Recently a client asked me to clarify the difference between a domain name and a subdomain and why an internet entrepreneur would want one over the other. Here is my response:
Domains look like: “http://www.yoursite.com” or “http://yoursite.com”. Domains should ALWAYS be registered and owned by YOU, not the web designer. That way if the web designer disappears you have not lost your site (or your mind 🙂
SubDomains look like: “http://www.yoursite.getalife.com”. Once you buy a domain, you can make all the subdomains you want, for free. You might use subdomains to create several landing pages and opt-in pages. They need to stand alone in terms of keywords, descriptions etc but they will also help the rankings of your main domain. I recommend if you do use subdomains, you also buy keyword rich urls and redirect them to the subdomains. The good news about subdomains is that you don’t have to buy a lot of extra hosting because it is hosted as part of the main domain.
The other thing to keep in mind with subdomains is that whoever owns the domain has the control. So for instance, if you were invited to host your site on another site and given a subdomain of that site, the main site gets all the traffic and rankings in the search engines. Your “site” may or may not get found in the search engines and it is an uphill battle to brand yourself. Also, if the domain goes offline, your page(s) also go offline. The only time it might be worth hosting a site on another site using a subdomain is when 1. there is no budget for a site of one’s own 2. there is no need to have a site of ones own and 3. the person hosting the site is updating and maintaining all the pages for you.
Heidi Richards Mooney, Founder & CEO of Women in Ecommerce™ has been networking online since early 2007 and is the author of five wordpress blogs as well as strategist and content creator for several of her clients. She has a Facebook Profile, 5 Facebook Pages, is one of the top 5% on Twitter, and runs 3 groups on LinkedIn. Her new book, due out in the Summer of 2011 is “How to Hire the Perfect Web Designer: What Questions to Ask so You Don’t Loose Your Time, Your Mind and Your Money!”