A subdomain is a subsection of a domain name that allows you to create a separate extension of your website. In the domain name system (DNS) hierarchy, it is placed before the root domain name, like blog.yoursitename.com or store.yoursitename.com.
When you have a brand with a wide range of focuses, subdomains can be a great solution to make multiple websites with different functions.
Keep reading to find out why you should use subdomains, how they differ from subdirectories, and how to create a subdomain for your website.
Why Use a Subdomain?
As you grow your website, there might be cases when you need an entirely different section for a specific purpose. Simply creating a new page won’t solve this problem — you can’t make advanced and unique customizations needed to optimize the section.
One solution is to make a new website, but that would require purchasing a new domain name — which could result in more expenses.
This is where subdomains come in. They allow you to create multiple websites with different configurations without having to buy another domain. This is why content management systems and website builders can provide you with a free subdomain for your website.
Subdomains also enable you to use your main domain name for all of your websites. This way, users know that the site is under the same brand or business, but you can use different settings, designs, and features.
Here are some other ways you can use a subdomain:
Separating High-Traffic Sections
When you have a part of your site that has more traffic than others, you can separate it so that the main website’s performance is not affected.
Blogs, online stores, forums, membership sites, and knowledge bases are some examples that usually would have a high visitor volume. Not to mention, they usually require unique setups to optimize their function.
For instance, Lonely Planet uses a subdomain for its online store. This allows them to have a website that is solely focused on making a comfortable shopping experience.
As a Testing Ground
If you want to experiment with new plugins, layouts, or software without changing the main site, consider using subdomains to make a website for testing purposes. Be sure to make these sites private to avoid them from getting found by visitors.
Not only that, you can use these websites to perform usability tests or marketing campaigns on a small batch of subjects. Once you obtained positive results, you can apply the changes to the main website.
Designing a Non-Desktop Website
You can also make a mobile version of your website with a subdomain. Compared to using a responsive theme, this would allow you to optimize the user experience for non-desktop visitors.
Wikipedia uses such a strategy. In the mobile site, the encyclopedia features fewer pieces of content and collapsible side navigation to adapt to smaller screens.
Accommodating Specific Target Markets
For businesses, it’s a good idea to tailor your marketing strategy to different target audiences. And with subdomains, you can dedicate websites for certain customer groups.
For example, National Geographic uses a subdomain for their children’s content.
Subdomains vs Subdirectories: Which One is Better for SEO?
Subdirectories are often compared to subdomains. You can use them to create a new section that extends your website’s content and functionality as well. However, they’re not the same at all.
Subdomains are considered as different websites. It has its own configurations, files, and functionalities.
Subdirectories, on the other hand, are essentially subfolders of your main domain name. Search engines recognize them as part of your site.
On the address bar, subdirectories would come after the domain slash, like facebook.com/help. It’s a subdirectory for Facebook users to find solutions to common issues.
Due to the above differences, subdomain sites will have to be crawled and indexed separately. Furthermore, they won’t share the domain authority of your main website, unlike subdirectories.
Depending on your needs and preferences, using a subdomain could be more beneficial. Say you have a brand that has reached out to various regions. Dedicating a subdomain for each location will increase your likelihood of ranking in local searches.
Nonetheless, that also means you have to craft and maintain a new SEO strategy — from backlinking, keyword research, to improving site experience.
With subdirectories, you don’t have to start from scratch to get your content up on SERPs, which could be excellent for small businesses, personal blogs, or startups.
That being said, Google says it doesn’t matter whether you use subdomains or subdirectories as it can evaluate how they are connected to your main website.
Therefore, if you’re deciding between subdomains and subdirectories, be sure to use one that suits your long-term needs and goals.
How to Create a Subdomain
Setting up subdomains requires getting a domain name first. You can do so at a domain registrar or web hosting provider. How many subdomains you can make depends on the company you choose.
Once you have a domain name, go to your hosting’s control panel. Here, I’ll show you how to make a subdomain on Hostinger.
- Log in to Hostinger’s hPanel, head to the Hosting tab, and click Manage on your website.
- Scroll down to the Domains section and select Subdomains.
- Enter the name of your subdomain in the Subdomains bar. Make sure it’s short, easy to remember, and relevant to your goals.
- If you want to create a custom name for your subdomain folder in the /public_html directory of your website, click Custom folder for subdomain. Insert the folder name.
- Once you’re done, press the Create button. You will see all the subdomains you have created below.
To install WordPress on your subdomain, follow these steps:
- Go back to the hPanel and click Auto-Installer on the Website section.
- Choose WordPress and insert the requested details. In the Domains section, select your subdomain.
- Press Install.
A subdomain is a part of a main domain name that you can use to create a new website. It could be a great solution for:
- Separating high-traffic sections — isolate blogs, online stores, knowledge bases, and other types of sections from your main website so that the visitor volume doesn’t affect the overall performance.
- Testing purposes — use subdomains to create websites for experimenting with plugins, designs, software, campaigns, and more.
- Designing a non-desktop website — provide an optimized mobile user experience by creating a subdomain website for non-desktop devices only.
- Accommodating specific target markets — make multiple subdomain sites and tailor your website content to each audience group.
Subdomains and subdirectories are often compared to one another. Both work similarly, though search engines treat your subdomain sites as separate from your main website. Thus, you need to optimize your subdomains for ranking from scratch.
I hope this article has helped you understand what a subdomain is and how you can use it. Best of luck!