Name Forwarding and Search Engines
Domain Name Forwarding and Search Engines
You own a single site, but several domains - perhaps you wanted
to make sure that even if your customers misspelled your domain
name they'd get to your site, or perhaps you'd like to have a specific
domain name direct to a page deep within your site - whatever the
case, there are some important considerations surrounding multiple
domain names routing to a single site and search engine submission.
Search engines like Google and Yahoo won't always wait around for
you to submit a site - Googlebot and Yahoo Slurp (which you may
recognize from your server logs if your site has been up for a few
weeks) are constantly running across new domain names to index.
It's a good thing - unless your domain names are being forwarded
What constitutes and incorrect forward?
Many major domain name registrars offer a "Domain Name Forwarding"
feature which, while it may be the easiest way to forward your domain,
can cause some real problems when search engine spiders like Googlebot
or Yahoo Slurp visit your site.
Here's what happens:
1) The search engine spider pulls your domain name (usually from
2) The spider visits your website, using the domain name forwarded
through your domain registrar
3) Your domain registrar is using a Temporary Redirect (most likely
because it's assumed that you'll point the domain name to a new
hosting account sooner or later), frames, or other incorrect forwarding
4) The spider indexes your site
But what went wrong? Your domain name registrar did its job, and
sent the spider to your actual site when it visited the domain name
you registered. The spider did its job and read the content of the
page or pages it found, and then incorporated them into the search
Everything's copacetic, right?
When the search engine spider read the page, it associated it with
your alternate domain name, the one that was supposed to be forwarding
to your primary domain name. This means that the search engine has
effectively tracked down what it will quickly identify as duplicate
content - and, after years of dealing with sites trying to sell
Viagra on the sly by duplicating their content across hundreds of
pages, today's search engines will respond to duplicate content
with a drop in your ranking.
Given enough time, you may find your site has been banned from
the search engine index.
What's the solution?
Your domain names need to be routed from the domain name registrar
to a hosting account - from the hosting account (and this varies
- consult your technical support provider for the account) you'll
need to set a Permanent Redirect to your main site.
A Permanent Redirect is logged as a code '301' (thence, it is often
referred to as a '301 Permanent Redirect') - if you have multiple
domain names which you wish to direct to a single site, it may be
especially useful for you to consider a website hosting account
which offers multiple add-on domains and subdomains to accommodate
all the domain names you'll need to forward.
About the Author
Dan is a web design
and web development consultant who specializes in small business