In the ever-evolving digital landscape, search engine optimization (SEO) has emerged as a critical tool for businesses and websites. Enhancing online visibility, increasing organic traffic and driving growth are paramount for every online project. SEO strategies can contribute significantly to the success of your online venture. One SEO aspect that sparks frequent debates among digital entrepreneurs, SEO specialists and marketers alike is whether to use a new domain or rather opt for a subdomain. While some advocate using subdomains, other experts suggest registering new domain names. Both strategies have valid arguments that go hand in hand with unique advantages and potential drawbacks. Navigating this domain dilemma can significantly affect the SEO performance of your site.
This article will examine all sides of this debate, providing a comprehensive analysis of the situation – pitting new domains against subdomains for SEO. We hope to provide a better understanding of these concepts, enabling you to make an informed decision that suits your business needs and furthers your online objectives.
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is a secondary section or branch of your website that operates under the main domain name. It exists as a subdivision of your primary domain, offering a way to organize and navigate different areas of your website. Subdomains are commonly used to host distinct content, such as blogs or online stores that cater to specific user needs.
In terms of structure, a subdomain fits into your URL before the primary domain. For instance, if your domain name was example.com, a subdomain could appear as blog.example.com. In this case, ‘blog’ is the subdomain, indicating a distinct section of ‘example.com’ that could host, for instance, a collection of blog articles separate from the main website’s content.
The value of subdomains for SEO
Incorporating subdomains can be a strategic move in SEO, enhancing your online visibility and drawing more traffic. However, it’s important to comprehend their effect on SEO in order to reap maximum benefits.
Contrary to subfolders/subdirectories, subdomains are regarded as independent websites by search engines. They are crawled, indexed and ranked separately. Consequently, this means they have their unique pages, content and SEO factors.
The differences can be seen in the URL itself. For instance, in blog.example.com, ‘blog’ is a subdomain, whereas in example.com/blog, ‘blog’ is a subfolder. Notably, optimization efforts for subdirectories impact your main website, unlike subdomains. But beware, any violations of search engine guidelines on your subdomain can have detrimental effects on your main domain, such as penalties for keyword cannibalization and lower SEO rankings for duplicate content.
When approached correctly, optimizing subdomains can let you target keywords and audiences that are not covered by your main domain. It also enhances website organization and user experience. These efforts can improve rankings, increase subdomain traffic and assist in achieving your online objectives. Thus, subdomains can have a significant effect on your SEO.
The real challenge lies in identifying when the creation of subdomains can benefit your specific SEO needs.
Subdomain vs. third-level domain
A subdomain is part of a larger domain. It represents the third level in the domain’s hierarchy and is added before the root domain. Examples are blog.example.com or it.blog.example.com.
A third-level domain, on the other hand, is often considered a specific type of subdomain. For simplicity, the third-level domain mainly refers to the part of the domain name that comes just before the second-level domain. While all third-level domains are subdomains, not all subdomains are third-level ones. For example, if we take www.example.com, here, www is a third-level domain.
The commonality between the two is that both subdomains and third-level domains are ways to further categorize or differentiate areas of a website within the same domain. However, as explained, all third-level domains can be viewed as subdomains, but not all subdomains are necessarily third-level domains, as a subdomain can technically be of any level.
Pros and cons of using subdomains for SEO
Subdomains have their unique set of SEO advantages and drawbacks. One significant advantage is that they are easier to set up and manage than new domain names. You can add subdomains to the existing domain in the hosting module. It does not require a new domain purchase or separate hosting plan.
For the website structure, subdomains can result in a more organized website. They allow you to segregate different content types or services, creating a transparent, user-friendly navigation system. Also, subdomains share authority with the main domain, which can be particularly beneficial if your main domain already has a strong SEO profile. Any authority or trust garnered by your primary domain will benefit your subdomain.
However, on the downside, the use of subdomains could impact link equity, often considered a crucial factor in SEO. The risk lies in search engines treating subdomains as separate entities. In such cases, any link value earned by the subdomain may not get transferred to the main domain, potentially causing a dispersal of your overall ranking power.
What is a new domain?
To expand your website, you might consider registering a new domain name. This will be an entirely separate entity and must be registered before use. Each new domain has a specific name and uses a top-level domain (TLD), such as .com, .online, .de, .ai, etc. The combination of the domain name and TLD forms a unique URL.
It’s certainly worth noting that there is an extensive portfolio of TLDs available today and InterNetX offers you more than 1050+ TLDs. Apart from the well-known legacy TLDs and ccTLDs like .com, .net or .de and .jp, there are industry-specific TLDs like .tech, .digital, .io and even location-specific TLDs like .berlin, .nyc,.asia, etc. This wide range of options opens many creative avenues and branding opportunities when registering a new domain.
Find perfect domains
Pros and cons of registering a new domain for SEO
From an SEO perspective, registering a new domain may provide unique advantages while posing specific challenges. A primary benefit is the ability to establish independent authority and reputation. Each new domain offers a fresh start to build authority from the ground up, isolated from any negative associations tied to other domains you may manage.
Moreover, new domains can lead to better brand recognition and memorability. They enable you to create a distinct digital identity that aligns with your brand vision and values. This could improve brand recall among your target audience, proving valuable for your business in the long run.
Additionally, with a well-managed and content-rich new domain, your chances of increasing domain authority are promising. By filling the new domain with relevant, high-quality content, your website could rank higher and attract more organic traffic over time.
However, there are potential drawbacks to consider. New domains generally require more time, effort and resources than subdomains. You must invest in domain registration, set up separatehosting and develop a comprehensive SEO strategy for the new domain.
Lastly, using several new domains could dilute brand authority and fragmentation of SEO efforts. Having multiple domains can confuse your audience and lead to dispersed website traffic. Plus, managing SEO for multiple domains can be demanding and runs the risk of splitting and weakening your overall SEO efforts.
New Domains or Subdomains: Exploring the pros and cons
Subdomains New domains Easier and quicker to setup Better control and flexibility Cost-effective solution Separate domain authority Can target specific niche objectives Transparent branding and structure Improved server organization Can use exact-match domains (EMDs)
May dilute domain authority Higher cost and complexity of management Can complicate site navigation and structure Separate domain registrations required Potentially less impact on root domain May require additional promotional efforts Limited branding potential Multiple hosting accounts may be needed
4 factors to consider when choosing between subdomains and new domains
You must consider several factors to decide between utilizing subdomains or registering new domains for SEO.
1 First, view the purpose and content of your website. The structure may depend on whether it’s a blog, an online store, a service-based site or a combination. For instance, if your primary business is e-commerce but you also run a blog, a subdomain for the blog under the main store domain could be an organized approach.
2 Secondly, take into account your desired goals. New domains could be preferred if expanding reach or enhancing brand recognition is your primary aim. On the other hand, subdomains might be more suitable for niche targeting or simplifying user navigation.
3 Thirdly, evaluate the resources you have available for management and development. New domains typically demand more resources, including cost, time and technical skills for their management. If your resources are limited, leveraging subdomains could be a more viable approach.
4 Finally, consider your existing online presence and domain authority. Creating subdomains under the same might be beneficial if you already have a robust domain authority. On the contrary, investing in a new domain could be worthwhile if you’re starting afresh or attempting to distance yourself from a domain with negative associations.
Case study example: How a shoe company can use subdomains and new domains
Best cases for using subdomains
- Localized content: If the shoe company operates in multiple regions with different languages and preferences, creating subdomains for each region will help organize content efficiently. For example, fr.shoecompany.com can cater to the French-speaking audience and es.shoecompany.com to the Spanish-speaking audience.
- Category-based organization: You can use subdomains to organize products by categories, making it easy for customers to find specific shoes. For example, mens.shoecompany.com and womens.shoecompany.com can separate men’s and women’s collections.
- Customer support and help center: Creating a subdomain specifically for customer support and resources, such as support.shoecompany.com, will improve user experience and streamline the navigation process for customers seeking assistance.
- Blog and news updates: Establish a subdomain for the company’s blog or press releases, such as blog.shoecompany.com or news.shoecompany.com. This lets you share updates and maintain a clean separation between company news and the main e-commerce site.
- Promotions and campaigns: Seasonal promotions or marketing campaigns can be highlighted using subdomains like sale.shoecompany.com or newcollection.shoecompany.com. This provides a dedicated platform to focus on specific offers and easily direct customers to relevant content.
Best cases for using new domains
- Brand expansion or acquisition: If the shoe company acquires or plans to launch a new brand targeting different customers, using a new domain is the best option. This delineates the brands and avoids any confusion for customers.
- Geographical domain extension: If the company wants to target specific local markets and emphasize its local presence, registering a domain with a regional extension can be helpful—for example, shoecompany.fr for France or shoecompany.es for Spain.
- Alternative domains for protection: Registering alternative domain extensions or misspelled domains can protect the company’s brand from potential phishing attacks, typosquatting or domain name infringement.
- Microsites for special projects or collaborations: If the shoe company engages in special projects, partnerships or collaborations, creating microsites with unique domains will help distinguish the project and its branding from the main company site.
- Shortened URLs for marketing campaigns: A branded short URL domain, such as shoe.co, can be used for creating custom links and campaign tracking, making marketing efforts more organized and efficient.
How to optimize subdomains and new domains for SEO
Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for subdomains and new domains requires a structured and thoughtful strategy with a long-term vision.
SEO optimization for subdomains
- First and foremost, treat your subdomains as separate entities. They are seen as distinct entities by search engines. Each subdomain holds its domain authority and necessitates its unique optimization.
- Creating original and high-quality content for these pages is essential, just as you would for your main domain.
- Conduct comprehensive keyword research to identify phrases that target your niche market. Use these keywords to optimize your URLs, meta descriptions and page content.
- Remember to add relevant internal and external links where appropriate. These help with domain authority and improve the user experience.
SEO optimization for new domains
- Ensure your content is designed with users and search engines.
- User experience is a significant ranking factor for search engines, so prioritize site navigation and loading speed.
- Furthermore, ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
- Index your new domain with Google Search Console, as this notifies Google’s search engine of your new site.
- Couple these actions with a strong backlink strategy, where you link back to your new domain from existing high-ranking websites, which can boost your rankings and increase the visibility of your new website.
- To track your progress, set up Google Analytics. It provides insights about user behavior on your site and helps you understand what is working and what needs improvement.
Remember, SEO is a long-term process. Patience, continuous optimization and updating are the keys to successful SEO strategies!
Find a balance in the namespace and win the SEO game
To unlock the full potential of SEO benefits, striking the right balance between subdomains and new domains is crucial. Subdomains can be employed to differentiate between spaces on your website, such as blogs or e-commerce sections, while new domains, especially with meaningful TLDs, can better represent your business and create a uniquely branded experience.
Consider using subdomains to coordinate and categorize your existing content, allowing search engines to understand your website structure better. Instead, invest in valuable new domains to seize more digital real estate, diversify your portfolio and optimize your search engine rankings. It’s about building a comprehensive domain ecosystem that supports your branding, fosters user engagement and turbocharges your SEO efforts.
Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution—each website has unique requirements that may favor subdomains, new domains or a mix of both. Through this tailored and dynamic approach, you’ll establish a robust domain architecture that optimizes your website’s potential—solidifying your position in the highly competitive digital landscape.