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All Roads Lead to .com

by Matthew Rhodes

One site, many domain names

When we launched our website back in the day, we had one domain:

www.digitalfusion.co.nz

Over the years, we acquired several more domains and pointed them at the same Digital Fusion website. Simple enough.

The problem

If Google sees different web addresses containing the same content, it’s likely to pick one and ignore the others. After all, it doesn’t want to return duplicate content to its users.

The downside here is that you can’t control which domain Google will pick and it varies per page. As a result, you can end up with some of your pages being listed in Google from one domain, and the rest from another. That obviously dilutes any efforts toward SEO.

Bringing everything together

The solution is to redirect everything to a single domain and focus promotional efforts there. We’ve chosen www.teamdf.com

We also have a number of products and a well-established FileMaker blog, each with their own domain names. These will now be moved into our main website.


On a Technical Note

The best practice in most cases is to use a 301 redirect. The 301 code is used to indicate that a page has moved permanently and lets you retain much of the “Link Juice” (yes, that’s an official SEO term) from the original domain.

There’s now a subtle difference to visitors: typing one of the alternative domains will still take you our website but the domain in your address bar will change automatically to www.teamdf.com.

It’s also a good idea to add in the www if not present, for consistency. We accomplish that with a simple htaccess rule.

Wouldn’t .com.au be better?

A country specific domain such as .com.au is arguably the strongest signal we can send to Google that we want to target Australia. However, our largest office is in New Zealand and we work for clients all over the world.

As it turns out, Google webmaster tools do provide a method of targeting a specific country, called Geotargeting. If you have a generic top level domain, such as .com then you can use this feature to select a country that your website is primarily targeted at.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, if you have one site but mutliple domain names then make sure they all redirect to one primary domain name.

Moving to a new domain name will affect your ranking but if you do things properly, then any damage should be minimal and temporary.

In my next post: Content is King, we’ll look at the importance of integrating keywords into your content.

Comments

Stephen on 07 April, 2014

Matthew, Interesting article - curious how you would feel about forwarding to a CNAME or subdomain? such as http://fmweetbicks.teamdf.com? how does this effect SEO juice? User interaction?

Matthew Rhodes on 10 April, 2014

Hi Stephen It does depend on the content but in most cases I'd pick a subfolder over a subdomain. This is because subdomains don't always inherit all of that 'SEO Juice' from the root domain. Usability wise, I think www.teamdf.com/weetbicks is easier for the average Joe to remember and understand than weetbicks.teamdf.com. Exceptions that come to mind are things like intranets, content management systems and areas where the content is vastly different and could stand alone as a separate site. Read more here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/understanding-root-domains-subdomains-vs-subfolders-microsites

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