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Subdomains: What They Are, How They Work, Examples, and More

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Having an outstanding website feels like a must with so much competition, no matter what niche you’re putting your time and money into.

While most people have heard of the term domain and link it to websites, to create one you really have to know what it’s all about.

Whether you’re the one making the programming, the one supervising it or just an investor, you’ll likely have an interest in knowing more about them.

Not only domains are important, but subdomains are as well.

Keep reading to learn all about them and how to use them to your advantage.

What is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is a second-level domain added to an existing domain.

You can use this option for a variety of reasons, including the following.

  • Separating different parts of your website
  • Creating multiple websites with one domain name
  • Testing new designs or content before making them live on the main website

As an example, if you have a website called knittingtips.com, you can create a subdomain for it called blog.knittingtips.com.

What Is a Domain?

Before we dive too deep into subdomains, let’s first go over what a domain name is.

A domain name is the address people type in to visit your website.

It’s what comes after the “@” symbol in email addresses.

You see it represented as a URL at the top of your browser when visiting a website.

For example, the domain name of this website is bloggingtips.com.

What Is the Difference Between a Domain and a Subdomain?

The main difference between a domain and a subdomain is that subdomains are part of a larger domain.

You can create multiple subdomains for one website.

Each subdomain becomes an extension of the main domain.

Another way to think of it is that subdomains are like folders in a filing system.

Domains are like the main file cabinet.

A subdomain is a sub-folder in that filing system.

What Is a Subdomain Used For?

A subdomain allows you to separate your online material into more organized sections.

This feature is crucial for your website, especially if you’ll have different categories that need their own space.

Below are some examples of the primary benefits of using subdomains.

1. Creating an Online Store

It’s relatively common for many websites to have an e-commerce store that complements the brand of their content.

For example, the official NBA website’s main page is about the schedule, player highlights, and news.

If you want to browse for merchandise, you can go to shop.nba.com to see a dedicated online shopping page independent of the main page.

Not all visitors will appreciate seeing products heavily promoted on websites supposedly made for information and updates.

By having a subdomain for your online store, you will give your audience a better browsing experience.

2. Better Market Distinction

One of the primary uses of subdomains is gearing web content tailored for specific countries and regions. Many international companies utilize subdomains to ensure their online material is acceptable locally and internationally.

You can see this benefit being utilized by news outlets such as Yahoo.

For example, by typing “uk” instead of just “www” before yahoo.com, you’ll be redirected to the Yahoo homepage with headlines, weather updates, and other current events meant for UK-based viewers.

With this feature, your visitors have the convenience to engage your website without searching for content that suits them.

A few websites use the subdomain to identify the language of the webpage.

Case in point, you’ll see the subdomain “en” if you’re looking at the English version of the President of Russia’s official page.

When Does It Make Sense To Use Subdomains?

Separating website sections isn’t the only time it makes sense to use subdomains.

Another way is to create multiple websites with one domain name.

Use this option when you want to create separate websites for different parts of your business.

Or, for different products or services that you offer.

You can use a subdomain to test new designs or content before making them live on the main website.

It helps to make sure that everything works properly before making changes to the entire website.

Essentially, you can work out the bugs without using a staging site.

Alternatives: Subdomain vs Subdirectory

Many are arguing which of these two is the better choice for website building.

At this point, we have answered what is a subdomain so this time, let’s have a look at the definition of a subdirectory.

Like a subdomain, a subdirectory allows you to organize your web pages available in one domain.

The most obvious distinction between the two is their placement. The former is located before the second-level domain, while the latter is found right after the TLD.

Which Is Better?

Regarding which one is the better option, it depends on your content type and audience size.

Subdomains are superior if you are creating or maintaining a large business or interest with multiple categories. You’ll have a smoother experience managing your digital materials.

That is especially if you have an e-commerce store or catering to an overseas audience with a different language.

Subdirectories are better if you’re handling a website that doesn’t require too many updates at short notice.

If your web pages only are pretty similar to each other regarding design and function, you’re better off using subdirectories instead of subdomains.

On the topic of SEO, you’ll see contrasting claims that subdomains are better suited for ranking purposes and vice-versa. Don’t let this factor affect how you select between the two.

That’s because the quality of your content is still the top indicator of excellent search engine rankings.

How Do You Set up a Subdomain?

The process of creating subdomains is different for every domain registrar, but the general process is usually similar.

Name Your Subdomain

The process starts by deciding on what to name each subdomain.

How Do You Name Your Subdomain?

When you’re naming a subdomain, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the subdomain name is relevant to the content you plan to place on it
  • Keep it short and easy to remember
  • Avoid using hyphens
  • Don’t use words that create confusion

For example, if you’re creating a subdomain for your new blog, you might name it “blog” or “news.”

If you’re creating a subdomain for a product, you might use the product’s name as the subdomain.

Some subdomain examples include the following ideas.

  • blog.example.com
  • product.example.com
  • support.example.com
  • store.example.com
  • news.example.com

Log Into Your cPanel

With most hosting companies, you’ll need to log into your cPanel to name and set up a subdomain.

How Do You Log Into Your cPanel?

If you don’t know how to log into your cPanel, the first step is to check with your hosting provider.

They can provide instructions on how to do this.

Typically, though, here’s how it works to get logged in.

First, you need to go to your hosting provider’s website and look for the login page.

It’s usually in the top right corner of the homepage.

Once you find the login page, enter your username and password.

Navigate to and Enter Your Subdomain

After logging in, you can find the subdomain area.

How Do You Navigate to and Enter Your Subdomain?

Use these simple steps in most hosting accounts.

  1. Look for the “Domains” section and click on it
  2. Scroll down until you see “Subdomains”
  3. Click on that
  4. Enter the subdomain name you want in the “Subdomain” field
  5. In the “Domain” drop-down menu, select the domain you want to use for your subdomain
  6. Click on the “Create” button when you’re done

Create a New DNS Record

The next step is to create a new DNS record for your subdomain.

What Is a DNS Record?

DNS stands for Domain Name System.

A DNS record is basically a set of instructions that tells the internet how to find your website.

When you type in a domain name, the DNS system uses those records to direct you to the right website.

How Do You Create a New DNS Record?

Log into your DNS management tool.

Find the “Add New Record” button and click on it.

Choose the type of record you want to create from the drop-down menu.

The most common type for subdomains is an “A record.”

Enter the subdomain name in the “Name” field.

If you want to create a subdomain named blog, you would enter “blog” in this field.

In the “TTL” field, you can leave the default value.

It stands for Time To Live and it basically controls how long the DNS servers will cache the DNS record.

In the “IP Address” field, you need to enter the IP address of your subdomain.

You can find this in your subdomain management area in cPanel.

It’s usually listed as an “A record.”

Click Create and Wait for Your Subdomain To Resolve

Click on the “Add Record” button when you’re done.

You’ll need to wait a few hours for it all to resolve and become “live” on the site.

Once that’s done, your subdomain is set up and ready to use.

You can start creating content for it, setting up email accounts, and more.

Subdomains vs Subdirectories for SEO

If you’re wondering whether you should use subdomains or subdirectories for your website, there’s no easy answer.

It depends on a number of factors, including your website’s goals and structure.

In general, subdomains are best for completely different sections of your website aimed at different audiences.

You might want to section off your main domain from your online store.

Use a subdomain in this situation.

What Is a Subfolder or Subdirectory?

Subdirectories, on the other hand, are best for different, yet closely related, sections of your website.

If you have a website about dogs and want to create a section about dog training, use a subdirectory.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which approach works best for your website.

What Are the SEO Implications of Subdomains?

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to subdomains and SEO.

First, Google treats subdomains as separate websites.

It means they’ll need their own unique content, title tags, and meta descriptions.

Second, subdomains will have their own set of backlinks.

So, if you’re using a subdomain to promote a new product, you’ll need to build up its link profile from scratch.

Finally, subdomains can give your website a boost in search engine rankings.

If you have a well-optimized subdomain with quality content, it could rank higher than your main website.

What Are Subdomain Examples?

Some common subdomain examples include the following.

  • blog.example.com
  • shop.example.com
  • support.example.com
  • Secure.example.com

Here are two additional subdomain ideas to consider.

The “FTP” subdomain is a commonly used subdomain use case.

It’s used for FTP access to a website.

FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” and it’s used to transfer files between computers.

The FTP subdomain might look like this: ftp.example.com.

You can also use subdomains for email.

For example, you can set up an email account using the subdomain mail.example.com.

Pros of Subdomains

There are a few benefits that come with using subdomains.

Subdomains can help you to segment your website.

If you have a large website, subdomains can make it easier for visitors to find the content they’re looking for.

A subdomain can help to target different audiences.

For instance, you can use a subdomain to target people in a specific location.

Why Use a Subdomain?

You can use a subdomain to test new ideas.

If you’re not sure whether a new website feature will work, create a subdomain.

Use it to test out the idea without affecting your main website.

Subdomains are relatively easy and cheap to set up.

In most cases, you can set up a subdomain in just a few minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may still have a few questions about subdomains.

Here are three common questions on the topic.

vector graphic showing in illustration of a subdomain - a man sitting at his desk with a computer in front of him, and a speech bubble with various subdomains next to his head

Second-level Domains Are Basically the Same as a Subdomain, Right?

Not quite.

A second-level domain (SLD) is the part of the domain that comes before the dot.

For instance, in the domain example.com, “example” is the SLD.

You will originate a subdomain from the main domain.

With a domain called example.com, you can create a subdomain called shop.example.com.

What Is a Subdomain Number?

You can create numeric subdomains.

For instance, if you own a website called fancycarseats.com, you can create subdomains like 123.fancycarseats.com or 21.fancycarseats.com.

You can use these for a variety of purposes.

You might use them to redirect traffic to a specific page on your website or segment your website’s content.

What Is a Subdomain in an Email Address?

An email subdomain is a subdomain that’s used for email accounts.

If you have a website called welovecoffee.com, you can create an email account using the subdomain mail.welovecoffee.com.

Email subdomains are typically used by businesses and organizations.

Wrapping Up

There are endless possibilities for subdomains.

Use them for anything you want, including creating a separate website or section of your website.

The only limit is your imagination.

Go create your first subdomain today.

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