Domain Forwarding is redirection of Traffic from Domain A to Domain B. With growing influence of virtual world, it is very crucial to Protect online brand identity. Currently, a domain name can be registered with lot of domain extensions like .com, .net, .org, in etc. Though for some domain extensions there is a restriction in place. Not everyone is allowed to book restricted domain extension e.g. domain extension .gov.in (reserved for govt of india). More or less web is open for everyone. You might have read about the dispute raised by Reliance Telecom related to ownership of domain name reliancegroup.com which was rejected by internation arbitration panel. Brand assumes great significance these days and command premium. Domain trading is a big business and you might come across news that specific domain is sold for exuberant amount. Domain name vacationrentals.com was sold for cool $35Mn in 2007. The domain traders book domain names with either of following objectives
1. Future Trading
2. Redirect traffic of very popular site with similar domain name
3. To steal Brand identity
The most popular domain extensions are .com, .org, .net and .info (In same order). Besides this we have country specific domains like .in and .co.in for india. I am also facing this problem as .com extension of my domain i.e. nitinbhatia.com is reserved. I decided to limit future damage and protect my online identity/brand. I reserved following domains to protect online identity.
3. nitin bhatia.info
If you are serious about your online presence and brand reputation then domain names with extension .com, .net, .org and .info are absolutely must. In india besides these 4 domain extensions, you should also own .in and .co.in domain extensions.
After securing online identitiy the biggest dilemna was regarding domain forwarding i.e. direct traffic from above mentioned 4 doamins to my main site i.e. nitinbhatia.in. Let me admit that even a small mistake in online space can spoil hard work of years in seconds. SEO is key for online success and which in turn is dependent on original content. The biggest drawback of domain forwarding is impact on originality of content. Google LOVE original content and HATE duplicate content. Though web is full of copycats and i keep sending legal notices to these copycats. Thanks to Google for recent panda and penguine updates which encourage original content in search results. Google has acted tough on copycats & contained the problem to large extent. Infact today only i initiated content removal request as someone copied my review on askme app and spin it to re-publish the same.
The world is divided on whether to opt for domain forwarding or not. If yes then how to do it. Quite interestingly, the experts who suggested domain forwarding i checked their respective domain extensions. Domain forwarding is not enabled on any of their domain extensions. Some experts have suggested 301 – Permanent Redirect or 301 – Server Redirect. Even few suggested to use DNS (update DNS settings) to map the domain to the target system’s nameserver for domain forwarding. DNS Settings update is more suicidal then 301- permanent redirect. In all probability google will index both the domains and may consider either of 2 domains as duplicate content.
Domain Forwarding through 301-Permanent Redirect also carry risk of duplicate content and crawl errors. Domain forwarding with masking is again suicidal from SEO perspective. There is a common consensus that domain forwarding will not help much in SEO activity. Many experts suggest domain forwarding for SEO purpose only. I analysed few popular sites which are using domain forwarding feature & others which are not encouraging domain forwarding. In both scenarios, all key domain extensions are registered by same brand only. Conclusion is sites without domain forwarding are better Search Engine Optimized for specific keywords compared to sites which opted for domain forwarding.
To summarize, i will not recommend domain forwarding and instead of domain forwading park the domain with domain registrar to protect online identity / presence / brand. At best, you can create and host a webpage on parked domains & request the site visitor to visit main website or create hyperlink on home page.
As there is prime focus on original content and only original content is key to online success. It is advisable to avoid domain forwarding altogether.
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