Over time, your website will grow in terms of sections, pages, and articles. There will be new related topics that you will want to place on a separate sub-site (subdomain), related to the main one. This can be your sales pages, blog on the main subject, or your bulletin board.
In this article, we will begin with a review of subdomains and their impact on SEO. We’ll also talk about the pros and cons of using subdomains. Then we’ll show you how to set up a subdomain in WordPress. Let’s get to it!
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Table of Contents
Impact of subdomains on SEO
Andrew Burak, CEO of Relevant.Software, thinks that some companies use subfolders to host a blog site. For example, kinsta.com/blog. But others prefer to use subdomains. For example, HubSpot uses “blog.hubspot.com.”
John Mueller (SEO expert at Google) claims that it may take Google a little longer to identify subdomains. But in the long run, it doesn’t really matter.
However, multiple SEO studies confirm that subfolders are better for hosting closely related content. For example, Monster.co.uk saw a big increase in traffic after switching from subdomains to subfolders.
Therefore, most SEO experts advise using subfolders when blog content is closely related to publications hosted on the primary domain.
- If your website’s content is closely related to the root domain, use subfolders;
- If not, you can use a subdomain.
For example, Kinsta uses my.kinsta.com (subdomain) for hosting administration panels for their clients because these panels are not linked to the main content on the official website.
Pros and cons of using a subdomain
- No extra costs. You can create or development a large number of subdomains without having to buy new domains;
- Subdomains make it easy to create separate WordPress installations that use the same root domain;
- You can run multiple separate services from the root domain, which helps you maintain branding (e.g. Amazon).
- Subdomains are inferior to subfolders in terms of SEO. Especially if content that you plan to host on your subdomain is closely related to the root domain;
- Subdomains are separate resources, so they are more difficult to integrate into the main site. For example, if you’re using one instance of WordPress for one site, you’ll need two separate installations: one for the main domain and one for the subdomain;
- The need to add each subdomain as a separate site property in Google Search Console.
How to set up a subdomain on a WordPress site
There are two main ways to create a subdomain in WordPress:
- Separate WordPress installations. In this case, you use a separate WordPress instance hosted on the subdomain;
- WordPress Multisite. You can use a single WordPress installation to support one or more sites hosted on subdomains. For example, yoursite.com along with sub.yoursite.com and example.yoursite.com subdomains running on a single WordPress instance.
How to install WordPress on a subdomain
To install WordPress on a subdomain, you must first add the desired subdomain to the main domain DNS or in the hosting cPanel.
Here’s a quick overview of this process:
If you’re using cPanel-based hosting, use the Subdomain tool to add a subdomain. Use the cPanel to create a subdomain.
- Download the latest version of WordPress to your local drive;
- Install WordPress on this subdomain the same way you would install it on the root domain. For example, if you use Kinsta hosting, use the Add Site tool.
In addition, most automatic CMS installation tools also allow you to create a new WordPress installation on a subdomain.
- Extract the files and drop them to the subdomain folder;
- Use the cPanel SQL Wizard to create a new database;
- Write down the user name, database name, and database password;
- Copy wp-config-sample.php to wp-config.php in the subdomain folder;
- Edit wp-config.php to add the username, database name, and database password;
- Open “your-subdomain.your-domain.com/wp-admin/install.php”;
- Fill out the form fields and click on “Install WordPress”.
After creating a subdomain, use WP clone to create and install a backup of your live site in the new subdomain. The clone site will allow you to check for updates before deploying them to your public website.
Installing WordPress on a subdomain. Alternative option
Go to your web hosts cPanel homepage and find the “Fantastico De Luxe” option. It should be under the Software section (the smiley icon).
Look for the “WordPress” option in the “Blog” category. After clicking on “WordPress,” you should see the “New Installation” option.
Once you click on “New Installation,” you will see many options. The first one will be the “Install on Domain” option. You will see a drop-down menu next to this option. After clicking on the menu, you should see your newly created subdomain listed as an option. For example, you will see “widgets.com” as the default address and “blue.widgets.com” in the drop-down list. You want to select your subdomain.
If you don’t see your subdomain, it means that it was not properly created – go back to the cPanel and recreate the subdomain.
After selecting the subdomain you want to install WordPress in, you’ll need to make all the other adjustments. We suggest leaving the “Install in Directory” option blank so that WordPress installs to the root directory of the subdomain.
So if your domain is widgets.com and you want your subdomain to be “blue,” the WordPress blog will be on blue.widgets.com, provided the folder name is left blank to install in the subdomain’s root directory.
If you install WordPress in a subdomain folder, say, we call this “plastic” folder, then the WordPress blog will be located on “blue.widgets.com/plastic”.
This can be a little confusing, so we suggest leaving this field blank and installing WordPress in the root directory of your subdomain, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.
How to install WordPress Multisite on subdomains
WordPress gives you the ability to manage multiple websites from a single dashboard. This useful feature is called WordPress Multisite. WordPress Multisite is a feature added to WordPress in 2010, which allows you to manage multiple WordPress websites with a single platform, one database, common plugins and themes. You can also use subdomains of the same domain on the same server for different websites.
Keep in mind that this feature may not apply to all WordPress users as it adds new customization layers to your WordPress. In addition, you must pay attention to your security and performance to provide a safe and fast website for your visitors.
With WordPress Multisite, you can create a network of sites based on a single CMS instance. If the primary domain is yourwebsite.com, you can assign each linked site its own subdomain. For example:
- site2.yourwebsite.com, etc.;
During the WordPress Multisite installation process, you’ll be able to choose whether to use subdomains or subfolders.
If you use Kinsta hosting, the Kinsta Add Site tool allows you to activate WordPress Multisite and select subdomains.
You should also add a Wildcard subdomain entry while setting up WordPress Multisite. This will allow you to create new websites and automatically direct traffic to the right one.
How to Move WordPress from a Subdomain to the Root Directory of a Website
The process of moving WordPress from a subdomain to the root domain is identical to that of moving a WordPress website from one domain to another.
However, keep in mind that a subdomain is a separate domain name. So moving a site from sub.yourwebsite.com to anotherwebsite.com is similar to moving from yourwebsite.com to anotherwebsite.com.
How to create a subdomain for testing
You can create a subdomain on any hosting website, and the instructions are basically the same everywhere. A subdomain can be used as a copy of your main website – a template, plugins, a few articles (with any desired text), and use it to test new themes (templates), new plugins, or codes before using them on the main domain. It’s convenient and useful.
If you are going to create a new resource (for yourself or your clients), a subdomain is also a good option. You can choose your template and design! Make sure you own the domain name you want to connect to your site and you can update your DNS records (you will also have to reset them). You can buy a domain name from any domain name provider.
Do not forget to close the subdomain from search robots for the duration of experiments. Admin area – Settings – Reading – Search Engine Visibility – Discourage search engines from indexing this site (check this option) – Save Changes.
How to create a subdomain on Sprinthost
Login – Password – Control Panel – Sites and Domains – Manage Sites.
Choose (if you have several, you can add as many domains and subdomains as you want) your desired domain that you want to add – left-click on the domain. In the new window “Site Management” – “Site Subdomains” – “Subdomains for Domain” – enter your new subdomain name and click “Add”.
Don’t forget to enable your SSL in project settings and update the DNS.
Done. Now you can install any CMS (offered by the hosting site) on it (e.g. WordPress).
Get back to the cPanel – the “Advanced” section – “Installing Applications” – select “WordPress” and click “Install WordPress” in the subdomain drop-down menu.
Added subdomains are not considered as separate sites. You can create as many subdomains as necessary. The subdomain folder with its name is located in Files – Domain – public_html.
How to create a subdomain on TimeWeb
- Go to the cPanel – click the left Menu – choose the “Domains and Subdomains” section;
- Click “Add subdomain” in front of the desired domain;
- In the new window, enter the name of the subdomain (e.g., “test”);
- “The domain will be linked to the directory” – leave the name of the desired domain.
- Click “Add”;
- Done, Next come all CMS (WordPress) installations, as on the main domain.
The number of subdomains created on TimeWeb is also unlimited.
Be sure to make a subdomain for your website – a copy of the main site and a convenient platform for creative experiments. If you want to change your template but do not know its features yet, you can test it on a subdomain fast and without any risks. Or maybe you like a certain plugin but do not yet understand its settings – master it on a subdomain!
Subdomains can be especially useful if you want to separate content hosted on a subdomain from the root domain. However, many SEO experts recommend using subfolders in situations where the content is closely related.
If you want to use a subdomain on WordPress, you can create separate WordPress installations on each subdomain or use WordPress Multisite to create separate sites (hosted on subdomains) but running on a single WordPress instance.