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Domain Names Forum

Acquired Competitor's Domain
domain,redirect,best practices

 11:35 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I run a website for a very very small niche service that has one major competitor, and for whatever reason, they have failed to make any updates, etc over the last six months to their site. Two months ago, their domain name lapsed, and after some digging, it looks like they have simply gone out of business, so I scooped the domain. Now that the 60 day window for moving the domain has passed, I'd love to point their domain to my site, but have a few concerns:

1) I don't want users to type in the old domain and be shocked that they are at my site, but I do want to capture these users and this traffic. Do I display some sort of message? Any suggestions?

2) As I said, I'd love to be able to capture any residual traffic, etc to my site, but I am wondering about getting penalized in Google for having a redirect to a different domain when they crawl the old domain name. Should I do a permanent redirect from old -> new via Apache? A simple ServerAlias? I am currently ranked in the top 10 for almost all of my keywords, would hate to negatively affect that by pointing the competitor's domain at my site.

Any best practices or suggestions here for this situation?




 11:37 pm on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

And as a quick follow up, what about multiple domains? Say I own both example.com and example.net, with the main url being example.com, with example.net pointing to example.com. Should I be doing a permanent redirect of example.net, or serveralias? This is a bit different than above as example.net has always been mine and has never pointed to any unique content, nor been submitted to google, etc. Thanks!


 12:14 am on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is less a "domain issue" and more a marketing psychology issue with SEO accompanying SEO issue, plus a possible undercurrent of "there could be legal issues". Not sure about the latter.

You might want to break your concerns down and post the distinct elements separately, in the properly focused forum.

As I understand 301s, from the search engine perspective (always a black box and subject to change without warning) "they aren't an inherently bad thing", i.e., they have their place. For example, a company changing its identity/domain would reasonably be expected to gradually 301 visitors from the old site to relevant sections of the new site.

I know of no "advice about Google" that comes with either a guaranty or an extended warranty. Caution is always the order of the day IF you are a Google dependent. So, perhaps 301 a small section and observe the results?


 12:13 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Should I be doing a permanent redirect of example.net, or serveralias?

This will depend totally on your registrar's facilities, some do it for free amd some make a small charge, however I would do the same for both your .net and your acquired domain.

Don't do this from your web server, from your registrar's control panel/service zone/whatever they call it, point the domain name at example.com, remembering to do both the with and without the www, some panels do them both and some insist on you doing both.

You will probably also have the option of retaining the .net and acquired name in the url and also the option of creating your own titlebar and description tags.

If you want to make this the cleanest re-direct with lots of love and kisses from the search engines then do NOT retain the name and create your own tags, let them go straight to example.com and then when anyone types in .net and your acquired domain there will be a seamless transition to example.com

From a marketing point of view if your competitor has gone bust, that's business, you've managed to obtain one of the company's "major" marketing assets in the liquidation at a knock-down price, I would have absolutely NO hesitation of doing this with any of my competitors' names providing they had gone bust and not just forgotten to renew the name.


 4:15 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, so I have pointed the domains at the 'root' domain via the DNS manager at my registrar. So on the apache side, your saying that I shouldn't do any 301's, etc, just a serveralias so that the server knows where to send the request? Also, would there not be the possibility of 'punishment' from the search engines for being able to reach identical content via two distinct urls?

I am not trying to fool visitors, search engines, etc so indeed as you recommend I am simply sending all traffic to MY site, the exact same site they would see through it's main URL.


 4:34 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would not do a redirect.

To maximise it, I would put up a small 4-5 page website near to the style of what was there before. (so that old visitors wont be shocked, and Google would still treat it as its own individual website). Have a sorry notice, some short explanation, and a big very clear button in the middle of the home page saying 'visit the new site!'


 6:48 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am not trying to fool visitors, search engines, etc so indeed as you recommend I am simply sending all traffic to MY site, the exact same site they would see through it's main URL.

The re-direct should be instantaneous, type in example.net or the other domain name and the visitor will see your example.com

The search engines do not see this as a duplicate domain under a different url...believe me, I have loads of them and as soon as the re-directed name is typed into a search engine the #1 result is the site to where I have re-directed, it's clean, efficient and doesn't burn up any of your resources:-)

Have a sorry notice, some short explanation, and a big very clear button in the middle of the home page saying 'visit the new site!'

That's a possibility however it may give the impression of "passing off" as the defunct company and may lead to unforeseen problems.

Better to leave it on the re-direct for now and if it is a keyword domain build a mini site for it in a few months time and then take off the re-direct and you'll get instant serps rankings since the search engines will know there is new content for spidering etc.


 7:16 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the input. One question, now that the user is arriving at my main .com site via the .net address, and since I am not doing any 301's, they see the site and see it via the .net address, (the address in their address bar) which might be confusing to the user and a bit confusing from a marketing perspective, especially if they are first time visitors. Is this how you've kept your multiple url domains configured? And just to confirm, Google is able to decide which URL is the main one for you, in that it redirects to that one? Worried that google would start redirecting my traffic to the secondary URL, as I am not telling them which I would like to be primary by not 301ing.




 12:52 am on Jan 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

they see the site and see it via the .net address

If, IF your registrar's service zone/panel/etc is anything like most of the ones I use (most call it url forwarding) you can tell it NOT to keep the referring domain name.

Don't worry if you do not get it right the first time, keep doing it until it does what you want it to do, it took me ages to suss this out and I still have to check I've done it right with every new one I do:-)


 1:02 am on Jan 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

A domain forwarding, got it. I was simply forwarding to an IP, where apache was then handling the request.


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