Managing multiple websites can be a challenge, especially when trying to decide whether to use subdomains or addon domains. Both options have their pros and cons and the right choice depends on your specific needs and goals. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare subdomains and addon domains so you can make an informed decision about the best setup for your websites.
What are Subdomains?
A subdomain is an additional domain that is part of your main domain. For example, if your main website is example.com, you could create subdomains like blog.example.com, store.example.com, etc.
Technically speaking, subdomains are third-level domains that are part of the same second-level domain. The subdomain name comes before the main domain name and is separated with a period.
Some key things to know about subdomains:
- They are free to create and don’t require any additional hosting costs. You can create unlimited subdomains on your main domain.
- Subdomains share the same web hosting account and server resources as the main domain. There is no need for separate hosting for subdomains.
- Subdomains are treated as internal links and pass link equity from one section of a website to another. This can help with SEO.
- Visitors will still identify the website as part of the main brand, since the subdomain has the main domain name in it.
- Subdomains can be individually managed in cPanel without affecting the main domain.
Overall, subdomains allow you to segment sections of a website while still keeping everything under the umbrella of your main domain. This is useful for categorizing content and resources.
What are Addon Domains?
An addon domain is a completely separate domain name that is hosted on the same account as your main domain. For example, if your main site is example.com, you could have additional sites like othersite.com, anothersite.net, etc. hosted on the same account.
Some key things to know about addon domains:
- They require registering an additional domain name, which costs money annually. But the hosting is shared with your main domain.
- Addon domains have separate folders, accounts, and software configuration on the hosting account. They are essentially standalone websites.
- Link equity does not pass from an addon domain to a main domain by default. The sites are not related in Google’s eyes.
- Visitors will not identify addon domains as being associated with the main domain. The brand and marketing is separate.
- Addon domains can be individually managed in cPanel without affecting other domains.
In summary, addon domains allow you to host completely separate websites under one hosting account. This is useful for unrelated sites, brands, or online properties you manage.
Comparing Subdomains vs. Addon Domains
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s compare subdomains and addon domains across some key factors:
Subdomains retain the link equity and authority of the main domain, while addon domains do not. This can benefit subdomains in search rankings. However, addon domains may be completely separate sites for an unrelated brand or niche, in which case retaining the main domain’s SEO would not be desirable.
Visitors will identify subdomains as belonging to the main site. Addon domains appear as unique sites without brand association to the main domain. Choose accordingly based on your goals.
Main Site Integration
Subdomains keep everything under the main domain umbrella. Addon domains are operationally separate from the main site. Consider ease of navigation and infrastructure.
Subdomains are free to set up. Addon domains require an additional domain registration fee annually. But hosting costs are shared on the same account.
Subdomains and addon domains share server resources with the main domain. Limits depend on your hosting plan. Monitor resource usage carefully if managing multiple sites.
A security breach on one subdomain or addon domain risks impacting others on the same account. Isolate sensitive sites with dedicated hosting accounts.
Managing everything under one account is easier. But separating sites across accounts limits risks and consolidates billing. Choose based on preference.
Subdomains share software configurations. Addon domains can have separate software as needed. Factor in design and functionality requirements.
As you can see, both options have distinct advantages aligned with different goals and situations. Keep these considerations in mind when deciding on the right structure.
Best Practices for Using Subdomains
Here are some best practices if you decide subdomains are the right fit for your website structure:
- Keep the subdomain name short, simple, and descriptive. For example, blog.example.com is better than lengthyblog.example.com.
- Only create subdomains when there is a clear need to segment content or audiences. Don’t dilute your main domain with unnecessary subdomains.
- Make sure subdomains are well-integrated into the main site navigation and branding. Make it easy for visitors to identify they are still on your site.
- Set up proper redirects if you change or remove subdomains in the future so link equity is not lost. Use 301 redirects for SEO.
- Monitor site speed and server load across subdomains. Optimize images and files or consider upgrading hosting as needed.
- Carefully consider which subdomains should pass link equity and be indexed. Some may not need SEO value from the main domain.
- Implement security best practices across all subdomains, not just the main domain. SSL certificates, strong passwords, etc. apply to all.
Following these tips will ensure your subdomains are configured properly and safely to maximize their value to your websites.
Best Practices for Managing Addon Domains
If you opt to use addon domains for your website structure, here are some recommendations to follow:
- Register descriptive domain names that represent the brand or content on each site. Avoid generic names like “site1.com”.
- Make sure each addon domain has a clear purpose and focus area. Don’t create sites you don’t actually need.
- Set up separate accounts and logins for each addon domain to keep everything compartmentalized.
- Install security plugins, SSL certificates, and follow best practices for each individual addon domain site.
- Configure software like CMSs and analytics on a per domain basis so sites can be individually customized.
- Redirect old addon domains properly if you retire or change them. Ensure visitors and SEO value moves to new domain names.
- Monitor traffic and resource usage carefully for each addon domain and upgrade hosting plans as needed.
- Understand that link equity does not pass between the addon domains by default. So SEO efforts need to be separate.
- Keep branding, marketing, and site designs purposefully distinct unless you want multple domains associated.
Follow these tips when working with addon domains on your hosting account so everything runs smoothly and safely.
Subdomains vs. Addon Domains: Final Recommendations
So when should you choose subdomains vs addon domains for your website structure? Here are some final recommendations:
- Use subdomains when you want internal site segmentation under the same brand and domain authority. For example, having a blog subdomain.
- Use addon domains when you have multiple independent brands, businesses, or properties that need unique online identities.
- Consider subdomain usage if SEO value passing from the main domain is important. But set up parameters properly.
- Addon domains may be better for completely unrelated sites you manage like ecommerce stores, client sites, etc.
- Evaluate costs, convenience, branding strategy, and security isolation needs when deciding between the two structures.
- For maximum flexibility, use a combination of both subdomains and addon domains depending on the purpose of each additional site.
- Monitor site performance carefully as you add more subdomains or addon domains to your hosting account.
Neither structure is inherently right or wrong – it depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Evaluate all options and consider the pros and cons when managing your online properties. With proper setup and care, both subdomains and addon domains can be powerful tools for your website strategy.
Managing multiple websites on the same hosting account provides flexibility and cost efficiency. Carefully weighing the differences between subdomains and addon domains allows you to choose the optimal structure.
Subdomains integrate sites under the same domain while retaining branding and authority. Addon domains provide separation for unrelated websites and brands to establish their own identity. Use this guide to inform your decision between the two options.
With best practices in place like careful monitoring, security procedures, and site integration, you can successfully leverage subdomains, addon domains, or both to expand your web presence. Just be sure to choose the right approach based on each site’s specific purpose and your overall objectives.