Many forwarding domains pointing to ONE site - good/bad?


I’ve a client who wants more visitors to his business site and has registered 2 or 3 domains with keywords in them. Nothing too spammy from what I can see so far.

Are there any real advantages to setting these up and pointing them to the one main web site?

Will Google frown on it when 3 domains are submitted to them and they all point to an existing site?

I remember doing this years ago, but wasn’t sure if it was now deemed black hat. Should they be used to be submitted to Google, or perhaps used in conjunction with related anchor text?

Any help at all to clear this up is greatly appreciated.

Many thanks for this.

It’s not black hat to make multiple websites but it’s not going to do you very much good either. If you only have 100 hours to work with this client and he wants you to build 1 main site (60 hours) and 2 other sites to link back (20 hours each) then you will indeed have 3 sites with cross links. However, the quality of each of those 3 sites will be lacking, especially the 2 other sites, as they were just never intended to be “real” websites.

My point is that I highly recommend that you focus all your effort into building a really great website than half-ass your way through building 3 websites. Matt Cutts touched on this in a recent session at Google I/O. The YouTube video isn’t up yet but should be in a few days. You’ll be able to find it on this page:

As long as the redirects are set up properly, so that visitors will end up at the same URL whichever of the domains they start at (as opposed to replicating the site on multiple aliai (if that isn’t a word then it ought to be)), Google will just treat it as the one website, and will ignore the other domains. Any links to those other domains will be treated as links to the main website.

And that’s the way you want it to be. That focuses all your link juice into one place, rather than spreading it around thinly. You don’t want your three sites competing against each other as well as everyone else - you need to harness all the googley goodness that you can to get just one instance of your site up the rankings.

So what are the advantages of multiple domains? They won’t help SEO, but they can be great marketing tools. I gave the same answer to someone else very recently - if your site is, you might decide to run a marketing campaign specifically about chainsaws and advertise the URL, then you might run another marketing campaign about drills, and launch - the power of these URLs is that you can tie them in to your marketing campaign, and make them easy to remember and specific to one particular aspect of your service. This is a good way to hook customers, and as an added bonus it can allow you to track the effectiveness of each campaign, by seeing how many hits you get on each phantom site - which you can’t do if all your ads send people straight to

The main use of extra domains like that is for where real people have a tendency to try to type in te domain directly in their browser but have a tendency to mistype it. Then it becomes worthwhile to get the more common mistyped versions and set them up to redirect to the real site so that those who mistype the domain still get to where they were trying to go. (for example redirects to

More than one domain name for the same site has no value as far as the search engines are concerned, their only use is for real people typing in the domain.

I could not agree more. I do not see why your client would want to have so many different domains linking back to one main site when you should focus all of your efforts on the main site. :rolleyes: The only logical explanation I can find to this is that the main URL is perhaps too long or too difficult for people to remember, hence the need for additional URLs to be redirected to the main one. STILL if this were the case I am still perplexed as to why he has THREE.:confused:

I was about to start a thread on this very topic when I noticed this one. It makes sense to me that multiple domains do not help SEO; last night, however, I read the following in The Complete Guide to Google Advertising by Bruce C. Brown - in a list of beneficial traffic generation strategies, Brown includes:

“Register multiple domain names with search engines and “point” them to your main Web site. Owning similar or content-related domain names is a good investment to protect yourself from competitors stealing similar-sounding domain names and will help you with search engine rankings.” (emphasis added)

This statement doesn’t make sense to me, because if it were true I think there would be an epidemic of domain name registrations - Staples, for instance, would need, etc etc etc. Beyond that, though, how can one conclusively demonstrate this strategy to be ineffectual?

The answer is right there in what is being said. If you do what I have highlighted in the below copy of the quote it will help your search engine rankings by NOT splitting off any of the domains as separately recognised sites. Adding the extra domains will hurt your SEO efforts UNLESS you take that extra step to negate it.

“Register multiple domain names with search engines and “point” them to your main Web site. Owning similar or content-related domain names is a good investment to protect yourself from competitors stealing similar-sounding domain names and will help you with search engine rankings.” (emphasis added)

If this benefit is the only one being referred to, couldn’t the same thing be accomplished by simply doing nothing with the extra domains?

No because that’s the same as not having them at all since someone typing in the domain name doesn’t end up where they intended to go.

As an example of how it works just type in into your browser address bar and you will end up on the AAMI website. If didn’t go anywhere people typing that instead of the correct address wouldn’t end up on the right site. If the site didn’t do the redirect then the search engines would see the two addresses as separate competing pages with duplicate content and would penalise one of them for it - possibly the wrong one.

Please bear with me here. :slight_smile:

I understand the benefits of type-in traffic and the fact that duplicating site content across several domains is bad news.

My question is, how can we show that the following scenario will not work?

Dave has a website at selling emu food. The site is of good quality and is the only one Dave operates. Advised by his hometown web expert (and I know of people who would give this counsel), Dave registers,,,, etc and redirects all these domains at the registrar level to - not hoping for type-in traffic but under the belief that someone Googling, for instance, “lunch for my emu” will be more likely to see his site because one of his extra “keyword” domains is pointing to it.

Again, I do not believe that this works; I’m just wondering how we can conclusively demonstrate that it does not.

PS my apologies to any owners of the above hypothetical domains.

It will work to an extend since the domain name is taken into account along with the rest of the content of the page. So having an appropriate domain name that matches what the content is about will boost the page ahead of one with equivalent content that doesn’t have an appropriate domain name. Of course the chances of two pages having content that rates closely enough for the domain name to make a difference is fairly remote but it is possible.

Of course for it to work each domain needs to have its own unique content that matches the domain name. Just redirecting them all to the same page definitely will not work since if they don’t 301 then they will be considered to be duplicates and only one will be included in the search results (and it will rank lower because it doesn’t get the benefit of all the links to the other domains) and if they do 301 then they’ll be ignored anyway since they are all permanently redirecting to a different page.

So as long as each is set up as a separate web site with its own content then that approach will make a very slight difference.

Thanks. My question was only meant to deal with redirects, not duplicate sites. I think I understand what you’re saying now.

Unless you don’t use redirects you have duplicate sites and all of them will suffer a duplicate site penalty (unless you give each their own separate content).

If you do use redirects then the search engines will ignore the redirected domains completely.

I am more confused than ever. I have several domains that I envisioned using to go after different types of customers. Presently I have several domains forwarded and masked to the same website. I don’t understand what a 301 or a 302 is . . . is that the same thing? I thought it would help increase SEO ranking but I did not think of it looking like duplicate material. I may have to rethink things. Another question . . . if I own a domain name and I mask and forward to a website but later choose to switch to another website, will the SEO ranking stay with the original website or will it go with my domain which is masking the new website? Thanks.

A ‘301’ is a permanent redirect - it says “this page has now moved, and this is the URL it is at from now on”. When you put a permanent redirect in place, search engines will transfer any rankings and ratings on the old URL to the new one, and will take the old URL out of their index, so that they only list one version of your page - this is good, because it means you haven’t got several of your pages competing against each other and spreading the googley goodness too thinly, but instead you’ve got it all concentrated into one page that then has a better chance of beating the opposition and getting a good spot on the SERPs.

A ‘302’ is a temporary redirect, which says “this page has temporarily moved to this URL, but keep the old one indexed because it will be back here in due course”. You should only use this where you know a page will be coming back to the old URL.

If you set up and put a 301 redirect on it, pointing to, then as far as search engines are concerned, there is only, and they won’t have any rankings or ratings for

I do not see any type of benefit to register new domains and forward them to your real site except that you “MIGHT” get some type-in traffic from people trying to access that domain (now, what are the chances that one would type in a fresh domain that is not even indexed, ranking or has reference resources?), and the second benefit I would see is catching some good domains and own them so your competitors wont. Other then that, just waste of reg. fee for the domain if the only purpose to register the domains is to redirect them to the main site.

The reason for registering extra domains is for marketing purposes - usually it would target just one aspect of your service or product range. You can run ad campaigns on radio, TV, in printed press and on the web (eg virals), and you can make up a catchy slogan or phrase that’s relevant to just that one product, which might do better at drawing traffic in than just giving out your regular web address. It also allows you to track the effectiveness of each ad campaign better.

I gave a real example of one in the ninth post in this thread. They probably get quite a lot of people typing the ‘amy’ alternative instead of the correct ‘aami’ with people looking for their site.

Okey now that is a valid reason, unless you want to put aside branding marketing and just a product marketing, in that scenario it would make sense to register a domain to market only one specific product.

Now we are getting in the typo domain area (, but the OP seems to be asking for alternative domains with his keywords included and redirecting them to their branding site. So if domain isn’t typo one but instead it will only contain keywords then the scenario of amy instead of aami or gogole instead of google fails out.

The era when people would type in words or presumed websites in the navigation bar is over, whenever you want to find a website would you go and try your luck typing a “presumed” domain in the navbar or you would just head over to your preferred search engine and perform a search there with you presume key-phrase?

Now aside the next scenarios (Stevie’s example of branding specific product with on domain, felgall’s typo domain, the fact you want to protect your business by cutting off domain alternatives to your competitors or by just registering different TLDs of your domain and redirecting them to your main site) I really do not see any real value of registering more domains and simply redirect them, especially if they are just new domains (never developed before, no traffic, no links…nadda).

But that is just me, and perhaps I am limited kinda guy :wink:

Typos and protecting your domain are really the only reasons why you’d get an extra domain and point it to your existing content. If you want to get an unrelated domain name in order to benefit from keywords it contains then that domain must point to its own separate content or it is worthless.