What is a Subdomain and How Does it Work?

If you need to set up more than one website or multiple websites, you probably may use subdomains to create parallel websites under the same domain. Here, we will shed light on subdomains and provide some reasons you should utilize them. Furthermore, we explain the main differences between a subdomain and a subdirectory.  By definition, a subdomain as the name suggests is an extra part added to your domain name. The primary use of a subdomain is to navigate to various sections of your website, which makes them appear as a different website. On your primary website, you have the option to create subdomains also called child domains. As an example, take a look at this subdomain, gallery.example.com. In this example, gallery is the subdomain, .example is the primary domain and the .com is the top-level domain (TLD). Any texts can be used as your subdomain, however, you need to make sure that, it's easy for people to type and remember. 

                            Subdomain vs. Subdirectory

Subdomains are familiar to subdirectories (subfolders), however, there are some differences you should be aware of. For beginners, both are file locations of the server's home directory structure, which in this case is the URL.  Subfolders ar child directories ( a folder beneath a different folder) that live under a parent directory (home directory). This situation is the same for subdomains.

With that in mind, now let's look at the differences. While in both cases you get content repositories, subdomains work as a separate website and URL (subdomain.example.com). With subdirectories, you have an extension of your original URL (www.example.com/subdirectory). This is the difference that affects your site and its ability to gather keywords and rank them. Let’s dive further into that difference, so you understand what it means for content indexing and its impact on SEO for your domain. 

                         Why You May Need a Subdomain (Use Cases)

There are several reasons you might need a subdomain. Below are some of the reasons or cases in which you may need a subdomain:

• For a testing or staging environment of a website. For example, you can decide to install WordPress on your subdomain. It will work as a separate installation from your primary website. Developers often test their new plugins or updates on a subdomain staging website before they proceed with publishing changes on the live site;

• For users on your website (user123.example.com). These are subdomains that use your hosting space. This is the way sites like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and others provide custom websites to their users;

• For an e-commerce store. Companies often separate their store from their main domain name in order to maintain transactions. That’s because e-commerce sites usually need more complex configurations;

• For a mobile version of a website - m.example.com;

• For location-specific websites (different language versions of the same website) - en-us.example.com (English), de.example.com (German);

• For sub-sections of a site - forum.example.com.

                               Subdomains and Their Impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A subdomain will be treated as an entirely separate website in the eyes of Google. That is why you can create unique authority for every subdomain you are using. Subdomains can sometimes be beneficial to your SEO efforts. Let’s go into some of the reasons.

                               Subdomains Can Insert Keywords Into URL

There are times when it simply does not make sense for you to fit specific keywords into your main URL. However, with the help of subdomains, you have a chance to insert hard-to-rank keywords into your domain. For specific cases, this will be very beneficial for your overall ranking.

                            Subdomains Improve User Experience (UX)

If your site is large, confusing, or hard to navigate (or all of those), then you are providing poor user experience. Such user experience leads to people spending less time on your website, which leads to a high bounce rate and lower SEO ranking.

                             Subdomains Help with Growing your Niche Authority

Building your large-scale authority requires hard work. With that said, keep in mind that in niche markets, ranking can take much less time and energy. The authority you build by ranking and creating smaller markets will help with reinforcing your main domain name authority overall.

                           How Many Subdomains Can I Create for my Main Domain Name?

The number of subdomains that you can create with your domain name depends on your domain registrar. With Ultahost, you get an UNLIMITED amount of subdomains with every hosting plan, even for our shared hosting solutions. You will be able to create as many as you like, without any additional costs.

                           Should I Use Subdomains?

Since domains can have an infinite number of subdomains, they are often used to avoid confusing the user and maintain the main online brand. All this in addition to cutting costs, because a new domain name costs money.

Using a subdomain is a matter of perspective and personal choice. Do it when you want to provide different resources within the same domain name.


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