What is a Subdomain: An Easy Guide (2 min read)

Written By Peter L

On July 1, 2021

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You may already have subdomains especially if you have a complicated woocommerce or any large website. The guts of any website can be the complex web of pages and several subdomains, and the structure of such components can be critical for the success of SEO. What is a subdomain? is one of the most frequent technical questions, and it has surely become an important question. But a much more pressing follow-up should be what is the best time to use a subdomain.

A fledging site owner may not know that a single domain can be used to set up multiple websites. It is not about separate web pages but full-blown websites that tend to run side by side on the same domain. One can achieve this in two ways, i.e., by using the subdomains or subdirectories. Both approaches tend to work the same way from the technical point of view, but subdomains are preferred as they offer a much cleaner look.

If you have subdomains or more than a 5-page website with images, chances are your site might load slower. You won’t see a good speed score on GTMetrix. So, you may want to use a cloud-based website speed optimization tool like PageSpeedy.io. Please remember if you use a plugin like W3 total cache or wp rocket or anything similar, it won’t move the needle because the plugin is directly installed in your website and it will add extra load on your server.

What is a Subdomain?

Subdomains can help you set up multiple websites by using only one domain and are, therefore, an additional section of your domain. Subdomains are created to support and organize various areas of the main website. It is worth noting that you can have as many subdomains as you want in order to get all the different pages of your website within the main domain.

  • Subdomains help to make your internet life easier

People should be grateful for the existence of subdomains, whether they are building a website or using a browser. The Domain Name System or DNS is there to make people’s life easier, and it is because of the DNS, one doesn’t need to remember the names of the subdomain, rather than having a random string of numbers.

The main purpose of DNS is to create an internet hierarchy to regulate the domains and the subdomains. The rules always suggest that the domains always go right to the left.

  • Different companies make good money by selling subdomains

Many people and companies have created a profitable business model by selling their subdomains. In order to do this, the companies buy attractive domain names and then sell their registrations to the subdomains.

Various platforms like WordPress use a business model by helping their users to create their profiles on the unique subdomains underneath the root domain. This is why we can see that each WordPress site has a unique name and the domain in the URL.


When should we use a subdomain?

Now that we understand what is a subdomain, we may probably wonder how to use the subdomains, what the advantages are, and why we should be using a subdomain. Whether the subdomain is used for a personal or a professional purpose, it is important to know when to use subdomains for the website.

  • Testing out a new website

It may not take much longer for a website design to look outdated, and therefore, a new coat of paint can surely be the perfect way to give it a fresh look. This is where you can get help from a subdomain because you can test a new layout, rejiggle the content structure and think how something will look without even publishing it on the main website.


  • Targeting different audiences

Suppose you own a paint shop, and you tend to target your regular customers on the main website. By using another subdomain URL, you will be focusing on the paint recommendations for the interior designers or on the other paint for outdoor use and much more. When you aim your content towards different audiences, you will realize that it helps you reach more people.


  • Making a separate blog

There are chances that you have a serious-looking and professional website, but you would like to create a lighthearted blog. This is where subdomains can be very helpful. Although these are separate, they are associated with the main domain.


  • Opening an online store

As a businessperson, you may have a great website already running, and you might have gained a large following. Your next aim is to start selling your products or services online to turn your part-time hustle into a real business. Therefore, you can set up a new subdomain for an online store. Please note that if you use a wordpress woocommerce plugin, woocommerce not sending emails is a common problem.


  • Creating a mobile version of a website

Google decided to prioritize the mobile-friendly websites in 2015, and these sites were ranked accordingly. Therefore, a number of sites created subdomains to work for the mobiles and the desktop websites that they had. Nowadays, responsive web design and mobile apps are used to reach and attract mobile audiences.


  • Publishing alternate content

If you have many ideas for content, but your main website is about something different, you can certainly go for a subdomain. It can always be a great way for you to separate your ideas to not confuse your audience.


  • Expanding your business

One can explore a number of ways of making money by understanding what are subdomains because, in order to do so, they don’t need to purchase an additional domain. When a subdomain is created, an individual can create numerous areas for the business to grow.


  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When you create subdomains, you will realize that these are helpful for you to organize the content structure in a way that can make sense to your audience. When the user has a better on-site experience, then more information can help the intended user, and therefore, you will be able to appear higher on the search engine results page. Improving page loading speed is also critical for SEO.


Choose a good domain name

Choosing a good domain name has its own importance because it will not only help to create your own brand with this particular name but the future plans that you make can be affected by what you do today. It would help if you thought good before choosing the right domain name. You can even get inspiration from a number of available resources, and various guides can also be helpful to determine what is suitable for your needs.


How to set up a subdomain?

Subdomains can be created by using cPanel, given that at present, it is among the most popular of the hosting panels available. If the host isn’t using cPanel, one needs to contact the host and check out the documentation regarding subdomains. The following is the process of setting up a subdomain.

  • Access the cPanel

In order to access the cPanel, the first step is to log into your hosting account. The login button can be clicked on the home page, and the account’s credentials can be entered into the relevant fields. Not every provider has the same type of platform, but mostly you can access the cPanel of a site under the main dashboard.

By clicking on the login button, you can go to the account’s cPanel. There can be an overwhelming number of options available in that area; therefore, it is always recommended to read the functionality of the cPanel whenever you have time.


  • Create the subdomain

It is quite a simple task to create subdomains by using cPanel. You can scroll down until you can find the section named Domains. You can enter it and look for the Subdomains option by clicking it. You can then choose the name of your subdomain and specify the domain where you would like to add it.

In the next step, you can click on ‘create’ the subdomain, and you are done. If everything goes accordingly, then you will notice a success message. Your subdomain will then appear in the list at the bottom of the subdomain section.

You also have the option to delete any of the subdomains if you want by just clicking on the ‘Remove’ button. You have to keep in mind that the data on the deleted subdomain will be lost, and you may not be getting a chance to recover it. Therefore, before going ahead, you should keep a copy of it.


  • Set up your website on the subdomain

When you have a working subdomain, your main task will be to put it to good use. Therefore, you must know what is a subdomain because it will be working as an entirely new website, even if it is sharing the primary domain with others.

You will then be left to fill out a few more fields, like choosing a name for your website, setting an admin username, picking a password, having an email address, and selecting the language that you would like to have for your site. In the end, you can click the install button and give it some time to finish the processing. You will be able to access the new site once it gets completed.

what are subdomains

Subdomain vs. subdirectory

Subdirectories are similar to subfolders that one can use as extensions of the main root domain. Although in URL subdomain may come before the main domain, a subdirectory would definitely come after.

  • Hosting fees

Google considers subdomains to be separate websites, and therefore, they must be hosted on different hosting plans. This means that you are required to pay a separate hosting fee for each of the subdomains. You may have a web registrar offering discounts when you have multiple hosting accounts because it can grow to be quite costly.

On the other hand, when you use subdirectories, you only need to pay one hosting fee. The amount of the hosting fee will depend on what is the overall size of your website. It will also be dependent on the amount of speed required for loading content.


  • Customization

A subdomain is very helpful for you to customize your website content so that you are able to cater to different users, products, and regions. For each subdomain, if you would like to have unique content, this might be a valuable feature. It may also help you to optimize each of the subdomains for the local search results.

If you have no intentions to create highly customized content, using a subdirectory can be a much better option. A subdirectory is quite easier to manage, and no extra hosting fee is included in it. Whether you consider subdomain or subdirectory to be a better choice is completely dependent on your specific website needs.


  • Which is better for SEO

In the past, people had an idea that subdomains and subdirectories are equal regarding their impact on SEO. Google used to consider them roughly equivalent and saw both as one domain. However, this particular thinking appears to be changing.

There are different metrics for domains by the search engines as compared to the subdomains. Therefore, it is important to know what is a subdomain and place the link-worthy content in the subdirectories. There is an exception that whenever you require a language-specific website, then you can use a subdomain, which can be a much better option.

In the past, submasters preferred subdomains because subdomains were being stuffed with keywords that could be targeted in the rankings. The main idea was to load the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) with the given keyword and using the main domain and the subdomain pages. However, Google realized that there is a loophole, and the practice was abandoned.

Nowadays, they make the connection, Google consolidates the search results, and only one domain to the given search result is displayed. If one stuffs the subdomains with keywords, then it can lead to penalization by Google.

What is subdomain

Should we be using subdomains?

The majority of people hope for a pretty cut-and-dry answer regarding whether they should be using subdomains or not. Just about everything else that is related to the Google ranking factors and SEO, you need to take things on a case-to-case basis. There can never be a set rule for using the subdomains because, for some people, their benefits outweigh a potential SEO fallout.

In some cases, subdomains may not offer a real tangible value compared to the subdirectories that extend from the main domain. Therefore, it may not make any sense to make significant changes to a structure of a website. All of it is dependent on what can make the most sense for your particular website.

Many experts think that in order to get the most SEO value out of a subdomain, you need to treat them as full-fledged websites. You can make the subdomains work well for SEO purposes, but it may need a lot of effort to put the content in the subfolder. So, you must be prepared for some extra work if you want to see SEO results with the subdomain.



According to their functionality, subdomains can be a great way to differentiate the areas of a website. Now that we understand what is a subdomain, we are quite clear that they are very helpful to organize a website in an efficient way. It is worth noting that subdomains will never have a negative impact on your website’s SEO when used correctly. However, the best way to use subdomains is when you would like your content to be private and not for the public websites.

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