What are subdomains
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What are subdomains?

That’s a great question and we’re going to explain it for you right now.

Subdomains are the part of a domain that comes before the main domain name and domain extension. They can help you organize your website. For example, docs.themeisle.com. In this URL, docs is the subdomain.

Subdomains explained in more detail πŸ“

To answer the question of “what are subdomains” in more detail, you should first know about the anatomy of a URL! Let us examine the URL of ThemeIsle.

https://themeisle.com/

This URL contains two parts:

A subdomain contains a second name before the SLD. For instance, if the Themeisle blog was hosted on https://themeisle.com/blog, the blog would be the subdomain.

What is a subdomain used for? πŸ€”

A subdomain is commonly used to logically separate a website into sections. You can use a subdomain to launch a career site (careers.yoursite.com), a forum (forum.yoursite.com) or for customer support (support.yoursite.com). You may use subdomains to create blogs of different themes too. For instance, sbnation.com is a sports news blog. However, it uses blogs like weaintgotnohistory.sbnation.com and theshortfuse.sbnation.com for specific teams on different subdomains.

What are subdomains? An example from SBNation

Some other uses of subdomains are:

  • Create different language versions of a website (en.yoursite.com).
  • Create a mobile version of a website (m.yoursite.com).
  • Set up a network of unrelated sites. For example, how you can sign up for a WordPress.com account and create your own blog on a subdomain (yourblog.wordpress.com).

You can get creative with subdomains. You may point a subdomain to a section or a single page in your website too.

For example, if you have a personal portfolio site, you could host your contact form at hireme.yourname.com.

What is a wildcard subdomain?

A wildcard is basically a “catch-all” subdomain. It lets you create tons of subdomains without having to manually set up each one.

For example, if you wanted to create a WordPress multisite network, you could use a wildcard subdomain so that each network site can get its own subdomain (like WordPress.com).

A wildcard subdomain is represented by an asterisk. For example, *.yoursite.com.

What are the benefits of subdomains? βœ…

Subdomains offer several advantages that enhance website management, user experience, security, and marketing efforts. These include:

  • Clear content organization. Subdomains allow for a clear and structured organization of different types of content or services under a specific prefix, making it easier for both administrators and visitors to navigate and find relevant information.
  • Enhanced user experience. By utilizing subdomains, you can provide users with a more focused and streamlined experience, guiding them to specific areas or services without overwhelming them with unnecessary information.
  • Improved security. Subdomains can be set up with separate security configurations, user permissions, and access controls. This isolation helps protect the main domain from potential security vulnerabilities in subdomains.
  • Efficient tracking and analytics. Subdomains can be useful for tracking and analyzing specific sections of a website separately. This allows you to measure the performance of different parts of your online presence.
  • Targeted marketing efforts. Utilizing subdomains allows for targeted marketing campaigns or regional and language-specific content, which can enhance search engine optimization (SEO) and localized marketing efforts.
  • Brand and sub-brand management. If you use your website as part of your business, then you can use subdomains to create separate branding or microsites for different product lines, services, or subsidiaries, allowing for better brand management and differentiation.

Overall, subdomains are a versatile tool that serve various purposes and are commonly used across the internet to efficiently structure and manage websites.

How to create a subdomain πŸ—οΈ

πŸ‘‰ Before you can set up any subdomain, you have to have a main domain. If you don’t have that taken care of yet, here are our guides on choosing a domain name and how to register a domain name.

You can quickly buy a domain name from one of the many available domain hosting providers. We recommend Bluehost. Bluehost also offers website hosting at $2.75/mo. where you get free domain for a year.

Once you buy a domain, you also buy the rights for subdomains within it. Broadly, these are the steps that you must follow to create a subdomain:

  • Come up with the name of the subdomain, enter it as a record in your DNS settings.
  • Redirect to the server that hosts your subdomain.

When you are entering a record in your DNS settings, you would notice that www.yoursite.com points to yoursite.com. This essentially makes www a subdomain too!

Most hosts give you user-friendly tools to help you accomplish this.

While the actual usage may vary slightly based on your host or registrar, here are the how-to guides to creating subdomains for the most popular registrars and web hosts.

Note – you’ll create subdomains at the service that manages your domain’s DNS settings. Usually, this is your web host, but it can also be your domain registrar, depending on your configuration.

Frequently asked questions about subdomains πŸ™‹

What is the difference between a domain name and a subdomain?

The main difference between a domain name and a subdomain lies in their hierarchical relationship and how they are structured within the Domain Name System (DNS). While a domain name is the main address used to identify a website, a subdomain is a subdivision of that domain, used for organizing content or services under a specific prefix.

Both domain names and subdomains are crucial components of the DNS infrastructure, enabling users to navigate the internet and access different resources.

What is an example of a subdomain?

An example of a subdomain is blog.yourwebsite.com. In this example yourwebsite is the main domain name and blog is the subdomain.

The subdomain blog is a prefix added to the main domain yourwebsite.com to create a hierarchical structure. This subdomain is used to host a blogging platform, separate from the main content hosted on yourwebsite.com. Visitors can access the blog content by entering blog.yourwebsite.com into their web browsers.

Does it cost money to create a subdomain?

Creating a subdomain itself does not usually cost money. In most cases, it’s a free feature provided by domain registrars and DNS hosting providers. If you already own a domain, you can typically create subdomains at no extra cost.

Put another way, while subdomains themselves are free, you need to spend money on other things (namely domain registration) in order to gain access to the ability to create them. Therefore, the overall cost of using a subdomain depends on factors like domain registration fees, DNS hosting, web hosting, SSL certificates, and any third-party services you integrate into the subdomain.

Final thoughts on subdomains πŸ’­

To recap, a subdomain is the portion of a URL that comes before the “main” domain name and the domain extension. For example, docs.themeisle.com.

Subdomains can help you divide your website into logical parts or create separate sites, for example a separate blog for each sports team.

If you want to dig into the topic of URL structure in greater detail, check out our full guide to the anatomy of a website URL.

Do you have any additional questions about subdomains? Let us know in the comments.

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