New Domain or Subdomain?

When you’re starting to build your web presence and you have your first domain up and running, the next question is often: “Should my next website have a new domain name, or should it be a subdomain of the existing one?”

The answer is not cut and dried because there are benefits and disadvantages to each approach, and much depends on the purposes of your websites.

Using a New Domain Name

Giving your new website a new domain name means it is not tied to the first domain, and the two sites can go their separate ways and build completely different looks, feel, and target audiences. This can be a benefit if your sites have different purposes. For example, if your first website is a personal site and your second is a business site, it can make sense to give them different domain names.

Giving the websites different domain names also means you can more easily take down one of them if it is unsuccessful, because each site has its own reputation and success rate, and taking down one has no effect on the other.

The disadvantage is that each site has to develop its own links. A website’s ranking in search engines such as Google and Yahoo! is greatly influenced by the number of links pointing to the website, so if they are separate, they may have fewer links than if they were under the same domain name.

Using a Subdomain

The main benefit of assigning your new website to a subdomain is that it can create additional links. For example, if your first website is a commercial site and your second is a personal blog, you may find more people will link to an interesting blog than to a site trying to sell them something. If you have a domain name with one or more subdomains, most search engines view the links as all pointing to the one domain name, and your site moves up the rankings.

One disadvantage of creating your new site in a subdomain is that some search engines actually treat subdomains as separate sites anyway, and the links then have no benefit for that search engine’s rankings. Another disadvantage is that some users (if they notice the URL) may see your subdomain as belonging to your main website, which might not be what you want.

The Choice is Yours

Almost all web hosts allow unlimited subdomains, but many hosting plans also allow you to host multiple or unlimited numbers of domain names, so it’s not necessarily more expensive to have separate domain names. The choice you make really depends on the type of websites you’re building, and how closely you want them to be associated with each other.