January 22, 2018

There are many reasons you may need to redirect one or more URLs to a different domain. URL masking or cloaking may seem like an easy solution, but it can be a detrimental mistake for your online presence. Luckily there are alternatives to URL masking that can protect and improve your SEO power, while providing greater security for your visitors.

URL masking is problematic because it creates duplicate content. Google, and other search engines, dislike duplicate content. When a masked URL is requested, Google sees that there are multiple domains serving the same content. The search engine is then forced to choose which site to provide - and it may not be the one you want. For this reason it is very difficult to have great SEO with the same content on more than one domain. In addition to diluting your SEO, Google may also penalize domains serving duplicate content by reducing rankings, which destroys your search engine presence, and essentially kills your traffic.

Rather than masking or cloaking URLs in order to have multiple domains reach the same content, here are some alternatives that will help to maintain your SEO power.

This option will allow you to avoid the problem of duplicate content, but it eliminates the benefit of using branded, shortened, or vanity URLs to enhance customer experience and significantly boost your marketing efforts.

Combine materials into a single website with an appropriate domain name to match.

This option also allow you to avoid the problem of duplicate content, but it also can mean abandoning any SEO power your existing domains have accumulated, and it can be costly and time consuming to create new sites. It’s important to try and maintain link equity whenever possible.

Use a canonical URL for each set of similar URLs.

This is a way to indicate to search engines which URL is favoured when more than one link is hosting the same content. For example: http://example.com/product/sneakers-jetblue/ and http://example.com/product/sneakers/jetblue/. Setting canonical URLs is similar to redirection, however if it is not done properly it can have catastrophic effects on your SEO and do the exact opposite of what you intend. 301 redirects are consistently the best option to ensure you are not punished with duplicate content and still maintain brand presence as desired.

This option uses URL redirection to tell Google where to find the requested content, so the search engine knows which site to provide. Branded or custom URLs can be requested by your browser, but instead of finding duplicate content, the web server responds with a 301 redirect command that tells your browser the URL, or location where you can find the requested content. This also maintains the link equity that has been built to maintain SEO and search rankings.

Using URL redirection instead of masking or cloaking also provides increased security for your site’s visitors. URL masking will hide the real address of the content being served, meaning the address in your browser doesn’t change even as you navigate through different web pages. This URL cloaking has sometimes been used for malicious activity, such as phishing or malware deployment, and can prevent your site from being shared and saved easily, and from working properly.

Learn more about how EasyRedir can help with alternatives to URL masking and cloaking in order to keep your security, search engine ranking, and SEO power. Sign up for a free EasyRedir trial today to see how you can use URL redirection successfully for your business.