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Store in a domain or subdomain?

Are you planning to open an online store, but you are not entirely sure where to put it? Check out our short guide and adjust its location to the needs of your e-commerce! Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of individual solutions, thanks to which your store will quickly become a popular spot in the Google search engine. Directory, subdomain or domain? Choose wisely!

What’s what in this puzzle

DOMAIN – a series of characters that allows you to define the scope of the website within the DNS (Domain Name System). The domain consists of two parts – the main name and the ending, most often specifying the language and country associated with the website.

SUBDOMAIN – an address created within the existing main domain. The address that starts with www is also a subdomain.

CATALOG – folder within the main domain.

The basic component of an online store

The first half of 2020 will forever be a period of many changes. Along with the slowdown in the economy and the closure of stationary outlets, part of the business moved to the Internet. A lot of online stores have been created, and are still being built, that support the activities of entrepreneurs so far, and probably many of them will decide to continue online sales also in the coming months and years – not only due to the pandemic.

The main task of the store is sales – it is no different in the case of its virtual version. Like the stationary, the Internet version requires appropriate preparation, which will enable existing customers to conveniently shop. With the creation of an online store, the possibility of reaching new recipients also opens up.

When taking a step towards the sales website, it is worth getting acquainted with the rules that will allow us to quickly start in the search engine. They include, among others the need to act in accordance with the recommendations for optimization for search engines, especially Google.

Subdomain or catalog – where to put the store?

One of the first problems that business may encounter when moving to the Internet is the need to make a decision related to the location of the store. If the current website of the company was informative – and we want to maintain it – the online store may appear next to the current page – in a subdomain or catalog.

The decision regarding the location of the store is crucial due to the visibility of the domain in the search engine. Older domains that have an established position in Google and lead customers to a brick-and-mortar store should not be abruptly modified and, for example, completely rebuilt into an online store. Changing the URL structure, changing the content and layout of the website may result in the loss of existing positions and de facto mean the need to position the store’s website from the beginning.

On the other hand, the main goal of some websites is to deliver content, and the associated store – despite the thematic consistency – is to be a separate entity, serving, for example, to sell 2-3 own products. Goods from this type of online stall will be sold mainly through blog entries and posts in social media, and its visibility in SERPs will be much less important.

So … shop in the catalog or in the subdomain? Or maybe a new domain? Let’s check the pros and cons of these solutions and how Google looks at them!

Positioning the store in the catalog

Developing an existing website by adding a store to it will keep the existing structure and position of the website in the search engine. It is possible that the enlargement associated with the addition of new categories and product pages will have a very positive effect on existing items. And vice versa – higher deposits of old subpages and traffic on them will allow for a better start with new ones.

The appearance of additional pages on the website gives new opportunities for internal linking. Thanks to this, both the older part of the website and the newer one will work for each other by supporting user navigation on the website and accelerating indexing of new content and products.

Behind the success of such a solution, however, is the earlier correct construction and optimization of the website. Further optimization work should take into account the entire page, i.e. modifications for keywords should be broken down into the entire domain, and not only within the newly added directory. Among other potential problems, it is also worth mentioning the payback in terms of website construction and the risks associated with changing its performance. The launch of the store requires technical modifications, the end result of which may be a slowdown of the website.

Before starting the store, it is worth making sure that our server will withstand additional traffic, and the technical solutions used will allow for trouble-free use of the entire website. You will also need to make sure that the domain is properly secured, i.e. it is covered by an SSL certificate. In the absence of a certificate, after implementing it, redirect the domain to a new address, starting with https: //, which may confuse the positions also for the old part of the website.

If the current website was based on one of the most popular CMSs, adding a store to it will be relatively easy. In the case of WordPress, a new store can be set up using the WooCommerce plugin. The VirtueMart component works well for Joomla.

Positioning the store on a subdomain

The decision to create a store on a subdomain means that you have to build your website from scratch. A subdomain – even though it is linked with the main domain – functions as a separate entity on the Internet. This is also considered by Google. It is true that the representatives of the search engine claim that robots combine subdomains and domains, but one does not affect the visibility of the other.

Putting the store on a subdomain, however, can be a good solution for those companies that want to separate their current activity from the store and limit possible changes in the amount of traffic on an existing website. This type of solution works well for bloggers – the store is built on a subdomain, thanks to which it does not disturb the normal work of the blog, while allowing the purchase of products.

A subdomain can also be a good solution for those who wish to sell their products in another country. According to the art of positioning, it is recommended to buy a separate domain for each country, with the extension appropriate for the language of the country to which it is to be addressed, but it is not always available. In this case – taking into account the potential difficulties in ranking – you can decide to create a store in the subdomain. This trick will work especially if our domain ending is .com.

Putting your store in a subdomain is not much different than building it on a separate domain – it is necessary to create the entire website infrastructure from scratch. However, this has its advantages – other technical solutions can be used on the website, without the risk of damaging the existing architecture, and thus – also the results of an already functioning domain. In addition, a fresh store may be in the testing phase for some time and undergo further modifications aimed at finding ideal solutions – the lack of a direct link to the main domain will not have a negative impact on its position.

Subdomain or directory? Alternative solutions for the store

The motivation to transfer sales activities to the network for each entrepreneur may be different, hence the multitude of solutions facilitating this jump. For those smaller, who plan to support their current activity through an online store, there is one more solution – a platform that provides ready-made stores. Pros? The prices of the smallest subscriptions are a few dollars per month, and all maintenance and security issues are on the side of the software supplier. The downside of this solution is the lack of your own domain – the store is created on a subdomain within an external website, which prevents its effective promotion in the search engine. The use of SaaS programs, however, allows you to quickly start sales and it will certainly work for bloggers who have one or two of their own electronic products, e.g. e-books.

Subdomain or catalog? Yes, Google says …

As I mentioned above, Google points out that web robots associate subdomains with main domains, also from the search engine perspective, the choice of one or the other solution should not be of great importance.

The subdomain is treated as a separate page, therefore it must be authenticated in Google Search Console – regardless of whether the home page is already connected to the console.

In practice, most positioners will suggest choosing a catalog. In our opinion, the history of the domain, links referring to it and the current visibility is an excellent basis for building a larger website. Expanding the existing content – especially under the supervision of a specialist – will allow for a faster start of a new part and may have a positive impact on subpages that have previously worked for high positions.

A similar debate – subdomain or catalog – may also apply to the location of the blog. Just like in the store, the blog should be associated with the main domain and left within it.

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