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Subdomain Hosted On Another Server?


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#1 sheikyerbouti

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 10:37 PM

Greetings,

Long time listener, first time caller!

I am in the process of building the architecture for a real estate website. There will be many static pages of content as well as blog articles added on a regular basis. This is only a site "on paper" now and I'm trying to determine the best way to proceed before I begin development.

(as a new member I can't post links, so hopefully you understand the semantics of my examples below)

My questions concern the "property search" portion of my site. I am considering an IDX solution (software) which can be incorporated into the design of my site and customized via CSS to look and feel just like the rest of the site. This is where visitors will go within my site to search for homes for sale in my area.

One of the best features of the software is that it allows me to customize the URL for all search results pages (mysite-dot-com/my-hometown-homes-for-sale/) as well as add custom headers to each of those pages (My Hometown Luxury Homes for sale) and even add a few paragraphs of text (sprinkled with keywords) above the grid showing the homes for sale.

Here's the problem: the software company will not allow me to purchase the product and install it on my servers so that all of the search results pages actually reside on my server (and therefore my domain?). I have two options.

Option 1:
When a visitor clicks the "Search Properties" button they will be taken from mysite-dot-com to mysite-dot-idxsoftware-dot-com and after they search for somes with certain criteria the results page would be mysite-dot-idxsoftware-dot-com/my-hometown-homes-for-sale.

Option 2:
I can create a subdomain on my server and "point" that subdomain to their servers so that the search page will have a URL of search-dot-mysite-dot-com and the results page will be search-dot-mysite-dot-com/my-hometown-homes-for-sale. But both the search page and the results page will *still* be hosted on their servers, all of my custom URLs and header/text information included.

Do I get credit on MY site with the search engines for all those keywords that "look" like they're on my site in example 2 above?

Also, one of their tech support people told me:
QUOTE
If you're concerned about SEO credit you can use an "A Record" that points to our server IP rather than subdomain. It's still a difficult point to find clarity around because generally speaking the domain will be indexed and you can take the domain with you if you leave our service. It's true that we're still hosting everything on our servers and IP, but that may not be bad thing since it may result in faster indexing of your pages given that is a dedicated IP address.



Can someone help me decipher what that means with respect to my site getting the good SEO "juice" from my custom header and text?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and help!

Regards,
Pedro

#2 Mooro

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 03:28 AM

I would have bigger, graver concerns about not being able to host the software myself than I would about link juice.

"it may result in faster indexing of your pages given that is a dedicated IP address."

Their claims that a dedicated IP address gives faster indexing doesn't sound right to me.

It set my alarm bells off.

I've had sub domain setups like this before, yes you can get them indexed but ranking is different from indexation. The control freak in me shudders at the thought of building traffic to something I'm not in control of.

I've fallen out with people who've set us up with similar things in the past, if it goes 'pear shaped' where does the revenue go and how can you track everything you need to know from day one. This setup could create more issues than it solves.

The other consideration is how many other sites are they hosting which have a very similar layout and content? Similar IP range, same server. I feel this kind of setup is often lacking in both uniqueness and long term viability especially as there's no control over how many other sites they host that are similar and could be diluting your efforts. Sure they win but do you?

So you can change the CSS but look at eNom and GoDaddy, both do similar things with DNS mapping for domain registration and hosting sites but then where do those sites appear in the index? Being in the index and being at the top of the index are different things.

I'm sure I can't be alone in thinking something doesn't smell quite right, if the best thing they can come up with as a counter arguement to them hosting is the quote about a dedicated IP getting you indexed quicker I'd be hunting for a more viable option.

Can someone provide you with an API into all the data you need? That way you could be in total control over how your site behaves and host it on your own setup, plus changing an API provider would be less headache ridden than changing the site's provider should your relationship with them not work out.



#3 sheikyerbouti

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 10:33 AM

Andy,

Thank you VERY much for that thoughtful response! You raised some great points which hadn't occured to me previously.

With respect to your last paragraph, I'll do a little research on my own because I've heard the acronym "API" but I don't have a firm understanding of the term. Off the top of my head, I'd like to respond by saying that this company has already thought of all of the "parts" of the puzzle that I wanted to incorporate into my website via my "Search Properties" section of the site.

They include:
- visitor registration, and I can select at what point I "require" guests to register. (before viewing any homes from the search results grid, after seeing 1 home, after seeing 3 properties, etc. This is done for lead capture and common in real estate industry.
- Email notification, once a visitor signs up they can choose to receive instant email notification when a new listing comes on the market which meets their set criteria.
- a Control Panel where I can view what search criteria each visitor has been selecting while conducting their search. This helps if I notice that Bob Smith used to search for $300K condos but now he's looking at $500K single family homes.
- Not to mention all the custom header and paragraph text that I get to create for each of my custom landing pages (search results pages).

What I'm trying to do is NOT recreate the wheel. If it's already been done (by this company and others) I'm hoping to not hire my programmer to spend the time to create these "systems" from scratch.

I am a member of my local board of Realtors and this is where the "information" resides. I *am* able to access that data via a feed and import it into a database on my servers, which is really what I had hoped to do. But this company does not want to sell me their software to load on my servers and use with my data.

Does that answer your question about API? Sorry for the ignorance of the term... I'll research it and see if I can come up with a better answer for you.

Thank you again for your help!

Regards,
Pedro

#4 Jill

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 12:29 PM

The problem with the IDX database whether it's on your server and domain or theirs is that it's basically all dupe content. The same thing as every other real estate agency has.

My suggestion is to do it on your own domain and also make sure that you add as much unique content surrounding the database content as you can.

#5 Michael Martinez

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 12:59 PM

QUOTE(sheikyerbouti @ May 9 2010, 08:33 AM) View Post
With respect to your last paragraph, I'll do a little research on my own because I've heard the acronym "API" but I don't have a firm understanding of the term. Off the top of my head, I'd like to respond by saying that this company has already thought of all of the "parts" of the puzzle that I wanted to incorporate into my website via my "Search Properties" section of the site.


API = Application Programming Interface

It is the set of instructions and data formats you use to interact with an application provider. They should provide a document that explains these requirements in detail.

Interfacing with an API is not for the impatient. Sometimes you need to hire an experienced programmer to adapt the API calls into your own site's infrastructure.

#6 Drew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 02:31 PM

I'd like to reopen/revisit this question so I can make sure I follow and that the info is still correct.

If I am the owner of www.example.com, and my shopping cart system is hosted through a third-party that allows me to point my "store.example.com" sub-domain to their IP, does Google consider content in my store to be part of my site, or do they consider it to be a third-party site that simply back-links to my primary domain? If my cart system can't be hosted on my main domain, and offers no API, are my company info and product catalog doomed to totally unrelated search rankings?

#7 Jill

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:04 PM

If it's a subdomain of your site, which it sounds like it is, then it's your site.

If it's a subdomain on the shopping cart's site, then it's their site.

But none of that really matters to the search engines. There's no benefit to what your domain is.

#8 Drew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:11 PM

It'd be a sub-domain of my own site. I just wanted to make sure that Google et al would consider any content on that sub-domain to be part of my site and not a separate website entirely. Obviously if store.example.com is seen as a separate site from www.example.com, any links in it that point back to the homepage would be considered back-links from a third party, rather than internal links within a single site... that'd affect the ranking tremendously, no?

#9 Jill

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:16 PM

QUOTE
Obviously if store.example.com is seen as a separate site from www.example.com, any links in it that point back to the homepage would be considered back-links from a third party, rather than internal links within a single site... that'd affect the ranking tremendously, no?


No. That's not how it works.

Just because a page is on the same domain doesn't give it any link popularity or PageRank. It has to be linked to from other pages within the site.

But other pages within the site can link to pages within another site and give those ones the link popularity / PageRank.




#10 chrishirst

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:51 PM

QUOTE
As long as the top-level is the same, then it's the same website in Google's eyes, and any sub-domain is purely cosmetic. Right?

Wrong!

If that were the case all the Wordpress and Blogger/Blogspot hosted pages would be a single "site"

the "top level" technically is the last series of characters AFTER the final dot in the hostname

What you are calling the top level in this case is the domain name.

To Search Engines, domains and subdomains are indepenent entities. Hence the problems that can occur when domain.tld & the subdomain www.domain.tld both respolve to the same content.



#11 Drew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 04:06 PM

I was rewriting my post while you were replying smile.gif

So perhaps I was phrasing the question wrong. Let's use blogspot as an example. If I'm currently running a website at www.mysite.com, and my blog is at www.blogspot.com/myblog, would it be advantageous SEO-wise for me to register myblog.mysite.com and associate it with that blogspot account, or would it be purely a cosmetic difference? Does having that same blog associated with my subdomain appear to the search engine as content on my own website, or does it appear as another, separate website that is neither part of my site nor part of blogspot?

#12 Michael Martinez

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 05:44 PM

QUOTE(Drew @ Jan 26 2011, 01:06 PM) View Post
I was rewriting my post while you were replying smile.gif

So perhaps I was phrasing the question wrong. Let's use blogspot as an example. If I'm currently running a website at www.mysite.com, and my blog is at www.blogspot.com/myblog, would it be advantageous SEO-wise for me to register myblog.mysite.com and associate it with that blogspot account, or would it be purely a cosmetic difference? Does having that same blog associated with my subdomain appear to the search engine as content on my own website, or does it appear as another, separate website that is neither part of my site nor part of blogspot?


It comes down to what sort of advantage you're hoping to obtain. If you're just tossing your hat out on the street and hoping something magical drops into it, I would say there is no SEO advantage. What would be the purpose of setting up the Blogger account?

You're confusing multiple issues here. Search engines will examine the content and linkage of a sub-domain and determine whether that sub-domain is trying to be part of a larger site or just standing on its own.

#13 Drew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 06:03 PM

Ok, let me start fresh with an example more directly aligned with the question I'm getting from my client.

The corporate website is at www.SmithCompany.com. The company's job board is hosted by a third-party system at www.JobSite.com/SmithCompany, and the "employment" link on 'SmithCompany.com' takes the jobseekers away from the site, to 'JobSite.com' content. Furthermore, any search results in Google for that company's open positions are directing all of that traffic and all of the inbound links to the JobSite.com domain. If JobSite.com offers SmithCompany the ability to slap a subdomain like 'careers.SmithCompany.com' onto that job board, does Google then start to see all of that job board content as part of the SmithCompany.com domain or do they see it as a different website that happens to have a lot of links to SmithCompany in it?

With a site like blogger.com, where each subdomain belongs to a different owner and has totally unrelated content, it makes perfect sense for the search engine to see them all as totally unrelated. But with a site like I'm talking about, where all of the subdomains are actually related sections of a single online presence, it makes no sense at all.

#14 Michael Martinez

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 02:59 PM

QUOTE(Drew @ Jan 26 2011, 03:03 PM) View Post
...The company's job board is hosted by a third-party system at www.JobSite.com/SmithCompany, and the "employment" link on 'SmithCompany.com' takes the jobseekers away from the site, to 'JobSite.com' content. Furthermore, any search results in Google for that company's open positions are directing all of that traffic and all of the inbound links to the JobSite.com domain. If JobSite.com offers SmithCompany the ability to slap a subdomain like 'careers.SmithCompany.com' onto that job board, does Google then start to see all of that job board content as part of the SmithCompany.com domain or do they see it as a different website that happens to have a lot of links to SmithCompany in it?...


My guess is that Google might see the subdomain as a separate Website and that the links would probably pass little if any value unless a lot of other Websites link to the subdomain.

QUOTE
With a site like blogger.com, where each subdomain belongs to a different owner and has totally unrelated content, it makes perfect sense for the search engine to see them all as totally unrelated. But with a site like I'm talking about, where all of the subdomains are actually related sections of a single online presence, it makes no sense at all.


If the subdomains cover substantially different topics/concepts and use substantially distinct designs and totally separate navigation and in every other way act like independent Websites except for an occasional link back and forth, each subdomain is treated as a different Website.

Which means it has to accrue its own value before it can actually pass any value.

This is not a technique for building out a lot of linking resources quickly. In fact, I can tell you that I tested this technique and got three test domains banned. Michael Gray (Wolf-Howl.com) once claimed to have achieved a similar result.

And yet today I have more than one actual personal domain running with sub-domains that have unique content and act like their own sites. None of them have been banned. Why? Because they're just doing their own things, not trying to influence search results.







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