What is a Subdomain and How to Create One for Free?

what is a subdomain

Are you interested in using subdomains to extend your website?

Subdomains make it easy to organize different sections of your website or create child domains that act like branches of your website.

In this guide, we’ll explain what subdomains are and how they work. We’ll discuss how they affect your SEO and what purposes you can use them for. We’ll also show you how to create subdomains for free.

What is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is like a secondary branch of your main domain. In other words, it’s like a new section of your domain. It is connected to your main domain but acts like a whole new website. You need to manage SSL, security, plugin updates, theme changes, and so on for each sub domain separately.

how subdomain works

When you create a subdomain, it will add a new string of text before the domain name.

For instance, if your main domain is example.com, you can have subdomains like:

  • store.example.com
  • blog.example.com
  • shop.example.com
  • news.example.com

In the first example, ‘store’ is your subdomain, while example.com is your main domain.

So why would you need a subdomain? We answer that next.

Why Use a Subdomain?

Subdomains can be used for all sorts of purposes. Here are the most popular reasons website owners create subdomains:

Test Environment

Many website owners create a subdomain like test.example.com as a staging version of their site. They use this to experiment with changes, plugin updates, or theme modifications before they change their live site.

Organize Sections

Some websites like to have separate sections for different purposes such as blog, news, store, and so on.

Mobile-Only Sites

You’ll see some websites that have a separate subdomain for their mobile version. This would usually look like m.example.com.

Product Demo

You may want to allow potential customers to take a tour of your digital product before they buy. For this, you can set up a subdomain like demo.example.com that users can visit to get an inside view of the dashboard and features.


If you have a website where you also want to sell merchandize or products but want to keep this separate from your main business site, then you could set up a subdomain called store.example.com.

Then your subdomain will handle transactions and related data and you can keep that segregated from your main site.


If you are catering to different countries, you could create subdomains that are tailored to local areas. This could include uk.example.com and ca.example.com


You can also create sub-websites based on the type of users on your site. So for instance, your subdomains would be


You could even have subdomains to separate internal employee processes like:


These are just some of the use cases for subdomains. You can use subdomains in all sorts of ways.

If you’ve ever used free website builders and blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, Wix, and GoDaddy, you would see that your free website is actually a subdomain like mybloggingdiary.wordpress.com or melindabartley.blogger.com.

Now, we’ll show you how to get a subdomain for your main website for free!

How to Get a Subdomain for Free?

Most web hosting companies and domain registrars allow you to create sub domains free of cost. Here are our top picks:


When you sign up for a web hosting plan or buy a domain from them, you’ll be allowed to create unlimited subdomains for free.

How to Create a Subdomain?

If you’re using a free website platform with a free domain like mybloggingdiary.wordpress.com, you most likely will not be able to create a subdomain. This isn’t a feature offered in these free plans. You need to check with customer support if they allow you to do that.

Usually, you’ll be able to create a subdomain only if you own the main domain.

In this example, we will create a subdomain using our favorite hosting company Bluehost, but the process is similar in all platforms.

To create a subdomain in Bluehost, log in to your web host account and click on the Domains tab on the left. In the submenu, you can open the Subdomain option.

When the dashboard opens, you’ll see a button to Add a Subdomain in the top right corner of the page.

In the form that appears, you can enter a name for your subdomain like ‘demo’. This is the part that will appear before your domain name. Then choose your main domain and click the ‘Create’ button.

Now you’ll see that your subdomain is created. It’s that easy!

Your subdomain address will now appear on the front of your domain name. You’ll also see other information like the root domain and document root.

You’ve just created your first subdomain. To create more subdomains, simply repeat the same process.

Subdomain FAQs

1. Will creating subdomains hurt SEO Rankings?

Subdomains generally don’t hurt site rankings. Google’s algorithms have a way of crawling subdomains and subdirectories to understand what you’re doing with your site. You can use a tool like All in One SEO to make sure you have a clear sitemap to communicate to Google exactly how your site is laid out.

2. Do I need to enable SSL on subdomains?

Yes. Keep in mind, every subdomain acts as an individual website. You’ll need to take care of plugin updates and security for each website separately. This means you need to enable SSL on every sub domain you create.

See: How to Get SSL Certificate Working on Subdomains (2 Methods)

3. What is the difference between subdomains and multisite?

Multisite is a type of WordPress installation that allows you to create and manage a network of multiple websites from a single WordPress dashboard. You can roll out changes to the entire network in one go. So when you update a plugin, it will run the update for the entire website.

Subdomains act as separate websites altogether. You need to manage them like different entities.

subdomain example

4. What is the difference between subdomain vs subdirectory ?

As we know, a subdomain is a separate site that is connected to your main site. It acts like a division of your main domain.

A subdirectory is like a subfolder of a website. It is not separate from your site, it is a part of your website. What you need to know here is that your website’s files and data is stored in one big folder. This is then organized into subfolders or subdirectories.

subdomain illustration

So for example, your blog content will be stored in an individual directory called www.example.com/blog.

That’s all we have for you today. We hope you found this guide on subdomains helpful.

Next, you’ll also want to see our guides:

We’ve handpicked these guides for you because you’ll likely need them when you create subdomains. First, with subdomains, you may face technical issues so you’ll want to learn how to point your domain to your web host and check and modify DNS records. And next, if you’re using WordPress to send out emails from your main domain and subdomain, it’s best to use an SMTP service that will ensure your emails are delivered.

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