So, you’ve been thinking about buying a second domain name to use with your website. Perhaps you’d like to use one for marketing (perhaps relating to a specialty or a book or album title), but you’ve already got an existing website.
Whatever the reason, there are several ways to add a domain name to an existing website. But they all have different repercussions for your existing website.
Here are the various ways — and which one I usually recommend to my clients.
First, a little terminology. The “primary domain name” is the one that shows in the address bar at the top of your browser.
For these examples, I’ll use “firstdomain.com” (the one you’re currently using) and “newdomain.com” (the one you want to add). Here are the choices:
1. Use both domains.
— Type firstdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken to the website, where newdomain.com will show in the address bar.
— Type newdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken to the same website as above where newdomain.com will show in the address bar.
In a nutshell, there is one website which shows two different addresses. There are two primary domain names.
This is dangerous, as Google interprets two primary domain names as two different sites with duplicate content. They are known to penalize such sites in the search results, making it much less likely that your site will be shown in a search. So, let’s not do this.
Here’s a better way! Option number 2 will preserve alll your Google search rankings.
2. Redirect the new domain to the first domain.
— Type firstdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken to the website, where firstdomain.com will show in the address bar.
— Type newdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken (redirected) to the website where firstdomain.com will show in the address bar.
This is the safest option for a number of reasons:
— You can use two domain names, with no penalty from Google et al. There is just one primary domain name.
— Google gives preference to old, established domain names. (They think old = trust.) You’ll retain the site’s rankings in search.
— You can use a new domain name safely, while still taking advantage of the original website’s longtime presence on the net. People who know firstdomain.com will still be able to access the site with that address.
This option is the best of both worlds and the way it’s most often done.
However. If you’re certain you want to use newdomain.com as the primary domain name, it can be done:
3. Redirect the first domain to the new domain.
This option establishes newdomain.com as the primary domain name.
— Type firstdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken (redirected) to the website, where newdomain.com will show in the address bar.
— Type newdomain.com in, and you’ll be taken to the website where newdomain.com will show in the address bar.
With this option, newdomain.com will always show in the address bar.
However, people who know the old domain name will still be able to use it. Because we’re redirecting the old domain to the new, you’d lose some (but not all) the advantage that Google gives established sites.
This is the second best option, the one to use if you have a strong desire to make newdomain.com the primary domain name.
Of course, there is another option, albeit not one I’d recommend:
4. Discontinue the first domain name altogether.
Here we’d be using only newdomain.com and discontinuing use of firstdomain.com altogether.
This isn’t recommended because all existing links to firstdomain.com will cease to work. People who know only that address won’t be able to access the site. You’d also have to rebuild all your Google search rankings from scratch.
To keep your current visitors (who are familiar only with firstdomain.com happy, avoid potential broken links to your site, and keep your search engine rankings, I recommend redirecting the new domain to the existing domain.
Need help deciding about how to use a second domain name on your site, or need assistance in implementing it? Please get in touch with me and I’ll be glad to help!
P.S. If you need to register a domain name, I recommend using Namecheap (affiliate link) — they’re both economical and reliable.