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I have a site that is for a realtor and its URL is say, homesforsale.example but the actual listings are housed within an MLS/IDX system that is currently set to search.homesforsale.example. The client wants to have all the URLs under the sub-domain (search.homesforsale.example) to look as if they are under homesforsale.example not as a sub-domain but the only way I can think of doing that is CLOAKING which I do not want to do, especially because of the potentially negative SEO.

The client is convinced he wants to rank for homesforsale.example/community/some-community instead of search.homesforsale.example/i/some-community. (The 'i' is built into the unchangeable structure of URLs that the MLS/IDX system creates.)

Can anyone think of a way of doing this legitimately without being penalized for either duplicate content or flat out URL masking?

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    A reverse proxy is exactly the use case (making content at URL X appear at URL Y). Do note there are potential consequences though on the content of the pages, and specially links (if they are absolute and using X...). The real long term solution being of course to change the global architecture so that the pages are at the proper spot and not in a subdomain, if the client does not want a subdomain. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 21:41
  • Is the MLS/IDX system giving unique pages or is it giving the same pages to all realitors? If it is not unique that may be why they had to put it in a subdomain they may have had problems with sites by putting it in a directory on the site. While a subdomain gets looked at more like a separate site. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 22:05
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    "the only way I can think of doing that is CLOAKING" - How would you do this with"cloaking"?! "without being penalized for either duplicate content or flat out URL masking" - how can you be penalized for "URL masking"? Unless you can control direct user access to the subdomain (ie. prevent it) then "duplicate content" is always going to be an issue.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 0:39
  • 2 ways, you can do it. Route A: use 301 redirects, so they essentially become one single response. Route B: use a canonical meta tag to identify which is the one that should rank. Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 5:00
  • I agree with MrWhite that it doesn't sound like cloaking, it sounds more like duplicate content. This resource might be helpful for you: What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site? Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 14:42

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