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Difference between domain forwarding and masking?


Domain forwarding (also known as connecting, pointing, or redirecting) allows you to automatically direct visitors to a different location on the internet. If your domain is registered with Bluehost and you use our nameservers, you can point your Bluehost domain to a Wix, Wordpress, or other URL. 

There are two types of domain forwarding: forwarding only and forwarding with masking. Both options will redirect your visitors, but forwarding with masking provides additional functionality and it is not available to any Bluehost account. 


  • Visitors are redirected to a URL of their choice. 
  • The destination URL is kept in the browser's address bar. 

As an example, set greatexample.com to only forward to greatexample.net. When a visitor types greatexample.com into their browser's address bar, they will be redirected to the greatexample.net website. Greatexample.net will be displayed in the browser's address bar. 

Forwarding with masking 

  • Visitors are redirected to a URL of their choice. 
  • Keeps your domain name in the address bar of your browser. 
  • Allows you to enter meta-tag information for search engine results. 

As an example, assign greatexample.com to forward to greatexample.net with masking. When a visitor types greatexample.com into their browser's address bar, they will be redirected to the greatexample.net website. Greatexample.com will remain in the browser address bar, effectively masking the destination URL. 

Domain Masking's Benefits 

Domain masking is used to cloak or hide URLs that website visitors may find offensive. Affiliate links, subdomains, and long URLs are examples. 

When you see these URLs in the address bar, you can agree that they are not always clickable. As a result, website owners use domain masking to avoid scaring away users and losing traffic, engagement, or even conversion. 

However, domain masking is not always beneficial to the user experience. 

Disadvantages of Domain Masking 

1. Domain masking degrades the user experience: Your visitors come to your site because they believe in you and the information you provide. Domain masking may cause you to lose your users' trust because it creates a negative user experience. 

For example, knowledgeable visitors may become suspicious of malicious websites or links and refrain from visiting your site. Domain masking also makes it difficult for users to save your content. When they copy or bookmark your page, they only save the homepage. 

2. Domain masking has a negative impact on SEO: Assume your site's average bounce rate is 2%. When users notice that your links are cloaked, the value of masking your domain may increase by 20%. Search engines will then conclude that your users are dissatisfied with your content. And this could have a negative impact on your SEO. 

Furthermore, domain masking may result in duplicate content on your website. This could be the result of using the same URL for all of your website's pages. 

To be on the safe side, it is best to use domain forwarding or URL shorteners for longer links. 

To learn more about forwarding a domain, please see How to Redirect your Domain Name.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact us via Chat or Phone:

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You may also refer to our Knowledge Base articles to help answer common questions and guide you through various setup, configuration, and troubleshooting steps.

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