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The Use of Subdomains and Subdirectories

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In this session, we answer a question about how subdomains and subdirectors work. We explain what they are and when and how to use them. Then we show examples of subdomains, how to recognize them from the website name. We use them mostly to develop demonstration sites but they can be created for many reasons.

Video Transcript

Rick: Okay so you had a question about… that you… I mean, it looks like it’s a question about subdomains, whether you should… when to use subdomains and whether the subdomain should be versus Do I understand your question correctly or…

Member: I’m not sure. When you were talking about it last week, I was thinking of… I didn’t quite relate to what you were saying because I’m kind of a visual guy. I kind of need to see what you’re talking about rather than hear it. But you were talking about like… well I guess like that their exact thought or whether you have it as a… behind the backslash. And you were trying to explain how to use which where and I was surprised to hear that you could put WordPress in either way or run it like 3 different sites. It’d be before and the after and then the middle and I was confused about that. And I got to thinking, well, if you want to make a page to opt-in for a sales page, I mean, if you want to make a page to opt-in for a keyword phrase, where would you use it in those 3 combinations? Or does it make a difference? I’m just kind of confused about this whole thing.

Rick: Sure. Well, in terms of the… okay, what you have here is for example, I created a subdomain today for the purpose of developing this site to demonstrate this custom post type case study that we’re working on with Reese. And in this case, the name of the site… let’s see if we can get the whole thing out there.

Okay so this is the name of the site, The subdomain is custom post. The main domain name is Now, it’s theoretically possible although archaic. That is, people don’t really do it anymore. But it is theoretically possible to take this combination of subdomain and domain and put it behind and make it like an old HTML style site where instead of that, you would have this…oh, it’s just going to behave poorly, isn’t it? Where in any case, the… I’m just not going to get this right, am I? Let’s see, 36.

Member: And you probably need to take out the dot right there.

Rick: Yeah. So you have… essentially, you have this Now this is… it’s theoretically possible for you to have a subdomain named this because that is one of the ways people used to do subdomains. However, these days, the typical way to do a subdomain is to put the dot in the middle. And so you put the subdomain name in first and then the dot and then the domain name.

Now, one of the nice things about doing it this way is that it’s clear that it’s a subdomain. When you look at it here, it’s not clear that it’s a subdomain. This might just be… well, in WordPress, it could be a subpage or it could be a subcategory. In standard HTML, it’s a subdirectory of the main website. And so if there is some reason or another why you wanted to have a subdomain but hide it, you can refer to the subdomain like this. Although I don’t think that there’s any value in hiding it and I don’t think that there’s any value in… I just don’t see any potential benefit in doing that. There may be a positive benefit in doing it this way and that you know, maybe you can string some keywords together into a keyword phrase like this. Although you know, I don’t know how much value that actually has.

Member: Why would you have a subdomain to begin with?

Rick: Well, because my main domain, is already filled up at the site. And so I don’t want to have a ton of domain names for this so… because I have to pay for them. But I can have a subdomain, custompost.byobtutorial and I can use it to create another site on which is completely independent of byobtutorial so it’s got its own WordPress installation on it.

Member: So it’s simply a way of having two sites in one then? There’s no other benefit?

Rick: Or 12 sites on a single domain or 20 sites on a single domain or…

Member: I see what you mean, yeah.

Rick: I mean, let’s just look at my Bluehost panel for a second.

Member: And you use it to develop different aspects that you’re trying to demonstrate. It’s how you’re using it.

Rick: Well, I use it to develop demonstration sites, right.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: That’s exclusively what I use it for but that’s only because it’s… I think it’s convenient. Other people… well you know, I created this one demonstration… it’s not actually true. For example, facebook.byobwebsite, not But, this is actually a site that I… this is a site that is my Fan Central, that I drag into my Facebook page.

Member: I don’t understand.

Rick: Well, if you go to my Facebook page and you go over here to Fan Central, Fan Central is actually this right here, is actually simply pulling this website in.

Member: So Fan Central is pulling in your add-on domain?

Rick: Fan Central is pulling in my… it’s not an add-on domain. It’s a subdomain.

Member: Subdomain

Rick: There’s a distinction but this is is a you know, an active domain that… well actually, I do hide it from search engines because I want… I’m not really trying to draw traffic to it this way. I just want a method of delivering you know, a mechanism here for easily posting stuff on the site without having to… and WordPress just happens to be a very easy way to do this.

Member: Okay, let me ask you a few questions then. That addon domain or… I get it mixed up. But the subdomain, the, that formula… that would be another way of putting a sales page up or a landing page up?

Rick: It absolutely is. In fact, I have which, I think I showed you last week… which isn’t everything on it. It’s got my copy of Optimize Press loaded on it but you know, it was, in fact, going to be a place where I put landing pages when I get around to doing it. But it certain… that is what my intention was, was to put landing pages there.

Member: And so when a person then opts in or buys into whatever it is you’re selling then you can just redirect them to another page or another addon domain or the root?

Rick: Yeah. You can… I mean, the main domain for that, depending upon what appliances… I mean, what software you’re using. It’s kind of hard to… I mean, WP eStore will take money on one domain and will register that sale on another. So it would be possible to have WP eStore set up here on offers.byobwebsite and so it’ll take money for somebody who signs up for the site but it’ll register the sale back on the other site which is byobwebsite. That is possible but that’s not possible in using Shopp for example. That’s possible using WP eStore but I actually don’t know of another… there probably are other ecommerce plugins that’ll do that. But you know, it is its own website and so unless the plugins are designed to communicate between websites you know, what you do on this website stays on this website.

Member: Okay well then, if you find somebody up for some product or program or something there, how do you get him to go to the next level or the next entry level or the page where he’s supposed to go first into the course or whatever you’re selling?

Rick: Were I doing that, I’m doing it so it’s hard to show you. But were I doing that, I would use the redirection ability of WP eStore because WP eStore will redirect somebody, once they’ve made a purchase to you know, redirect them to the Thank You page. And so I would have them redirected to the Thank You page on the appropriate site and there, they would be in the right place from that point on.

So for example, let’s just say you had a hidden membership site, right? I’ve actually thought about doing this myself with BYOB Website. I’ve thought about trying to speed BYOB Website up by taking all of the membership components out of it and taking all the membership stuff and hiding it in a site that just isn’t discoverable by Google, isn’t indexed by Google. And then when somebody makes a purchase, they’re directed to the hidden site instead. I thought about doing that but I haven’t done that.

But if I were going to do that, I would have, on the hidden site, the Thank You page. So take the money on the one site, once the money changes hands, the plugin redirects them to the Thank You page on another site. And then you know, they’ve got to know that they have to go to the other site. They’re never going to get to the site by going to They’re going to have to go to So you’ll have to help them understand that.

But there certainly is a way to have you know, membership sites that people can’t find by searching. But nevertheless, that you can direct people to once they have… once they’ve made a purchase.

Now you know, people do this with support all the time. You know, their support site is a subdomain off of their main site. And they want to provide support, they do it off of the main site. I noticed that quite a bit.

Member: I’m getting my eyes opened here.

Rick: Okay well, we can talk about more of that later. But…

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