Should You Start Your Blog in the Root Directory or in a Sub directory?

Most bloggers have this doubt when they start setting up their blogs

Should I install the blog in the root directory of the website or should I set it up in a subfolder? What are the advantages or disadvantages of setting up the blog in a root directory and sub-directory and what difference does it make, if at all?

This doubt stems up when you have learned a little bit about how a website works, what is a subfolder and other things. This doubt won’t come to you if you are a complete beginner since most beginners will go with the root directory and won’t think further (they are less likely to have this doubt)

If you notice this website, you will find that I have installed it in a subdirectory – /blog/ and not the root directory of the website. If you load the root directory of the website, it redirects to the subfolder – /blog

The reason why I did it is simple.

Today, I just have a blog where I write content so it doesn’t matter that much where I start the blog. I can start it in the root directory and I can start it in a sub-directory – makes no difference.

But a couple of years down the line, I would like to sell more things on this same website. I may want to sell products, courses and different things and don’t want all my visitors to see and read my blog posts from the website’s root page. In that scenario, I will stop the re-direction, and construct a separate WordPress site for the website root, while keeping the blog intact in it’s sub-folder.

Now you may wonder,

Why not have the blog installed in the root directory and when you want to create custom pages for the website, create them within WordPress and manage it through WordPress settings? Why maintain two separate WordPress installations which literally doubles your work?

It is a fair doubt and here is the explanation.

Not all can be managed from a single website that perfectly. If you want to have more control on the home page, which will act as a landing page for your business, I would highly recommend setup a different site for the website’s root landing page and setup a different site for the home page. This will give you a lot of flexibility in terms of design, coding and you will enjoy lot of freedom in managing two different units of business in its own way.

And once the design is set, you won’t be changing it everyday. Sure, there will be some burden of backups, files and other things but it is a one time burden. Once that is taken care of, you will continue to enjoy the freedom of having a separate landing page for the home page and a separate one for the blog, where one business unit doesn’t interfere with the functionality of other unit.

The blog works on its own while the website’s home page works on its own, they don’t affect each other since both are different installations and separte entities.

However, from the search engine’s perspective, they will be seen and viewed as a single site. It is only you who will manage the two sites through two different installations since you want to have more control on how these units work and don’t want to mix them into one.

Will This Affect Search Engine Optimization?

The next question that stems up from this one – will installing the blog in a sub-directory affect search engine optimization? Will my pages rank lower if the blog works from a sub directory compared to the home page?

The short answer is No, it won’t. Installing the blog in a sub directory won’t affect the search engine optimization or ranking of the pages, compared to when the blog is installed in a root directory.

Google and other search engines view the site as a whole, and it has no such preference whether it is installed and accessible from the root directory or a subfolder. It won’t make any difference at all, but one thing to note here is that your site’s Robots.txt file should not be blocking the subfolder from crawling. Remember, the robots.txt file is placed in the root directory of the site and it should not be tweaked in a way that it blocks indexing, crawling and other things.

Matt Cutts from Google has clearly explained in this video that installing your site in a sub directory will have no affect on the rankings, crawling, indexing and other things

By sub directory, I mean a subfolder and not a subdomain. A subdomain is a different thing all together and sometimes, it does affect the SEO of the site if it is installed in a subdomain. The reason is – Google and other search engines see the sub domain as a separate site compared to the main domain. In that case, you might be losing some of the SEO juice which points to the root of your website, when your blog works from a subdomain.

Otherwise, it should work just as fine and you can go ahead and use a subfolder for your blog if you have future plans to use the root directory of your site in a different way. If you have no plans of doing other things, go for the root directory but remember, it will become a little difficult to move to a subfolder as the blog grows big enough.

At the end of the day, it’s your choice whether you want to go with a sub directory or not, depending on the reasons why you are making that choice.

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