What’s a Subdomain & How Is It Used
The best approach is to think of websites as not a single, siloed entity, but as an ecosystem. And subdomains can be just another cog in that wheel. In this blog post, we’ll share what subdomains are, and how you can use them.
So you’re all ready to start your own business and get a web presence up and running. You’ve got your domain name all picked out, and you’ve made sure that the same name is available on social media. You’re ready to go!
But wait – the internet has many different levels of website architecture. While you might be familiar with the top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .net or .org, and the second-level domain (SLD) – the part of the domain name that comes before the dot which in many cases is the brand or business name such as “Google” for google.com , you may not have heard about subdomains. Let’s break down what a subdomain is, how it can be used by businesses and individuals, and how you can create one for yourself.
Let’s begin with a simple definition of what a subdomain is.
What’s a Subdomain?
A subdomain is a designation that precedes a website’s domain name – it is the prefix that comes before the SLD.
How Does a Subdomain Work?
They work like folders and help you organize your website content into logical sections and also help users navigate through your site.
You can think of a subdomain as a subsection of your website that exists under the same primary domain name as the rest of your site.
The most basic example of a subdomain is the “www” in front of most web addresses. When someone types in “www.example.com,” it’s taking them to the subdomain called “www” where the website’s homepage is domiciled.
You might have a blog at blog.yourwebsite.com, or maybe you have an e-commerce site at store.yourwebsite.com
Subdomains can be any word you choose, but ensure it is memorable and browsers can easily type. Also, you could create as many subdomains as you like.
When Should You Use a Subdomain?
Subdomains are a great way to optimize your site structure for SEO
Subdomains are useful when you want to rank separately from your main domain and when you’re focused on building traffic around specific keywords or topics. They function as completely separate websites from your primary domain and are considered by Google to be unique sites with unique content and rankings (Search Engine Journal).
When search engines index your site, they generally regard each subdomain as a separate website. As a result, when users look up keywords related to that domain, it will rank as its entity in search results — which could improve your overall ranking as well as the ranking of individual pages within that subdomain.
An example is the subdomain cooking.nytimes.com/. Everyone knows nytimes.com to be a news site. So rather than shoehorn the recipes into that site, nytimes.com created cooking.nytimes.com so the user would understand that it’s an entirely different thing from their main site.
Subdomains are also useful for localization
If your brand has an international audience, you can easily create localized versions of your website by using subdomains named after countries or regions in which you do business (for example france.yoursite.com). This is particularly useful if you have a website that needs to be translated into several languages, using subdomains may help you keep your site organized and allow each version of the site to be indexed separately. A real-world example is en.wikipedia.org (English version of Wikipedia)
Organizing websites into sections to improve usability/user Experience
As we mentioned above, one of the main benefits of using subdomains is for organizing websites into sections for specific audiences and topics, similar to how sections in newspapers are organized by topic and written for specific audiences (e.g., sports section for sports fans). Also, when the content you need to create for a section of your website is going to be entirely different from the rest of your site, it’s time to consider a subdomain.
Fostering user engagement on your website is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your online business. One way to do this is by organizing content in a way that makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.
Subdomains are great for organizing websites into sections so that you can easily navigate between them without redirecting to a different site entirely and losing any SEO value you’ve generated in the process.
Say you have an e-commerce site called www.example.com, and you want to add an online blog about gardening. You could call it blog.example.com, giving the subdomain its section on your website with a more relevant name.
So, rather than having one website that covers multiple topics, you can use subdomains to organize your content into specific areas of interest. Some examples of websites utilizing subdomains are support.google.com, mail.google.com, and blog.hubspot.com
You should use a subdomain when you have a completely separate product or service and you don’t want your users getting lost in the main site if they click away from your section of it, or when you want to give other people (such as affiliates) an easy way to promote your product or service without being part of your main website, but using your branding and service name
To create a development or staging environment on your live domain
Your live website is already live, but you want to work on a new design and not disturb the existing site. You can use a subdomain for this purpose.
Such as making significant changes on your WordPress website, such as switching themes or adding new plugin functionality, it can be helpful to test how these changes will affect your site before making them live for everyone to see. Using a subdomain allows you to test out these changes without disrupting the live site.
For example, if you own the domain mysite.com and want to make some big changes to your site, you can place it in a staging environment at dev.mysite.com before pushing it live to the world.
To expand your brand reach
If you have a product or service that will appeal to a new market, such as parents of newborns, you might start a new website targeting that specific audience on that specific topic. If you want the new site to be part of your existing brand, you can use a subdomain instead of starting an entirely new domain name. For instance, if your main site is example.com and the new site is intended for parents of newborns, you can use newborns.example.com as the URL for the new site.
How to Create a Subdomain
Here are the steps in creating a subdomain:
1) Go to your domain registrar or web hosting account and log in.
2) Click on the “Domains” tab to reveal the submenu options.
3) From the submenu list, click on “Subdomains” to reveal a field showing your domain(s).
4) Choose the domain from the dropdown menu (If you have multiple domains, make sure you choose the correct one.) Next, type in the name of the subdomain you want to use.
5) Finally, click Create/Add and wait for your DNS changes to take effect.
Congratulations! You’ve created your subdomain.
Bonus: How To Lookup All The Subdomains of a Domain
Let’s take this one step further and figure out how to look up all the subdomains of a domain. This can be useful for finding anything from hidden content (competitor research), to vulnerable subdomains (site audit), and more.
As an ethical hacker or security researcher, you need to be able to do reconnaissance on all the subdomains of a domain. It is also important for internet users to know about all the subdomains that belong to their favorite websites so that they can recognize if another website is phishing or spoofing them.
Unfortunately, digging subdomains for a particular site is a manual and time-consuming task. Fortunately, there are tools available online that can help you do this job automatically, just by entering the URL of the target.
You can check subdomains.whoisxmlapi.com. This is a very powerful and scalable tool that can be leveraged to find subdomains of any domain on the internet.
It is fast and easy to use. To get started with this API tool you can sign up and also earn 500 FREE API credits.