"Add-on" domains not the best thing...

27 replies
Is anybody aware or concerned that hosting multiple domains in one cPanel account comes with some real downsides?

In the process of researching web hosting options, I learned what it actually means when they say multi-domain hosting, i.e. almost every time these are add-on domains in a cPanel account.

However, it seems add-on domains are actually creating a terrible file structure, as each add-on domain automatically creates a subdomain of the "primary" site. This means the add-on domain will simply point to a subfolder of your "primary" domain. For example...

Your main domain is domain1.com
Your add-on domain is domain2.com

Adding domain2.com in cPanel means...

There are now at least 3 ways you can access your add-on domain:

1. domain2.domain1.com
2. domain1.com/domain2
3. domain2.com

Then each one with or without www (http://... or http://www.)

Without doing anything, chances are that eventually all three (or 6) versions of your domain2.com will be indexed by Google, resulting in duplicate content issues and link leakage (for SEO).

You may think if none of your visitors know any of your folder or subdirectory structure, and you do not actually advertise or otherwise publish those links, then what is the problem?

However, you can never be certain enough that a link is not slipping through (what's worse...if you competitor knew what domain your add-on domain is connected to, they could actually harm you by adding your links - as stated under 1. and 2. above- all over the web, so your "primary" domain might suffer page rank eventually --- using WHOIS tools makes guessing quite easy, especially if you have a dedicated IP as this lists all your sites in a list for everyone to see).

As far as I have learned (but not done myself yet), the only way to get around visitors not going through any of the "nasty" (inadvertently created) links, and to prevent Google from indexing your links is to use 301 redirects (adding some code to the .htaccess file for each add-on domain).

But although this can all be done, I just think why do they (i.e. the cPanel guys) just create something that just doesn't make any sense in the first place!!??

You can read a feature request for true multi-domain hosting on cPanel's forum - so it seems there are more people disliking this whole "add-on" thing: True Multi Domain Support (allow multiple SSL certificates and IPs per account) - cPanel Forums

This guy brings it to a point:
I know you can specify a document root outside of the public_html for new addon domains, however, the way cPanel handles addon domains internally is like a "hacked" subdomain solution.

As this "add-on" set up comes with more disadvantages...when it comes to SSL and dedicated IPs. Or think moving only ONE of multiple sites to a new host (i.e. this particular site attracts so much traffic now that it cannot remain in a shared hosting environment, so you want to move it elsewhere, to a VPS for instance). With cPanel, you can only move the whole lot, i.e. ALL your sites and files. There are ways I believe where you then delete on your new host what you don't need, or you do it all manually (not using cPanel) but the bottom line is this: WHY does multi-domain hosting need to be set up by pointing all further domains to a subfolder of the "primary" domain, in the first place..??

So an alternative would be to use a reseller hosting account, where you can set up unlimited cPanel accounts and just use one for each domain.

But do you really want to log into 30 or 40 or 100 websites individually?

So I was wondering what your take on this was, or if you were using a different web hosting control panel (not cPanel) altogether?

Does anybody know where WP (wordpress) files actually go in this scenario?

I know the structure is www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/ but that could be totally different "behind the scenes" on the server using cPanel...?

Cheers
Rollie
#add-on #addon #cpanel #domains #thing #transfer
  • Profile picture of the author F1SEO
    Yeah on Cpanel there is a slight risk of duplicate content, because add-on domains reside in a folder of the main domain. The new domains then patch on to that folder.

    So WP loads into a folder (which it thinks is a new domain)

    The DUP CONTENT RISK comes from ...

    if Google finds the folder, and indexes that under the main domain.

    I've heard of it happening in some rare cases.

    One way to put a stop on it is to put a robots.txt on the main domain, with a deny to the folders hosting the add-on domains.


    A reseller account is the best way to purely split them up as individuals but will be more costly to host.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528181].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Rolliesworld
      Originally Posted by F1SEO View Post


      One way to put a stop on it is to put a robots.txt on the main domain, with a deny to the folders hosting the add-on domains.
      As far as I have heard, a 301 redirect (adding some code in the .htaccess file for each add-on domain) would be the best way to prevent the domain2.domain1.com and domain1.com/domain2 to be indexed, yet in the rare case of someone stumbling across those links, the extra traffic coming via those links would be credited to your add-on domain (domain2.com).
      From an SEO perspective, they say this would be the better solution. Robots.txt would deny access, but will not actually redirect your traffic where it is supposed to go.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528391].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Zeus66
    I think this is a false flag. Google undoubtedly is well aware of the large % of all websites out there that are using shared hosting and running in the cpanel environment. I think this is very unlikely to cause any issues of any kind with duplicate content. In fact, I'm almost certain Google has addressed this very issue, but I dont recall where I read/saw it.

    John
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528407].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Rolliesworld
      Originally Posted by Zeus66 View Post

      In fact, I'm almost certain Google has addressed this very issue, but I dont recall where I read/saw it.

      John
      How can Google "address" this? Their indexing system will not be able to distinguish between those various link versions of your site unless you establish what you want to have indexed and what not.

      The reason why this is not a problem to most is because their subdomain versions of their add-on domains are not what they would advertise, publish, ping or make known in any way.

      However, I am only saying that if you do not set up a 301 redirect then because add-on domains are set up in subfolders of your "primary" domain, those versions COULD end up being indexed.

      Have read of this: Optimize your Addon Domain by removing the subdomain access | FayazMiraz

      The same applies to using www or not (http://yoursite.com or http://www.yoursite.com).
      If you do not use the 301 redirect (permanent redirection) in your .htaccess file, to define that you do not want to have the non-www version indexed, yet you want traffic to be redirected to your www-version, then this certainly could create a situation where people start linking to the wrong domain. Google sees these two versions as two different sites.

      Have a read of this for instance: How to 301 Redirect Non-WWW to WWW URLs|StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528518].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Brian
    Not sure if this is a serious problem because I have a bunch of cpanel add-on domains ranking well in the SERPs. And I haven't seen any of the subdomain / subfolder version getting indexed.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528437].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Lifeimprovement
      One key reason to have separate Cpanels is for protection against hacking. If one site is hacked through a script it may be possible for them to have access to all domains/subdomains on your blog.

      So I have been told.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528451].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Blogmudgeon
        As to the absolute URL in cPanel shared hosting, WP in a typical installation will be placed in the root folder of the add-on, e.g., /public_html/domainnamefolder/

        It can be installed in another subfolder--but that eliminates any future multiuser instances of WP in subdomain mode. Those will become a /blogname directory.

        The game you are speaking of on shared cPanel is virtual routing through DNS zones and the TCP/IP HOST header. A typical call will be:

        GET /path/to/script.php HTTP/1.1
        HOST: youraddondomain.com

        You are actually creating a subdomain of your primary domain account--which of course is simply a disk partition of the server IP. Most search engines ignore the true root domain. The best insurance against directed root searches and indexing of the root is to edit the root (not subdomain) .htaccess file to exclude, and create a robots.txt file in the root /public_html directory.
        Signature

        Patrick

        "There ain't no secret sauce..."

        |My Internet Marketing Adventures Blog :: Facebook Page|

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528535].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Rolliesworld
          Originally Posted by Blogmudgeon View Post

          The game you are speaking of on shared cPanel is virtual routing through DNS zones and the TCP/IP HOST header. A typical call will be:

          GET /path/to/script.php HTTP/1.1
          HOST: youraddondomain.com

          You are actually creating a subdomain of your primary domain account--which of course is simply a disk partition of the server IP. Most search engines ignore the true root domain. The best insurance against directed root searches and indexing of the root is to edit the root (not subdomain) .htaccess file to exclude, and create a robots.txt file in the root /public_html directory.
          What I am referring to is a mod_rewrite in .htaccess file - I am not good at explaining this...just google something like "htaccess 301 redirect addon domain duplicate content" there are plenty of sites pointing this out.

          There was also a short thread on Hostgator's forum...http://forums.hostgator.com/addon-do...nt-t50863.html

          Or go here for some info on 301 redirects: htaccess 301 redirect tutorial
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528689].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author F1SEO
      Yeah I don't think normally it will.

      The only case I can think of where it might be a problem is:

      If there is a way for Google to view the contents of a directory as a file and folder list. This was a flaw in Gallery2 because of a crappy MOD-Rewrite system and Google indexed all the files including php, smarty templates, subfolders . Total nightmare. Yes ... it happened to me.

      As long as you're running a decent CMS/System it won't be a problem.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528461].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
    Originally Posted by Rolliesworld View Post

    I

    So an alternative would be to use a reseller hosting account, where you can set up unlimited cPanel accounts and just use one for each domain.

    But do you really want to log into 30 or 40 or 100 websites individually?



    Cheers
    Rollie

    Would logging onto them individually really be a problem? You would normally log onto them just to make changes, so whether a separate domain or an addon domain, you would still need to log onto them one at a time, right?

    My question is, if you have a number of addon domains and then change to a reseller account (something I've been seriously considering), is there a simple way to move each addon domain to its own account using the same hosting provider? Or would it be a logistical nightmare?
    Signature

    Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become - Jim Rohn

    Visit our beautiful gardens

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528565].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Rolliesworld
      Originally Posted by mcmahanusa View Post

      Would logging onto them individually really be a problem? You would normally log onto them just to make changes, so whether a separate domain or an addon domain, you would still need to log onto them one at a time, right?
      You are probably right, I am/will be using Wordpress for most of my sites anyhow and login via WP.
      Originally Posted by mcmahanusa View Post

      My question is, if you have a number of addon domains and then change to a reseller account (something I've been seriously considering), is there a simple way to move each addon domain to its own account using the same hosting provider? Or would it be a logistical nightmare?
      I have been having the same thoughts...read my recent thread here.
      I asked how easy it was to to move an individual addon domain onto its own account (i.e. different server), rather than just transferring the whole cpanel to a new cpanel, which is what most hosts limit their transfer assistance to.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528631].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
        Originally Posted by Rolliesworld View Post

        You are probably right, I am/will be using Wordpress for most of my sites anyhow and login via WP.


        I have been having the same thoughts...read my recent thread here.
        I asked how easy it was to to move an individual addon domain onto its own account (i.e. different server), rather than just transferring the whole cpanel to a new cpanel, which is what most hosts limit their transfer assistance to.
        I went to the other thread and ended up more confused than ever. However, I use Host Gator, and as good as their tech support is, I bet they'll be able to offer an easier solution. I'm definitely considering upgrading to one of their reseller accounts
        Signature

        Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become - Jim Rohn

        Visit our beautiful gardens

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528908].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Vishal Mahadik
    I also feel that add-on domain is not a good thing as far as SEO is concerned. Search engines may index all 3 versions of your domain. This may or may not cause any serious search engine results issues.

    But the fact is I had not experienced this issue in the past. Many of my add-on domains were actually ranking well for several primary keywords. But I also think having a reseller account always helps a lot to separately add your domains in your web server.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528708].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author TheMagicShow
    I never had any issues with add-on domains. Been using them for a few years and the rankings were never affected.
    Signature

    " You can either give a man a fish and feed him for a day OR teach him how to catch a fish and it will feed him for a lifetime"

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2528743].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author VegasGreg
    Paranoia will destroy ya.

    There is no alarm for this scenario. It has been that way for many many years and it is not even an issue. (Maybe in rare instances, but I haven't even come across one of those rare instances)
    Signature

    Greg Schueler - Wordpress Fanatic... Living The Offline Marketing Dream...

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2529020].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author dvdlo
    I'm a novice in this area. If the content of the primary domain 'affects' the addon domains in SEO terms, would keeping the domain empty of content or minimal neutral stuff be the answer.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2538466].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Johnny Slater
    With add on domains you can possibly take a small hit to SEO if your sites are not indexed properly.

    domain1.com is seen as a single domain.
    domain2.com is seen as a single domain.
    domain1.com/domain2 is seen as a part of domain 1. Sub directories are indexed as a part of the root domain.
    domain2/domain1.com is seen as a seperate site from either domain1 or domain2. Sub domains are indexed as seperate sites.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2538498].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author taylorwinfield4
    I have been using add-on domains a lot recently and I have only had the main domain rank for google, not the folder domain, e.g. domain.com/domain2. So i don't think it's common that this will happen
    Signature
    "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2552986].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author James Hussey
    Wow - there's thinking, then concentrating...then an aneurysm. I'm at #3. Trying to digest it, wanted to just say for the record that I've been using add-ons for a while, top rankings throughout, and if you asked me to find a robot .txt file I'd shoot myself.

    Way over the top (for me - I'm a no-geek IMer, mostly a writer/copywriter/SEO - but holy toledo! The things ya learn...).

    I was just about ready to buy a HostGator reseller and then realized...if it ain't broke...Really, I don't think add-ons are an issue for SEO one whit.

    Either that, or my #1 rankings are a mind-trick, and not just my main domain. I think the bigger issue would be a WhoIs analysis, with a competitor finding me (and my neighbors) on my server...or a malware attack.

    Thank goodness I have backup files. Appreciated the intelligence in the thread, I was here on research, and this really helped, all.
    Signature
    My Internet Marketing
    Failure > Success Story

    Author of Duct Tape SEO, CJ Tactics and the new Tidal Wave Traffic.
    SEO strategist and analyst for hire.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2822922].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Lukas
    I just opened a thread on this and it is happening to me...not dupe content but the domain.com/2nddomain/blah-blah.html .

    it looks like ^&it in the SERPS.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3068249].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
    The way cPanel handles add on domains is a mess. I don't know about the seo problems, but there have been a few posts about stopping the extra ways to access the sites.

    That is all avoided with the DirectAdmin control panel. I put up a post with some of the details here. DirectAdmin beats cPanel

    One of the links in this thread suggests the solution I was going to go with lately when I was looking at getting a cpanel account, but didn't so didn't get all the details worked out.

    Apparently cpanel no longer forces all new domains into the add on directory. From a few places it seemed you could start a DA type folder called domains, and have your add ons in that one.
    Signature

    Do something spectacular; be fulfilled. Then you can be your own hero. Prem Rawat

    The KimW WSO

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3068841].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author DavidSimpson
      To fix the www. or non www. issue, just get a free Google Webmaster Tools account........register both the www. and non www. version of your site and then tell Google which one you want to use in the settings.

      Also in Wordpress settings make sure you add the www. in front of your url if you want to use the www. version.

      Get a reseller account, there pretty cheap and much easier to use than a standard account with add-on domains.

      As far as getting add-on domains ranked........when I used to have this type of hosting - I had no problems getting sites ranked.

      If you worried about logging into a lot of sites, just get Roboform, I highly recommend it.......and for the price it's worth it.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3068878].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    That is what DNS is for, if it were true then the idea of an add on domain would exist for every shared server out there, think about that for a second.

    No, it does not work that way, think about a website as a mail box, just because you send mainl to PO box 111 and PO box 112 it is not the same place, not to the post office nor to the people that are getting the mail, but it all goes to the same zip code,

    This goes to the heart of what the internet actually is, every box is a computer, inside that computer there is a place where your website can exist,

    If you have a huge website then you might need your own box, but most of the time no, of course if you have a dedicated box, then more power to you, it is a good thing for SEO, but for most of us it does not make any difference,

    There is a limit, for each IP address, the more add on domains you add to an ipaddress, the less effective your IP address will become, so in some ways there are limitations, but for the average website, and hosting situation this is just not a serious issue,

    hope that helps some, it is a complex thing, but the www or the http that is not an issue.
    Signature
    Software Development | Applications | OSX | iOS | Android | Cloud Software Engineering |
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3068900].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author rickfrazier1
    Subdomains are typically a non-issue for search engines.

    First, you must understand that a search engine spider cannot normally see the subfolders you have on your web site unless you specifically put them in the robots.txt file. By the way, a good way to alert someone that you have subfolders you don't want public is to put them in the robots.txt file... This is sort of counter-intuitive, but that's the way it is. A search engine spider works by indexing links from hyour home page (or any externally referenced page). If it doesn't appear as a link on your site (or a link elsewhere pointing into your site) the search engine spiders won't be able to index it. It's pretty straightforward.

    However, if you are really paranoid, and you have good reasons to be (like being a "bad guy") there are "forensic spiders" that can essentially discover anything you've got on a site. They do this by "brute force attack" just like they would if they were trying to crack your passwords. A forensic search spider starts at the home and tries every combination of letters and numbers looking for subfolders, then follow any links they find from there... Yes, this is a time consuming and high-bandwidth endeavor, and you just aren't going to find it running from a server that isn't covert or owned by an agency that is looking for serious dirt on the bad guys. Perhaps a governmental agency with three letters in their common name? Other than that, there's really nothing to worry about.

    If you are worried that someone might discover files or folders in your site (that you can see, but don't want anyone else to see), just place a file called index.htm or index.html in the folder. Have this index.htm file either point back to your home or squeeze page, or provide a full copy of your squeeze page. Thus, anyone that lands there by mistake (or by shortening an existing link to see what are in some of your folders) they cannot list the directory contents, and you are protected.
    Signature

    My Current WSO: Financial Independence 2012 - The Truth About Kindle Publishing

    HostGator web hosting is only $0.01 for the first month: Use coupon code HMTSpecial

    Other WSO: Protect Your Product - Prevent THIEVES from stealing your product.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3070065].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author smartlazy
      Banned
      I once accidentally deleted the index.html page of the main domain of my shared hosting account. The next thing I knew, Google had indexed one of my add-on domains as well as the subdomain of that add-on domain. So there's two versions of one website - the add-on domain and the subdomain.

      That website went down from number one in page 1 of Google to somewhere in page 3. Ouch! That hurts...

      Good thing I was able to fix the issue. I restored the index.html page, added some .htaccess code to prevent indexing of subdomains, and alerted Google's spiders through the Google Webmaster tool. Luckily, my website returned to number 1 a couple of days later.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3070235].message }}

Trending Topics