Everything you always wanted to know about subdomains but were afraid to ask
When we’re talking about the Internet, most people know that your domain name is your online address, also known as your URL or your .com. Our site is sumydesigns.com, for instance. That is known as the root domain. But what some people don’t know is that you can partition your domain off using subdomains. What does this mean exactly?
Think of it this way. Our domain is sumydesigns.com, but we could have other domains such as amy.sumydesigns.com or susan.sumydesigns.com or even blog.sumydesigns.com. That part before the main domain, that indicates the subdomain.
Why might someone use a subdomain?
There are a variety of reasons why you might use a subdomain. One reason is that you want to separate a section of your site so you can use a different platform on a different host. For example, maybe you want to host your root domain on your own web hosting account, but you have your blog hosted at wordpress.com, so you might use a subdomain to point to that hosted blog. Or you want to use Shopify for your shopping cart but the main part of the site stays on your own account you could set up a shop.domainname.com subdomain.
Some people might create a separate mobile version of their site that’s available on something like m.domainname.com
You could also potentially use subdomains for unique landing pages for different aspects of your target audience. Say you wanted to attract lawyers to one page and doctors to another, you could have attorney.domainname.com and doctor.domainname.com.
If you offer your site in multiple languages, you might use a subdomain to separate the different languages, like english.domainname.com and espanol.domainname.com.
The options are unlimited and there are a lot of scenarios where a subdomain could be a good idea.
Do subdomains hurt your SEO ranking?
This topic is often debatable, but it mostly depends on how you use your subdomain. Don’t use your subdomain to try to rank your domain for the same search terms, that just creates confusion. Google has stated that they draw connections between subdomains and root domains to serve the best result for each search query. However, Moz, one of the most credible authorities on SEO, says to use subfolders or subdirectories rather than subdomains.
Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it’s still recommended that webmasters place link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains (i.e. www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com).
The notable exceptions to this are language-specific websites. (i.e., en.example.com for the English version of the website).
There are appropriate times and places to use subdomains and they can enhance the organization and usefulness of your site, but shouldn’t be abused. Contact us today if you need help figuring it out!
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