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Redirecting 200,000 + subdomains and impact on Google

 8:50 am on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi There.

Thanks in advance for any replies you can give...
We have a directory site which has about 240,000 business profile pages.

The urls for these pages are long and unweildy.
A) e.g. www.site.com/profile(the-company-name)_1234.htm

We want to give each company its own subdomain to make it easier for them to remember and give out to others, put on their business cards etc

B) SubDomain Format : www.thecompanyname.site.com

We are worried about damaging the natural rankings of the main site, or be seen to be cloaking or otherwise trying to spam SERPS - which we are not.

Ideas are...

1. 301 Redirect each new subdomain(B) that we create to its currently indexed url (e.g. A above).

2. Make The (B) subdomain website have a frame which pulls in the content from (A). Duplicate Content ?

3. 302 Redirect ?.

Thanks for your time.



 4:12 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would also be very cautious about introducing a quarter million subdomains to Google. But the optimal way forward is not 100% clear.

Are these profile URLs all just on single page? If so, I might lean toward the frame solution - and that's a rare thing for me. There's no duplicate filtering to be concerned about,because the URL for the frame source gets "credit" for the content, and not the URL of the parent page.

It might even be prudent to use noindex robots meta tag for all the subdomain URLs. Let Google continue to have only the legacy URLs to work with, and let the companies have the shorter URL for print purposes. However you then have link juice problems in the future as, inevitably, the subdomain URLs would acquire backlinks.

I'm looking forward to others' observations about this challenge.


 4:35 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just a comment: Why not dump the superfluous "www" and go with thecompanyname.example.com should you decide to go with subdomains? The "www" is certainly not required, and is just 'extra stuff' to type in...

240,000 URLs - Wow! I certainly would not redirect that many URLs all at once -- if at all.



 4:47 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agreed about the "www". Sometimes naive web users assume that everything needs the "www", but that's a case where the 301 redirect is useful. I often recommend this 301 redirect:

www.subdomain.example.com >> subdomain.example.com

But DON'T let Google index all those either - that would double the number of new subdomains!


 5:17 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

One other comment- of those 240K businesses, do any of them have identical names? If so, how will you handle them?


 5:21 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure about the impact on server performance of having a 240,000 lines plus .htaccess file for the redirects. It might slow things down just a little bit, but then perhaps not a lot if you can make the redirects follow a logical pattern.

However, IMHO, the most appropriate thing to do when changing the URL of a page is to make a permanent redirect. It might not be the best thing for you to do though.

In moving from pages to subdomains (ie not the "frame" solution) you should consider that what you do from a SE POV is to create a network of 240,000 sites at the same time that you empty one major site of 240,000 pages of content.

IMHO that would be detrimental to your rankings for a good while.

The frame solution creates a "virtual network" of duplicate content, but there are ways to stop that from damaging your site too much, eg using an appropriate combination of "robots.txt", "robots" meta tag, and possibly the "canonical" meta tag.

However, if you run a paysite for the purpose of making "on-line business cards" (eg to print on business cards, as you noted) SE rankings may be entirely irrelevant. In that case I would create a logical rule for the transfer to subdomains and set up a permanent redirect for all pages.


 6:19 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here is a recent post on adding a bunch of pages to a domain..

Now how you add them, whether by using a frame, or redirecting to a subdomain, is the tricky part.


 6:26 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see most folks who are in this type of environment use...


If I had to do one today, I'd use the above format, it appears to work very well for this particular application.

Host names aka sub-domains are to be used with great care and planning. There should be enough content under the host name to stand on its own. I believe that is the way Google see it too.

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