What Subdomains are and How Businesses Can Use Them

  • by Ilona K.
What Subdomains are and How Businesses Can Use Them

Table of contents

  1. What are subdomains and how are they used?
  2. Subdomains as independent websites
  3. Subdomain FAQs

A subdomain, or a third-level domain, is an extension added to the beginning of a main domain name (eg. subdomain.domain.com). Subdomains can either help organize the different sections of an existing website, or function as standalone sites. Let’s explore the benefits of using subdomains as a part of your business strategy, as well as some case studies of subdomain use.

What are subdomains and how are they used?

A domain is the unique name of a website which identifies it on the Internet. It consists of various combinations of letters and numbers;we’ve previously discussed best practice for choosing which name is best for a website to ensure that it is easily remembered by users and is effectively indexed by search engines like Google.

Domain names can be short, however brand reflection and user experience are more important

A main domain typically consists of two primary components: a name and a top-level domain (TLD). The TLD defines the domain’s type, indicating its geographical or functional purpose. The most popular TLDs are .com, .org, and .net.

A subdomain is an extension of a domain that appears before the main name and the top-level domain (TLD). For instance, blog.example.com is a subdomain of example.com domain. Subdomains are also often called third-level domains. The difference between the two terms is arbitrary; the term ‘subdomain’ is more commonly used to signify an extension of the main domain, while ‘third-level domain’ indicates one that functions as an independent website.

Subdomains enable structuring a website with greater flexibility and hierarchy, allowing to emphasize functions like a store, blog, or forum. An alternative to this approach is using subcategories (categories after slash in URL), like example.com/blog. Depending on the size of the website and level of independence of each function, a company might choose a subdomain over a subdirectory or vice versa.

Companies owning a main (or a parent) domain can leverage subdomains to prevent the main website being overloaded with an excessive number of pages, allowing them to cater to various segments of their target audience, or to establish project-specific website segments seamlessly linked to the company’s primary website. Other examples of the use of subdomains within a parent domain include: running multilingual websites, tracking marketing campaigns, etc.

Subdomains are particularly valuable for universities, large online retailers, marketplaces, companies with regional branches, and businesses targeting diverse audience segments. These websites typically contain a huge amount of information and need to be fast, productive and perform multiple tasks, meaning that subdomains come in helpful.

Subdomains as independent websites

Another use of subdomains (or third-level domains) is as autonomous resources with their own semantic cores, treated as a distinct website unrelated to the main domain. 

Third-level domains are especially valuable for small businesses seeking a cost-effective domain name solution. Investing a lot of money in a second-level domain name is not always an option, yet the name should still reflect the brand and be memorable. 

Third-level domain prices are often more affordable than those for popular top-level domains (TLDs), making them attractive for small and medium-sized businesses. For example, the presentstore.com domain costs $7,500, while a similar third-level domain name in the .it.com zone costs only $49.00. This makes it more economical to purchase a subdomain (akin to owning an apartment in a multi-storey building) rather than the domain itself (the entire building). 

It’s also a choice available to companies unable to find their desired domain name in popular TLDs like .com. In this case, operators of the third-level domain zones such as .it.com provide a wider choice of names with the same advantages as the .com TLD.

Here are a few possible uses of third-level domains in the .it.com zone:

  • IT companies or IT divisions of large corporations can benefit from this option. An excellent example is Bharat Technology, a subsidiary of A-SQUARE GROUP, offering digital public infrastructure and IT services for Digital Bharat. 
  • Companies based in Italy or those with branches in there can make good use of the .it.com zone, as it directly evokes the country region.
  • Businesses seeking unique and memorable domain names as their brand name is not available as a second-level domain. Domain names like eat.it.com or do.it.com are easy for users to remember.

Third-level domains are gaining popularity among domain buyers; Sedo & InterNetX in their 2023 Global Domain Report mentioned that you should consider the .it.com zone in 2023. 

Subdomain FAQs

We get many questions about hosting a website on a third-level domain. Some of those are common myths and misconceptions – let’s uncover the real state of affairs.

Myth: Google doesn’t index third-level domains either because they are subdomains, or their indexing depends on the primary extension.

Reality: Google does index third-level domains just like second-level domains, unless there is a specific reason not to do so. Often, Google and other search engines remove entire domain zones from their indices when a large number of websites within these zone are engaged in illegal activities. This can occur with any top-level domain (TLD) that lacks proper oversight from the organization managing it. Companies concerned about their reputation take diligent steps to monitor how the domains they sell are used.

Myth: When buying a third-level domain, you’ll be entirely reliant on the company that controls the main domain.

Reality: it.com Domains offer customers the flexibility to either use their own named servers (e.g. hosting providers), or opt for the registrar’s DNS server.

Myth: The design of all websites on a third-level domain must be similar to the design of the website on the primary domain.

Reality: Websites hosted on third-level domains are distinct and individual resources. They can have their own unique applications, content, and design. Each website is unique, differing not only from the primary domain but also from other sites within the same zone. 

Myth: Buying a third-level domain takes more effort than purchasing a top-level domain (TLD).

Reality: The process and terms of purchase are exactly the same as for the .com, .net, .org and other TLD zones.

If you still have any concerns about third-level domains, explore the information on our website. If you choose to use a third-level domain, it.com Domains will assist you in selecting a suitable domain name.

Want to know more about domain name strategies for your business? Visit it.com Domains’ blog and follow us on social media.

Ilona K.
Ilona K.
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