You must have heard about wildcard redirect, but never bothered to dig deeper! Although it seems like a complicated term, it is much simpler to understand. Popularly known as wildcard sub-domain or catch-all sub-domain, it is utilised to redirect visitors to the main website regardless of the sub-domain used to access the site.
For example, many users end up mistyping the domain name as they are unaware of the spellings or are in a hurry. So sometimes, ‘yourname.com’ becomes ‘younam.com’. Additionally, there are many who type a random sub-domain which might not be present online.
This is where the wildcard redirect comes into the picture and takes the users to your site, irrespective of the fact that they may have typed the wrong sub-domain. The catch-all sub-domain extends the advantage of forwarding sub-domains, which do not exist, to your site or another webpage.
It is made possible with the help of a wildcard DNS record which helps in matching requests for non-existent sub-domains or those which have not been defined. The wildcard DNS record is characterised by using an asterisk in the host field, such as *.xyz.com. Our SEO consultants will shed some light on a few exceptions here.
The root domain is not covered by a wildcard DNS record so if required you can make a record for @ host separately. The root domain is nothing but the cluster of alphabets that appear after ‘www’ in the domain name. Wildcard records do not return for lookups of the root domain.
When you create a wildcard record, it does not have the ability to override any of the existing sub-domain records. It simply eliminates the defined ones.
The wildcard records can be created only for A, TXT, AAAA, URL Redirect, CNAME, and MX.
After considering the possibilities with catch-all, you might be thinking about the redirecting options. Let us take a look at them.
Besides understanding the advanced concepts of link relevance, you need to concentrate on wildcard redirects. The 301 redirect is commonly used to send the users and search engines to the new URL when the site has permanently moved. It passes between 90-99% of rank power to the redirected page.
It is also beneficial when you need different URLs to reach the same webpage. For this, a single domain is chosen and the remaining redirect to it. You can use 301 redirect to combine two sites. The only downside is that it does not redirect random domains or mistyped domains. Thus you will have to use it in conjunction with catch-all for domain name transfer.
For a permanent 301 redirect, you must include the 301redirect in the .htaccess file which lets the search engines know that an older link is substituted with a new link. It helps in directing users from an existing page and can be used for redirecting individual files to the same domain.
It can also be utilised to ‘force’ the use of www domain version or non-www version of the domain. Additionally, it can redirect all files with a specific extension.
While 301 redirect is linked to the permanent moving of a page to a new location, 302 redirect is related to a temporary move. It does not pass on link value to the new location. The good thing is that it does not take the user to the ‘404 not found’ error page and directs them to a valid page.
It can be utilised by e-commerce sites for products which are out of stock. The 302 redirect can be used to take them to the product category page so that they can shop for similar products.
This redirect takes place on the page level and is slower. It is often disregarded by SEO specialists because of reduced usability and the loss of link equity passed. It is characterised by the five-second flash of text which asks you to click on a link if you are not redirected in five seconds.
For the uninitiated, SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates are primarily digital certificates which can be used with multiple sub-domains of a domain. It takes care of securing the connection between the site and the user’s browser. The seal of trust provided by the certificate builds your site’s credibility among the users.
It can be put on the payment page or the signup page for improved confidence among the users before they make a purchase or sign-in. The SSL certificates use wildcards to provide SSL encryption to sub-domains. Typically, a traditional SSL certificate is applicable to a single domain. However, a wildcard certificate can extend its protection to all the sub-domains.
Thus you can secure as many sub-domains as you want using a single certificate. So you can save a lot of money which is usually spent on acquiring individual certificates.
The only thing that can bother you is that if a certificate is to be revoked on one sub-domain, then it must be revoked from all others too. The best part about their acquisition process is that they are granted within two days and are fully compatible across all servers and devices.
As stated above, the best use of wildcard redirect is made by webmasters when they intend to redirect pages or files in significant volume to a new domain. It can also be utilised during the restructuring of a website when the files need to be moved from an existing folder to a new one.
The wildcard redirects come handy in fixing broken backlinks in a simple way so that the users can enjoy an error-free browsing experience. Consequently, these are employed to enhance the user experience and gain higher search engine rankings.
When you are moving the pages of your website, you want your users to land on those pages rather than sitting on the older ones or searching for non-existent pages. Wildcard redirect solves this issue effectively and makes the moving process a breeze which helps both the search engines and users to find valid pages effortlessly.