The root domain or the domain name of a website is its address on the network in alphabetic designation. Root domain consists of the Second-Level Domain (SLD) and Top-Level Domain (TLD).
The root domain is the complete website address consisting of the unique domain name and the top-level domain. The website’s root domain page is the highest in a website hierarchy. It represents the entire website.
Use domain names that are easy to remember, say and type. You should not use domain names that have numbers or non-standard characters. The easier to read the domain name the better. Avoid using hyphens in the domain name if possible to improve the readability. Use broad keywords in the domain name.
A subdomain is placed before the root domain and it is the third-level domain name. They are an extension of the primary (root) domain name. To create a subdomain you should own a root domain. If you have a root domain then you can create any number of subdomains.
Subdomains are built from the root domain and are a part of it. They are usually used to assign a unique name to a particular function or service. They can be used when there are multiple goals and each subdomain can be dedicated to a particular goal.
Search engines view subdomains as new websites. They can be used to create new websites like when you need to present your content in a different language. You can use subdomains when you want to create new sections and track their performance individually.
root domain may be : hostingdiscounts.com
then the subdomain would be : forum.hostingdisocunts.com
Differences between root domain and subdomain
A domain name consists of multiple parts. For example, en.books.org. In this, the ‘en’ is the subdomain of ‘books’ and ‘book’ is the subdomain of TLD ‘org’. The ‘books.org’ is the root domain name. The domain name is ‘books’.
At the top of the website hierarchy exists the root domain. It contains the top-level domains of the internet. A subdomain is part of a larger domain and can be created under any root domain.
All the pages on a website have the same root domain. Subdomains are added in front of the root domain and separated from the domain name with a period.
Domain Name Systems (DNS) is a database of domain names and they organise the domain names and translate them to numbers so that you need not memorise the IP address. A subdomain adds a prefix to the root domain. In the DNS, a subdomain is a part of another main domain.
A root domain has a TLD (Top-Level Domain) extension like .com, .org, .net and more. It does not contain the prefix ‘www.’. A subdomain can be added as a prefix to the root domain.
Whether you have your website on a subdomain or root domains, SEO services are esential to drive traffic.
Root domain Vs Subdomain
Visitors can access your website on the internet using the domain name. It serves as a placeholder for the complex IP address which consists of complex number series. Domain name makes it more user-friendly for the visitors.
Google treats subdomains separately than the root domains. It sees them as unique websites which are running under the root domain. Google displays a maximum of two URLs from the subdomain on a particular search results page and more from the root domain if many subdomains exist.
2. Subdomains do not always inherit the positive metrics and the ranking capabilities on a root domain from other subdomains.
3. Subdomains can be used as a separate place for organising your current website. They are usually used when there is material which is different from the rest of the website.
4. Subdomains are used to place content which is different from the root domain, many use subdomains for placing the content that requires specific servers and software to manage them.
5. Subdomains can be used by businesses that still need international recognition and do not have enough resources to create several ccTLDs
Examples and use cases
Some examples of the root domain are - books.com
In this ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.gov’ are the top-level domains. The ‘books’, ‘example’ and ‘mywebsite’ are domain names. The ‘books.com’, ‘example.net’ and ‘mywebsite.gov’ are the root domains.
Some examples of subdomains are - en.books.com
In this, ‘en’ is the subdomain of ‘books.com’, ‘shop’ is the subdomain of ‘examples.com’ and ‘help' is the subdomain of ‘mywebsite.com’.
Which is better for E-commerce websites?
1. If the main information website has good authority and users then it would be best to develop an online store on the root domain. This will help to turn the users into customers. This will also get more traffic to the website and visitors will come looking for information and commercial products.
2. The risk is that if you have too many products and your website starts to load slowly then it will affect your traffic. Customers will leave if your website loads slowly and this will affect your sales. You will need to optimise for loading speed.
3. Another problem can be duplicate content. As the number of pages for a product increases it will be difficult to keep them unique.
4. The main advantage of developing an online store at the root domain is that it will keep the existing users. This will help to speed up the promotion of the pages and the sales.
1. If you have a website which is available in different regions in different languages then it would be best to use subdomains to manage your e-commerce store.
2. If an inexperienced team is developing an online store then using subdomains will be a better choice. Even if it is developed incorrectly then it will not affect the main website and the mistakes can be easily corrected without much damage.
3. If the main information site does not suit the online store developed thematically then using a subdomain would be better. As the visitors may stop visiting the website if non-thematic goods are sold.
4. If your E-commerce store requires more procedures to protect the customer’s financial information which may not be required for the rest of the website then you can host the E-commerce store on the subdomain. This way you can pick up a unique theme rather than develop a good design from your existing website.
5. If you are redesigning your website then you can use subdomain to build a website from scratch. You can make the improvements and see how your website works in real-time. You can send traffic to your new website and see how people interact with your new platform. When you want to make your new website live just shift it to your root domain.
6. If you want to launch a new product or have a new market or have a new concept then use subdomains. This way you will get to develop a new website without having to set up a new domain. You can test your concept and if it works then you can add it to your main website. Using a subdomain can give you greater freedom without compromising on the user experience.
7. If you are selling in foreign markets then it would be best to use subdomains. There are many things to consider like unique content, translations, hreflang tags and more. It would be better to serve the different regions on subdomains. This way you will not have to attach your E-commerce store separately to each country’s website.
According to many SEO practitioners it is best to develop an E-commerce store at the root directory and place all the content in the subfolders.
You can build your website at the root directory and use subdomains to organise your website if required.