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At work, we're trying to determine the effectiveness of domain collapsing for SEO purposes. Our current structure is to have multiple web apps served from different servers, such as

PUBLIC URLS - directly accessed by users
www1.somecompany.com/webapp1
www2.somecompany.com/webapp2
www3.somecompany.com/webapp3

I'm proposing to put an Apache proxy in front of these applications that will mask the different domains and route the requests to proper server

PUBLIC URL--------routed/forwarded to-----PRIVATE URL
www.somecompany.com/webapp1   <----->  www1.somecompany.com/webapp1
www.somecompany.com/webapp2   <----->  www2.somecompany.com/webapp2
www.somecompany.com/webapp3   <----->  www3.somecompany.com/webapp3

In terms of SEO/page rank value, does this help?

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The page rank value of each /webappN can be different, so you could just as well use subdomains and properly route each app to its own server via A records, without the need for proxying.

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