Does it matter if your site uses the www. at the front of the domain?
Here’s a great SEO tip that nearly no business owner is aware of.
Did you know that a simple 4 lines of code can help your website move up the rankings? Those lines can take any visitor that comes to your site by typing in domain.com and automatically forward them to www.domain.com. Of course, domain is your website address.
But why would you care if they typed in the w’s or not? Well, you might not care, but the search engines do.
To most all search engines, anything before the domain.com is considered a subdomain. There are tons of subdomains out there, and they have their great uses. For example, most hosting companies use mail.domain.com as their incoming and outgoing mail addresses. Perfectly good example.
But when it comes to the www. part, search engines see things a bit differently. To them, the www and non-www versions of your website are copies of each other. They are two different websites, each with the exact same content.
I’m Seeing Double
The search engine’s “job” is to provide their searchers with the best results possible. So they love original content that hasn’t been copied from other places. Since they spider your website, and see the same exact content on “another website” (even though it’s yours), they penalize the domain for having duplicate content. And duplicate content, to them, means you’re copying from someone else.
Worst of all – it hurts your ranking.
Fixing the www problem
As I mentioned earlier, there are just 4 lines of code that can fix most websites. You put these lines of code in your .htaccess file, (just step 1) and bang – you’re in business. Problem is, many business owners have signed into some crappy web design service and they can’t get anywhere near the actual server to fix this. So we’ve got to find another way.
Luckily, there are other ways. One is the canonical tag. This simple fix can help you “teach” the search engines what’s the best way to index your website. More information on canonicalization can be found at Matt Cutts’ website.
You can also set your preferred domain in the Google Webmaster Tools section. Click on Site Configuration and then Settings.
This will help Google know what you prefer for the best way for them to access your website.
No Matter How You Do It, Just Get It Fixed
While the latter two things will help your website, the best one is still the modification of your .htaccess file – something many business owners can’t get to. To do that, you’ll need to call your web person. And if they don’t know how to do it, you’ve got the wrong web person.
Did you know about this simple fix? If not, that’s ok – there are professionals that do. When you’re serious about hiring a professional to help you dominate your industry online, hire me.