Q: We own a number of domain names that are fairly significant in our industry. Can we have these different domain names auto-redirect to our main URL without the search engines perceiving this as a trick? We are very honest people and don’t want to do anything that will be perceived as a trick, but at the same time we want to take advantage of these other domain names in case a user types them in directly into the address bar (we know this will not improve rankings).
A: This is a very common situation, and you should be able to redirect without any problems. Just be sure to set it up with a server-side 301 redirect (your webmaster or host should know what this is), and the search engines will get the message!
You might also want to read our segment on site re-designs in Chapter 11 of Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Dayfor additional SEO redesign tips. And if you’re looking for advice on redirecting a domain after a website redesign, be sure to read “Oops, I Redesigned My Website! An SEO Checklist.”
And be sure to watch out for these potential problems:
- Duplicate content – make sure that you put all of your content on your main domain only; and
- Outdated Links – make sure that all links (both in your site and other sites) are pointing to your main domain.
By the way, a very similar situation occurs when you have a website that displays both with and without the “www” prefix (for example: http://www.yourseoplan.com and http://yourseoplan.com). In this case, the best plan is to use a Google Sitemap, which is a free service provided by Google that send the message to Google about which version of the URL is preferable. Here is a quote from the Google Sitemap guidelines:
“Preferred domain: Is your site available with and without a www prefix? Until now, the recommendation was to do a 301 permanent redirect of one to the other. But some people can’t easily do this. Now sitemaps has a preferred domain tool that lets you pick which you prefer. Make your choice, and Google will list the domain you choose. Behind the scenes, Google will understand the two domains are one and the same for purposes of things like link calculations. Keep in mind that Google says it will take some time before the changes are visible. Also keep in mind that you’ll still need to do 301 redirection for other search engines. “