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Negative Effect of Domain Name Forwarding?
Chair




msg:230706
 8:02 am on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

This week I bought 3 domain names that are similar to my business domain name.

I initially intended to just park them, but I realize now that the company that sold them to me offers free domain name forwarding.

My question is:

"Will forwarding these 3 new domain names to my website have any negative effect on search engine listings of my site (particularly Google) ... and is it better, in this respect, to simply leave them parked and dormant?"

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!

Chair

 

ritalia




msg:230707
 8:16 am on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

i have the same question. i have 3 websites running and i am forwarding the 2 sites to one. should stop
please advise.

ncw164x




msg:230708
 8:22 am on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

You can forward them but on a 301 permanent redirect not just pointing to your existing live site, that's if you are hoping to pick up some extra traffic from browser type in's for these domain names.

if you point them to your site you can get penalised for duplicate content, each domain name actually having the same site structure

ncw164x

diamondgrl




msg:230709
 1:01 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

i don't know why that would be true, ncw164x. seems to me a site entirely of 301s has no structure and the se's would simply remove them from the serps because they no longer exist.

anybody else with a second opinion?

Receptional Andy




msg:230710
 1:25 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you have multiple domain names pointing at the same content, then the best choice is to 301 redirect them to whatever your preferred choice of domain is. This will ensure that type-ins still get to see your site and avoid duplicate content penalties with search engines. It should also help to keep the benefit from links whch may be pointing at secondary domain names.

If you are using your registrar's forwarding service you should check that they are indeed using a 301 using a server header checker [webmasterworld.com]

As an aside, Yahoo continues to have difficulties properly following 301s but I think this is a side issue as a 301 as the correct method and Yahoo will surely fix this at some point.

pageoneresults




msg:230711
 2:01 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'll concur on the 301 advice. Also, think about this. If those parked domains are returning a 200 status, which many do, a competitor could wreak havoc on your campaign by linking to those domains. I know, it happened to me a few years ago and the penalty imposed seemed to have been permanent. I had to shut down the primary domain and start again. ;)

Chair




msg:230712
 3:28 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all your help.

I really appreciate it!

And I think a 301 redirect sounds like the best solution.

But I'm not sure if I understand the process for doing so, and I have one more question:

"Is it best to redirect my 3 alternate domain names to my website by using an IP FUNNEL (forward all 3 names to an intermediate page, and then 301 redirect to the main site) ... or is it just as effective and search-engine friendly to ask my domain name seller (www.webserve.ca) to somehow 301 redirect the names straight to my site?"

If this question isn't clear, there's a great diagram showing the IP Funnel on the following site:

[snip]

Thanks again for any help you can give me in implementing my 301 redirects.

Chair

[edited by: pageoneresults at 3:29 pm (utc) on Aug. 26, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed URI Reference - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]

Receptional Andy




msg:230713
 3:37 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure why an intermediate page is necessary - if you redirect requests there why not just redirect them to the target site in the first place?

<added>
Actually I just realised that this may be if you only have DNS control over the extra domains and so may not be able to set up a 301 without hosting them somewhere.

robbielockie




msg:230714
 4:41 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hello Chair User,

Been following your topic with interest.

I wanted to clarify exactly what you guys were saying,

I have a couple of clients sites, hosted on various web servers, for examples sake, and since I am not allowed to mention specific sites;

www.purplewidgets.com is my clients site, its server ip is [snip].

The client some time ago bought three other domain names, they all resolve to the ip, [snip], and do not redirect.

So far a year has passed and it has not had any negative effects.

I guess the first post was about free redirects or cloaked server redirects.

So my advice would be to get your domain names to resolve to the same ip rather then re-direct.

Its my understanding that Google, does'nt like duplicate content, this would be several domain names all resolving to different i.p addresses all with idential content.

At the end of the day, it isnt really of any advantage to you to have loads and loads of web domains that point to your site, its not really going to get you listed any higher, its all about whats on your pages, and who links to your site these days.

You could have one domain name that you use in all your search engine optimisation.

A company domain thats on the acctual website and lastly as many other domains as you like for use in adverts or marketing campaigns for domains that are short and rememberable.

[snip]

RwL

[edited by: pageoneresults at 4:45 pm (utc) on Aug. 26, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed IP and URI Reference - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]

pageoneresults




msg:230715
 4:49 pm on Aug 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

So far a year has passed and it has not had any negative effects.

Probably because no one has linked to those additional domains. Let someone find one and link to it, watch what happens within 45-60 days. It will most likely end up with a duplicate content penalty. I've already been down this path years ago and I believe the same is still true today.

Robert Charlton




msg:230716
 3:52 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

If those parked domains are returning a 200 status, which many do, a competitor could wreak havoc on your campaign by linking to those domains.

pageone - What are the implications/characteristics of the 200 status? Most domain forwarding by registrars that I've seen uses 302s. Is there any problem with either letting unused domains sit, where they're forwarded by 302s to a domain park... or having them forwarded by 302s to your main domain? No mirrors in either case... though there might be a cost difference in parking the domains.

Now, 301s... Just playing devils advocate here, I understand that the Google might not like it if you have a lot of domains all pointed to the same domain. I'm talking about no mirrors, everything resolving to one url on the main domain. With a limited number of domains (what number?), most people seem to use this method and have no problems.

But, would you not also be in trouble if competitors linked to your domains that were pointed via 301s? This could suddenly start looking very suspicious. Since spiders don't index 302 redirects, there shouldn't be the same problem.

I'm not trying to debate anything here, btw... just trying to get at what the implications are of each method (301s vrs 302 forwarding) of handling extra domains.

Receptional Andy




msg:230717
 8:18 am on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>What are the implications/characteristics of the 200 status?

If you return a 200 (OK) status to www.primarydomain.com and also www.secondarydomain.com then you are giving the message that they are two separate sites. If the content on each is the same then you risk a duplicate content penalty.

>>Google might not like it if you have a lot of domains all pointed to the same domain. I'm talking about no mirrors, everything resolving to one url on the main domain

I personally have not seen any evidence for this. If you 301 the domains then your are saying that there is only one site, with more than one domain name. This is as Google would want if you ask me.

>>But, would you not also be in trouble if competitors linked to your domains that were pointed via 301s?

IMO they'd be doing you a favour! Just hope they use some nice anchor text ;)

>>Since spiders don't index 302 redirects, there shouldn't be the same problem.

But then you don't get (all of?) the benefit of links to secondary domains. 302 is a confusing type of redirect for search engine, since if the redirect is temporary, how is it to know which page to index?

pageoneresults




msg:230718
 1:15 pm on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Robert Charlton, Receptional Andy did a good job of explaining the situation. I would like to add a few comments...

First off, I would not point any domains if it was not necessary. There has to be a very valid reason for me to take a domain and 301 it to the primary. The only real reason I've seen to date is to capture type-in traffic and/or misspellings.

Using a 301 insures that the spiders DO NOT capture the type-in domain name and index it. Using a 302 tells the spider to maintain the requested URI (type-in domain) but send the user to the temporary URI given in the response header...

The requested resource resides temporarily under a different URI. Since the redirection might be altered on occasion, the client SHOULD continue to use the Request-URI for future requests.

With a 302, the type-in domain is recorded as the requested URI and the redirect domain is not. Hence no transfer of credit from the type-in to the primary.

My understanding is that you do not want to 302 parked domains. I personally believe this is the incorrect way to do it. I don't want the spider maintaining the requested URI. I want the spider to receive an instruction that the URI has been Moved Permanently and I want the spider to capture the Redirect Target which in this case would be the Primary Domain.

Here's what I've seen happen. Let's say that I have two domains. One is my primary, the other is a secondary type-in domain being used to capture misspellings. My primary domain has a PR4 or PR5. Someone links to the type-in domain from a high PR site (PR6/PR7). In Google's case, it will index and capture the domain which has the highest number of high PR links pointing to it. If my type-in domain is returning a 200 OK status, there is a strong possibility that Google is going to index the type-in domain because it has high PR links pointing to it.

What I've seen happen is Google will end up indexing the type-in domain and purging the primary domain. You end up with the wrong domain being spidered and possibly a duplicate content penalty.

This is what happened to me a few years ago. Since then, I've become a Status Code junkie wanting to know exactly what happens when a particular Status Code is returned from the server.

Do I possibly have a misunderstanding of the protocol? I'm a little concerned now that Robert Charlton has questioned the 200/301/302 issues. I have a lot of respect for Robert and if he says there may be something wrong with the above, I have to take notice. ;)

P.S. I'd be more concerned with a competitor linking to the 302's then I would the 301's. In fact, they are more than welcome to link to the 301 as the credit would be effectively transferred to the Target URI. I would think if they linked to 302s, there would be more of an issue.

AndrewPeterson




msg:230719
 3:08 pm on Aug 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

"What I've seen happen is Google will end up indexing the type-in domain and purging the primary domain. You end up with the wrong domain being spidered and possibly a duplicate content penalty.

This is what happened to me a few years ago. Since then, I've become a Status Code junkie wanting to know exactly what happens when a particular Status Code is returned from the server. "

This has happen to a friend of mine.
Do you know how to retrieve the primary domain and have this indexed?.
Is it just a case of 301'ing the type-in domain or is it it more serious and the primary domain is permanently damaged?

Robert Charlton




msg:230720
 6:13 am on Aug 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Forgive long post in advance....

Do I possibly have a misunderstanding of the protocol? I'm a little concerned now that Robert Charlton has questioned the 200/301/302 issues. I have a lot of respect for Robert and if he says there may be something wrong with the above, I have to take notice. ;)

pageone - Thanks. You make me blush. ;) The respect is mutual. First, my understanding of servers and server protocols is minimal at best, and if I've come to know anything in the area, it has been by relentlessly asking stupid questions until the answers all added up for me. You're a good person to ask.

I wasn't doubting your cautions about the 200 protocol. I simply didn't know what the 200 did besides returning "OK," and that's what I was asking. Now that I know a 200 returns a mirror domain, which as I'd mention is to be avoided, I'm in complete accord that it should not be used.

To clarify for beginners reading this thread, you don't want the same site displayed under two different domains. If you point or forward domains to a site, they all need resolve to the main domain of the site. If they don't... if you have the same site displayed under different domains... you're asking for trouble. The multiple sites are called mirror sites... are treated as duplicate content... and there will inevitably be linking issues. On Google, the site with the highest PageRank will survive.

Also, to clarify for beginners, any domain redirecting needs to be done on the server, not via meta refresh or other browser side redirects.

Now, the 301/302 issue for parked domains is a little cloudier, at least for me, and eventually I'm going to cite some posts in one of my learning threads from two and a half years ago.

The gist of what everybody who's discussing 301s vrs 302s here is saying is that 301s pass PageRank and link relevancy, and that 302s do not. Agreed. If I have a client who's built several mirrors or superfluous sites on tld variants or whatever, and there are some existing inbounds to them... yes, by all means I redirect them with 301s and preserve all the link benefits we have.

However, if you have a bunch of parked domains... never been up on the web... or domains that have no inbounds... well, there should be no existing link benefits, so you're not preserving anything with the 301s. There may, however, be a problem with Google when you point too many additional domains at a site. I take WebGuerrilla's msg #17 in the thread below at face value....

Pointing multiple domain names to main site without mirrors
How to do this without hosting them separately and using 301s?
[webmasterworld.com...]

WebGuerrilla says:
Recently, an unamed search engine empolyee was looking through my domain registrations and noticed I owned about 40 similar domains. When these domains were typed in, the all resolved to a single site. (using the method listed above [RC note: 301s]).

That led to the employee telling me that if I didn't stop putting up duplicate sites, he'd have to take action. After explaining that these additional domains where used for print ads and general type-in traffic, and that they weren't actually sites and I didn't ever promote any of the other domains on the web,he seemed o.k. with it, but he did say that in a case like that, they would prefer the domains were on separate sites that had robots.txt exclusions set up.

I think the concern is that in a link analysis system, a 301 from a domain that existed at one time ultimately passes some rank to the new location. That being the case, there is the possibility to be abusive if you intentionally register 100's of expired domains and 301 them all to a single location.

In the same thread, andreasfriedrich goes into how to deliver the alternate robots.txt and then goes on to posit that 303s might in fact be the best redirect to use if you're pointing a great many domains. I've cited this before on the forums, and it's not aroused much interest, as no one's apparently had trouble with 301s.

To bring this all back to the original question:
I initially intended to just park them, but I realize now that the company that sold them to me offers free domain name forwarding.

Since we're talking about new parked domains, what is wrong with the 302s the registrars generally provide? It seems to me they would be avoiding the problem of passing PageRank, which Google doesn't like in this kind of setup. In some hosting situations, enabling the domain forwarding (302s) is a lot less fuss than setting up the Rewrites.

I'd be more concerned with a competitor linking to the 302's then I would the 301's. In fact, they are more than welcome to link to the 301 as the credit would be effectively transferred to the Target URI. I would think if they linked to 302s, there would be more of an issue.

As you can see from the above, transferring that credit is in fact my concern, though probably not an issue with 3 or 10 or 20 domains. Maybe more so if competitors link to them. What's the possible issue with linking to the 302s? It wouldn't pass on anything except for traffic.

jdMorgan




msg:230721
 4:35 pm on Aug 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

PageOneResults is correct. Using a 302 is a mistake, whether for domain forwarding or for on-site purposes that are not truly temporary in nature. A 302 says, "keep (show in the SERPs) the current URL" but index the content of the page at this new URL." So, in the case of domain forwarders, the forwarder itself gets "credit" for your page, and a search for your content may show the forwarder's URL.

It's important to realize that the server response codes have meaning to both browsers and to robots. Sophisticated browsers could implement some of the 'extended' meanings that only robots now pay attention to, but so far they have not. Here's what the response codes mean to robots:

200-OK ------------------------ Index this page content at this URL. 
301-Moved Permanently --------- Go to this new URL and index that page content using that (new) URL.
302-Found (Moved Temporarily) - Go to this new URL and index that page content using this (old) URL.

(In the table above, I use the word "index" to mean "show in the SEPRs.")

For 200-OK, the content immediately follows the response header containing the 200-OK response code. It's all delivered together in one package.

For 301 and 302, there is no 'page' content following the response header, only the new URL that the client should go to next. Play with WannaBrowser on some of your 200 and 30x URLs to see these differences.

Browsers might easily offer an option to update your bookmarks when they encounter a 301 redirect, but they don't. Part of the reason is that they are 'dumbed-down' to avoid confusing the masses, and part of it is that response codes on many sites are incorrect.

Page Rank can "flow through" either redirect type, 301 or 302 -- the concern is which URL gets credit for the content.

Avoid 302's for anything but pages that are temporarily moved to another URL. That what RFC2616 [w3.org] says 302's are for, and that's what they should be used for to avoid problems. Checking your server response codes [webmasterworld.com] to make sure they're correct is also a very good idea.

Jim

Robert Charlton




msg:230722
 5:58 pm on Aug 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Page Rank can "flow through" either redirect type, 301 or 302 -- the concern is which URL gets credit for the content.

Jim - Thanks for your very clear and enlightening response.

From what you say, is it correct that...

  • one should never use the domain forwarding feature offered by registrars...

  • and that until the domains can be properly hosted and redirected, it's best to let them sit in a domain park, where (while they may be used to display AdSense ads) they won't be interacting with your main site, and it's unlikely that anyone will visit them?

Any thoughts about 303s vrs 301s for those domains where there isn't PageRank to pass?

albert




msg:230723
 11:50 am on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

A site of a client of mine has 14 domains pointing at his main domain, w/o 301. This main domain doesn't rank as well as I would have expected for some important keywords. Until now I can't find out why.

After reading this thread here I investigated those secondary domains of my clients and ... bingo! At least 3 of them have inbound links from the same 2 sites (link farms). They link not only to those secondary domains but also to the main domain ...

These links were made before I started to work for him, as he told me.

Following the advice in this thread I will redirect all secondary domains by using 301 moved permanently.

How long may it take before they disappear from Googles index?

And what else should I do?

THX!

hancaf




msg:230724
 1:25 pm on Sep 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

At the moment, I have my domain widget.co.uk redirected to widget.com, using a 302. I sit possible that Google is penalising me for duplicate content?

My hosting company won't do a 301 but I can make it a 301 by changing my coldfusion code and bit and checking for the .co.uk domain. Is it worth bothering?

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