6

I operate a website with many different TLD's (top level domains):

  • example.com
  • example.org
  • example.co.uk
  • example.org.uk

The website is advertised as example.org.uk but I expect that lots of people will be visiting the site VIA the .com or .org, as these TLD's are more common and easier to remember.

Question(s):

  • Should I 301 redirect all these domains to the advertised (main) domain?
  • Should I allow users to freely visit any of the TLD's without redirects?
7

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 301's 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.

4

It sounds like you are serving the same content (targeting the same locale) with all your TLDs/domains. In which case you should 301 redirect all domain variations to your preferred (canonical) domain (ie. the advertised example.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 example.com/page1 and example.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.

  • Users could lose cookies (state, analytics, etc.) if they change domains part way through navigating your site. Or simply return to your site via a different domain.

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

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