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Sub Domain vs. Domain - What are the Benefits?

First things first, what’s the difference? A sub domain is the bit before the first dot in a URL, for example the word ‘contact’ in the URL ‘contact.mywebsite.com’. The sub domain is primarily used for breaking up the website, by dividing it into separate domains for each page on the website, so there will be a ‘home.mywebsite.com’, ‘portfolio.mywebsite.com’, ‘contact.mywebsite.com’, and so on. Having a sub domain has its advantages, as you can easily send your web traffic to different parts of your website, but having your website hosted as a sub domain of a generic domain can often look unprofessional.

Having your own domain as opposed to a subdomain on a generic top level domain will allow for greater freedom and brand identity for your website. Having your own, custom domain will look significantly more professional than having one that you don’t choose yourself. As I mentioned, having a single domain will be more recognizable and familiar to the audience. A strong, identifiable domain name is one perk your website will need to make it big on the web.

Instead of using sub domains, many websites will have their own custom domain name but make use of subdirectories as an alternative - this will look like “mywebsite.com/portfolio”. These are favorable over sub domains in some aspects, such as SEO. Subdomains are treated as separate domains when it comes to search engines, which means that you would need to make all of your subdomains rank, instead of just a single domain. It can take a lot of SEO work to get your website to rank, so you wouldn’t want to duplicate that time, money and effort across multiple domains.

In some cases, each subdomain will have to be hosted on separate hosting accounts meaning that you could incur additional charges for each subdomain used. Although this is rare and a lot of hosting companies will allow subdomains on the same hosting plan, it is something you will definitely want to consider. This is additional expenditure would could be better spend on other aspects of your site, such as marketing or customer support.

A final benefit of having the single domain over subdomain is that having only one domain is much easier to manage than having multiple. Having one domain to monitor, develop and improve will be so much less stressful and simpler than having to monitor more than one simultaneously. You may have different regions identified using subdomains, for example ‘us.mywebsite.com’ or ‘ca.mywebsite.com’ which would mean you have two separate entities to manage as opposed to the single domain option.

To wrap this all up, there are times when it’s more useful to have a subdomain and times when it makes more sense to use subdirectories. Using subdirectories is a winner for various reasons; one domain will be more cost effective, easier to manage, less stressful to manage and easier to gain the coveted high search engine rankings. The important thing is to remember that whatever option you go for, your own brand should be the key aspect.

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