My latest findings ;)
If you are an SEO expert, perhaps you already know all these things; that is fine, there might be others who don’t. :)
The basic difference between a website that resides in the sub-folder of the main domain, and a website that resides on a sub-domain of the main domain, is that while the former is deemed to be an integral part of the main domain, the latter is taken as a completely different website, separate from the main domain. At least, that is how Google™ seems to think!
1. In Google Webmaster tools, if you expect to see the stats of all the sub-domains just by adding your main domain there, you are wrong! If you add only your main domain, Google would show you stats related to the main domain only; if you also want to see the stats of your sub-domains, you would need to add each sub-domain separately in Google webmaster tools, just the way you add a normal top-level domain.
2. I am not aware of any sitemap generator tool that automatically includes sub-domains in the sitemap file of the main domain. For example, if you want your sitemap generator tool to generate a sitemap for:
and if you also want the links to
to be included in that sitemap, that ain’t gonna happen! You would need to generate separate sitemaps for each sub-domain.
And if you try to manipulate your sitemap by manually adding your sub-domains in the main domain’s sitemap file, and submit that sitemap to Google, Google would refuse to index the sub-domains and show you the following error for each sub-domain included in the sitemap file:
"URL not allowed
This url is not allowed for a Sitemap at this location."
Short and sweet, treat your sub-domain as a top-level domain: add the sub-domain separately in Google webmaster tools, verify it, generate a separate sitemap for that sub-domain and add it to Google webmaster tools. Voila! You can now watch the stats of your sub-domain just like you do with your main domain. ;)
3. When building backlinks, if you point all backlinks to your main domain only, this would only impact the rankings of your main domain, along with the subfolders under it; certainly, it would also impact the rankings of your website’s sub-domains by a margin, but it would be far from your "high" expectations. If you want your sub-domains to rank as high as your main domain (or at least, high enough to help you pay your bills ;) ), you would need to point as many backlinks to your sub-domain too. ;)
Of course, the one question you would ask me is this: "Why even bother with Google Webmaster Tools?". The answer is simple: with the advent of HTTPS search (currently available to US-based users only, but very soon would certainly spread to other countries too) as well as a helpful Firefox addon to encrypt your Google searches via SSL, probably Google Webmaster Tools is your only ray of hope as far as "search queries" (keywords used by web surfers to find your website) are concerned (I am not sure if Google Analytics records search queries made through encrypted pages; I have not even logged into my Analytics account for ages :P ).
On a different note, I am a self-confessed privacy advocate; especially online, we need to be very careful of what (sensitive) information we reveal to the "prying eyes" of "strangers". But is not an encrypted search option a bit too much, not to mention the slow loading search results pages… (any HTTPS page would load slower than a normal page, as a matter of fact)? Plus the user’s information is not totally "private" in this case; Google still has access to all the search data; only we poor webmasters don’t! :| Of course, it is useless to rant over this, as Google will do what it likes! :)
That is it! Did you expect anything else? Sorry to disappoint you, then. ;)
However, if you know anything more (over and above what I said above), please enlighten me and other readers by posting a nice comment. Thanks :D