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I have a domain name, https://seo.example.com/, that is currently showing up in Google Search results. I want to set up a redirect such that when visitors view that domain, they are immediately redirected to a different domain, https://www.example.com/seo/. The complicating part is that I also want to keep the original domain in the Google search results instead of having Google display the redirect target.

My first thought was to use a 302 redirect from https://seo.example.com/ to https://www.example.com/seo/, and set a canonical meta tag on the target page with the content https://seo.example.com/. Would this accomplish my goal of keeping the original domain in Google search while also redirecting away from it, or would Google consider this an improper use of the canonical tag and tank the search ranking of one or both pages?

Is there a way to do this above water or is it impossible by design?

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Google is unlikely to return the source of a redirect in organic search results, even a 302 (temporary) redirect, for very long. Particularly when the target URL is a different hostname.

Would this [canonical meta tag] accomplish my goal of keeping the original domain in Google search while also redirecting away from it, or would Google consider this an improper use of the canonical tag and tank the search ranking of one or both pages?

The meta tag will likely be ignored. It does not make sense for Google to penalise such "improper use". The canonical meta tag is simply a suggestion. An external redirect is a much stronger suggestion.


However, unless you are restricted by your host in some way, you should never need to do this kind of redirect - so I'm curious as to the backstory here?

  • Can you not change the subdomain / server config so that it points to the correct location directly?

  • If you are wanting to maintain the URL and serve the content from a different host then you should consider implementing a reverse proxy instead.

  • If www.example.com/seo/ is actually on the same server (same filesystem) - as implied by the same example.com domain - then you may only need an internal rewrite.

  • If you are curious, the backstory is that I have a nice .com domain with a single page on it, and I am exploring my options for consolidating the page into one of my domains that has more stuff like it. The domain name is good enough though that I wouldn't mind for it to continue showing in search results. – Maximillian Laumeister Oct 12 '18 at 17:00
  • Are you suggesting that this "single page" would be accessible from two different URLs (at the "nice .com" and at "one of [your] other domains that has more stuff like it")? From an SEO point of view you may be better off simply moving this single page to the domain "that has more stuff like it" - in which case a 301 (permanent) redirect would be appropriate. – MrWhite Oct 12 '18 at 17:24
  • In my premise I'm suggesting that the content would only be accessible by URL from the "more stuff on it" domain, and that the nice .com domain would redirect to that page on the "more stuff on it" domain. I mostly asked the question to weigh my options regarding the page and its search appearance. But from the answers it seems like my best bet would be to do a normal 301 without a canonical, and just be okay with the old domain disappearing from search results. – Maximillian Laumeister Oct 12 '18 at 17:34
  • That sounds like it would only confuse search engines (and users) - if indeed that was possible. You will struggle to keep the other URL out of the search engines without damaging your SEO. Yes, a 301 does sound like the way to go. – MrWhite Oct 12 '18 at 17:57
  • @MaximillianLaumeister Unless the domain name used for that page is highly valuable for the keyterm that you are focusing on for that page it makes a lot more sense to move the page to a domain where you can develop better Pagerank across the whole domain with more content. If people are likely to directly use the old domain name, or you wish to use it in mailouts, then you will still benefit from having the domain name redirected the new position. – garth Oct 13 '18 at 11:50
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Theoretically, a 302 (type: Found / Moved Temporarily) redirect maintains the PageRank, MozRank, Page Authority and Traffic Value of the current page, and not pass any of this onto the redirected page. However, in practice that doesn't seem to be what happens.

Here are a couple of examples of a 302 redirect that was left permanently in place, and the testing done on them:

  1. Example 1 - page links went back and forth in the indexes
  2. Example 2 - after 3 months the 302 page lost all Pagerank

What it does show is that Google gets confused by a permanent 302, and it does ultimately pass PageRank through.

So proceed with a lot of caution. You should keep an eye on your links, as you may find that it will begin losing some of its ranking.

I wouldn't be doing this on an important page, and would recommend you test using a 302 and a 307 (which replaces the old 302) on some unimportant pages. See Moz for more details: Moz's page on redirection

I am unaware of any other method (html or htaccess redirects etc.) which is going to achieve your end goal. Either way Googlebot is going to make a choice, and if it can't decide, it may negatively affect your PageRank.

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    "a 307 (which replaces the old 302)" - a 307 doesn't necessarily replace the "old 302". (?) – MrWhite Oct 12 '18 at 16:55
  • You say "permanent 302" but that type of redirect is temporary – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 12 '18 at 17:23
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    @StephenOstermiller By "permanent", I think garth means "indefinite". As in, "a 302 redirect that is left in place permanently". (But yes, it is a confusing use of the word, given its close association with 301s) – MrWhite Oct 12 '18 at 17:37
  • Although an "indefinite 302" does sound like a contradiction / misconfiguration. – MrWhite Oct 12 '18 at 22:10
  • hence the term permanent 302 is more correct. However, I have edited my answer to remove any ambiguity. – garth Oct 13 '18 at 11:41

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