Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Complexity Of A Custom Domain DNS Setup

I read this frequently in the Blogger Help Group forums
All that I read about redirecting the custom domain seems backwards - from my BlogSpot address to a personal URL. That's too complicated, I can't do that!

Is it possible to just redirect traffic from my personal URL to Blogspot?
and some helpers come back with
Yeah, it's so much simpler. Why should you do it any differently?
and they are right, it is far simpler to just redirect the custom domain URL to the BlogSpot URL. But it won't get you the same results.

A standard custom domain is comparatively complex.
  • Setup an "A" / "CNAME" referral, from the domain to Google.
  • Publish the blog to the domain URL.
    • Setup a "301 Moved Permanently" redirect, from the BlogSpot URL to the domain URL.
    • Re publish the blog to the domain URL.
    • Setup a Google redirect, from the Google server to the blog, published to the domain.


Look how simple it is to just redirect the domain URL to the BlogSpot URL.
  • Setup forwarding, from the domain to BlogSpot.
  • You're done.
  • Get to work publicising your new non BlogSpot URL! And look at all of the time that you saved, compared to the needless formalities described above!


But wait, there's more (more frustration, really). Look at what happens when you forward the domain to the BlogSpot URL.
  • If you redirect the domain URL to the BlogSpot URL using a "301 Moved Permanently", your readers and the search engines see the domain URL replaced by the BlogSpot URL. Where's your shiny new non BlogSpot URL? The domain URL will work, but after the blog is loaded, all that anybody sees is the BlogSpot URL. All that work, and the BlogSpot URL is still the primary address for the blog. And the search engines continue to index the BlogSpot URL.
  • If you redirect the domain URL to the BlogSpot URL using a "302 Moved Temporarily", your readers and the search engines see the domain URL (when the domain URL is used to address the blog), and the BlogSpot URL (when the BlogSpot URL is used to address the blog).
    • The search engines see two addresses for the same content, and levy a penalty for duplicated content against both the BlogSpot and domain URLs.
    • Your blog and domain search reputations go into the toilet.
    • Your readers (those that you get) see different URLs, and become schizophrenic.
    • The only ones gaining here are your competition.
  • If you redirect the domain URL to the BlogSpot URL using frame based forwarding, your readers see the content of the BlogSpot blog when accessing an (externally hosted) web site using the domain URL. The search engines indexing the domain URL see a frame, and that's it. Search engines can't index the contents of a frame. Your blog gets no juice from the domain content, it continues to be seen and indexed by the BlogSpot URL, and again it's as if you never had a domain. And your readers will likely soon see an "off site redirect" interstitial warning.


So yes, redirecting the domain to the BlogSpot URL is very simple, but you accomplish less. Redirect the BlogSpot URL to the domain URL, and you accomplish more.
  • A blog with the domain URL as the primary address.
  • A blog with the BlogSpot URL as a secondary address, and the juice from the BlogSpot URL to boost the domain search reputation.
  • A blog with the BlogSpot address permanently redirected to the domain URL, so your readers and the search engines see one URL - the domain URL.
Complicated setup, simple results.
  • You can use either the BlogSpot, or the domain, URL, to access your blog.
  • Your readers see the blog using the domain URL.
  • The search engines see the blog using the domain URL.
  • The search engines pick up the reputation of the BlogSpot URL, when they index the domain URL.
Guessing that you intend to keep your custom domain for months - if not years - why not do it right the first time? Spend a few extra hours reading, a couple extra hours setting up the domain - then get back to work publishing your blog.

Compared to the hours that you spend publishing and updating your blog, maybe the extra hours setting the domain up properly are not really so huge. Especially if you consider the difference in results.

>> Top

5 comments:

Pete Kosednar said...

Hey Chuck:

I finished with the dns instructions you give:

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

And checked the box forward non www to www.

Will this correct the duplicate content like your site has!

site: site:www.nitecruzr.net Results 1 - 10 of about 56
site: site:nitecruzr.net Results 1 - 10 of about 2,770

Or is more changes needed to match your results? Thanks for info.

Chuck said...

Pete,

To fix that "duplicated content", you use Google Webmaster Tools. Under Settings, Preferred Domain, I can select either
"Don't set a preferred domain", "Display URLs as www.nitecruzr.net", "Display URLs as nitecruzr.net".
I just selected the latter, since right now most results (2,770 or so) display as "nitecruzr.net".

You can make a similar setting for your domain.

Pete Kosednar said...

Thanks! What about 301 redirects - should those be marked in WMT as dont set a prefereed domain or does that not matter.

Chuck said...

Pete,

A domain that uses a "301 Redirect" can't be verified in GWT, so you can't make a preferred domain setting. There, you just let the redirect update the search engines with the primary URL (the redirect target).

Pete Kosednar said...

Chuck -

O.K. thanks. I had the www as the preferreed domain and nothing happened to the duplicate content in site: search. Could of been due to my prior dns setup.