Subdomains for NACHP, WPP and WMAA

This summer, web content for the Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP), the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP), and the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association (WMAA) will be moved out of the site and into subdomains. The move to subdomains will provide a more tailored content strategy and a better user experience. The decision followed careful consideration of the pros and cons and discussions with NACHP, WPP and WMAA.

The three new subdomain sites will share the same WordPress theme (page templates and components for layout) as the site, and will be launched a few months in advance of the school’s site.

What’s a Subdomain?

A subdomain is a prefix added before the main domain name. The School of Medicine and Public health’s site,, is also a subdomain (or third level domain) of The new sites for NACHP, WPP and WMAA will be fourth-level domains and will reside at the following URLs when they launch:


Subdomains vs. Subfolders

subdomains vs. subfoldersNACHP, WPP and WMAA are currently in subfolders of the website. An example of the current subfolder structure is

Using a subdomain, instead of a subfolder, has the potential to improve user experience and SEO on both the subdomain and the root site by simplifying content structure and navigation. Content is more discoverable when it’s not buried deep in the architectural hierarchy and overlap of navigation items (links by the same name that go different places, e.g., about, contact, news) may confuse users. A subdomain also provides the opportunity to address audiences in a more targeted way, hone keyword usage, and showcase unique branding.

Benefits of a Subdomain

Targeted Content Strategy: The target audience for is prospective students, faculty and staff. Given the unique audiences for NACHP, WPP and WMAA, a subdomain site will allow for a content strategy that is appropriate for their mission and their users.

Stronger Branding: While the sites will use the same base theme and components, design elements and brand pillars will now be represented uniquely on each site through carefully selected imagery and text. All sites will continue to align with the university’s brand guidelines.

Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO and keyword strategy will be approached with the knowledge that Google ranks web pages, not websites. With their unique audiences and purpose, there will not be any significant overlap in keyword strategy so subdomain pages will not negatively impact the ranking of pages.

Simplified Navigation and Better User Experience: Dedicated navigation, clear paths to content, and less content overall will help users find their way to what they are looking for, faster and easier.

Shorter URLs: While URL length and slashes make no difference in Google search rankings, shorter URLs are easier to remember and share.


Will this approach create more work?
Administration of multiple websites is slightly more complex, particularly when one group is doing all the updates. Multiple sites has the benefit of compartmentalizing editing access and reducing the amount of clutter on the backend.

How will this affect search across all the sites?
Typically in-site search only indexes the content on the individual site. We are using a customizable search tool called Algolia. This search tool will allow us to show results from NACHP, WPP and WMAA content on the new site. Search on the individual subdomains will only search content on those sites (results will not include other subdomains or

Won’t this create a lot of broken links?
With the move from subfolders to subdomains, many URLs will change. To reduce broken links in search results (and through direct access like bookmarks), we will set up redirects at the subfolder level for WPP and NACHP. The WMAA subfolder (/alumni/) will become an alumni page for all health professions programs and will link to the new WMAA site as well as alumni content for MPH, PA, DPT, MGCS and MD-PhD.

How long will it take Google to index the new sites?
The subdomain sites will be submitted for expedited indexing by Google. It will still take some time (typically 2-3 weeks) for the new subdomain pages to appear in search results and to regain “authority” in search rankings.

UW–Madison Subdomain Resources