When did subdomains start appearing in a Google site: search? In other words, a site:www.somedomain.com used to only show results with urls from www.somedomain.com.
Now, subdomains are showing, such as sub1.somedomain.com and sub2.somedomain.com.
Ok, here, try some for yourself.
Just in case you don't see what I see (or things change), here's a screen shot of a site:www.about.com command.
Ok, so what does it mean?
Well, it could just be yet another site: command foobar. Certainly wouldn't be the first time site: gave weird results.
On the other hand, it could mean that Google no longer considers subdomains to be separate sites. That could be a big thing!
What would that mean in terms of rankings for those sites? Would about.com suddenly rank for more terms? Or less terms?
What impact might this have on subdomain spammer tricks?
We've all given advice to newbies about how Google treats subdomains as separate sites. We may need to take that advice out of our repetoire if this really does represent a major change in Google's thinking.
What do you think about this?
Hat tip to Michael.
Note: site:somedomain.com always returned all subdomains. So, is site:www.somedomain.com now equal to site:somedomain.com ? Could this be some kind of canonical change?
8 thoughts on “Are subdomains no longer separate sites in the eyes of Google?”
Donna, I think they’ve been showing up in searches for a little while now (a few weeks). That being said, I have seen a drop across the board for my subdomain rankings. It’s been between 5-10 spots for most of my major terms.
Hadn’t noticed this before, but I’ve just checked McDar and there appear to be two distinct sets of data centers, one using the old method of excluding subdomains and one using the new method that you’ve commented on.
A brief check on keyword searches seems to show that both sets are returning the same results though, so maybe they’re just tinkering with the site: command ?
There is something going on with canonical isssues.
http://www.google.com/search?q=allinurl:www.cookbook-bookstore.com&filter=0 – 62 results.
http://www.google.com/search?q=allinurl:cookbook-bookstore.com&filter=0 – almost 5,000 results.
No subdomains, and a good .htaccess from non-www to www for that site. 5,000 is about right.
Matt Cutts would say that site: is just an estimate, but obviously something is wrong there.
SEOrefugee, maybe you’ve been seeing it on a particular DC, and mine is just getting around to showing it, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been showing it for weeks for me.
There has been a reversion in the way Google is handling redirects as well:
Matt Cutts has discussed these in the past under the subject of canonical issues:
Here’s an article discussing these bugs in Google:
At the time it was written, I thought the problem was over…
They’ve been showing subdomains under site search for a very long time but the “site:” operator has been worked on in recent months. It now appears that the sub-domains show up on the basis of how you canonize your domain name in the query.
I’m voting on site: being foobar’d, it’s a shame it was really a good diagnostic tool … sigh
In the newly added Link feature at Google WebmasterCentral they are treating the subdomain links as the Internal Links.
What are internal links?
Internal links to your site are the links that reside on pages that belong to your domain. For example, if you are viewing links for http://www.google.com/, all the links that originate from pages on any subdomain of google.com, such as http://www.google.com/ or mobile.google.com, would appear as internal links to your site.
This is what they are given the definition for Internal Links at their official Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/02/discover-your-links.html
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