You want to buy the perfect keyword domain name for your website but you realize even the most obscure ccTLDs for that exact term have been registered. So you look around for other opportunities that will allow you have the exact keyword without buying one in the aftermarket. And then you stumble upon the perfect solution – domain.xx.com (fake example) – now that seems perfect!
But wait! That is not a domain name you’re buying, it’s a sub-domain! What??! Yeah, it’s a sub domain, not a fully qualified domain. It’s like buying domain.mwzd.com – only the root domain (mwzd in this example) is usually a two letter domain in a gTLD or ccTLD. So essentially you’re paying registration / renewal on a domain which is really a sub-domain – kind of like paying for use of domain.blogger.com without the relevance!
This of course doesn’t apply to ccTLDs where third level registrations are allowed by the registry either exclusively or in conjunction with second level registrations – for example .co.uk, .com.au, .co.jp, .co.in, .net.in, etc The easiest way to tell whether what you’re buying is a domain or a sub-domain, check if the ‘extension’ is officially delegated by IANA or allowed by the relevant registry.
Big deal, what’s the difference? After all Google says it’s all about the content in any case. Partially true, but this is where it gets complicated, while good content will help you get ranked, hosting this content on a sub-domain will actually only benefit the root domain, not your specific sub-domain url.
So you might build the world’s greatest website about domains on domain.xx.com but the benefits will accrue to xx.com, not to your ‘domain’. It is also a lot tougher to get a sub-domain to rank. So do yourself a favor, make sure you’re buying a real domain and not being taken for a ride. Ask an expert if you’re unsure, after all, you don’t do a root canal on yourself! Do you own any sub-domains? Please share your experience via a comment!