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Your domain name is often the first thing users notice about your website. However, there are times when concealing it may come in handy. Domain masking allows you to display your website’s content under another URL without having to register a new domain name. This can be useful for several reasons. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about domain masking from how it works to best practices, its drawbacks, and alternatives. We’ll also show you how it can impact your website’s performance and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

What Is Domain Masking?

Domain masking, also known as URL masking, is a technique that hides the address of a website from the user’s address bar and displays a different one instead. Essentially, when a user types one domain name into their browser, domain masking allows you to forward them to another website while keeping the URL they used visible in their address bar. It’s commonly used for site consistency, branding, and creating cleaner, more user-friendly URLs.

It is a type of domain redirection, which is a general term for sending visitors from one domain to another. It’s achieved through various methods like setting up redirects on a server.

For example, let’s say you have registered a domain name for your website, “myreallylongwebsitename.com.” It’s long and hard to type, so you may want to create a shorter, more memorable domain name to boost your business. This is where you can make use of domain masking to redirect traffic to “mywebsite.com,” which is the same site, just with a better URL.

When users visit “mywebsite.com,” they will actually be directed to the “myreallylongwebsitename.com” website, but the masked domain name “mywebsite.com” remains in their browser’s address bar. This way, users will access the actual content hosted on the perfect domain you want them to.

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Domain Masking Methods

Here are two ways domain masking can be implemented.

URL Redirects

As we’ve mentioned, domain masking is a type of domain redirect. This method involves setting up your server to automatically forward visitors from one domain/URL to another website. For example, if a company has bought the domain “examplesite.com” but wants visitors to go to their main website “mainsite.com”, they can set up a redirect.

So, when someone types “examplesite.com” in their search bar, the server will automatically send them to “mainsite.com”, but the address bar will still show the URL they entered initially.

It’s commonly used for redirecting broken or outdated links, moving content from an old domain to a new one, and managing traffic during website maintenance or updates.

There are two types of redirects you can use:

301 Redirect

This is used for permanent changes. It tells search engines that the original destination URL has permanently moved to the masked one. It has the added benefit of helping preserve SEO rankings.

302 Redirect

This redirect is used for short periods, like during site maintenance. It indicates to search engines that the change is temporary. However, search engines may not pass SEO benefits from the original URL to the masked one with a 302 redirect.

HTML Inline Frame

An Inline Frame, or iFrame, is an HTML element that allows you to embed another HTML document or web page within the current web page. The content from the other website or document is displayed within the iFrame on the main website.

With domain masking using an iFrame, a website can display content from another website inside this smaller iFrame while keeping the original domain in the main browser window’s address bar. However, it’s important to note that the content inside the iFrame is still being loaded from the external website’s domain, not the main website’s domain.

It’s like having a website that shows another website’s content within a section or window of it, like looking through a window at another location, but the main browser window’s address bar still displays the original domain.

Note: It’s worth mentioning that using iFrames can be a good method of masking your domain, cybercriminals have been known to use it for phishing or distributing malware. by displaying a legitimate-looking domain while loading content from an untrusted source within the iFrame, it could trick users into giving away sensitive information or downloading viruses.

Pros and Cons of Domain Masking

While masking a domain can be useful in several ways, there are some drawbacks to be aware of as well that we will look at.

The Pros

Consistent Branding

Domain masking allows businesses to use a more user-friendly or branded domain name in their marketing campaigns, even if the actual website is hosted on a different domain. This can improve brand recognition and make it easier for users to remember and type the domain.

Security and Privacy

Hiding the actual hosting domain can make it more difficult for potential attackers to identify and target the server or infrastructure. However, using domain masking alone does not provide comprehensive website and server security, and other measures should be employed to protect against several types of attacks.

Traffic Management

Domain masking can be used to distribute traffic across multiple servers or Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) while maintaining a consistent domain for users. This can help improve website performance and load balancing.

Link Tracking

Unique masked domains or URLs can be used to track clicks and conversions from different sources or affiliate marketing links, providing valuable analytics data.

Legacy Domain Support

If your business registers a new domain or rebrands, domain masking can help redirect visitors from the old domain to the new one while maintaining SEO value and search rankings. This can ensure a smoother transition for users and minimize the impact on website traffic and search engine visibility.

Additionally, domain masking can also be useful for separating different services or content under different sub-domains or masked domains, allowing for better website organization and management.

The Cons

Security Risks

While domain masking itself is not inherently malicious, it can be exploited for phishing or distributing malware by displaying a legitimate-looking URL while redirecting users to a malicious website. Proper web and hosting security should be in place to mitigate any exposure to cyber threats.

Negative SEO Impact

If not implemented correctly, domain masking can affect SEO and potentially result in a drop in search rankings or loss of quality links. It’s essential to follow best practices and ensure that redirects are set up properly to avoid negatively impacting search engine visibility.

Reduced User Trust

Domain masking can be perceived as deceptive or misleading, as users may not be aware that they are being redirected to a different domain than the one displayed in their browser’s address bar. Transparency and proper disclosure can help avoid this and maintain user trust.

Performance Issues

Depending on how it is implemented, domain masking can sometimes lead to caching or performance issues, as the content may need to be fetched from multiple locations or servers. Proper configuration and optimization are necessary to minimize any potential performance impacts.


Some web applications, browser extensions, or tools may not work as normal when dealing with masked domains, making it more difficult to debug issues or analyze website performance. It’s essential to test for compatibility and address any issues that arise.

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Domain Masking vs. Domain Forwarding

The difference between domain forwarding and, as we’ve covered with domain masking, is that content from another domain is displayed in the user’s browser with a different “masked” domain shown in the address bar hiding the original URL from the user. While, domain forwarding or pointing, on the other hand, is a Domain Name System (DNS) redirection, where one domain is configured to point to another domain’s IP (Internet Protocol) address. When a user accesses the forwarded domain, their browser redirects them to the destination domain

The destination domain’s URL is displayed in the address bar and unlike domain masking, it doesn’t involve displaying site content from one domain using another URL.

The original domain is visible to the user during the redirection process before the destination domain is displayed in the address bar

Here are a few reasons to use domain forwarding instead of domain masking:

  • You acquired a new domain or rebranded and want to redirect from the old to the new domain.
  • You want to preserve your SEO and search rankings
  • You need a simple redirection solution without complex server configurations or third-party services.
  • You don’t have specific branding or user experience requirements that need domain masking.
  • You want a transparent redirection process where users see both original and destination domains.

Alternatives to Domain Masking

URL Shorteners

Bitly, TinyURL, and similar services create shorter, more concise URLs. These shortened links redirect users to the original, longer URL.

This is ideal for sharing lengthy URLs on social media, where character limits apply, as well as making them easy to remember and type. They have the additional benefit of analytics features that allow you to track link clicks.

However, they don’t hide the original domain name after a user has clicked on the shortened link. The original domain is displayed in the address bar after the redirection. Overuse of URL shorteners can raise suspicion and appear spammy.

Canonical URLs

Canonical tags help search engines understand which version of a page is the preferred or primary one. This method helps prevent duplicate content issues, which can harm your SEO, and consolidates backlinks to the preferred URL.

Creating Links

Instead of masking, consider linking related content across different websites. For example, if you manage both “websiteone.com” and “websitetwo.com,” you can create natural links between them.

This shows transparency to users as they know they’re navigating to a different site. It helps establish connections between related content and improves user experience.


A subdomain is a part of your main domain that functions as a separate entity. Subdomains allow different website sections to have distinct URLs while organizing content logically. If your main website is “www.mywebsite.com,” you can create a subdomain like “blog.mywebsite.com” for your blog. This helps simplify site management and maintenance.

You can set up subdomains in your Hosted.com Client Portal’s DNS settings and create content specific to each one. It’s important to note that subdomains are still part of your main domain and do not provide the same level of separation as separate domains.

When To Use Domain Masking

Now that you know what domain masking is and how it can be done, here are some reasons and scenarios where it can be beneficial for your website and business:

Site Consistency

If you have multiple domains or subdomains for different purposes (e.g., store, support, blog), but want to maintain a consistent brand identity. Masking the additional domains or subdomains and having them display your main domain name to your visitors regardless of which one they access can help ensure consistency.

Temporary Pages

Setting up domain masking to display a temporary page or an alternative website while your primary site is down for maintenance, redesign, or other reasons. Visitors won’t notice the change in the URL. However, it’s important to note that domain masking is not a substitute for proper maintenance or redirection procedures.

Affiliate Marketing

If you are promoting products from another website through affiliate marketing and redirecting users to another site, masking the affiliate links to display your website’s URL can make it look more professional and trustworthy.

Content Curation

If your website curates content from various sources such as articles, product reviews, or blog posts, domain masking can make them appear to be under a single domain. Masking the URLs of the sources can create a better user experience as they’ll see your domain even when viewing content from different sites. However, it’s important to properly credit the sources and obtain the necessary permissions or licenses for using third-party content.

Shorten URLs

You want to share long, complex URLs, for example, tracking purposes, in a more concise format. Use domain masking to create shorter, branded URLs that redirect to the original lengthy URLs.

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  1. Domain or URL masking allows you to hide the domain name of a website and replace it with a more user-friendly one.
  2. Domain masking can be done by using 301 and 302 redirects in DNS settings and implementing HTML iFrames.
  3. The pros of domain masking include consistent branding, security, better traffic management, link support, and tracking.
  4. The cons of domain masking include potential negative SEO impact, reduced user trust, and performance and compatibility issues.
  5. Domain forwarding is redirecting web traffic from one domain to another without masking the original domain name.
  6. Use domain masking to help with website consistency, as a temporary page during downtime, improve affiliate marketing site credibility, better content curation, and shorten URLs.


What is Domain Masking?

Domain Masking is the practice of using a different domain name to display a website’s content, while the actual website is connected to a separate domain.

How does Domain Masking affect SEO?

Domain Masking can negatively affect SEO as search engines may not be able to crawl and index the content on a masked domain properly. However, it can improve branding and user experience.

Are domain masking and domain forwarding the same thing?

No, domain masking and forwarding are separate methods of redirecting users from URLs to different websites.

Does domain masking need a new domain name to be registered?

No, you do not need to register a new domain name to use domain masking.

Other Blogs of Interest:

What Is A Domain Manager? Everything You Need To Know

What Is An Email Domain: Understanding The Basics

What Is a Parked Domain, and Why Should You Care?

How To Change A Domain Name: A Step-by-Step Guide

What Is Domain Flipping?