There is a website, let's say example.com and multiple domains for different domain zones like .de .fr etc. And the additional domains have the CNAME record example.com. So the idea is to open example.com regardless of the domain zone a person enters. But what we have now is that serps list multiple domain name when we try to search for "Example". Here is the real example (data replaced):

enter image description here

As you can see it's obviously didn't work the way we expected. Despite that if the person clicks on the 3rd link, he will end up visiting example.com actually. But we don't want the domain to be in SERPs, especially when some domain names are just to "fix possible typos". So my question is - do we use the CNAME wrongly? Should we use A-record instead? Is there a way to make example.de go to open example.com/de and example.fr to open example.com/fr?

  • The CNAME is fine. You just have to put a canonical tag on each page pointing to example.com/what-ever-page-it-is so that Google knows which page to index. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 17:05
  • Thank you, but example.de doesn't have a page. It's just a domain name.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 17:13
  • Actually, it does. It has all the same pages the .com site has. That is why you need the canonical tags to tell G that you prefer example.com to be indexed. Otherwise, it is duplicate content.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 17:31
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    If you want "this domain is just an alias and nothing else" you will want to implement redirects. DNS isn't capable of redirecting. A CNAME record only says "this domain is hosted on the same IP address as this other domain." It doesn't say anything about the content. It still could be a completely different site. You want to make sure your web server issues "301 permanent" redirects for your alternate domains. That will point them to your main domain for both users and search engines. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 11:36
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    @Taylor 302 redirects may not cause URLs to be removed from search engines completely. Google does remove URLs that 301 redirect. Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


Canonical Tag is only a suggestion to search engines. They may or may not follow it. Please correct me if I am incorrect, but I am assuming that your domain names are using different languages? If not, I'll scratch my response and start fresh. Keeping on with my assumption, in your situation, I believe you would be best served by utilizing your robots.txt to block search engines from crawling automatically translated pages on your site.

Robots.txt syntax is as follows:

User-agent: [the name of the robot the following rule applies to] *this could be Googlebot (for google search) and Googlebot-Image (for image search).

Disallow: [the URL path you want to block]

Allow: [the URL path in of a subdirectory, within a blocked parent directory, that you want to unblock]

These two lines are together considered a single entry in the file, where the Disallow rule only applies to the user-agent(s) specified above it. You can include as many entries as you want, and multiple Disallow lines can apply to multiple user-agents, all in one entry. You can set the User-agent command to apply to all web crawlers by listing an asterisk (*) as in the example below:

More info about your situation: Automatic translations don't always make sense and have the potential of being viewed as spam. Moreso, poor or artificial sounding translation can harm your site's perception. This image could help you chose a url structure that makes it easier to geotarget parts of your site to different regions. Here are your recommended options: enter image description here

With that said, Google uses an algorithm to select a representative Url in a situation involving cross-domain canonical issues (more can be found here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1716747?hl=en)

This is what Google has to say about Duplicate Content and International Sites:

Websites that provide content for different regions and in different languages sometimes create content that is the same or similar but available on different URLs. This is generally not a problem as long as the content is for different users in different countries. While we strongly recommend that you provide unique content for each different group of users, we understand that this might not always be possible. There is generally no need to "hide" the duplicates by disallowing crawling in a robots.txt file or by using a "noindex" robots meta tag. However, if you're providing the same content to the same users on different URLs (for instance, if both example.de/ and example.com/de/ show German language content for users in Germany), you should pick a preferred version and redirect (or use the rel=canonical link element) appropriately. In addition, you should follow the guidelines on rel-alternate-hreflang to make sure that the correct language or regional URL is served to searchers. Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en

  • Thank you very much for your answer Josh, this is no doubt very useful, and please don't remove it, but my case is slightly different. Yes you are right we have multiple languages (and the translation made manually for each piece of text) and the original domain has the following structure example.com/en /de etc. The language automatically sets by our CMS. But the problem is that we also have multiple domain names (bought as aliases like example.de or corrections like exampl.com) and the domains listed in SERPs besides the main domain, like "example.com" and right under it - "exampl.com / .de"
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 0:14
  • Hopefully this question is not too far off, but can you help me understand the intent behind purchasing the domains that you referred to as "corrections" or what they are or were intended to accomplish from the get go? I'm confident that I can help you resolve the issue of undesirable results showing in Google - however understanding your objectives and intentions is imperative to determining the most reasonable course of action. Let me know, I'm here to help! Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 2:02
  • Oh thank you Josh, sorry didn't see your comment! The reason of getting additional domains is to bring user to the same example.com no matter what they type in the address bar. As an example, ppl in Germany may assume that our domain is example.de and try to visit it. Since we bought this domain as well, we want the process to be smooth for them so that they end up visiting example.com instead. Another example is "typing correction" domain name. Let's say we have domain exampel.com (notice the typing error), and the user should end up at example.com as well.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 13:24
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    Actually it doesn't matter. This may not be the best way to accomplish this, but if you want to get it done, buy a shared hosting that will allow you to host all of your ccTLD's. Set up your ccTLD's with Cpanel and use the redirect feature (302 only) and tell the redirect to follow each directory. What you will be left with is a version of every single page of the .com being 302r to your ccTLDs. I recently did this for tjmfuneral.com. The client wanted to make sure anyone who typed in that domain was able to make it to the main site & for every new page on the main site - a redirect exists Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 0:39
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    @Josh Salganik Will you please explain why you suggest a 302 redirect over a 301 redirect? Would the rationale be to preserve the integrity of the redirected domains, assuming Mike would want to use one or more of them for something else in the future?
    – Taylor
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 3:36

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