As webmasters, we often buy multiple domain names for our businesses for a variety of reasons, including brand protection, theme generation, and general interest. As SEO’s, we often talk a lot about the 301 redirect of domain names - the reason is so that search engines 1.) give proper, complete credit for your website and 2.) most importantly, avoid the confusion of multiple domains and the error of thinking that there is duplicate content online.There’s nothing wrong with having multiple domains point to a single website. Webmasters just need to be careful when marketing all of these domains.That means they should not do that.Webmasters and marketers should manage one domain presence. If domain names change, or are purchased for whatever reason, the following opportunities are available (in order of preference):
- 301 redirect the new domain, so that everyone (including search engines) understand that the new domain has “permanently moved” to the other domain
- Point the domain - this is something system admin’s can do (or whoever controls the web server), and is basically a 302 redirect, which means that the domain is temporarily located at the primary domain. Search engines do not transfer any credit for this domain, because it is assumed that it will eventually be moved.
- Park the domain. This is the improper solution. This means that the
domain essentially because another entity for the site. Here is an
example - in this case, The Massachusetts Board of Travel and Tourism:
In this example, the original domain is mass-vacation and it would seem that the new (and probably more appropriate) domain is massvacation.com. Unfortunately, both domains are “Parked” on the web server, so either web address is accessible online. When users enter the domain name in their address bar, they have access to that specific domain with the same content. This causes the appearance of duplicate content online - which is considered spam and can be severely penalized by major search engines (use this example to see the duplicate listing in search results). I do not believe that the MA Travel and Tourism site is going to be blacklisted from Google, but I do believe that this causes confusion not only to search engines, but to users as well. The optimal solution here, is to 301 redirect whatever domain is the old one, and make sure it redirects to the new one.
A previous post in our weblog highlights more information on 301 and 302 redirects, shows some examples and points to resources online to learn more. (portions of this post originally appeared in the "Discussions on Internet Technology" Weblog).
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