Date of Publication: 5 Feb 2023

Understanding Subfolders and its effect on Search Ranking

Subfolders can have a detrimental effect on search rankings if not used properly. Using too many subfolders can lead to duplicate content, which can penalize a website in search engine rankings. It is important to have a wellorganized hierarchy of folders so that search engine crawlers can easily find and index the content. It is also important to avoid having too many subfolders, as this can lead to a long and confusing URL structure, which can be difficult for both users and search engines to navigate. Additionally, subfolders should not be used to block access to content, as this can also negatively affect search rankings.

In this blog let us explore the use of subfolders and the warnings that one should look for with creating complex subfolder structures.

Anirban Guha

Anirban Guha

Digital Marketing Expert | Media Strategist | Entrepreneur

Table of Contents


What are Subfolders?

Subfolders in a website are folders that are located within other folders on the website. Subfolders are used to organize content in the website. For example, a website may have a subfolder for the images of the website and another subfolder for the videos.

A website subfolder address in the URL bar typically looks like this: <website domain>/<subfolder name>. For example, if the website domain is “,” and the subfolder name is “blog,” then the website subfolder address in the URL bar would be “”.

Subfolders are created to help organize content in a website, making it easier to locate and manage. They also help keep the website’s file structure clean and organized. Subfolders when made complex and beyond a certain limits can be counterproductive for SEO.

It is advisable to create subdomains in certain cases over subfolders.


Pros and Cons of having Web Content in Subfolders


  1. Improved organization of content –

Having web content organized into subfolders makes it easier to find the information that you need.

  1. Increased security –

By placing web content in subfolders, you can limit access to certain areas of the website.

  1. Faster loading times –

By placing web content in subfolders, the server can load the content faster.

  1. Easier maintenance –

Having web content in subfolders makes it easier to make changes and updates.



  1. More complex navigation –

With web content in subfolders, it can be harder to navigate between different areas of the website.

  1. Increased hosting costs –

Having web content in subfolders can increase the amount of hosting that is needed.

  1. Harder to track analytics –

Subfolders make it harder to track analytics because they can be nested within other folders, making it difficult to determine which folder a user has visited. This can be particularly challenging because some analytics programs only track visits to the root directory, meaning that information about subfolder visits may be hidden.

For example, a website may have the following folder structure:

Root Folder >>

– Subfolder 1

– Subfolder 2

– Subfolder 3

If a user visits Subfolder 2, analytics software may only pick up that the user visited the root folder, rather than the specific subfolder. This can make it difficult to track user behavior and understand which parts of the website are most popular.

  1. Increased complexity for search engine optimization –

It can be harder to optimize content for search engines when it is contained in multiple subfolders. Subfolders can make it difficult for search engine bots to crawl because there are so many URLs associated with the same content. Search engine bots may not be able to recognize the same content in different URLs, which can lead to duplication issues and confusion. Additionally, if the subfolder structure is too deep, the bots may not be able to access the content at all.

How do Google Bots and Algorithms react to websites with too many Subfolders?

Google bots and algorithms react to websites with too many subfolders by taking longer to crawl and index the pages since the process of crawling and indexing is more complex when there are more subfolders.

The Google algorithm associated with crawling through subfolders is known as the Depth-First Search Algorithm. Google depth-first search algorithm (DFS) is a type of graph search algorithm that is used to traverse a graph. It starts at the root node and explores as far as possible along a single branch before backtracking. The algorithm follows the concept of “depth” over “breadth” – meaning it will search as deep as possible into a tree before exploring siblings of the current node.

Google does not have a specific policy for websites with too many subfolders. However, it is generally recommended that websites should be structured in a way that is easy for users to navigate. This includes having a reasonable number of subfolders within the website architecture. Having too many subfolders can make it difficult for users to find the content they are looking for, which can lead to a poor user experience. Additionally, Google’s algorithms may find it difficult to crawl and index websites that have too many subfolders. Therefore, it is best to keep the number of subfolders to a reasonable level.

A might flicker across your mind that will having many pages mean having many subfolders? The answer is NO, having many pages in a website does not necessarily mean having many subfolders. A subfolder is a directory within a directory, which may contain files and other subfolders. Please note: Post categories are not considered subfolders.

Hygiene Standards for Subfolders

  1. Keep all subfolders organized and up-to-date.
  2. Create unique and meaningful titles for each subfolder.
  3. Include relevant keywords in the titles of each subfolder.
  4. Avoid using irrelevant keywords in subfolder titles.
  5. Make sure all the content in each subfolder is of high quality and relevant to the topic.
  6. Ensure there are no broken links within the subfolders.
  7. Avoid using excessive redirects within the subfolders.
  8. Avoid duplicating content within the subfolders.
  9. Monitor and check for any 404 errors within the subfolders.
  10. 10. Avoid creating too many subfolders as this can create a cluttered website structure.

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