Dear John: Using a Subdomain as a Main Domain?

Last updated on January 5, 2017 in Dear John

Welcome to Dear John, a new (hopefully weekly) column where I’m going to answer questions about SEO/digital marketing in longer formats. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please email it to hello at getcredo dot com with the subject starting with [DEAR JOHN]!

I recently answered a question on Moz about subdomains vs main domains. This one looks like it’s actually a migration issue, but only time will tell as I didn’t have the domain in order to have a look.


I’m working on a site at the moment and the sub domain is acting as the main domain. This occurred when the site was redesigned and built on a sub domain for testing but it was never moved to the main domain when it went live (a couple of years ago). So little or no pages are live on but all on It’s a large company but they have very poor rankings. Would you recommend that they move the sub folder back into the root folder? Does this involve renaming/re-pointing URLs?


My response:

Hi there –

I’m a bit confused about your question. When you say “sub folder” there at the end, do you mean “subdomain”? If so then the question makes sense and that is what I will answer.

First of all, technically is a subdomain that is treated the same as or

So, in my opinion and experience, their rankings shouldn’t be terrible just because they’re on eg a subdomain. I do wonder though, since they had their main site on another part of the domain and then moved to this one that was originally a test subdomain, if there were issues with the migration to the site that was built on this other subdomain than the original site. You need to go back and do a forensic SEO analysis (or hire someone to do it) to see if 301s are correct, if a lot of links were not redirected, and the like before you even consider moving everything back to where it was before. If you don’t do your due-diligence, you’re likely going to do more harm than good.

Hope that helps.


Have a question you’d like me to answer publicly? Email it to me – hello at getcredo dot com – and start the subject line with [DEAR JOHN].