URL forwarding is the mapping of one website address to another. Before getting into the details of how you can get it right, let’s first take a look at some of the scenario that warrant URL forwarding.
Change of Domain
- Change to a better domain name: You may find that the domain name you chose initially for your business is not as cool as you thought. It may not be easy to remember or it just doesn’t strike the right note with your audience. You may then decide it’s time to go for something better.
- Patent infringement: You may discover (hopefully not through legal action) that you have used a domain name that was protected by copyright. Some companies also fight online businesses that use their (the former’s) offline brand name.
- Change of extension: You may have chosen an extension from some of the new domain extensions like .name or .me, for branding purposes as a new businesses. As your business grows, you may want to change to the conventional .com because, well, it’s the most well-known.
For all of these scenario, URL forwarding has a tool called Global Forwarding, which allows you redirect all the pages of your old website to the new one.
Multiple Domain Forwarding
Let’s say you have acquired several domain names because you want to protect your unique name. Or, you may want to acquire these domain names simply to increase your traffic. You will want to get all the domains redirected to your preferred domain. But, be careful with this.
This comes in very handy when your business is growing, or when you are effecting a major rebranding effort. You may want to reorganize some pages on your site, giving them new URLs.
If you are worried about losing the traffic you have generated with the old web pages, you can simply map them to the new ones using the 301 – this page has been moved permanently – tactic. It lets search engines and your website visitors know you have simply effected a web page move.
Well, that’s a fancy name for fixing a major gaffe you have committed. Let’s say, for example, you enter the wrong URL for your domain (cue error 404) in a major advertising effort, and luckily, you have realized it.
An .htaccess redirect to channel traffic back to the correct web page will fix the bug without hassle.
Getting it right
Apart from the redirecting codes, here are key things you should consider:
- Domain Registrar vs Web Host
You are better served if your domain registrar is also your web hosting service provider, especially in the cases of changing domains and forwarding multiple domains to a single URL.
The reason is simple. It saves you the hassle of getting your name servers from your hosting company to your domain registrar. Then you’ll need to change your newly registered domain to use the name servers of your hosting company.
Using the same service provider like Umbrellar which also offers dedicated servers automates the process, saves you hassle, and ensures a seamless transition.
- Ensure that your URL redirection service provider supports full redirect features:
You will need to be supported by service providers which support full URL forwarding.
If a site visitor get to your redirected website or web page and sees the name of your web host emblazoned at the bottom of the page, or ads littered all over the page, they are very unlikely to follow the link you have provided. Even your existing customers will struggle.
Make sure your web host supports redirecting without using your site as a free ad space. Some web hosts offer this service as a premium, and that’s ok. It is better than losing your credibility and traffic.
- Full DNS Support
If your website needs cookies, then ensure that your web host supports full DNS control. If not, your new URL will not have cookies working on it.
Confirm that your web host does not have a cap on inactivity period for your short URL If they must, let it be a reasonably long period.