Many websites use sub-domain names to organize or help direct people to specific spots on a website but do these sub-domains and how individuals promote them, result in visitors visiting the .com domain name instead of the actual sub-domain promoted?
I always shake my head when I see a company promote a sub-domain in advertising, because I know it causes confusion. Most of the time, it results in the user forgetting the . and creating an entirely different domain name. Often times, people take the sub-domain term and simply add .com to it, because it’s natural.
Walmart for an example promotes survey.walmart.com for customers to take a survey. This results in people typing SurveyWalmart.com or Survey.com or WalmartSurvey.com and I’m sure more variations.
One example that I have personally dealt with is from the college Western Illinois University. They use a sub-domain WesternOnline.wiu.edu
- WesternOnline is the sub-domain
- wiu.edu is the domain name
I happen to own the domain name WesternOnline.com and have for many, many years. Year after year, there is a large amount of traffic to my domain name and people are constantly filling out the contact form on my domain name (which is in place for people to contact with interest in purchasing the domain name), likely thinking in some form they are trying to login to WIU.edu. Constantly!
WIU uses the sub-domain for a Central Sign-on Authentication. If I wanted to, I could create a login type box on my domain name and capture user id’s and passwords. I do not do this, nor would I consider it, but I could!
The school is losing visitors, putting data at risk and creating confusion by promoting a sub-domain and not owning the matching .com domain name to it. This promoted sub-domain often results in users visiting a domain name (which is much more common than typing a sub-domain) which is often different than the domain name of the sub-domain.
This is another “base to cover” if you use and promote sub-domains. It is always best practice to own the domain name of the sub-domain being used and or promoted and redirect that domain name to the sub-domain intended. This is not necessarily needed if you only use sub-domains “on the web” and are not promoting it in print, media etc.
Even though in my personal example, the domain name is a .edu extension, users are still visiting/typing the .com domain name! .com is natural to add because the vast majority of time, that is what we all type.