat the parasites off the underside of the shark to keep it healthy and alive. This allows the shark to remain healthy and focus on what it does best – hunt.  The Remora gets “paid” as well; they get a free meal and “protection.”

This concept can be related to your online marketing plan too. As I mentioned TriStarr Staffing outsources what they don’t understand, and yes it is true even large companies like Adidas, Armstrong and Verizon outsource their online marketing to agencies. Sometimes they even use multiple agencies!

We also work with a company in the industrial sector that is run by brilliant engineers, but when it comes to getting found online they’re at a loss. Your company may be very good at breaking down your client’s problems and delivering great solutions, but getting the word out about your services and successes… maybe not so much.

What’s the take away from this? Be a Shark and concentrate on your strengths and we’ll take care of your online marketing.

To learn more about how we can help, fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you.

I want to learn more about your services!




Onsite SEO – Best practices. What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

In our post Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim – Laying the Groundwork for Online Marketing we looked at your current online presence: Your Home Base. We asked you to answer the following questions.

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

In this post we are assuming that you have a website where you are able to make changes.

Onsite SEO Diagram

Many times we see websites that are beautifully designed, but the designers either neglected SEO completely or they may even be doing things that go against simple best practices. We’re going to look at some basics.

Here are some general things that you need to look at for SEO best practices.

Meta tags: These are snippets that are in your website’s code that tell browsers what to display where and search engines take notice of them. It is surprising how many companies, even marketing agencies, misuse these tags.  The following is a list of the most important tags.

  • Title Tag: This is what you see along the top of your browser. Many of the new browsers cut this off because of the way they use tabs, but if you hover of the tab you can see the full title. It also shows up as the first line in the search results page.
    • You should create an informative title that includes keywords.
    • Avoid duplicate page titles, so each page should have a unique title.
    • The character limit for title tag is 70 characters as this is the number of characters shown on the search results page.
    • Example: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword |Brand Name
      SEO Services – Search Engine Optimization | Blackbird e-Solutions
    • Example: Brand Name | Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword
      Blackbird e-Solutions | SEO Services – Search Engine Optimization
  • Meta Description Tag: This is the description of the page that shows up in SERPS and should entice people to click on your link.
    • It should be between 150 and 160 characters. Search engines will truncate anything longer and if it is too long you could be docked by the search engines as well.
    • Concentrate on one to three keywords in this tag. Many people try to dump as many keywords in as possible, but Google and company look at this as keyword stuffing.
    • Let me stress again it should entice people to click on your link in search results.
    • Avoid duplicate descriptions:  I.e. each page should have a unique relevant description.

meta-description and meta-title

  • H1 Tag. This is the main header that you see on the page. It should include your keyword and main subject of the site. There is no limit on this, but dumping in a bunch of keywords will get you in trouble.

You might notice that I did not mention the Keyword Meta Tag, that’s because it is essentially irrelevant now. Historically people have used this tag to try to game the search engines, so the major engines ignore it. Below is a video from Matt Cutts, Google’s authority on web spam, talking about meta tags.

Now that you know that basic meta tags you should look at, next time we’ll look at some tools to evaluate this and many other parts of your website.

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Our Website Should Work as Hard as Our Sales People

sales team

We hear this often from clients and prospects. The problem is many companies believe if they build a site it will sell by itself. Unfortunately this is rarely true.

Yes, websites can replace salespeople and I’ve definitely seen this happen, but it doesn’t just happen on its own. Building a website then forgetting about it in most cases just doesn’t work. This mentality could be equated to renting an office in a cool building in a high traffic location and then not staffing it with anyone. Maybe you have a sign that says what you do and a button that says “buy here.” But really, how many sales do you think you’ll make?

Without some sort of plan for getting people to the site, no plan for what to do with them once they are there and no one to manage the site, it becomes the proverbial tree that fell in the woods.

So if you’re going to invest money and time in an office (website) then make sure you invest the money and time to market and manage it. Only then can you think about it working as hard as your salespeople.

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim – Laying the Groundwork for Online Marketing

This is the second post in our series “Killer Online Marketing for 2013

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Many of you have probably heard the popular mantra, “Ready, Fire, Aim.” This is often adopted to keep people or organizations from getting bogged down in the analysis face of making decisions and to promote action. So it can be interpreted as; Take Action, Learn from these actions and then make corrections.

Great! We all need to take action. However, we have a slightly different mantra when it comes to online marketing campaigns.

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim

Nobody (especially your client or boss) wants to waste money. So the first part of our series is about seeing if you’re ready, by assessing your current situation and ready, assess, fire, aim laying the groundwork for online success. We see too many people that just start firing away without any idea about where they currently are or a plan for what they want to accomplish. Usually they get frustrated quickly and give up with the complaint, “online marketing just doesn’t work for me.”
We don’t want that to happen to you!

Let’s get started.

Current Online Presence

The center of your online universe is your website. Don’t let anyone convince you that you no longer need a website. Facebook, Google+ or whatever other platform may be hot at the time you read this, is not a replacement for your website. Besides a host of other problems, what’s hot now may not be in the future. Remember that thing called MySpace?

Now, we need to figure out if you have the basics to get started. The following is a checklist to help you judge this:

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

If you answered yes to all of the above, Awesome! You’re ready for the next step. If not don’t fret. We have some recommendations.

Do you have a website?

There are many ways to tackle this one. Of course it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t tell you we can help you with this. We’d be happy to build a custom site for you. If you would like to find out more info about this, website constructionjump over to our Web Development page.

Don’t have the money yet or you’re a do it yourselfer? There are options for this too.

For do it yourselfers that aren’t so technically minded, we love Squarespace. They offer many templates that you can customize without have to know any kind of coding, although they do also offer packages for developers as well. They’ll even help you register a domain. But I’ll let them tell you more about it. Watch the Squarespace Demo.

For do it yourselfers with more technical ability we recommend WordPress. This is a popular blogging platform that has grown into a full website content management system.  It is open source software that is free to download. You can host it yourself or you can sign up for an account at WordPress.com.  For just a blog using their domain (yourname.wordpress.com) it is free, but for a site and domain etc., there is a fee.

Do you or does your organization have full control of your site?

This eliminates Facebook and similar platforms as an option because they can make drastic changes to your presence without warning. Think back to all the changes Facebook has made in the last couple of years. Do you remember what company pages used to look like with tabs along the top? I can’t stress enough your website is the center of your online universe and you need to be in control of it. Below is an example flowchart for how things should be structured online.

oline marketing flowchart

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Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?

This is also very important. To successfully capture leads and prospect you need to have the ability to create/remove landing pages, lead capture forms as well as other pages. (We’ll talk more about this when we get lead generation.) This also includes some form of blogging.

We hear many complaints from people where they had a developer create a site for them, but then it becomes a huge hassle and is costly to make edits or add and remove pages. The best way to alleviate this is to make sure when you build a new site, or if you already have a site, set it up on a content management system or CMS.

A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Definition from Wikepedia

I already mentioned a couple of options: Squarespace and WordPress. Our first choice for web development is WordPress, but there are a few others that are worth mentioning.

  • Joomla Open source and free to download.
  • Drupal Open source and free to download.
  • Expression Engine Core version is free. There is also a pay version that offers more functionality.

Any one of these would be a good and would give you the ability to add and remove pages as well as blog.

Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Website analytics are a key component of any campaign. Without some sort of measurement you have no idea if your campaigns are successful. Plus, how can you improve if you don’t know how you’re doing?

With website analytics you can track simple metrics such as; Visitors, Bounce Rate, Referring Sites, etc. Where it really gets exciting though is when you start looking at more complex reports like Page Efficiency Analysis, Visitor Acquisition Efficiency and Conversion Rates vs. Medium. (We’ll help you create reports like this in the “AIM” portion of our series)

Here are two of the leading website analytics tools that we recommend:

Adobe’s Omniture

This is a pay tool that is very powerful and used by many large well known organizations. It is a very complex tool that can track just about anything you want. The downside is, it can be pricey for many smaller organizations and the complexity can be a bit overwhelming.

Google Analytics

Google offers a free version as well as a pay version. The pay version, like Omniture, is costly and mainly for large organizations. However, the free version is a great tool. This is what we use for our site, and what we recommend to most of our clients. It is very intuitive and easy to configure, as well as very powerful.

Google analytics example

With this simple list you can make sure your foundation is ready.  If you didn’t answer yes to all the questions, then the next step in your action plan is to make sure you turn your “noes” into “yeses.”

Have questions or comments? Let us know in the comments.

In our next posts we’ll talk about how to put some of these tools to work as well as onsite SEO.