How Domain Forwarding affects SEO

December 15th, 2021 | Abby Kruse King

If you have a website, you may have heard about SEO- Search Engine Optimization. You may have also heard that it’s good for marketing to buy multiple domains and forward them. Have you considered, however, how domain forwarding affects SEO?
The short answer? It depends.
Before deciding if domain forwarding is right for your business, there are few things to consider about how domain forwarding affects SEO.

  1. Masking vs No Masking
    For those of us who aren’t web developers, think of the word *hide*. Domain masking is, simply put, when you hide the domain name from the user. The user doesn’t know that they’re being redirected to another site. Beware though – forwarding a domain with masking on will negatively affect your SEO! When you “mask” a domain, Google will think there are two different pages with the same information. They don’t want duplicate pages crowding the results page, so they will rank these pages lower.
  2. Redirects + error codes
    Another thing to consider when asking "how does domain forwarding affect SEO" are the different redirects. We’ll make it simple for all the non-web developers out there.
    1. 301 - permanent move
    2. 302 - temporary move
    3. 404 - page not found

Now that we’ve covered that, we need to throw some SEO terms at you: link juice and inbound links. Link juice is the number of inbound links on your website. Inbound links are found on another website that link back to your page. Inbound links will increase your credibility, which will help you rank higher. A 301 redirect will pass along link juice from the old domain to the new one because Google acknowledges that it’s a permanent move. A 302 redirect will not pass along link juice because Google acknowledges that it’s a temporary redirect. A 404 redirect is not bad for technical SEO in the short term, meaning Google will not penalize you for a 404 redirect. What you need to consider is the user - if/when the user gets frustrated with your website, they will spend less time on the site which will cause it to rank lower. That is why it is important your redirects are correct – using incorrect redirects on a website that is forwarding domains can negatively affect SEO. Make sure you use the redirects as they are intended to avoid ranking lower on the search results page.

How domain forwarding affects SEO may be confusing to some, so remember this:
While useful, domain forwarding can negatively affect SEO if not done correctly. Our recommendations vary based on your unique situation. If you want to know which method works best for you, contact us! We’d love to help with your SEO strategy.