Posted on December 19, 2017 by
“Domain redirect” is one of those phrases we find ourselves using often when speaking to our clients lately. Unfortunately, the reason we have this conversation is because domain redirects are the remedy to a common issue that can (and often does!) negatively affect a company’s SEO ranking. And all too often, our clients—and many businesses—have no idea a site’s redirects are even a problem!
Here’s what happens: to start, businesses configure their domain name server incorrectly. There are myriad ways this could happen, and mistakes are easily made. You might create two different versions of your site by configuring one page with “www” and one without. You might use “http” in one instance and “https” in another. And when you type in any of these various URLs, the site appears or the URL “resolves” to a live site. For example, without proper redirects, all of these URLs are live and the content on each domain is exactly the same as the others:
And in doing so, many businesses inadvertently end up creating multiple versions of their site. When potential visitors (and potential customers!) type in the wrong URL, they may get to the wrong version of your site—and start creating traffic to it. Even more problematically, Google then comes along and sees multiple versions of the same page, doesn’t know which page is “right” (because it sees traffic going to both) and splits your page authority across every domain found.
Of course, this problem has a direct impact on your site’s ability to rank organically (since your SEO ranking is largely dependent upon the authority of each domain assigned by Google) and authority is diluted by spreading it across multiple domains. And on top of all of that, you’ll likely get a duplicate content ranking penalty from Google because you have multiple domains (and pages) with the same content.
When your DNS (Domain Name Server) configuration is off, your search engine ranking is off—in other words, potentially much lower than it should actually be—and this low ranking may be keeping the right people from finding the right site. This whole situation can be confusing and a bit overwhelming if you’re not technically-inclined. But the issue is fixable with a domain redirect!
What is a domain redirect?
A domain redirect is the process and instruction used to redirect a domain you do not want to show up in search engine results (in other words, the duplicate site) to the site that you do want to show up. In implementing domain redirects, you ensure that Google only sees one version of the domain, and any traffic and link authority that may have originally gone to the duplicate sites gets moved to the main domain. Best of all (at least, with regard to SEO), you consolidate your domain authority to one domain—the right one.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance and value of setting up a domain redirect. After walking one of our clients through this process, they saw a 4x increase in organic traffic just four weeks after fixing the issue and they saw a massive improvement in ranking for the site pages that could be found.
Well, first—make sure you actually need one! HTTP Status Code Checker, Internet Marketing Ninja’s Header Checker Tool and SEO Book’s Server Header Checker are all great tools to help you check your domains and make sure your DNS configuration is set up properly. After inputting the different variations of your site, these tools will give you the server’s response—for instance: live page (200), broken/not available (404) or 300, 301, 302 errors, all of which indicate a domain redirect.
Once you select the version of your domain you’d like to use, all the remaining versions of your site should be redirected to the version you’ve selected, using a “301 redirect” to the main domain.
Actually creating 301 redirects for your site is highly dependent upon the setup of your site. What kind of server hosts the site? With what kind of DNS configuration is your server operating? Are you operating the DNS or is it handled somewhere else?
If you are finding duplicate domains, you’ll want to connect with your IT Department or the customer service team for your hosting service (like GoDaddy or BlueHost). If and when you have identified the need for domain redirects, share your findings with customer service and they should help you walk through the steps to set up the necessary 301 redirects.
Getting your domain redirect figured out and set up isn’t necessary difficult when the people you’re talking to understand how domains are configured and how to set up proper redirects. That’s why getting a clear picture of the existing condition of your site—and the desired condition of your site!—is so important. And hopefully, this article will help you do just that. After that, calling your tech support person is quite simple (and efficient), and they can manage the rest of the domain redirect setup for you.
Are you familiar with your DNS configuration? Have you ever set up a domain redirect? Share your questions and experiences with us in the comments below!
Kent is currently Advisor and SEO Strategist to Roaring Pajamas a boutique digital-strategy company located in San Carlos California. His in-house SEO experience spans GoDaddy, QuinStreet, Ask.com, Dictionary.com, Adobe and IBM where he did extensive audits and optimization for local and international web properties. He and his team also execute reputation management, link building and social media campaigns.View all posts by Kent Yunk →