First time poster. I have a client with 2 domain names...
Each domain name currently points to it's own server space, but you will notice that the 2 sites are actually exactly the same. The reason why they did this (many years ago) is they purchased HPAS.com for it's great organic listings. But the company's primary site (distributorsfirst.com) was already set up. Rather than just park or point HPAS.com to the company site, they decided to keep it entirely separate. Over time the two sites remained separate, but the content became the same.
Turns out this has worked. HPAS.com continues to generate great organic listings in Google, and DistributorsFirst.com is advertised via Adwords.
So here's the rub...
Now the client wants to transition to a Wordpress site. So we're moving to a new server (Hostgator), and need to consolidate. My thinking is to make HPAS.com the primary domain name, and park DistributorsFirst.com. But I'm not sure.
The company's actual name is Distributors First & all email is based of this domain name. As Wordpress requires a primary domain name, it would be nice for it to be DistributorsFirst.com. But I'm thinking if I set it up this way, and park HPAS.com as the secondary (or should I do a 301 redirect instead?) it will destroy my organic listings in Google.
Anyone have any suggestions / know what's best practice? Many many thanks in advance.
I'm sure that you know that SE's (Google, especially) penalize for identical content on different sites. Therefore:
Make the content SLIGHTLY different!
Use different domains (you've already got that).
Use different IP addresses (that'll reinforce the SE's belief that they are different domains).
Get a "serious" client as the above can be accomplished from the same database BUT you'll need to code the slight differences in the theme or after fetching the content from the database. Moreover, changing to a WP-based website means:
[indent]A. That you'll lose the ranking of your HPAS website (unless you're REALLY good at retaining URIs - or 301 redirecting all the important URIs) and
B. You MUST keep WP up to date as there are regular exploits against WP that, if you don't update immediately upon a patch release, your website will be insecure (and likely to be hacked).[/indent]
If the majority of the traffic comes from Google, then you should make hpas.com the primary domain.
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You should ensure that all the page links that people use on HPAS.com domain are redirected to DistributorsFirst.com. There will surely be links on HPAS.com that don't match anything on DistributorsFirst.com so have any such page redirect to a site map on the new site.
The whole point of the search engine friendly 301 redirect (Moved Permanently) is to capture those well ranked position. As long as you plan out carefully how the links will be redirected you should see the traffic shift the way you want.
If you have access to the root Apache server then you can do a rewrite-map to explicitly map page to page. You can store the relationships in a database or a text file. Otherwise you will use the .htaccess with mod-rewrite enabled and perform each 301 redirect that you need.
You will keep the HPAS.com domain live for enough time for the search-bots to find and register the 301s.
Do you know why HPAS.com has great organic listings? If so make sure that the WordPress redesign captures the things that you are doing In HPAS.com. If you new WordPress site fails at generating the organic traffic then the traffic siphoning boost you get from HPAS.com will be short-lived.
I'd go with ServerStorm's advice for using 301 redirects. If the client has had success with 2 domains, imagine how well they will do when all the efforts go into one domain. I would guess that the one domain will eventually get more traffic then the two combined. Plus you won't have to worry about duplicate content.
Very much so. Best practice is to have only one version of the content out there - Google will eventually catch and penalize you if you have duplicate content.
If you alter the content slightly and get caught, you will get penalized more heavily.
So - best practice - 301 redirect.
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