Oh No Daddy! GoDaddy Redirects Cause Major SEO Issue

If you are a GoDaddy customer you will want to read this.

Part of our weekly SEO routine for clients is to check search engine Webmaster tool accounts, in doing so we usually find something interesting, disturbing or exciting. This week, we noticed that a domain that we permanently redirected to a new one back in December was showing as a top inbound linking site to the domain in which is was supposed to be redirected.

We asked ourselves, “How could this be?” Was the site moved to a new host without our knowledge? Was the domain being redirected properly?

And so our investigation began.

Our Findings:
This client is a GoDaddy customer and back in December we had permanently forwarded the domains in GoDaddy’s Domain Control panel which at that time issued a proper permanent redirect telling the servers and search engines that this was indeed a permanent redirect (otherwise known as a 301 redirect).

Today, when we checked the server headers it said that the redirect was a temporary redirect (otherwise known as a 302 redirect). We went a step further to investigate some of the other domains that also had been setup as permanent redirects in the GoDaddy system. And to our dismay, they are all showing as temporary redirects.

We logged into GoDaddy to make sure the permanent redirect settings were correct for our domains AND…they were.

We then called GoDaddy to understand why the domain settings marked to permanent redirect (301) were showing as a temporary redirect (302) in our third party checking tool.

The GoDaddy tech support person told us that “all of their forwarding now only issues a temporary 302 redirect” and if we wanted “to make it a permanent 301 we would have to do that at the hosting level.” They also could not tell us what type of redirect would be issued if we actually selected temporary redirect as an option or why there are two choices if they both do the same thing.

There are three situations for when you would use redirects:*

  1. If you are launching a new site and switching to a new domain.
  2. If you have deleted, removed, changed or are planning to change web page URLs.
  3. If you have a list of URLs that are derivations or misspellings of your company name/main site domain that you want to forward to your main site.

*Redirects can be configured for site domains and specific web pages/URLs.

There are two types of preferred redirects for these situations:

a) 301 which is for files that have been permanently moved.
b) 302 which is for files that have been temporarily moved.

Why are redirects such a big deal?

In the SEO world, redirects affect everything. A redirect tells servers, search engines and browsers how to handle the domain when someone requests it. If a page is deleted, a site is relaunched, or a page is renamed it is important for both SEO and usability to make sure you have those old pages going to either a new relevant page or appropriate URL.

If URLs/domains are not configured properly you can lose valuable search engine visibility. Keep in mind that people and sites are linking to your content and inbound links are one of the key influencing factors to search engine rankings. Use of 301 redirects should be used to preserve search engine rankings and any inbound links to that particular URL. This way search engines will index the new address instead of keeping the outdated URL. It is the best option to avoid negatively impacting search engine ranking.

The reason you don’t want to use a 302 redirect is this signals to the search engine that the old URL should be maintained in the index as an active URL, it just has been moved for now. This causes none of your new URLs to be indexed.

If a search engine doesn’t know where to go and runs into a dead-end URL/page this can impact your search visibility not to mention your user experience if they follow a link to a URL that no longer exists.

How do I fix my forwarding domains in GoDaddy to be properly configured for permanent redirection?

Note: If you are redirecting a domain, you DON’T want to just switch the DNS to your main site – this will cause a mirrored site and create a duplicate content issue for you. Search engines will not like that and you may get penalized for it by search engines.

    1. The first step is to remove or turn off the forwarding in your GoDaddy domain control panel. Go to Domain Management and find the domain, and go to Forwarding and click on Manage next to it. Edit to turn off.
    2. If the web site you are redirecting to is hosted with GoDaddy, add the domain as an additional domain to the root through the Hosting Control panel.
    3. If the web site you are redirecting to is NOT hosted with GoDaddy, change the DNS records in the Domain Control panel to point to the IP address of the site you are redirecting to. Add the domain as an additional domain in your host’s control panel. Or your virtual hosts file.
    4. Add the following code to the .htaccess file for the main site. Make sure to create a RewriteCond and ReWriteRule line for each domain you are redirecting. Make sure to redirect both the www and non-www version of the domain if needed. And always immediately test your .htaccess to make sure there are no errors. .htaccess can be tricky, better to be safe than sorry. So always backup your .htaccess before making any changes.

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^newdomain.com [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,r=301]
RewriteCond %{http_host} ^olddomain.com [nc]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]
RewriteCond %{http_host} ^www.olddomain.com [nc]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]

It is wise to speak with an SEO consultant prior to making your site live to the redirects of old pages and domains are appropriately handled. If you are relaunching a site or looking to increase your online visibility? Give us a call regarding your SEO.


  1. Glad I found this. This is the final straw with GoDaddy. I spent the last 2+ weeks pulling my hair out trying to determine why our site dropped from existence on Google. Last night I started noticing the 302 redirects but couldn’t for the life of me determine what was causing them.

    Good find.

  2. Thanks for finally talking about > Arizona SEO: SEO Issue – Oh No Daddy at GoDaddy for 301 Redirects | Optimization Conversation | Liberty Interactive Marketing < Loved it!

  3. Godaddy seems to have made the change. Checked one of my sites which i have forwarded with godaddy and a third party tools confirmed that it was a 301 permanent change.

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