What is Domain Masking?
Technically speaking, what is displayed in the address bar or URL field of a web browser can be altered. Changing the domain name in the displayed URL is called domain masking.
Domain masking is a very simple way to ‘cloak’ or ‘mask’ a domain name when it is being forwarded to another domain, by keeping the original masked domain name in the address bar of your browser.
When is Domain Masking done?
Domain masking is also useful if you have a really long domain name for your website eg., reallybadlonguglydomainname.com, but it is too long a domain name to remember or spell correctly. You don’t want to change all of the links in the website to use a new shorter domain name eg., newdomain.com, so you just forward the newdomain.com name to reallybadlonguglydomainname.com and domain mask it!
When the person types in newdomain.com they will actually go straight to the reallybadlonguglydomainname.com website and they will never know as it will only show newdomain.com in the address bar of their browser once the domain is masked.
Many times, advertising campaigns are run by companies from different domains and not the main website’s domain. This is usually done so that the main website’s server does not get extremely high traffic. Sometimes, advertising work is sub-contracted to agencies who run ads from their server or domain. When such situations arise, it would be a bad user experience if a visitor to the page saw a different domain name. It can even lead a person to think that the site has been hacked into. Domain masking is a useful way to make sure that a visitor to your advertisements see your domain name.
How is Domain Masking done?
Domain masking is handled in one of two different ways:
- Iframe the old site in the new masked domain page. This effectively creates a webpage that is running on the masked domain (eg. newdomain.com), and the masked domain has what acts like a window to view the other website’ page in.
- A better way to do domain masking is to let your web server handle it directly via a mod_rewrite command. This instructs your web server to setup the domain to be masked as an alias of the target domain, thus making the web server serve up pages for the same website under the non-aliased domain name as well as the aliased (domain masked) domain name.
Don’t worry about all of this though as if you are using Ballistic Domains, all of this setup will be done for you automatically via your control panel. All domains purchased through Ballistic Domains, or transferred to Ballistic Domains have FREE domain masking available for them. Just sign into your domain name control panel and setup domain masking there.
Domain Masking and SEO
Under most circumstances, domain masking results in search engines seeing two domains with the exact same content. As a result, search engines may remove pages from one of the two sites from its index. Usually the original or older content is retained. In extreme cases, if the domain masking is seen as a deception technique, then it may also result in penalization by search engines.
However, it doesn’t mean that domain masking should not be done. You can do domain masking provided you implement canonical tags on the pages in one of the two domains. A canonical tag tells search engines where the original version of any given page is to be found. By implementing a canonical tag, you would be mitigating the chances of search engines seeing two versions of the same page. Only the page in the canonical tag would be indexed in search results and the duplicate content would be ignored by search engines.
However, it is important to note that the slightest mistake in implementing the canonical tag can result in pages in your website disappearing from search engines. This should be implemented by web design and online marketing specialists.