The Importance of Setting a Preferred Domain for SEO

Firstly if you are not using Google Webmaster Tools to help you manage and maintain your site then you need to get it set up straight away. When I sat down to write this I thought about the title and the only thing I could come up with was ‘url canonicalization’, but this is just jargon and means nothing to the layman.

The Problem

In short depending on how your server and site are set up you may find that you have multiple versions of your site indexed by the search engines the www version and the non www version. If you can put http://yoursite.com into a browser and http://www.yoursite.com into a browser then you have a problem. For the more geeky readers you you can read Matt Cutts explanation but basically the search engines will see duplicate content and this will affect your rankings and any work you do to try and get your site to rank higher will be diluted and can split the link juice between pages. Damn there goes some more jargon but rather than reinvent the wheel here here is a brilliant explanation of link juice.

The Solution

Log into Google Webmaster Tools click on Site configuration and then click on Settingswebmaster tools preferred domain and where it says Preferred domains set to either display urls as www.yoursite.com or just yoursite.com. I always go with www but the important thing is not which one you choose but that you choose one. As you can see a very simple step but the benefits can be very far reaching although it will take time for these chamges to perculate.

Lets not forget although we have done it in Google Webmaster Tools there are other search engines out there, and therefore you should also set up a redirect. You can do this by putting the following 301 redirects into your .htaccess file (replacing landingnet.co.uk with your own site name).

www version

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.landingnet\.co.uk$
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.landingnet.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

non www version

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^landingnet\.co.uk$
RewriteRule (.*) http://landingnet.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

If you feel confident enough to do this yourself then ‘bobs yer uncle’ and the net result is to redirect your whole site to your preferred domain (type http://landingnet.co.uk into a browser you will see it redirects to the www version).

If you would like help with any of the above then you can call us on 0843 289 0120 or email us