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Confused with www versus non-www domain names

paulie69
Posts: 125
Joined: 06 Jun 09
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Confused with www versus non-www domain names

Hello all,

I started using Google Webmaster Tools several weeks ago to manage my single site, but there are two domains listed, both to the same website. One has www and the other non-www before the domain name. I've noticed that depending on which one I "select" in GWT I get different sets of backlinks ie when using Traffic Travis, looking at the www. and non www version to check backlinks gives different results. Can anyone please tell me if this is normal?? What I'm doing wrong, why this is happening and if this is affecting my SEO, SERP/pagerank etc ie is this a problem? Is Google hating me right now because of this?? I'm not sure why this is happening but when I first setup GWT by default the non-www site listed then I set the other one up because I wanted my pages indexed as www. pages. Is this going to give me a duplicate content penalty even though all my content is unique and actually on one site? Man am I confused :( Arrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

I had to validate two times in GWT ie have two lots of validation code in my headers of each page to be able to see what the entire site is doing! :( OMG!! {panic - panic}

I just want to have all links, everything pointing to the fully qualified version (ie preceeded by www.)

Oh I nearly forgot, I use AMA noticed AMA only inserts page links in the form of non-www. I tried changing my links to put www. before the name and it took them out each time.

Thanks very much in advance
Regards
Paul...
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Last edited by ampie g on 30 Oct 09 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed title to describe post better
 

faradina
Posts: 2171
Joined: 01 Jun 09
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I am sure that you will find this lesson on URL Canonicalization useful :)
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paulie69
Posts: 125
Joined: 06 Jun 09
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Hello Fara,

Thanks heaps, sorry I wasn't aware of that post but it does explain that part of things beautifully.

Actually after I put up this post today I contacted Hostgator and they set it up for me. Apparently doing a "server side 301 redirect" using cpanel is unreliable so I was told. Hmmmm, still not sure why though. I'm not sure if they applied the method in the document you referred me to but it sure as heck works!! Hostgator customer service is brilliant indeed and I just wrote the particular support member's supervisor a two page letter of appreciation.

Do you know if Google applies any penalties re duplicate content if we don't use a 301 redirect??
I'm assuming everyone has to use a 301 redirect for their domain, is that correct? Or is it just us "unlucky" ones(?)
I'm also not sure if G will merge the results together for both www and non-www versions in Google Webmaster Tools now or continue to show both separately, do you know? It's a real pain having to look at two sets of stats I wish I could merge it into just the "www." version :(

Thanks again Fara. You're brilliant.

Rregards,
Paul
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Last edited by michellerana on 30 Oct 09 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
 

faradina
Posts: 2171
Joined: 01 Jun 09
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I, in the post about the URL Canonicalization Lesson, wrote:for search engines, http://www.mydomain.com and mydomain.com are not the same. In searches, people (especially those who do not know of your site, in fact, those who already know of your site would most probably not be searching but go to your website directly ) do not necessarily type in http://www.mydomain.com or mydomain.com. They usually type in queries for whatever they are searching for. If your keywords fit their query terms, your listing will appear, but only one (either domain.com or http://www.domain.com) will be listed in the search results. That's how search engines are. Because search engines think that the www and non-www addresses are different from each other, they treat one as having duplicate content and will not display it in the listing.


Also, Google will not merge the results.

So you really need to put in the 301 redirect and that applies to everyone
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Site Admin
markling
Posts: 2489
Joined: 13 Jun 06
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WordPress makes this easier - you can specify if your site is www or non www in Settings > General.

For other sites a basic update to your .htaccess file is all that is needed, as per below:



Replace domain.com with your actual domain URL. This will make sure that www.example.com is always used.
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paulie69
Posts: 125
Joined: 06 Jun 09
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Hey Mark and Fara,

Thank you very much yet again for taking the time out to help me, I made sure the change as Mark specified above is in place, the redirect seems to be working okay now.

I noticed when I did a search using the "site" command, I get the following message:

"In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 22 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

Can I assume therefore that I've been "penalized" by G and that some of my results are in the supplemental index? (I researched with the omitted results included and there was a mix of www. and non-www pages.)

Do you know if this will have a long-term effect on my site page rankings or should everything be fixed and "synchronized" when G reindexes my site and sees that the 301 redirect is now in place?? I'm assuming G is treating this as duplicate pages - even of course they are not and it's all originating from the my single site.

I find it interesting that when registering a domain in say GoDaddy it's system won't let you specify "www" as a prefix before your nominated domain name. So if you want "www.example.com" you have to buy "example.com". I realize what you're saying that the S.Engines treat non www and www domain names as different domains but I just can't see the logic in the way they operate like that given it's impossible to register, say http://www.example.com and example.com as different domains in the first place. They're one and the same from the point of view of registering and buying your domain. I thought the S. Engines might be a bit more intelligent about that fact.

Thanks again everyone for your continued help

Regards
Paul D.
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Last edited by michellerana on 30 Oct 09 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
 

owencooper
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Joined: 28 Nov 10
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Thanks for this Mark, Fara and Paul. This is something which has been bothering us for a few weeks. I'll get this sorted now!
regards

Owen
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Owen Cooper
 
elanam100
Posts: 15
Joined: 27 Jan 11
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Ugg, I did not realize I was making this mistake.

I'm a little confused about doing the 301 redirect. I'm using dreamweaver to build my site, and my affiliate site is an add-on domain to another domain I already have hosting for. I don't have a .htaccess file in my root folder for my affiliate site (but maybe it's there for my wordpress-hosted blog on my primary domain?).

Also, is there any disadvantage to having http://mysite.com as opposed to http://www.mysite.com? I've already made a bunch of backlinks for the former, and I don't want to lose those if I switch over. That video link that faradina posted seems to say just choose one and stick with it, but then it seems other people are preferring to have the www prefix.
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My psychiatry/psychology blog: www.thepsychosphere.com
 
PremiumMember
jmpruitt
Posts: 4723
Joined: 19 Jun 09
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it really doesn't matter. if you are using hostgator, you can set up a 301 redirect inside your cpanel so that it redirects the www. version to the non www. version. This way if any visitors type it in as www. they will still find your site, rather than getting a 401 page not found error.
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Your Focus Determines Your Reality
 
elanam100
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Joined: 27 Jan 11
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Ah okay, my page already redirects (so if I type in mysite.com or www.mysite.com, I end up at the same place)- so I'm good?

Thanks for being so helpful!
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My psychiatry/psychology blog: www.thepsychosphere.com
 
joshuas
Posts: 145
Joined: 08 Jul 10
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If you're on Wordpress I believe the redirection is handled automatically so you won't lose any link juice in terms of SEO. Also, there's a plug in that is explicitly for 301 redirects... just can't remember the name right now. If anyone needs it I'll hunt for it.

Joshua
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PremiumMember
jmpruitt
Posts: 4723
Joined: 19 Jun 09
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there are several actually Joshua. I use Simple 301 Redirection myself. but, she already said she is using Dreamweaver to build her site, so wp plugins wont really help.

Elana, as long as you have that redirect already, you are good. just make sure that as you build links you always use the same version, and you will be okay.
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Your Focus Determines Your Reality
 

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