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We've had requests from clients via their SEO companies to host blogs accompanying ecommerce sites on theirdomain.com/blog rather than on - for example - blog.theirdomain.com

As we look after their ecommerce hosting, and don't host wordpress sites (These are hosted on wpengine.com), we've had a few requests to accomplish this using ProxyPass which allows us to forward all requests on a virtual subfolder to a different domain. Example setup below:

Redirect /blog /blog/
ProxyPass /blog/ http://blog.theirdomain.com/
ProxyPassReverse /blog/ http://blog.theirdomain.com/
ProxyPassReverseCookieDomain blog.theirdomain.com www.theirdomain.com
ProxyPassReverseCookiePath / /blog/

This means each request to theirdomain.com/blog is forwarded to their blog on a subdomain. Apparently it's preferential for Google to have your blog hosted this way. However, it seems to me that any advantage you'd have from this (assuming there is an advantage) would be eradicated by the latency introduced on every single request to your blog, or an asset on your blog, in the fact that every single request has to be redirected via our server.

Is there any evidence to support either perspective on this?

Thanks.

  • This is confusing as to why you are choosing to route this way. How, why, and where are the domains laid out? Where do they point? Why dont you just use vhost or htaccess within their zone schema? – dhaupin Jul 3 '15 at 16:24
  • theirdomain.com is hosted on our server, blog.theirdomain.com would be hosted elsewhere on a dedicated wordpress host. Hope that clarifies things a bit! – robjmills Jul 4 '15 at 7:56
  • See also: Do subdomains help/hurt SEO? Subdomains don't have an inherent disadvantage when it comes to SEO. This is especially true in the case of a blog where the author is the same as the main site. I agree with Mike's answer that the speed of the reverse proxy would be worse for SEO than the subdomain. Of course that could be mitigated with some caching. – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 2 '15 at 15:50
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I'm trying to figure out how you're looking after their hosting when the domains are different unless this is all on the same server.

Anyways, The problem with your setup SEO wise (as you somewhat indicated) is speed, because Apache web server is trying to connect to the other domain and load the correct data before the client can see anything. This causes the latency (Time to First Byte or TTFB) to be higher than 200ms which is the number Google considers acceptable according to its Page-speed insights documentation. That is unless of course your server is a ridiculously high-speed one right next door to Google's.

The best website for evidence is at http://www.webpagetest.org. Go there, and enter a URL that causes the proxy functionality on your server to work and you'll see a higher TTFB. Do the same with any other file on your server that doesn't require the proxy functionality and you should see the TTFB be a bit lower.

The best fix would be to create redirect pages with HTTP 301 status codes that point to the new URLs. For example, if you have mod_rewrite installed and active in apache, then in .htaccess you can add lines such as the following:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^firstcustomerblog$ http://blog.customer1.com [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^secondcustomerblog$ http://blog.customer2.com [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^thirdcustomerblog$ http://blog.customer3.com [R=301,L]

In the above example, anyone who visits http://example.com/firstcustomerblog will automatically be redirected to http://blog.customer1.com. Anyone who visits http://example.com/secondcustomerblog will automatically be redirected to http://blog.customer2.com. Finally, anyone who visits http://example.com/thirdcustomerblog will automatically be redirected to http://blog.customer3.com. Assume example.com is your domain.

At first, the TTFB is roughly the same as the proxy idea, but once the next page on the customer site is accessed (provided the customer didn't include your domain name for every link), the TTFB will be much lower, thereby providing a faster experience.

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