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I need some urgent advice please with regard to Google analytics and multiple domains, and how best to handle them.

Got a very sensitive customer who has a number of domains: EG somethingvauxhall.co.uk, somthing-vauxhall.co.uk, something-group.co.uk, somethinggroup.co.uk, somethinggroup.com etc

I was under the impression it was always best to "funnel" all domains down to a single "master" domain. For example all the domains hitting this site are forwarded to www.somethinggroup.com.

Now I'd heard it was best to do this using a 301 Redirect. if memory serves. For a number of reasons I was unable to do this due to the setup on our server, so instead had to code forwarding manually in the codebehind (asp.NET). Like this:

    if(domain != "www.somethinggroup.com")
    {
        string forwardURL = "http://www.somethinggroup.com/";
        if(path != "")
        {
            forwardURL = forwardURL + path;
        }
        if(queryString != "")
        {
            forwardURL = forwardURL + "?" + queryString;
        }

        Response.Redirect(forwardURL);
    }

This now looks like this was a really bad idea because although the traffic levels look fine across the site, it's screwed up things like referring sites etc.

My question is this really: a) Was this a bad move? b) Would a 301 redirect me better from an analytics point of view? Or is it best just to let people hit the site using whatever domain name?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are a variety of usability and historical SEO reasons to use permanent redirects over temporary redirects, however, the need to do so for SEO purposes has been mitigated by the advent of canonical link specifications (and you could use the setDomainName function to force somethinggroup.com for analytics purposes) - still, that's no reason to avoid using a permanent redirect if that's what you intend to do.

The Response.Redirect() method issues a 302 Object Moved response - this is not the same as a 301 Moved Permanently response.

You can change your ASP.NET code to send the proper redirect headers:

if(domain != "www.somethinggroup.com")
{
    string forwardURL = "http://www.somethinggroup.com/";
    if(path != "")
    {
        forwardURL = forwardURL + path;
    }
    if(queryString != "")
    {
        forwardURL = forwardURL + "?" + queryString;
    }

    Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
    Response.AddHeader("Location", forwardURL);
}
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That's great. Thanks for your help. –  Andy Dec 16 '11 at 15:36

Though initially it may seem to have screwed up your referring sites. But if you are planning to keep these things up for a long time. Then you have taken the right step. Let people right down any domain and they would be taken to the master domain. As time would pass they would definitely be used to master domain and direct traffic would increase on your top level domain and traffic from these referring site will gradually slow down. Don't worry.

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So there is no real difference, from an analytics point of view, between doing a 301 redirect and the way I'm redirecting the domains? –  Andy Dec 16 '11 at 11:43

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