Webmasters Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for pro webmasters. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a website which has many top level domains e.g.

  • mywebsite.com
  • mywebsite.org
  • mywebsite.co.uk
  • mywebsite.org.uk

The website is advertised as mywebsite.org.uk. But I expect lots of people will type mywebsite.com or mywebsite.org because its more familiar/easier. I could just leave the url alone or I could redirect visitors to the "correct" mywebsite.org.uk domain.

Is there any guidance on what I should do?

share|improve this question

If the domains are serving duplicate content, or even similar content with minor variations, you run the risk of being penalized for that by the search engines. At least, that's my understanding from all of the articles I've read.

Irrespective of that, there are many reasons you should be using the <link rel="canonical" href="..." /> tag in your page in order to direct the search engines as to how to list the official version of the page. Your canonical would always point to one domain even when you're user accessed it from another. If your content is truly identical on each of these domains, this would also resolve the issue of having your content duplicated across those domains I believe (although I've never relied on using canonicals cross-domain).

To be safest, if your content is truly identical, the best policy is to do 301 redirects to your domain which is best-ranked by the engines already. The 301s will tell the engines that all the search equity should be assigned to that one url. Additionally, when other sites consistently link to your one official site, none of the equity is squandered by being potentially split between different domains. Your dns provider can probably do this for you by doing domain forwarding.

If your content is not identical, then I don't think there's much you can do besides changing your content strategy to eliminate that and going to a single-domain strategy with redirects.

You should do canonicals even so, but between the two you should be completely covered.

share|improve this answer

You appear to be targeting the same locale (the same content) with all your domains. In which case you should redirect (301) all domain variations to the canonical mywebsite.org.uk domain.

If you don't redirect then you could encounter duplicate content issues if people/bots find and link to the other domains. Google will only return 1 page/URL in a series of duplicate pages, so you could end up with Google returning mywebsite.com/page1 and mywebsite.org.uk/page2 etc. If Google has found the alternative domains then they will have wasted time, and your bandwidth, in crawling these different sites.

You could have lost cookie problems if a user changes domain part way through navigating your site.

It's less confusing for users if they only ever see 1 domain in the address bar.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.