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Add-on Domains - can also be accessed as subdomains

9:44 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hello guys, I read this forum since a long time ago but this is my first post.

I have a very simple question about SEO: 3 of my websites are in the same server - I have a main domain and two other "Addon" domains for hosting purposes. It works just like:

Main site: 1st.com
second site: 2nd.com
third site 3rd.com

But I can access the 2nd and 3rd site if I go to 2nd.1st.com or 3rd.1st.com

They are all different domains, they're just hosted in the same server. I use the "normal" domain names only and I never link them as "addon" domains.

Does it affect the Google Rank in any way? I asked the hosting services 3 times and 3 different people said NO, but i'm not sure.

Thank you for your help
1:18 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Accessing the other sites through subdomains is an odd setup. I've never seen that before. I wouldn't link to sites served up on subdomains of other domains. Even so, googlebot will probably discover those eventually. That might cause some duplicate content type of problems. It might be worth shutting down that functionality or mitigating it with url canonicalization.

In general, having several sites with different focus on the same host should be fine for SEO. Google allows a single webmaster to own and rank for multiple sites that are not targeting the same keywords.

The down side is that if you run afoul of Google's guidelines with one site, Google may penalize all your sites. Hosting is one of the signals that Google probably uses to determine site ownership. Google also uses domain registration, interlinking profiles, common templates, webmaster tools logins, and adsense account information to figure out which sites are owned by the same person. Folks here have reported losing traffic to all their sites at once when Google puts a penalty in place.
1:30 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your reply.

If I search google for my domain (the exact name), i get thousands of results. If I search the "add-on" domain I only get 1 result (the main page).

The site is doing well, so I really don't know what to do.
2:11 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I would say that disabling weird subdomains or implementing canonicalization between them is a "nice to have", not a "do it now".

If things seem to be working fine, don't break them. ;-)
2:21 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

That's actually a fairly common cpanel setup. I've never understood exactly why cpanel set's up an addon domain also as a subdomain, but it does. You can also access your addon domains as a subfolder of your main domain. (i.e. 1s.com/2nd.com/)

cpanel is extremely popular so there are literally thousands and thousands of sites setup like this. You are unlikely to have any issues unless you have links pointing to the subdomain versions.
3:12 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'd say add the canonical link element to the <head> section of every page and use only the fully qualified, absolute address for the href attribute.

I asked the hosting services 3 times and 3 different people said NO, but i'm not sure.

You are wise to question this answer. Hosting companies are not strong in SEO and they certainly will avoid making extra work for themselves.
3:14 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have a similar set up where the host lets me add as many domains as I want. I set the DNS to point to each domain, but the files are all located in folders off the main one and the Cpanels are accessible via a subdomain off the first one. But the content isn't accessible off the subdomain of the first one so I've never had an issue with duplicate content. I believe the host I use for this is Hostgator, and all of the sties rank well in their niches, though they're small sites and small niches.

I did have one problem once where the main site got hacked, which allowed them to inject code on all of the sites. I'd say that's your biggest issue since they can access all sites by getting into the one FTP account.
3:18 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Pretty much every CPanel hosting I've ever seen does it this way.

I have several of these, with multiple domains on each. In my case, I use a throwaway domain on the main account, and the domains I intend to actually use are the Add Ons. The first thing I do is put a robots.txt in the root (throwaway domain) telling Google to stay out of everything. So far, I haven't had a problem with them indexing off that, since there are no links involved.

If you're actually using your main domain, you can just add a disallow for those folders to the robots.txt, make sure no links to maindomainexample.com/folder exist, and use the canonical tag. Shouldn't be a problem.
3:51 am on Jun 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Put this in .htaccess in 1st.com

Redirect 301 /2nd http://www.2nd.com
Redirect 301 /3rd http://www.3rd.com

And in 2nd and 3rd.com put this code in htaccess (put 2nd.com and 3rd.com where appropriate)

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^2nd.1st.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.2nd.1st.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^2nd.com$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.2nd.com [R=301,L

This code assumes you are using www for your domain?
10:02 am on Jun 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is as previously noted a cpanel 'problem' it is discussed all over the web that when an addon domain is created it also creates a sub domain under the master domain for that cpanel account. I belive there is a technical reason for this that dates back to the very early days of cpanel which hasnt ever been re-worked in later releases.

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