What Is a Subdomain?

“Subdomain” may sound like a technical term, but understanding what a subdomain is and how to use one can make a big difference, especially for business websites.

What is a subdomain, and how is it different from a domain?

A domain is the web address that you type into your browser to direct you to a given website. An example is WordPress.com. When another word appears before the primary site name (like in support.WordPress.com), that extra word is referred to as the subdomain.

A subdomain can be used in different ways:

  • It can be a secondary part of a website name, dedicated to a specific product or service. For example, analytics.google.com users can go to this Google subdomain to monitor their website metrics.
  • It can be an important component of a business that needs to be distinguished by a dedicated name and address. That’s why Amazon created music.amazon.com to host its music-streaming service.
  • It can be a version of a given website in another language, like es.WordPress.com, ja.WordPress.com, and so on.
  • It can be a microsite, forum, blog, or anything related to the main domain name, but is deserving of its own distinct name, such as community.airbnb.com.

Why use a subdomain?

There are many scenarios in which a subdomain may be an advantageous option.

User Experience

If you’re using a subdomain to host a microsite dedicated to a single product, you probably want a different layout that is also focused on that product. Your visitors will expect to access this site and experience the product without distractions, and you can achieve this in a dedicated environment within a subdomain.

Search Improvements

Search engine optimization (SEO) is probably the most important advantage of subdomains. Search engines will recognize a subdomain as a separate website and index it independently from the main site. So, if you’re targeting a specific keyword, you can create a subdomain using that keyword.


On a subdomain, you can install software that is completely independent of the software used on your main site. So, if you need different plugins, themes, or a specific feature set, you have the freedom to set them up on a subdomain without impacting your main website.

Subdomains vs subfolders

You may notice that some websites use a structure like “sitename.com/topic” as opposed to “topic.sitename.com.” The former is known as a subfolder structure and works differently from a subdomain.

When to use subfolders

While subdomains are independent entities, subfolders are parts of the main website. This means that they inherit the authority of the main domain, which is a good thing if you’re working with related content.

When to use subdomains

If your goal is to build something focused on another business area or service, a subdomain will provide more flexibility. Being a different site, your SEO efforts will start from square one, but this lets you strategize specifically without impacting your main site.

So, what is a subdomain? Subdomains are powerful tools that can add to your user experience and expand your business offerings by creating dedicated site areas for particular products and audiences. Of course, you can’t have a subdomain until you pick a domain name for your website. Find and register yours with WordPress.com today!


Francesco Carlucci

Francesco is a Certified WordPress Expert at Codeable, freelance web developer, digital-nomad, and technology addicted. When he is not on his Mac, you can probably find him jogging around country roads, reading books or tasting some good wine.

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