What Can I Get Away With Wednesday? Addon Domains?

By | January 27, 2016

Can I get away with using addon domains? Short answer: No (if you misconfigure it, yes if you do it right, follow-on post to follow).

What is an addon domain? According to my host, “adding a domain makes it appear as if the new domain is hosted on its own hosting account, even though the files are still located under the same account. For example, if you were to add “newdomain.com” as an addon domain, a user will be able to visit your website by using www.newdomain.com and will see the same website as attached to your primary domain name.”

What they’ve described above seems like a redirect. In a redirect you have two domain names: primarySite.com and alternateSite.com. A redirect is set up so that anyone typing in alternateSite.com is automatically redirected to primarySite.com.

I understood that an addon domain would allow you to “host” two domains on one account. The idea being that AlternateSite.com would redirect to a primarySite.com subdirectory but then “appear as if the new domain is hosted on its own hosting account (ie alternateSite.com/whatever would appear as the URL as opposed to primarySite.com/subdirectory/whatever).” This doesn’t seem to be the case…

Addons may seem like a good way to save on hosting fees. In practice, addons can be a big mess.

//edit, the following is erroneous. I’ll explain in a follow-up WCIGAWW.

First of all, the new domain does not “appear as if the new domain is hosted on its own hosting account.” Typing in nickelcitypixels.com redirects but then displays mikejkelley.com/ncp/blog as the URL.

Second-of-ly, addon hosting does weird things to DNS. One of the weirdest things it does is invalidate the use of www. If your potential customer types in www.alternateSite.com, and alternateSite.com is part of some addon shennanigans, it will not resolve. In some instances they will be redirected to their ISP’s cheesy search service. There your site’s name will be used as a search term to return all manner of non-related nonsense. Most likely your potential customer will assume that your site has shutdown and that you’ve gone out of business.

The potential loss of views is simply not worth what you save in hosting fees. BTW, if you’re visiting nickelcitypixels.com and  http://mikejkelley.com/ncp/blog/blog/2016/01/27/what-can-i-get…-addon-domains/ still appears as the URL… I’m working on it.

Either my host is 0 for 2 in their description of how addon domains work, they’ve done it wrong, or I’m doing it wrong.

//spoiler alert: mistakes were made

I’ll contact my host for clarification and update you accordingly. In the meantime, if you’ve any insight to the subject of addon domains, please share it below!

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