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There are many ways to set up additional domains to point to your website, and some of them are pretty simple.

  • You can forward domains to your current website through your domain registrant but this results in a 302 redirect.
  • You can add domains to your current hosting package as an alias or pointer domain but this means the search engines will find your content on each domain that you alias and assume your website does not have unique content.

Unfortunately the problem with these methods is that they are not the best methods to use; they can cause problems later and even result in your search engine term rankings to fall. If rankings in the search engines are of interest to you, then I recommend reading the rest of this article.

Just as there are many ways to setup up additional domain names, there are many reasons you would want to set up additional domain names to point to one website.

  • You could own multiple domains that are branded; people try to find the product by typing the domain name directly into the browser (ie a RV dealership could own and you want to gain that direct traffic.
  • You could be doing an offline campaign and want to use a short easy to remember domain name so visitors can get to your website easily.
  • Your domain name may have been changed due to company rebranding and need to move your website to a new domain.
  • You may have even bought a pre-existing domain because it has traffic or value.

The old domains build up value, authority and creditability and it would help your new domain get started if all the credit was transferred to your new domain. A website accumulates inbound links from other websites and these inbound links are a very important factor for search engines in determining keyword rankings.

The Problem with Pointer/Alias Domains

The additional domains have several different names and can be referred to as forwarded domains, pointer domains, and alias domains. Whatever the name used, they all serve the same purpose, which is to pointed to a web hosting account so that they bring up the a specific website.

For example, if you typed in any of the following domains:,, etc into your browser you would get the same website.

The problem is that you don’t want search engines to find multiple copies of the same website because they consider this to be duplicate content and this can cause keyword ranking issues. Multiple domains tend to rob authority and creditability from the main website which weakens your search engine rankings.

Many web hosts, web designers and domain name registrants use a 302 redirect to try and handle this situation. Although a 302 redirect will work for a user, the search engines consider 302 redirects to be a temporary measure only. Search engines have stated that the proper use of a 302 redirect is when you need to redirect web pages or a website for a few days or a few weeks.

Use a 301 Permanent Redirect

The recommendation is to use a 301 redirect; the biggest advantage of a 301 permanent redirect is that it pushes all credit to one domain to get the best possible rankings within the search engines.

If you have the ability to run an .htaccess directive on your website you can easily set this up properly with a few lines of code in a simple ASCII file. The htaccess option is normally associated with web servers that run Apache so you will want to check with your webhost and see if this is an option.

Below is an example of the configuration of an .htaccess directive. There are many variations on the code but I found this one works well. In most cases this script will do page level redirects and send visitors to the exact page on the main domain. If someone has bookmarked or clicks on a link to they will be redirected to instead of just going to the home page every time.

Setting up the .htaccess directive:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

This means that any one visitor, be it search engine or user, that visits or will be redirected to through a 301 permanent redirect. The visitor will be shown the website on the main URL so they bookmark the main domain and search engines are instructed to stop looking at the old URL and push all the credit from the old URL to the main URL.

You can use one of these groups above for each domain you want to point/alias to your main website. The “RewriteEngine On” control only needs to be stated once at the beginning.

Correcting Domain Canonical Issues

One additional tip that can be done very easily while you are getting your .htaccess set up.

This corrects canonical issues ensuring all the credit goes to the most popular version of your domain name protocol.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

Notice the difference in the canonical directive, the “rewrite condition” has your domain name minus the www and the domain contains a before

The information above enables you to control the URLs properly and ensure that all the credit and authority is contained in one domain URL instead of being fractured into smaller pieces. The more competitive your market, and the more pages competing within the search engines for your industry specific keyword phrases, the more important it is that you contain all your credit to one domain.

For technical assistance with setting up additional domains, contact our experienced SEO Website Analysts:

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