Are you looking for a free way to create a subdomain site for your WordPress content management system? Well, well, there are numerous ways to do so online but not all of them are credible enough. Making it very hard for beginners to choose between all the different options. When you visit a website, you may notice the URL in the search bar changes slightly.
Particularly, based on your location on the site or which web page you’re viewing. For example, you can visit digitalonlineweb.com to view and access the tools and services offered. Or, you can visit blog.digitalonlineweb.com to access the section of our sister website that serves blog content. Although the URL changes slightly, you’re still on its main website.
Only that you are operating under the Digital Online Web domain name in two different instances. So, from this use case scenario, we can simply say that a subdomain name is a piece of additional information added to the beginning of a website’s domain name. It allows websites to separate and organize content for a specific function — blog or web store.
Specifically, to differentiate an array of the main web pages, a custom landing page, or even blog post content — from the rest of your website. With that in mind, let’s try to fully understand how all this works.
Breaking Down The Key Subdomain Site Name Elements
Typically, a domain name has two parts: The Top-Level Domain (TLD) — serves as an extension (like .com or .org), and the Second-Level Domain (SLD) — the unique part of the domain name (often a business or brand name). As you can see, on our sister website (examplewebsite.com) case, com is the TLD, while the examplewebsite is the SLD.
Therefore, from this illustration, we can say that the subdomain is what goes before the SLD. The most common type is www, which stands for World Wide Web (WWW) and it contains a website’s homepage or its most important pages/posts. The www subdomain is so widely used that most domain registrars include it with domain name purchases.
Oftentimes, subdomains are also commonly used to separate a section of a website from the main site. For example, blog.website.com and shop.website.com can be direct to the preferred blog page and online web store respectively. We can group the domain name and subdomain with a protocol at the beginning (HTTP or HTTPS for websites).
As well as an optional file path at the end. And by so doing, we’ll have a complete URL. Specifically, this is what most webmasters will usually call the anatomy of the web address.
Let’s simplify it:
- Protocol: https://
- Subdomain: blog.
- SLD: examplewebsite
- TLD: .com
- Path: /how-to-create-a-subdomain-site/
Separating the Blog from the rest of the website makes it obvious to visitors where they’re located on the website as a whole. This is helpful considering www.examplewebsite.com focuses on the main website business product line.
While blog.examplewebsite.com contains articles that don’t necessarily relate to the main products. In simple terms, separating the two from each other with a subdomain keeps everything organized and helps visitors find what they need.
What A Subdomain Site Is Really Used For
By all means, subdomains make it simple for you to organize the various functions of your website. Whilst, making it also easier for your target website users to find these different functions. To enumerate, think about it this way: Let’s say you’re hosting a party — you’ll need to provide guests with your address. So, the TLD would be the city you live in.
While, in the same fashion, the SLD would be your number and street name. Similarly, if you live in an apartment building, you’ll need to get even more specific — so that your guests can know which apartment to ring. Your apartment number would be akin to a subdomain — a specific section of the greater building that’s dedicated to your living space.
Overall, this means, that if you plan to add more functions to your websites, such as a store, a forum, or a blog, you might need to add a subdomain to your domain. So that you can easily and quickly separate these functions from your main website as a result. Equally important, you can also use subdomains to create localized content for your website.
For instance, if you run a restaurant chain with multiple locations, customers can visit www.myrestaurant.com for all-encompassing web-based content. Or, customers looking for the menu at your Nashville, Tennessee location can access this information via nashville.myrestaurant.com. In addition, websites can also use subdomains in other ways too.
Such as if they would like to denote a specific language or refine their niche by region (something that Wikipedia does with its articles). For example, the en subdomain means it’s written in English, while the es indicates Spanish, and so on.
The Simple Steps To Create A Subdomain Site
No matter what you want to use your subdomain for, you can create one with the help of either your web hosting provider or your webmaster. By the same token, great CMS Software such as WordPress also makes it easy to host your content on one subdomain per content tool you use — such as a blog, landing page, or website page — for one brand domain.
It’s important to note that these features are specific to each CMS that you’ll be using. Perse, your hosting provider as well as the service through which you obtained your domain name are unique. On that same token, as we work through the following steps, keep in mind that they may differ slightly depending on your web-based server service solutions plan.
A. Give your subdomain a name
First, think of a subdomain name that best fits the section of the site you’re assigning. You may consider some of the most common subdomains that include blog, store, shop, support, help, and events.
There’s no need to overthink this — pick a name that succinctly describes this part of your site, and limit it to one word if you can. That way, your URL will look clean and familiar to visitors, even with the extra name tacked on.
B. Log into your cPanel dashboard
To begin creating your subdomain, log into your hosting provider’s file manager, which is likely to be a cPanel dashboard in most cases. Remember, every web hosting solution provider has a unique login and setup for their cPanel. But, in most cases, your cPanel dashboard screen should look something like the screenshot image shown below:
Then, thereafter, you’ll want to navigate to the Subdomains or Add Subdomains section. Whereby, you can begin to enter your subdomain of choice. Add the subdomain, and be sure your primary domain name is selected as well. So, in the “Subdomain” field, enter the name of your subdomain — the section that precedes the main domain as shown below.
It’s, important to realize, that if you have multiple domains in your cPanel account, choose the domain on which you wish to create a subdomain from the “Domain” drop-down. Note that the “Document Root” is the root directory for the subdomain. So in our example above, the subdomain root directory would be /public_html/members.
Thereafter, click the “Create” button — when the subdomain has been created, you will see a success message. Just give it a bit of time before you try accessing the subdomain.
C. Create a new DNS record
Forthwith, once the domain is created, you’ll need to add a new domain name system (DNS) record — navigate to DNS and select Add (or a similar command). Select what you want your subdomain to connect to, whether it’s an IP Address, an IP address connected to the destination hostname, a server name, or a wildcard domain.
Last but not least, click Create, or a similar commend, and wait for your subdomain to resolve. Typically, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours for your subdomain to be implemented and functional on your website. And, since you are making a DNS update, it may take a while for the new DNS record to propagate across the internet.
Usually, propagation will be complete in an hour or two. On that note, this is why you might see a 404 page, especially, if you create a subdomain and immediately install something like WordPress. Eventually, if you try to access the website a few minutes after creating the subdomain, you might receive a 404 not found error.
Adding Your Main Website Country Subdirectory
Your URL structure helps Google figure out which of your pages to show searchers in different countries. This is part of geo-targeting, which focuses on location. To further target language, we’ll show you how to use the hreflang tag in a moment, too. Most businesses either set up a whole new website for each target country.
Or rather, they may opt to add a subdirectory structure to their existing website. The approach you choose will depend largely on the resources you can dedicate to the creation and maintenance of it. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each URL structure for International SEO later on. To set up a subdirectory structure, create a folder on your website.
In particular, for each target country — labeled with that country’s two-letter ISO code. For example, to signal content targeted to people in Spain, your subdirectory would look like this: website.com/es. A subdirectory is best suitable for businesses that want to serve companies across multiple countries and keep communications on one website.
Examples of companies that use subdirectories:
- Apple (apple.com/uk/ for users in the United Kingdom)
- Nike (nike.com/za/ for users in South Africa)
- Spotify (spotify.com/ar/ for users in Argentina)
There are many Pros to using Subdirectories. For instance, a subdirectory structure is easy to set up and maintain. Adding subdirectories to your website is simple and cost-effective. It only requires one website domain, and the authority you build up for that domain applies sitewide. Some think this option has emerged as the clear choice for nearly any business.
What about the Cons of Using Subdirectories? Well, the main con of using Subdirectories is that the International SEO signal for a subdirectory is weaker than if you were to set up a website completely dedicated to a country.
Structuring Your Main Website Design With Subdomains
Moving on, if you’re unsure as to whether you should publish a particular page under your www subdomain or under a different subdomain, think about the primary goals of your website. Pages related to this goal should fall under www, and consider placing other pages under a custom subdomain if there are enough to make up a substantial part of your site.
A collection of a few pages probably doesn’t need its own subdomain. As an example, if you run an online store and write the occasional blog post, you can use www.mywebsite.com for your store and blog.mywebsite.com for your blog section. Conversely, if you mainly publish a blog and sell some merch on the site, you may use www.mywebsite.com for your blog.
And then again, you can consider using store.mywebsite.com for the ecommerce side. In theory, you also have another choice, whereby you could set up a subdomain on your website for each country. The structure of a subdomain is fairly flat at the top levels. You’ll have your root directory, then all the subdomains underneath it in a horizontal row.
If, for example, our root domain is josephmuciraexclusives.com, then the subdomain URL might be shop.josephmuciraexclusives.com/. All subdomains are on the same level. You won’t have a subdomain within a subdomain like you would a subfolder within a subfolder. So, why use subdomains in your International SEO strategy?
The Main Subdomain Site Role In SEO Terms
SEO experts are probably debating whether subdomains or subdirectories are better for SEO. As a marketer, that debate can cause confusion and analysis paralysis. A Subdirectory is a type of website hierarchy under a root domain that uses folders to organize content on a website. It’s the same as a subfolder and the names can be used interchangeably.
First of all, in a URL, the subdirectory comes after the root directory or domain name. For example, our root domain is josephmuciraexclusives.com. So a subdirectory URL might be josephmuciraexclusives.com/blog. Or it might be something more complicated like josephmuciraexclusives.com/category/featured and so on.
Secondly, when it comes to subdirectories, think of a structure similar to nesting dolls. Each folder can build off of one another almost indefinitely. That means you could have a subfolder within a subfolder within a subfolder until you’re dozens, potentially hundreds, of layers deep. But, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Too many layers of subfolders can become an SEO nightmare. The URL string becomes long and confusing, the user experience is at risk with every click it takes to get to the next piece of content, and search engine crawlers will find it nearly impossible to crawl your site for new content and other SEO wins you may have added.
On the other hand, subfolders can be great for SEO as they keep any earned backlinks, domain authority, and page authority closely tied to the root domain. And when the site is fairly easy to navigate, the URLs are just short and simple. And now, you can market specific web pages or landing pages by their URL without confusing your audience.
The Notable Pros Of Using A Subdomain Site
Although a subdomain can be great for SEO, it will require a dedicated person or team that can manage it. Unlike subdirectories, a subdomain’s domain authority won’t automatically trickle down from the primary domain name.
You might also pay extra for tools or subscriptions if you’re billed per domain name. Why? Since each subdomain will typically count as a separate website. Keeping these challenges in mind, let’s consider one key benefit of using a subdomain. Subdomains are ideal if your business houses a lot of content that would be difficult to manage all on one website.
You may also find this structure beneficial if you run several large recurring campaigns. Especially, for business that needs separate web landing pages. Or rather, if there’s a plan to partner with another organization.
As a result, if all you want is to split the branding on the project. In short, subdomains make sense if you have a relevant business need to separate content on your website. However, the disadvantages when it comes to Internation SEO, generally, outweigh the advantages.
The Main Cons Of Using A Subdomain Site
The international SEO signal is weaker for a subdomain than it is for a dedicated country domain. It may also be more difficult to take advantage of the authority of the main domain for subdomains than for subdirectories. (While Google says they treat subdomains and subdirectories equally when it comes to ranking sites.
Suffice it to say, SEO experts debate whether this actually holds true. Many believe that pages on a subdomain don’t reap the benefits of the root domain and are actually seen as separate domains by Google, or that subdomains may possibly dilute the authority of the root domain.) Additionally, you will have hosting costs for each subdomain.
If the best URL structure doesn’t seem clear for your business, take a look at competitors in your target country. One way to gain international competitive intelligence using Free Ranking Tool is to run a Site Comparison for your top 10 competitors. You can click the top right-hand drop-down and change views for any country worldwide.
If your main competitors are getting a ton of traffic from one of your target countries, you can check out their international SEO tactics for that country. All you’ll need to do is make sure that you are using the proper country code before setting up your URL structure.
And then, keep in mind, regardless of the choices you make for your URL structure, Google may still occasionally show the wrong content to searchers. The hreflang tag can provide additional signals to help Google sort out when to show what.
Creating A Separate Country Code Top-Level Domain
Technically, some companies may also choose to set up a separate website for visitors from each targeted country. And, as such, this is called a local country code top-level domain (ccTLD). A ccTLD for your site users in Spain would look like: websites.es. Some codes are “open,” meaning they can be registered for uses other than to represent the country.
For example, .co is the official country code for Columbia, but you probably know it more for its association with “company” or “corporation.” Some ISO codes have also been adopted for use with cities: with .to commonly in use for Toronto and Tokyo in addition to Tonga. For your information, there’s a list of country code top-level domains that you check out.
Examples of companies that use ccTLDs:
- Sony (corporate website for China: sony.com.cn/)
- Disney (shopping site for France: shopdisney.fr/)
- McDonald’s (in Serbia: mcdonalds.rs/)
It’s best for large businesses with deep resources. And, obviously, because maintaining multiple websites is so expensive, it’s not usually a good choice for smaller businesses. An exception is if you are targeting China. Keeping in mind, it can be so difficult for websites to rank on Baidu — China’s most prominent search engine — without the .cn top-level domain.
One of the biggest Pros of Using ccTLDs is the search engines’ signal. Dedicating a separate domain using a country code offers the most powerful country signal to search engines for international SEO. It also tells website visitors that your brand is dedicated to its presence in that country. Whilst, one of the Cons of Using ccTLDs is maintenance.
Whereby, maintaining separate websites for different countries can be quite expensive. When it comes to international SEO, you’ll also have to build authority for each website separately. A Subdomain is also a type of website hierarchy under a root directory, but instead of using folders to organize content on a website, it kind of gets a website of its own.
This subdomain is still closely associated with the root directory. But, it will usually have a separate content management system, template, analytics tools, and more. All in all, by implementing subdomains on your website, you can create separate sections of content and services for your website without having to create new domain names for each part.
What’s more, Subdomains will also make it easier for users to find what they need, all in one place. If it improves your visitors’ experience, it’s likely a step worth taking. So, what are your thoughts about this? Kindly let us know in our comments section below. You can also Consult Us if you’ll need more support in implementing your subdomain site.