Google will begin to penalize domain leasing

Google Will Penalize Leasing Subdomains or Subfolders

Google Will Penalize Leasing Subdomains or Subfolders

Leasing a subdomain or subfolder is the practice by which an entity that owns a domain (with a higher domain authority) allows another entity with a domain name has not yet built high domain authority to host its content in its subdomain or subfolder. The entity leasing the subdomain or subfolder inherits the ranking strength of the subdomain or subfolder’s owner in order to rank its content high and sell more on Google. Obviously, there is a payment involved. Google has become aware of the practice and they have hinted that they will be cracking down on this practice.

Overall, we’d recommend against letting others use subdomains or subfolders with content presented as if it is part of the main site, without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site.

— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) August 14, 2019

Many people are creating content but they do not want to go through the process of building a website and then promoting it. So, they would lease space on another website’s subdomain or subfolder. This is not necessarily far off what affiliates websites offer their affiliates. Google is discussing this practice because of users’ complaints but they are not calling it spam yet. They are presently evaluating their options.

In the video velow, John Mueller is discussing a range of issues related to this topic and others.  On the issue of subdomain or subfolder leasing, he described this efforts where comparison sites or coupon sites, “where a company will take a subdomain of an existing website and put their content there and use that to promote their contentt.” He said Google takes this feedback “very seriously” and “the search leads at Google have been talking about this this exact topic for a while now.” But they are still not sure what is the right action to take because the content isn’t outright spam but might be lower quality. He said “they’re not really spam they’re just they’re just kind of sales pages affiliate pages that are hosted within another website.”

One of the things John mentioned they might do was to just look at the relevance of the content to the site overall content. They would just rank the site content and leave out anything that is unrelated to it. We know that Google is already measuring the quality of the website. The other content would certainly hurt the website in this area. However, they really do not know how they will proceed with this issue. They are looking into it. It is therefore not clear what the solution will be: demote such websites or delete them completely to get rid of all coupon websites. This may be fair to all. Again, they are not clear as to what they will do.

Please watch the video to learn more and then comment below to share your opinion, questions and also some answers. I am also providing the transcript of the video. Let’s talk about this.


The user here calls it white label sites. So in particular they were seeing things like, what was it, I think like price comparison sites or similar things, what was it, coupon sites I think do this as well. Where where a company will take a subdomain of an existing website and put their content there and use that to promote their contact. And I think this user was seeing a lot of those in the search results and kind of wondering like is it even worth while to make my own website or should I just buy space with an existing website and put all of my content there.

And I I think the answer is is tricky in the sense that on the one hand the user saying they don’t like this practice on the other hand they’re like well should I do it too and I don’t like it but I should I do too. And I think that’s kind of a tricky place to be.

In general when it comes to these kind of things we we do take these these types of feedbacks very seriously. I know the the search leads at Google have been talking about this this exact topic for a while now. To try to find ways to handle these appropriately. So by handling them appropriately I don’t mean like we should treat them as spam and just delete all of these subdomains. Because they’re not really spam they’re just they’re just kind of sales pages affiliate pages that are hosted within another website. And maybe the right approach is to find a way to figure out like what is the primary topic of this website and focus more on that and then kind of leave these other things on the side.

The other aspect that always plays into these kind of configurations on websites is when it comes to quality we try to look at the quality of a website overall. So if there are particular parts of a website that are really low quality, I don’t know if these these are like really low quality coupon sites for example where the coupons are essentially just the same thing as everywhere else on the site or everywhere else on the web then overall that could be degrading the quality of that that site a little bit.

So there are various aspects that that come to play here. I don’t think there’s one clear-cut answer where we’d say like this is exactly what Google should do and delete all of these sites or demote them completely or get rid of all coupon sites to be fair or I don’t know. And these these kind of situations I always find a very fascinating because I I see in the discussions with the search quality leads how nuanced they try to look at this problem and how to they really try to weigh the pros and cons.

And the changes for these kind of kind of sites or this kind of feedback, it generally takes a while to kind of run through. It’s not something where the search leads will just say oh like we should do this and then like that’s done across the board. These are things that we have to evaluate fairly carefully and make sure that we don’t cause any more problems by kind of taking action on one thing and then accidentally breaking something else. So I really appreciate all the feedback that you’ve been sending and all of the compilations that you’ve been doing about the details that you found there. And it is something that’s useful for us to kind of help improve the quality of the search results overall.

Google will begin to penalize domain leasing

There are some anecdotal that indicate some fluctuations in the unrelated third-party content placed in subfolders, but the main websites are not affected. But from the video above, it appears that Google has not yet started targeting them. But I would personally advise anyone who is hosting third-party content in a subfolder or on a subdomain to stay alert.

I believe that the best option is always to buy a domain name and invest in the effort of building your domain authority gradually because the value you gain through this process is going to stay with you unless something drastic happens. While Google may not stamp such content as spam, it may nonetheless be excluded from being indexed and this will mean the loss of all your investment into the leasing of the subdomain or subfolder.

Domain Leasing

Domain leasing is a practice where an owner of a domain name leases it out to another entity to use it in exchange for lease payment. Eventually, some of domain lease agreements end up with the lessee purchasing the domain at the end of the lease. Under this arrangement, the lessor maintains ownership registrar of the domain name and is responsible for all domain management tasks.

This practice is rampant especially for premium domains that can cost in thousands of dollars. The advantage of leasing is that the entity leasing the domain does not have to come up with the full purchase amount upfront. They can use the savings and invest in their business.

Domain leasing is not an issue per this discussion. I have just included it here simply to make sure that there is no confusion because the concept is not necessarily well known even though it may be very beneficial to startups that want to get a premium domain name but they cannot afford to pay a premium price to acquire it directly.


Is Google Already Taking Action Against Subfolder Leasing?

Here are a few updates from around the SEO World:


Wow, so looks like Google backed up its warning about domain leasing. Several sites started dropping (for the sections being leased). Not sure this has come to the US yet. These drops are mostly outside the US… h/t @theloish

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 28, 2019



Also international en have traffic at -40% #seo

— Yvo Schaap (@yvoschaap) August 28, 2019



Is Google starting to roll out the improvements for detecting third-party content on leased subdomains and subfolders?

I received these screenshots a few hours ago.

However, as only one operator seems to be affected, my guess would “not yet” & that it’s a more targeted action.

— LoisH ? (@theloish) August 26, 2019



Visit the full Twitter Thread at Google Webmaster on Twitter.


2 thoughts on “Google Will Penalize Leasing Subdomains or Subfolders”

  1. The Brand Arcitect

    Truly why do people always seek all these short cuts. Google will always catch up with them and penalize them. It is just better to invest in your own website and build it consistently to enjoy sustained benefits without the fear of being caught one day and then losing it all.

    1. Like with everything else in life, there is a price to pay. Patience is the companion of wisdom. It is always more profitable to do things right the first time.

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