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What Is A Subdomain? All you need to know about this URL structure

By James LePage
 on March 22, 2022

What Is A Subdomain? All you need to know about this URL structure

By James LePage
 on March 22, 2022

When building a website, investing in a root domain name is the first step to take before you can share your online presence with others. A domain name is the actual name of the URL used to access your website from a web browser. Examples of domain names include google.com as well as facebook.com. If you're building a website but want to separate various forms of content, you can do so by using subdomains.

What is a Subdomain?

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A subdomain is an extension of a standard domain name that uses specific words or phrases to help direct traffic. Subdomain extensions can appear as such: "subdomain.domain.com" or "newsletter.mywebsite.com". 

Subdomains are ideal for optimizing and organizing a website's content while also keeping track of various promotions, campaigns, and separate sections of your site with ease. Typically, domains use a simple tree of hierarchy to help manage files and uploads using DNS, or the domain name system. DNS begins with TLD, or top-level domains. Subdomains are commonly referred to as SLDs, or second-level domains. 

Essentially, subdomains are subsections of the larger spaces and regions of your website. 

Why Use Subdomains?

Subdomains are extremely useful for both webmasters and visitors alike, as they provide a streamlined browsing experience while simultaneously offering advanced feedback and valuable insights to the website owner. Subdomains help to keep track of various areas of a website along with the traffic received, traffic directed to the specific subdomain, as well as the overall engagement of each space throughout the website itself. 

Advantages of Using Subdomains

Using subdomains on your own website has plenty of advantages, whether you are looking to boost your website's SEO, or search engine optimization, or if you are targeting highly niche demographics. When you know the advantages of using subdomains on your own website, you can easily implement them in a way that is beneficial to your audience and bottom line. 

Improve Tracking and Data Collection

One of the biggest benefits of using subdomains on a website is the ability to improve the overall data collection and tracking capabilities you have. By segregating content and creating numerous sections for your website that can be easily tracked individually, you can learn even more than is possible with standard analytics.

Using subdomains to improve tracking is a way for you to learn what is working best on your website and which areas could use a bit of attention and improvement. With multiple subdomains, you will gain valuable insight into which areas receive the most traffic, engagement, and ultimately, revenue generation leads. 

SEO Purposes

If you are interested in improving your website's SEO, or search engine optimization, you can also use subdomains to help achieve your goal. Subdomains are optimal tools to help boost SEO, as they allow you to connect specific words and phrases to your primary domain, or root domain name.

When popular search engines such as Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo!, and Bing send virtual spiders to crawl the web, the spiders do so, seeking specific URLs and domain names. When a subdomain is recognized, it helps to index even more of the pages of your website. The more subdomains, pages, and authentic pieces of content you publish to any website or domain, the easier it becomes to boost the website's overall SEO.  

Target Niche Audiences

When you create separate sites with the use of a new subdomain name, you can expand the audience and target demographics you are reaching. Using new subdomains is a great way to appeal to users from different regions, those who speak different languages, or even those who are interested in entirely new content, services, or products from your business and brand. 

Using subdomains to attract new niche audiences can also help you to expand your company's online reach and ability to appeal to a much wider audience altogether. 

If you own a fashion boutique online but you are expanding into swimwear, you can use a specific swimwear-related subdomain to help attract and track those who are interested in exploring your swimwear catalog. 

Minimize Budget Restrictions

At times, launching a marketing campaign can quickly add up in costs. From planning ad campaigns, purchasing ad space, and even reaching out to potential sponsors, adverting is not at all cheap. If you want to minimize budget restrictions and restraints, you can do so by making subdomains work for your next campaign or promotion.

Using a subdomain is entirely free, as most hosts (and dedicated servers/virtual private servers) offer an unlimited number of subdomains with packages offered. When you want to highlight a specific promotion or you want to appeal to a specific target audience, you can do so by creating a new subdomain free of charge.

With a subdomain, you can build entirely new websites or separate types of promotions that are unique to your original domain name. This can be helpful in appealing to new audiences who otherwise would be unfamiliar with your website and what it has to offer.

Maximize Online Visibility 

The use of subdomains is ideal for those who are interested in maximizing their online visibility and appealing to reach a massive audience. The more subdomains you have connected to your website over time, the easier it will become to boost your domain's ranking within top search engines, ultimately resulting in much more traffic directly on your website.

While additional subdomains can help top search engines to find your website to index, it is always important not to create useless or spammy subdomains. Empty subdomains or auto-generated subdomains will not hold as much weight as subdomains with actual meaning and an actual purpose. In order for subdomains to help boost your website's SEO, it is essential to ensure that they are genuine and authentic subdomains with real and unique content. 

Are subdomains good for SEO purposes?

Yes, using subdomains to help boost your website's search engine optimization is extremely helpful while establishing an online presence. Subdomains, when used properly, can significantly increase the overall traffic you receive on your website regularly. 

However, if subdomains are created using auto-generators or with malicious intent, it is possible that your website will be blacklisted by top search engines, even including engines such as Google. When using malicious, or black-hat techniques to generate subdomains, you are essentially cheapening the organic growth of websites and online communities, or cutting in line in front of others.

In order for subdomains to be good for SEO purposes, it is imperative to create each subdomain legitimately and with a genuine purpose in mind, even if you are doing so to track new marketing campaigns on an individual basis. 

How Do Website Subdomains Impact SEO?

You can use your website's subdomains for a variety of reasons as well as benefits for your online presence. Subdomains can also impact SEO in numerous ways, depending on how they are established, set up, and put to use.

Using Keywords in Your Subdomains

One of the most appealing uses of a subdomain is often to help target specific keywords or difficult long-tail phrases and keywords that are difficult to reach using popular search engines. If your primary domain name is a traditional word or phrase, adding a subdomain is one of the quickest ways to attract search engines to that specific phrase as it relates to your website. 

Using additional keywords within subdomain names can help with aligning your website with long-tail or top-performing industry keywords and phrases that are otherwise nearly impossible to compete with using standard SEO techniques. 

Establish Yourself in Niche Markets

Taking advantage of the use of subdomains is a great way to appeal to not only wider audiences, but niche audiences who have a genuine interest in your business or brand as well. Establishing yourself in niche audiences with the use of subdomains can also help to boost brand awareness and overall brand visibility, both online and off.

Using your primary domain to expand with subdomains is also a way to build domain authority. The more weight and authority your domain has over time, the more likely it is to appear within the first pages of top search engine results. 

Improving Overall Experience

Using subdomains to streamline the experience of your visitors is another way to retain users, minimize bounce rate, and increase overall online engagement. With the hierarchy system in place, manage and maintain various areas of your website with organized and appropriately named subdomains. 

The lower a website's bounce rate, the longer users stay on the website, and the engagement of a website are all factors in how a website is ranked when it comes to search engines. 

How to Know if Subdomains Are Right for You

Creating a subdomain for your website is not required, nor is it always necessary, especially if you have a simple and straightforward website with just a few pages of content. Knowing if subdomains are right for you can help you to create and organize your content in a way that is not only streamlined for your own use, but also for indexing and top search engines such as Google and Bing.

If you are thinking of using subdomains on your own website, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How big is my website? How many users am I currently receiving on my website, and how can I maximize my website's online visibility?
  • What is the purpose of my site? Am I attempting to appeal to a niche local audience, or do I have plans to expand internationally with a global audience?
  • How can subdomains help me to achieve the goals I have set in place for my website and online presence? 
  • Are subdomains necessary and/or useful for my website and online presence? If so, why and how can I implement them in a way that is appropriate?
  • What type of domain organization system am I using to help manage my subdomains?
  • Why am I creating subdomains? Am I trying to boost my website's SEO, or do I want to divert traffic to appropriate areas throughout my website, or both?   
  • Am I targeting specific keywords or phrases when naming the subdomains I intend to create for my website? If so, which words and phrases am I using to help boost my site's SEO and overall visibility online?
  • Will the subdomains I create for my website distract my users from the content, products, or services I offer? Or, will the subdomains I create help to attract more visitors while simultaneously increasing the overall engagement the website receives?  

When to Use Subdomains

Once you are familiar with the basics of subdomains and the benefits they offer, you can choose when to use subdomains in your own primary domain names. Some of the most common scenarios where it is appropriate to use subdomains for a variety of types of websites include:

  • Launching a mobile-friendly website: If your main domain name has not yet been optimized for responsive and mobile-friendly design, consider launching a mobile-friendly version of your site using an automatic redirect of a subdomain. Many websites and corporations today use subdomains for their website's mobile version to provide desktop and mobile users with individualized experiences. If you are also looking to optimize a mobile version of your website that is currently in development, you can do so with the use of a subdomain that is entirely dedicated to the mobile design of your website.
  • Targeting a niche audience: If you intend to target a specific audience or various demographics, you can do so with multiple subdomains that are targeted at individual groups. Additionally, you can also use custom subdomains to create sections of your website that are for members or subscribers-only, especially if you offer paid services or solutions. Using a separate area for community members or even employees can help to keep your website better organized while also providing you with a built-in hierarchy system to better manage all of your top-level domains as well as your second-level domains and so on.
  • Managing sections of your website: If you want to get a better grasp on how to organize your website from the top down, you can do so by using subdomains. Creating subdomains for separate sections of your website is one of the best ways to get organized when it comes to creating and publishing content online. Subdomains are useful for creating online stores, separate sections for online community members who are on your site, or even for creating a company blog. Many corporations and successful businesses today use subdomains to separate their blogs, online stores, and even a members-only section when it is available. The use of subdomains is extensive, as subdomains are extremely beneficial to just about anyone who chooses to use them. 
  • Targeting specific locations and/or regions: Whether you are running a local business or if you are launching locale-specific marketing campaigns, subdomains can come in handy. Using subdomains to target a specific region or group of individuals is possible by using proper keywords and relevant locations or phrases when choosing the name(s) of the subdomain(s) you are creating. 
  • Labels, partnerships, and sponsors: Whenever a website teams up with a brand name label, a new partner, or even a sponsor, they may create a subdomain to celebrate the union or to share a promotional campaign with a specific audience. You can also use subdomains to promote specific artists, entertainers, or even various products, teams, and productions, depending on the partnership(s) or campaign(s) you intend to promote with the use of your subdomains.
  • eCommerce: A major appeal of subdomains is the ability to launch separate websites within the main website or online community, including eCommerce stores. Using subdomains to host an eCommerce store is one of the most popular uses of subdomains. Having a separate subdomain and root folder for your eCommerce store can also come in handy when implementing specific themes, features, and overall functionality. Because your online eCommerce store is more likely to have complex and robust programming, having its very own folder and subdomain is often ideal to minimize confusion and streamline the coding process. 
  • International languages: Another use of subdomains is to appeal to an international audience. If you intend to appeal to a specific audience or even a group with a specific dialect, you can do so with various subdomain names that help minimize confusion. 
  • Support sections: If you provide your users with products or even an online service, using a subdomain is useful to provide a separate support section from your main site. Rather than clogging up your main website, creating a fresh support website with the use of a subdomain will help to minimize clutter while also allowing you to better organize and track various areas of your website without the hassle. 

Whether you are expanding your company's existing online presence or if you are building a website for the first time, learning about subdomains can help navigate the online world in just about any industry. From launching a community message board to keeping track of individualized marketing campaigns, subdomains are extremely beneficial for most websites today. 

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James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!
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