Octopus Rewards: Using Multiple URLs To Your Advantage

Many corporations own websites. But behind the domain names that hold these websites, there are possibly many other domains related to their brands. For example, Coca Cola, the beverage giant has a website at coca-cola.com. But it also owns plenty of other domains like coke.com, cocacola.com, and brand-related domain names to ensure the website captures all possible references to the popular brand or even associations with the products they do or products they make. That’s an ideal case of handling domain names.

While certain brands require a separate domain name and hold a different website to handle a distinct audience — just like cocacolazero.com or dietcoke.com — those that are deemed similar should be handled in systematic way. And to me, that means using them to the owner’s advantage.

I have been asked by website owners on how they should handle multiple domain names they own that point to one website. If we have five domain names shall we also host five websites of the same content separately? In SEO, it is not how it should be done. Even before we talk about SEO, such plan requires redundant disk space, more costly and requires more maintenance (you have to update five different websites if you post one single change).

Coca Cola domains don’t do it that way. Every time I type coke.com or cocacola.com, I am always led to the official site which can be found at coca-cola.com. That means if we have five domain names, we pick only one as our primary domain, point the web content there and redirect all the other four towards that primary domain. It’s not only cost-effective and requires less work. It is also efficient. Having five distinct domain names carrying only one type of content is redundant. Search engines are going to address that duplicate content by picking only one version of the content and ignore the rest of the sites.

In the case of Octopus Rewards, a website that offers rewards system for Octopus Card holders here in Hong Kong, I see at least two domains serving one purpose.

www.octopusrewards.com.hk
www.octopus.com.hk

octopus-card-readerWhen I visit a link that points to www.octopusrewards.com.hk it is automatically redirected to an equivalent landing page about Octopus Rewards but only at www.octopus.com.hk. This makes me think that www.octopusrewards.com.hk was intended to be a vanity domain that can easily be remembered even though its length is longer than the destination domain name (www.octopus.com.hk).

So if we have multiple domains which serve one single website, here are my tips:

1) Pick the primary domain, this will be the domain name that will hold website content
2) Set 301 redirections for the other domains so that they will automatically be forwarded to the primary domain or desired subdomain or subfolder under it

Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewcurrie/