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I own several variations on my domain name that all 301 redirect to the main site. The problem is that I have very little visibility into how often these are actually used. How do I set up some sort of reporting on these to know how often users type them in or link to them?

I haven't found a way to get this information out of Google Analytics, nor have I found any sort of reporting from GoDaddy where these redirects are currently hosted.

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3 Answers 3

I'm not sure about this but I'll hazard a guess.

Verify all the domains in Webmaster Tools (Google, Bing) this will help you to see 'who links to you.' As far as links, also try Majestic SEO.

The other thing I would try is implementing some server statistics software like AWStats (not sure if Go Daddy provides it but it is usually available in cPanel). I'd think this would allow you to get an idea of how many times the 'page' is loaded, even if it is a 301 redirect.

If the other domains are to protect your name and don't have much SEO value (don't have links built) you can use a <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1; url=http://example.com/"> tag to redirect and visitors will then show up in your analytics as referral traffic (although setting the content=" to less than 3 can result in problematic redirects if users hit the 'back' button on their browser).

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If the different domain names are essentially covering common misspellings or longer and shorter versions of your main domain name then, @adam-asdf's approach above is probably your best option though I've always found Piwik Analytics far better than AWStats in case you wanted to take a look at that, the user interface is more user-friendly and a little more similar to Google Analytics which you're already using.

If the different domain names are really keyword domains that you registered primarily to help with SEO, then setting them up as microsites can sometimes be quite effective. If this is what you had in mind then please add a comment to that effect and I'll go into more detail for you.

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I was talking about misspelling and tld variant registrations, not keyword domains. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 7 at 10:16
    
Ok, in that case in Google Analytics, navigate from the side menu to Acquisition, and then All Referrals, and whatever type of redirects you use from your different domain names you will see those domains in the Source column along with information about how many user sessions or goal conversions have come from those domains. It only shows 10 rows at a time by default by I find it more helpful selecting to see 5000 at a time at the bottom or exporting to CSV and analysing in Excel. I guess it depends on how many domains you have as to how you might find it easiest to analyse. Hope this helps. –  richhallstoke Jul 7 at 11:46
    
Browsers don't typically send the type in domain as a referrer after the redirect. I just tested with Firefox and Live HTTP headers, no referrer information is sent. There is no indication at all in the headers that the request didn't originate on the correct domain name. Because of this, I don't see any of my alternate domain names in the referral report as you suggest. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 7 at 13:35
    
Your primary site's Google Analytics source column would only show the domain name you own that redirected them to your primary site, not how they got to the redirecting domain. If you want to see that information too, you'd need to setup an additional Google Analytics profile for each of the redirecting domains instead of using the meta redirect use the Javascript location.href='example.com/'; after the Analytics Javscript code has run. –  richhallstoke Jul 7 at 16:42
    
One other thing, in compliance with RFC2616 browsers shouldn't send referrer information if being redirected from an HTTPS URL to an HTTP URL to prevent any possible sensitive information being transmitted via the query parameters. As many websites are now becoming SSL-enabled to prevent snooping, this will increase the number of inbound links with no referrer information unless your site is running on SSL. You could try adding <meta name="referrer" content="always" /> to your redirection domains and see if that helps. –  richhallstoke Jul 7 at 16:42
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up vote 0 down vote accepted

One way of getting Google Analytics to show alternate domain name usage: treat the alternate domain names as marketing campaigns and append Google Analytics campaign tracking parameters to the URLs.

For example, if my domain name is example.com and my alternate domain name is example.net, I can configure the redirect like this:

  • http://example.net/http://example.com/?utm_campaign=domainnames&utm_medium=domain&utm_source=example.net

Then I get the reporting that I want in Google Analytics under "Acquisition" → "Campaigns".

There are some downsides to this:

  • Redirects like this are difficult to implement correctly. You want the following cases to work and they may not all do so using many redirect mechanisms:
    • http://example.net/path/doc.htmlhttp://example.com/path/doc.html?utm_campaign=domainnames&utm_medium=domain&utm_source=example.net
    • http://example.net/?a=bhttp://example.com/?a=b&utm_campaign=domainnames&utm_medium=domain&utm_source=example.net
  • Search engine bots may also see these parameters and not be able to assign link juice properly because of them. The meta rel canonical tag on all landing pages would help with this.
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