Why Subdomains and What Are the SSL Options?

Subdomains have some key benefits, but some companies shy away from them because they’re not sure about whether each one needs their own SSL Certificate. Fact is you have a number of encryption choices. In today’s blog we’ll explore this topic so you can understand your options.

Why Subdomains?

Subdomains are an extension of your main website domain e.g. shop.mybrand.com, charity.mybrand.com. They differ from subdirectories, which in comparison would look like this: mybrand.com/shop, mybrand.com/australia.

These are the main reasons why businesses choose to use subdomains:
  • Search engines see subdomains as unique websites, separate to the main domain. This allows for companies to appear in search results multiple times, in conjunction with your main domain. This could enhance your profile as an authority in a specific sector, and push your competitors further down the page.
  • Subdomains can be used to focus on a specific audience or market segment.
  • They’re popular these days for mobile versions of blogs and stores.
  • If your site is in more than one country, subdomains allow for variations of language, content and tone of voice, while still linking every location under one brand.
  • In some cases, new subdomains for a site that ranks well will be indexed quickly and benefit from the main domain’s good standing in search engines.
  • For some companies, it fits their needs to use unique servers and software for different sections of their brand. Since subdomains are seen as a standalone site, they allow for this.
  • Subdomains are often used for test/staging/Sandbox environments.

Subdomains & SSL Protection

Now for the big question: do you need a dedicated SSL Certificate for each subdomain? The answer is yes and no. You can work with a subdomain as a stand-alone site with it’s own dedicated SSL product. But if you prefer all of your subdomains covered under one SSL umbrella, you can do that too.
There’s a range of encryption security products to suit individual businesses — these are your options:
  • Single Domain SSL — this will cover a single domain OR subdomain. The price ranges from super cheap for basic Domain Validation (DV), to higher costs for Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) Certificates. To learn more about validation, see Different types of SSLs.
  • Wildcard SSL — this is your go-to if you want to protect an unlimited amount of subdomains, including adding more whenever you choose within the lifespan of the Certificate. In other words, Wildcard SSLs let you go wild with any level of subdomains. e.g. ‘shop.mybrand.com’, ‘coats.shop.mybrand.com’ etc. Their price tag varies according to validation type, as with Single Domain SSLs.
  • Multi-Domain SSL — the right choice if you want to cover three domains OR subdomains, plus you can add up to 100 domains or subdomains for a small added fee. And with this type of SSL, you can cover any set of host names e.g. coats.shop.mybrand.com.
So, the bottom line is you have three main options, and what you choose will depend on your unique business needs.

Wrap Up

The above information explains why subdomains can be beneficial and your SSL Certificate options for them. The bottom line is this:
  • If you already have your website covered by a Single Domain Certificate which still has lots of shelf life, and you just need Domain Validation cover for an extra subdomain or two, your best option will be to go for another Single Domain DV Certificate.
  • If your business strategy includes having (or planning on adding) lots of subdomains, it will be cheaper and easier to get a Wildcard Certificate.
  • If you have more than one brand (meaning more than one main domain) as well as a number of subdomains, then a Multi-Domain Certificate would be the most cost effective.
  • Don’t forget that if you’re going for Organization Validation or Extended Validation, they take extra time and paperwork. This is another factor which could make a Wildcard or Multi-Domain more appealing, because you only have to go through that rigmarole once, instead of multiple times for each SSL Certificate.

And if you’re still not sure what’s best for your business needs, feel free to reach out to our SSL geeks using 24/7 Live Chat (the round blue bubble at the bottom right corner of our main website).
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