What a Subdomain Is: The Ultimate Guide

As your business grows, so does your desire for a website that can land new clients, convert leads, and manifest your plans. 

However, things can get muddled when trying to fit your large ideas into your simple business website. This is usually because a single website can’t do it all.

Here’s the good news:

Did you know you can easily create multiple separate websites from your domain to organize content and manage business needs? You can if you know how to create a subdomain.

Keep reading to find out:

  • What a subdomain is
  • The difference between a domain and a subdomain
  • What differentiates a subdomain, subdirectory, and second-level domain
  • The reasons you should use subdomains
  • How to create a subdomain for your website

What a Subdomain Is and Examples

In the DNS (domain name system) hierarchy, a subdomain is an entirely new website that is part of a domain. On your domain, you can create multiple separate independent websites, often at no cost. 

If your website domain is example.com, you can set up different subdomains, such as blog.example.com and shop.example.com

Here are some popular examples of what a subdomain is:

  • analytics.twitter.com 
  • business.facebook.com
  • support.google.com
  • blog.hubspot.com

Domain vs. Subdomain

A domain name is the web address (URL) of any website online. It can exist independent of a subdomain.

Here is an example of HubSpot’s domain:

A subdomain cannot exist without a domain. It shares the domain name despite being a separate website. You can have several subdomains on a single domain.

Here’s an example of what a subdomain is:

The Differences Between a Subdomain, Subdirectory, and Second-Level Domain

In the DNS hierarchy, a subdirectory and second-level domain are not what a subdomain is.

We’ll use the domain bluehost.com as an example.

Subdomains are essentially a different website that is a part of a domain. They are prefixes in your domain name in a URL. So, if Bluehost were to create a subdomain, it could be blog.bluehost.com

Subdirectories are web pages that are part of your main website. They are the files (subfolders) that contain specific content for different sections of your website. You’ll find them after the primary domain name. Examples include bluehost.com/blog and bluehost.com/help.

A second-level domain (SLD) can be considered the most essential part of your website domain name. It is often a company name or what it represents.

Using the bluehost.com example, “.com” is the top-level domain (TLD). Other TLDs are organization-oriented, such as .org, .edu, and .gov. Your TLD can also be location-specific, such as .ca, .it, .in, and .uk. 

The second-level domain is “bluehost.”

Why Use a Subdomain

What is a subdomain used for, anyway? There are several ways to use one. Here are some of the reasons you might want to learn how to create a subdomain.

To Test a New Website

This is the most common reason why users create subdomains. Website developers might create subdomains as a testing or staging version of a website before it goes live. 

Users restructure the website layout, test new plugins, update design, and see what these changes look like on a subdomain before publishing them on the internet. 

To Organize Different Sections of a Website

Subdomains are an excellent way to organize your website without damaging anything. A specific section of your website may be receiving increased engagement that needs special handling on a different platform. For example, support.yoursite.com or email.yoursite.com.

You may have a lot of content to share and think your primary domain will be disorganized if you put out your ideas there. Creating an entirely new website that still belongs to your website is another way to achieve your goals. For example, blog.yoursite.com.

To Set Up an Online Shop

Subdomains are also often used to create eCommerce stores. These subdomains could look something like shop.yourwebsite.com.

Online stores involve a complex setup for transaction methods. So, eCommerce companies prefer to create subdomains that take care of their online shoppers’ needs and payment processes.

To Launch a Separate Platform Under Your Website 

With subdomains, you can publish alternate website content without confusing your audience or hurting your traffic. 

If you have sections on your main website for blogs and resources and want to post paid content, you can consider creating a subdomain such as courses.yoursite.com.

To Create Different Language Website Versions and Location-Specific Websites

While 72% of users browse in their native language, creating a multilingual website has become a top priority for businesses. Having different website versions will expand your reach and build customer trust. 

You can build different language versions of your website by creating subdomains. For instance, your business website can have a subdomain, such as en.yoursite.com. 

Subdomains also make it easy to set up location-specific sites, such as uk.yoursite.com.

To Create Various Blogs or Themes for Specific Audiences

You can target specific audiences if you learn what a subdomain is and how to create a subdomain. You could create a website to separate your guests and prospects from your regular customers. For example, guests.yoursite.com

You may also want to create gender-based subdomains, such as men.yoursite.com or female.yoursite.com, if you own a brand targeted to different genders. This will help you organize your content and satisfy your audience.

To Create a Mobile Version of Your Website 

In 2015, Google stated that it would give search preference to mobile-friendly websites and rank them accordingly.

Several businesses discovered how to create a subdomain that supports mobile-friendliness of their websites, primarily as m.website.com. However, in recent times, developers create responsive web design or mobile apps that support user-friendly interfaces for both mobile and desktop versions.

How to Create a Subdomain 

  1. Log in to your web hosting account on Bluehost 
  1. From the side navigation on the left, click on the Domains tab.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select Subdomains.
  3. Type in your new subdomain name. You can use terms such as blog, store, courses, or any other name you prefer.
  4. Click Create.

It’s easy to create a subdomain using Bluehost. Following the above steps will show you how to create a subdomain for your website. Your unique subdomain URL will appear at the bottom of the screen. 

Note: Your new subdomain is automatically registered in your home folder for your subdomain.

How Subdomains Affect SEO

Subdomains are relevant when it comes to organizing your website and content layout efficiently. When used correctly, subdomains offer several benefits for business growth.

However, Google and other search engines count subdomains as entirely different websites from their primary domains. The benefits you get from backlinks to your main website belong only to your primary domain. 

This can affect your subdomain’s search engine optimization (SEO) negatively.

It takes equal effort to rank a subdomain as it takes your main website. But, if you have several brand keywords you want to rank for, subdomains can be a fast way to rank for each and boost your SEO keyword ranking

Create subdomains when you need them for specific reasons, such as setting up your online store or targeting a particular audience. 

Essentially, using a subdomain properly will not affect your website’s SEO. But it is better to maintain a single domain if you don’t have a genuine reason to create a subdomain.

Knowing how to create a subdomain to manage your business needs will boost your brand growth.

Creating subdomains makes it easy to organize and structure your brand website development. Knowing what a subdomain is will help you use its advantages for both your business and your audience.

Ready to build a functional website that empowers you to create subdomains easily? Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages today.

Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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