Domains and subdomains are integral parts of web addresses but play different roles. A domain is the principal web address, the part you recognize when looking for a website, while a subdomain is a subsection of that address.
This article will delve deeper into the differences and definitions between domains and subdomains and give tips for creating them.
- Subdomains are part of a primary domain. Examples of subdomains are blog.mywebsite.com or store.example.com
- Subdomains can be helpful to organize your site and provide a better user experience to your visitors
- Understanding the different parts of a domain structure can help you choose what’s best for your website’s SEO and performance
Root Domain vs Subdomain: Key Differences
|Domain (also called root domain)
|Hierarchy and relation
|The primary address of a website
|The address of a subsection of the website.
|Creating a brand
|Extending your website address
|All backlinks go to a single URL, making it easier to build domain authority.
|A search engine treats subdomains as separate websites, so their traffic doesn’t boost the SEO of the domain.
|Branding and recognition
|Best for a unified brand experience
|Best for niche targeting
|Requires an SSL certificate and other security measures such as domain privacy protection.
|Requires its own SSL certificate—there is a risk of subdomain takeover.
|Analytics and tracking
|You can add it to Google Analytics to track domain traffic and performance.
|You need subdomain tracking to track how users move from the domain to the subdomain.
Let’s explain the difference between domain vs. subdomain a bit further:
Structural Appearance—How do domains and subdomains look in a URL?
For instance, a root domain “example.com” will have a structure consisting of the domain name “example” + the top-level domain: the “.com”.
For a subdomain structure, we put the subdomain in front of the root domain: “blog.example.com.”
Hierarchy & Relation—The root domain is the primary address of a website and serves as the central entity. In contrast, the subdomain is a subset of the main domain.
Purpose/Use Cases—You’ll want to use a root domain for the main website to represent your core brand. Use a subdomain for more niche cases, for example, your website’s blog or customer support pages.
SEO Impact—A root domain influences the overall domain authority, backlinking and page rank. Search engines treat subdomains as separate entities but can benefit from the authority of the root domain.
Branding & Recognition—The root domain typically represents the leading brand, making it easier for users to recognize.
The domain is typically the face of the brand, while subdomains serve specific purposes. In some cases, the subdomain is recognizable enough; for example, Disney uses subdomains for all their local websites.
Security—A root domain’s security can be typically covered by a single SSL certificate, while subdomains require their own SSL certificates. There are specific SSL certificates for subdomains. Another option is to use a wildcard subdomain.
Analytics & Tracking—Root domains have data tracked as a whole and provide insights into the performance and traffic of the entire website. Subdomains may require separate tracking.
What Is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the name users type in the browser to access your website address, for example, “hostadvice.com.” When you choose a domain name, it is unique. There cannot be two websites with the same domain name.
Why does a website need a name?
Computers connect by numbers, not names. Thus, websites’ addresses are unique numbers called IP addresses. People created domain names because IP addresses are difficult to remember. Therefore, every website should have a domain name.
A domain name structure consists of three parts.
For example, in www.hostadvice.com.
- Www. The acronym for the World Wide Web
- Hostadvice. The site’s name is also called second-level domain (SLD)
- .com. A top-level domain (TLD)
What Is a Subdomain?
A subdomain is a separate element of a website address that creates a different section or subdivision within the main domain. Subdomains act like separate rooms in a library, each with a specific purpose.
How can you recognize a subdomain? The word in front of the primary domain name represents subdomains. For example, if a website’s primary domain is Hostadvice.com, you can have subdomains such as blog.hostadvice.com.
A subdomain would have a structure like this:
- Www. the World Wide Web
- Blog. The subdomain
- Hostadvice: The primary domain name
- .com The top-level domain
When to Use a Subdomain?
Subdomains can be helpful in various cases, like if you want to add an e-commerce functionality, a forum, or a blog to your website. In this case, it may make sense to have these sections separated.
Here are some ways you can use a subdomain:
- You are creating a site resource or support page—You can employ a subdomain to create dedicated support pages or resource sections, for example, “resources.hostadvice.com” or “support.hostadive.com”. Subdomains help your users access critical information quickly.
- You are hosting a company blog—Your visitors can find your company blog quickly with a subdomain called “blog.yourcompany.com”. This separation keeps the blog content focused while at the same time being part of the overall content strategy.
- You are creating an eCommerce store—With a subdomain, you can have your online store integrated into your main website while having it separated from the website content. For example, “store.yourcompany.com” or “shop.yourcompany.com”.
- You are redesigning your site—If revamping your website, set up a separate area to test the new design. You can even create separate subdomains for the different versions, like “version1.yourwebsite.com” or “newdesign1.yourwebsite.com”. Doing this will ensure a smooth transition to the live site.
- Testing new products or features—Subdomains give you a controlled environment for testing. It is inside the website but a separate entity, so it is easy to test new functions and features before installing them on the main website.
- You are creating a page for a specific keyword—You can create a subdomain if you have a keyword you want to rank for and cannot incorporate it into your root domain.
- Mobile website—You can use subdomains for the mobile version of your site.
How Many Subdomains Can a Domain Have?
In theory, you can have unlimited subdomains of a domain. However, hosts may limit the number of domains you can have. For example, GoDaddy limits subdomains to 500 to a domain.
Azure DNS (Domain Name Server) doesn’t limit the number of subdomains per domain. However, Azure limits the number of Public DNS zones per subscription. Because each subdomain is considered a DNS Zone in Azure, you can only have 249 subdomains + 1 domain per subscription.
Is a Subdomain Treated as a Separate Website?
Subdomains are part of the main website. However, search engines like Google consider subdomains as separate websites. That means Google will track metrics separately from the primary and subdomain domains.
Top-Level Domain vs. Subdomain Examples
A web address structure consists of a root and top-level domain.
A Top-level domain (TLD) is an extension that goes to the right of the domain name, i.e., the .com, .net, .org.
The subdomain goes before the domain name.
Here are some examples of TLD:
- Generic Top Level Domain — .COM, .NET, .ORG. These domain extensions are generic., Examples include, www.hostadvice.com, www.who.org.
- Country-code Top Level Domain — Over 300 country top-level domains consist of two letters that refer to the country name or geographical area. For example, in the US, . UK, EU, JP.
- Sponsored Top Level Domain — Private organizations support these domains. For security reasons, these types of TLDs are not widely available and have strict compliance requirements to get them. For example, GOV is used by the US government for universities.
How to Find Domains and Subdomains in GoDaddy
Once you have the perfect name for your website, you should check its availability. You don’t want to discover you have the same name as other companies.
A great domain that resonates with your target audience can increase brand recognition and boost your marketing campaign. Whatever you call your domain, it establishes your brand’s online identity.
Here is the step-by-step process for finding a domain in GoDaddy:
- Go to GoDaddy’s homepage. In the domain search field, type the domain you want. GoDaddy lets you check up to 500 domains at once with the option of bulk domain check.
- You’ll get a confirmation of its availability
- If it’s available, add it to the cart and checkout
- Premium domains are domain names in high demand, which are more expensive For example, we searched for “mommyyoga.com” and it is a premium domain
- Add the subdomain to the domain name you’re looking for to search for subdomains
- GoDaddy will give you alternative extensions or spelling options if the domain you want is registered. For example, if www.yourcompany.com is taken, you can select yourcompany.net or yourcompany.info. Keep in mind copyright issues apply even when having a different extension. Another option is using GoDaddy’s domain broker service to purchase the domain from its owner.
- Register your domain by providing your contact information. GoDaddy hides your personally identifying information in the WHOIS directory.
- Select auto-renew to ensure your domain name stays registered on your name
How to Create a Subdomain in GoDaddy?
Your website should be hosted on GoDaddy to create a subdomain. It is a simple three-step process:
- Log in to your GoDaddy Account. Find your username and click on it to select My Products in the drop-down menu. Go to the All Products and Services page and locate the domain you want to create a subdomain.
- Click DNS and then DNS Management. Go to the Records section and click on Add.
- Select A under the Type field, then write the subdomain you want under Host.
- Go to Points To, and type the IP address of your hosting account. Press Save, and that’s it.
Once you add all your subdomains, they will be in your register’s Domain Portfolio. You can see all the subdomains when you sign in to your Domain Portfolio. There, you can edit or add more domains.
Primary Domain vs Subdomain: Related Concepts
Root domains are also known as primary domains. It is set first to point to a specific IP address. Subdomains are a subset of the existing primary domain. You can use them to organize your website’s sections, test features, and for other purposes.
Addon Domain vs. Subdomain
An addon domain is a functional domain you can create from within your control panel. Unlike subdomains, which are part of your domain name, search engines treat addon domains as the same site.
On the other hand, an addon domain has a separate domain name and its own content. This addon domain is a unique website hosted on your account and can have domain email addresses and almost everything a primary domain can do.
Addon domains have their own folder in the “public_html” directory. When you create an addon domain, the system creates a subdomain associated with the primary domain and attaches it to the new folder. The system associates the new domain name with the subdomain.
Let’s see an example of adding a subdomain to “mywebsite.com.”
Let’s say you want to create the addon domain “South.com”. The subdomain will be in the folder “South.com”. The new domain name “South” is associated with the subdomain.
What does this mean for users? A visitor can go to any of the following URLs and will reach your Addon Domain:
Child Domain vs. Subdomain
A child domain is a subdomain of one of the domains in the Active Directory. In practice, it works as any other subdomain. To create a child domain in the Active Directory:
- Open the administrator account of the parent domain
- Select the domain you choose as the parent domain
- Write the prefix of the child domain
- Then, follow the instructions in the Assistant Configuration for the Domain Active Directory to update the domain controller and validate the DNS options and the configuration
Domain vs. Subdomain vs. Subdirectory
We already explored the differences between domain vs. subdomain. Now, let’s explore the difference between subdomain vs. subdirectory.
Subdomains are separate sections of the main domain, for example. hostadvice.com.
A subdirectory is a folder inside the main domain (i.e. hostadvice/example/). It’s like a specialized “shelf” within a “room”, organizing content under the primary domain without necessitating a new website structure.
For instance, “hostadvice.com/blog” categorizes blog content under the main domain, maintaining a neat and organized website layout. It’s a folder located within the primary domain, serving to compartmentalize and systematically arrange content or pages under specific categories or topics.
Conclusion: Should You Use a Subdomain or Domain?
Knowing the difference between domain and subdomain is essential when building your website strategy. Subdomains can be helpful if you want a separate section on your website. Visitors can access it independently, but at the same time, keep it under your domain.
If you plan to add a blog, a shop or a localized section to your site, a subdomain is the right option. Otherwise, it may make sense to open a subdirectory, for example. Whatever your choice, it will depend on what works better for your website and your SEO.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Create your domain – go to any register, like NameCheap or GoDaddy and follow the steps in this article to create your domain name. Ensure it is available for registration and create any subdomains you need.
- Choose where to host your site – You need a hosting provider where to park your website. You can compare based on their pricing, support and features so it meets your website needs.
- Customize your website– Here’s where you add the pages and content to your website.
- Ensure it is ranking high – Optimize your pages for SEO. Choose the keywords your visitors would use to find your site.