Will your SEO value be negatively affected if you attempt to mask the domain with forwarding or a redirect? It’s a common question that many website owners have and the issue always boils down to duplicate content. If you are forwarding one domain to another and both have content on them, then you’re providing the search engines with two duplicate sites. You won’t have any control over which of the duplicates that a search engine will want to place higher than the other.
In the worst case scenario, a search engine could decide not to serve either one of them because of the duplication.
One of the most common ways to get around this problem is to use a 301 redirect. You would create a new domain, but you would need to leave it blank. You would then redirect that domain to your preferred domain and you’ll still get plenty of traffic from all of your sources. Here are some other ways to use domain forwarding to your advantage.
1. Forward people to a new domain without really doing it.
Because value is being emphasized by search engines today, having two distinct websites that are equally valuable within your portfolio could be better than just one. Consider building up each website with unique content that approaches your expertise from two different perspectives. Put in links between your sites, be transparent about it, and you might just have a winner on your hands.
2. Put all of your materials onto a single website.
One of the best ways to track data flow from prospects is to see what component of your business they happen to be interested in. If you’ve got multiple domains that are all reflective of certain avenues of revenue that you’re looking to build, then the tracking data from each referral source can help you to know which parts of the business you should hold and which parts you should probably fold.
3. Pass on the accumulated equity to one site.
If you really just want to have a singular web presence, then your best case scenario is to allow multiple sites to age naturally and begin accumulating some SEO equity. After a certain period of time, you could then use a 301 redirect to transfer the equity from one site to the other so that you’ve got double equity on one website.
4. Avoid using the 302 redirect if at all possible.
The 302 redirect acts a lot like the 301 version, but the difference is that there isn’t any equity that gets passed along. If you’re thinking about updating the look of a website, then the 302 redirect can help you be able to test out that new look without really creating a bother for your prospects. If you have seasonal products that you sell on an e-commerce site, then this would be the perfect use for the 302. Otherwise you’re better off using the 301 redirect whenever possible.
5. Utilize the canonical tags.
If you do have multiple websites and they’ve got similar content on them, then the canonical tags can help to get you out of that pickle pretty effectively. The domains with the canonical tags aren’t going to be crawled or indexed, however, and there’s no way to transfer any equity from one site to the other. This is why pure duplication should be the primary use of this method so that your SEO efforts don’t go backward instead of forward.
6. Incorporate your WWW redirect.
If you’ve got a specific domain, like www.yourblog.com, then seeing an address like yourblog.com seems to the average person to be the same thing. The only problem is that the WWW version of a website address is considered by the internet to be a subdomain of your primary website. It’s just like having and address like store.yourblog.com on your site. You’ll need to redirect one to the other so that you aren’t splitting up your equity from the traffic that is comin from two different sources.
7. You might be forwarding without actually forwarding.
It’s possible to setup domain forwarding that is perfect for your visitors, but problematic for search engines. Before finalizing any forwarding job, make sure to double check the DNS records to make sure everything has been properly setup. You may need to contact the registrar of your domain name. Website hosting configurations can sometimes host cached versions of a website that get picked up by the search engines and even the website itself can have content management systems get in the way.
8. Modify the robots.txt to block the specific website that is in question.
One of the oldest suggestions for fixing duplicate content is still one of the most effective. If you block a duplicate website from within the robots.txt file, then the search engine crawlers are going to ignore the duplicate site and focus on your main content page. If you are using this method, then be sure to take down any links you’ve got to the blocked page so that you aren’t being indexed with invaluable content that could ultimately penalize you.
9. Do you need to support multiple languages?
Sometimes the easiest way to get around duplicated content is to inform the search engine that the content is designed for a different audience demographic. Even if a website is in English, it can be directed to American, Australian, and UK markets rather effectively with just some minor spelling modifications. Using an alternate link tag will still index all pages in a group, but it will help a search engine decide which pages are the best to display in every particular country in which you have a domain presence.
10. Utilize the noindex/follow component.
If you have archived blog posts, then there’s a good chance that you’ve got duplicated content on your website. Unless you’ve incorporated this tip into your blog and you’re archiving, then every blog post is going to be duplicated. You can either eliminate the archive or put in the noindex/follow to direct the search engine more properly.
Domain forwarding isn’t a difficult process, but it is an important one that cannot be overlooked. Follow these tips today and you’ll be able to have a positive experience.