New document available on the Nameshield’s website: “5 minutes to understand – SEO of domain names”

5 minutes to understand -SEO of Domain names - Nameshield

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques aimed at optimizing the visibility of a web page in the search results.

For your positioning in search engines and for your communication, the domain name is of significant importance.

Find in this “5 minutes to understand” document, available for download on the Nameshield’s website, the good practices to optimize your referencing on search engines.

Advices on how to change the domain name without losing its referencing

Advices on how to change the domain name without losing its referencing
Image source: DiggityMarketing via Pixabay

During a rebranding for marketing purposes, in the context of a merger or an acquisition for example, a company can change its website’s domain name.

At the search engines’ level, it is all the pages that change, as if this was a brand new website. Therefore, how not to lose the work done on the SEO and make a successful transition, in particular if the website is old?

In the case of a rather old website with an optimal referencing on the existing domain name, transferring a website on a new name can ruin the time-consuming work that is the SEO. If the decrease of the traffic from organic search is normal (and temporary), some advises can help lessen the downturn, at least during the transition period.

Copy identically your website and implement 301 redirections

The first tip is to completely keep the website’s architecture, so that only the domain name changes in the URL.

Then, permanent redirections (301 redirections) must be created from each pages of the former website towards the corresponding page of the new website. Do not implement multiple redirections.

This process must be closely monitored to ensure that each 301 redirection is effective. The search engines will know that it’s not necessary to index the former name anymore but it’s the new one that must be indexed now. To ensure this, it is necessary to check that none of the former pages is accessible through the former domain name.

Have the backlinks updated

Google uses parameters linked to confidence indicators in its algorithm, thus to trusted websites, deemed as such by the search engine (indicators like the age of the website, the transparency of the legal notices, the ratio links number/words number per page, the links number pointing from other websites to this one, the extensions like .edu, .gov, the institutional websites, media websites, etc.) Hence, it can be interesting to quickly obtain the links from this kind of trusted websites at the time of the migration.

Along the same lines, reviewing your backlinks and requesting to the websites that refer to your website to update these links, so they link towards the new name, is an advantage. Of course, if you have many backlinks, concentrate on the more important backlinks regarding the referencing.

Inform Google

Lastly, it’s possible to directly inform Google of the changing through Google Search Console, the search engine will then update its index.

Register the sitemap

By submitting a sitemap file for the new website to the search engines, you will gain time in referencing by immediately giving to the engines the pages to index.

Keep the same holder for the new domain name

Make sure that the new domain name has the same proprietary information on its whois as the former domain name. Google may check these data.

Be patient

Do note that on Bing you will need an average of 2 months to get your referencing back, and about 6 to 7 months on Google.

Can the DNS have an impact on the SEO?

Can the DNS have an impact on the SEO?
Image source : geralt via Pixabay

This is a recurrent question from our customers: does the use of the DNS, whether it is good or bad, have an impact on the websites’ SEO? We have already discussed about the impact of a HTTPS website on the SEO, this is now the occasion to focus on the side of the DNS.

The DNS is an invisible process, implemented in the background, it’s difficult to comprehend why it can help or affect a website’s performance and the ranking in search engines, more particularly on Google.

This article will approach the possible impact of the DNS in response to the following questions:

  • Does the modification of a DNS record affect the SEO?
  • Does the change of the DNS provider affect the SEO?
  • Which part of the DNS plays in a website’s migration?
  • Does the change of a website’s IP address affect the website’s SEO?
  • Quid of the DNSSEC implementation?
  • Can a DNS breakdown affect the SEO?
  • Can a faster DNS increase the SEO?

Does the change at the DNS level affect the SEO?

1. Modification of a DNS record, be careful of the TTL

The domain name’s redirection towards the corresponding web server often passes through the creation of a A type record (IPv4 address). The A record will then direct the traffic towards the IP address of the destination web server. The modification of this record can lead to performance problems.

Indeed, to optimize the response time, the DNS system allows the  information caching with the DNS resolver servers for a given time, the duration of the TTL (Time to live) defined by the technical manager of the domain name, during its configuration. The usual TTL, like the one recommended by ANSSI, is several hours for the usual uses of domain names (websites). In the case of a A record modification, this one could be taken into account only at the end of the TTL. Then web users could still access to the former record configurations for a few minutes or even several hours after the modifications.

Thus it’s important to reduce the TTL, even temporarily during these modifications.

But does that affect the SEO? Yes, it does and no, it doesn’t. In the case of users being sent towards a destination that no longer exists, Google will consider this as a 404 error. Beyond the negative user experience, this is not directly a SEO factor. However be careful of the possible existence of backlinks and the too high numbers of 404 errors. A low TTL allows to limit the impact during these modifications.

2. Modification of the DNS declared for a domain name

A domain name is associated to the name servers (NS/Name Servers) which allow the right DNS resolution. The DNS service searches the information on these NS. These NS can be modified during the change of the provider managing the domain name, or simply to pass from a DNS infrastructure to another. Will the change of the name server affect the SEO?

Depending on the provider and the chosen infrastructure, the resolution time could be more or less short with a possible impact of improvement or decrease regarding the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Indeed, the resolution time is taken into account by Google (see after).

And like for a record change, it is recommended to reduce the lifespan of the records before modifying the name servers, so the DNS resolvers don’t keep in cache the former information.

3. Risk associated to the DNS during the website’s migration

This is the same principle discussed previously. The modifications of the DNS configurations don’t directly affect the SEO, but can lead to a bad user’s experience. The TTL should also be seen as a useful mean to take into consideration.

Which specific cases to consider?

  • Change of web hosting provider
  • Change of DNS hosting provider?
  • Move the traffic of www. towards a “nude domain” (without www.)
  • Move your domain towards a CDN (content diffusion network)

4. Change of the destination IP address

No. During the modification of a record pointing from a termination point to another, the SEO is not affected. The only (very rare) exception to this rule would be to point a domain towards a termination point that would have been already identified as a spam server (for example, the IP address of a shared server).

However, be careful of the IP address in question, one of the (many) rules of Google’s SEO is that an IP address used for a website should be located near the final user.

5. DNSSEC implementation

DNSSEC allows to authenticate the DNS resolution through a chain of trust between the different DNS servers of this resolution. Just like for the HTTPS, this is an additional security layer to implement. And like for the HTTPS, the pages’ loading time is affected, and therefore potentially the associated SEO. To put this into perspective, DNSSEC is essential to web users’ surfing and it is recommended to implement it.  Most companies that propose security audit regarding domain names consider DNSSEC as necessary and then as a notation criteria.

Do faster DNS increase the SEO?

Google admitted that the loading time of a web page has an impact on the SERP results. The times of the DNS research are in general less than a second, they can nevertheless affect the loading of a webpage in the following cases:

1. Recurring breakdowns on the DNS infrastructure

When a DNS cannot resolve or takes more time than usual, it can add many seconds to the time of a page loading. In case of lack of reliability and recurring unavailability, the impact on SEO is proved… Not mentioning the user experience in front of these repetitive failures (increase of the bounce rate, decrease of customers’ retention and impact on the trust in the brand, if not revenue loss). It is important to rely on a reliable and trustworthy infrastructure.

2. Quality of the network and points of presence

This is purely and simply physics, the nearest a names server is to the final user, the less time is needed to respond to its request. The DNS networks called “anycast” (optimized addressing and routing towards “the nearest” or the “more efficient” server) with many points of presence in the world, allow to optimize the response time depending on the geographical location.

Another important point is to have at least three names servers that are authority (SOA) for a domain name, ideally based on different domain names and TLDs, in order to reduce the risk of SPOF (Single Point of Failure) of an infrastructure. Indeed, if an infrastructure relies on the same domain name, an unavailability of this domain name, for whatever the reason, leads to the unavailability of the DNS infrastructure. Likewise, at the TLDs’ level and even if it is less likely, a problem of registry availability would affect all the DNS infrastructure.

3. Be careful of “extended” DNS configurations

It’s not unusual to have DNS configurations which send towards a final destination through several steps like in the example below.  As a consequence, the resolution time is affected and potentially, the performance in terms of SEO. IN CNAME IN CNAME IN A


The SEO is a science to consider as a whole. Thus, as we have seen through the impact of the HTTPS adoption of a website, this is a referencing factor among others and all things being equal, then this is particularly important in order to achieve a competitive edge on the first page of results.

The same applies to the impact of DNS on the SEO. Can the DNS have an impact? Yes, it clearly can in the case of incorrect configurations, or in the case that the DNS infrastructures do not allow response times fast enough. A DNS infrastructure called anycast is essential for any domain name carrying an important web traffic, even more at an international level. This is a data to integrate in a whole, and this thinking should be in a global approach of the SEO with the web marketing team.

Sponsored Links – an opportunity and a threat to your brand

21666662780_27f0e79d81_bTitle : Adwords – Author : Christophe Benoit – Photo : licence CC BY 2.0 –

What is a “Sponsored Link”?

It’s a paid advertisement in the form of a hypertext link that shows up on search results pages. The ads are typically for products and services that are generally or very specifically related to the keywords in the search query.

The most well known sponsored links, Google Adwords, is an advertising service offered by Google for businesses wanting to display ads on the search engine and its advertising network. Businesses set a budget for advertising and pay when people click the ads.

Google Adwords, is an advertising service offered by Google for businesses wanting to display ads on the search engine and its advertising network.

What appears on your screen when you use an online search engine?

Results returned by a Search Engine typically fall into 2 categories:

  • Sponsored links (adwords): The customer bids on keywords and the advert (usually a small amount of text and a hyperlink) is displayed in a priority position, but only if the searched keywords match those that have been purchased by the advertiser.
  • Organic search listing: The results in this listing are based upon the relevance of the content on websites that have been referenced by the search engine being used.

On Google’s search results page, the two types of results are displayed differently

  • Sponsored links (adwords) are posted at the top of the list of results with the heading “AD”
  • Organic results are displayed in an order that depends upon how well they match the search query.

google_linksThe criteria taken into account by Google in order to display sponsored links are the same as organic listings in addition to taking into account the geographic location of the searcher.

Adwords can be purchased on a specific geographical area (a continent, country, region or city). Google uses the IP address of the computer on which the search request is being submitted to determine which sponsored results to return.

“Google designed Adwords to be a fully automated service that facilitates the selection of keywords and advert creation.”

Google’s Adwords service

The search engine that is targeted the most by unauthorised practices is Google that, for scalability reasons, designed Adwords to be a fully automated service that facilitates the selection of keywords and advert creation.

Given that, in the last quarter of 2014, sales of Google Adwords were estimated to be $10.50 bn on a net total revenue of $16.96 for the year, we can better understand the importance of this service.

Google is acting only to host the advert on its advertising network and therefore its responsibility is limited.

In order to avoid abuse, it is essential that the advert which appears after having typed a search term allows the normal internet user to know whether the Adword, which is promoting products or service, belongs to the brand owner, is a business linked to the brand or a third party organisation. It sits with the advertiser to choose one or more keywords, which determine when the advert is displayed. Therein lies the subtlety of Adword definition.

In this case, Google is acting only to host the advert on its advertising network and therefore its responsibility is limited with respect to inappropriate or adverts linking to counterfeit goods. Indeed, to determine the liability of a search engine, a judge must look at the degree of automation in order to determine whether the role of the operator   is neutral or not. If there is no control of stored data, liability of the search engine operator cannot be proven.

Various court rulings have declare that Google was not a counterfeiter despite proposing keywords, which reproduce distinctive marks (including registered trademarks) by storing and displaying adverts based on keywords. According to the courts, Google does not use these Keywords “in its own business communications”. That is to say, that Google makes keywords available to third parties but does not use that in its own publicity.

Court cases related to Adwords

With most Pay-Per-Click (PPC) programs on search engines, it is easy to buy competitors’ brand names as a keywords. For ethical reasons, this practice is not recommended. However, some less scrupulous companies do not hesitate.

Internet abuse, such as traffic diversion, cybersquatting, copycat website and counterfeiting products and services are still widespread on the Internet. However, on sponsored links, brand hijacking remains the most prevalent.

On sponsored links, brand hijacking and traffic diversion are the most common forms of abuse.

Brand hijacking can take two forms:

  • An advertiser buys a registered trademark as a keyword in order to have its adverts displayed when Internet users are searching for a particular brand
  • An advertiser places the brand in the text of its sponsored link advert which appears prominently on the search engine results page

These infractions have resulted in a number of well-publicised court cased where the definition of an Adword was recalled, such as:

These cases demonstrate the importance of the presentation of the advert so that it does not reproduce, in any way, a trademark registered by a third party in the Advert. In doing so it must not deceive the average consumer of the essential representation and functioning of the mark (as a function of its origin, as a function of its promotion, as a function of the investment in and reputation of the mark).

In the face of these very real threats, what steps should brand owners take?

It is essential that a brand owner files one or more trademarks for their brand. In order that proof of registration can be submitted in any complaint to the search engine or Advertising Network provider or in launching a legal action.

Recent court cases reinforce the importance of presenting an advert so that it does not reproduce, in any way, a third party registered trademark.

Reduction of brand risk is all about speed. It is as much about speed of detecting an infringement or fraudulent practice as it is about selecting the appropriate remedial action.

It is therefore important to actively monitor sponsored links for infringements rather than waiting to be made aware of an infringement by a disgruntled prospective customer who has purchased a counterfeit product in error.

Monitoring of Adwords should be a part of a multi-layered brand protection programme that is right for your business. Such a programme may include some or all of the following elements: Trademark monitoring, domain name monitoring, website discovery, search engine monitoring, content monitoring, sponsored link discovery, social network monitoring, and affiliate control.

Monitoring of Adwords should be a component in a multi-layered brand protection programme that is constructed for your particular business needs.

Building a brand protection programme that fits the needs and risk profile of the brand puts you in control of threats to your brand and allows you to respond with an appropriate level of rapidity and robustness.

If you have discovered a brand infringement on a Sponsored link network, it is important to know that it is possible to request that the hosting network remove adverts that misrepresent or use identical or near identical terms contained in a registered trademark. If your brand is suffering from widespread infringement and abuse such activities can be outsourced to specialist online brand protection which can handle as much or as little of the brand protection operation as the brand owner desires, from a simple detection service to a full suite of detection, analysis and enforcement capabilities.

Building a brand protection programme that fits the needs and risk profile of your brand puts you in control of threats to your brand and allows you to respond with an appropriate level of rapidity and robustness.